Georgia State can’t match Appalachian State’s inside muscle in loss

Julian Mackey made three 3-pointers in Georgia State's loss at Appalachian State on Wednesday.

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Julian Mackey made three 3-pointers in Georgia State's loss at Appalachian State on Wednesday.

Georgia State had trouble matching the inside physicality of Appalachian State on Wednesday and saw its three-game winning streak end 76-68 in frosty Boone, N.C.

Appalachian State, ranked as the No. 6 mid-major team in the country by College Insider, turned 6-foot-7 Tre’Von Spillers, 6-9 Justin Abson, 6-11 C.J. Huntley and bullish 6-5 Donovan Gregory loose around the basket and the Panthers couldn’t respond. Spillers had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Abson blocked three shots and altered numerous others for the Mountaineers.

“That’s probably the best team we’ve faced all year,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “We had no answer for their inside guys. We kind of got it corrected in the second half. We just had no answer for their physicality and their muscle down low.”

Georgia State had a rough night offensively against Appalachian State, the No. 1 defensive team in the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers shot just 38% from the field and were outrebounded 51-36, with App State getting 17 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points. It was the lowest point total for Georgia State since it scored 54 at Brigham Young on Dec. 16.

But the Panthers were strong on defense but Appalachian State’s one-sided rebound total forced Georgia State to work longer and harder to stay in the game.

“You can’t do that with a good team like that,” Hayes said. “Just to be on defense for that length of possession and give up an offensive rebound, whether or not they get the points, wears you down and they did a great job of getting extra possessions. That’s something we’ve been harping on all year.”

Georgia State (9-8, 4-2 Sun Belt) got 12 points apiece from Lucas Taylor and Brenden Tucker. Julian Mackey and Toneari Lane each scored nine, both with three 3-pointers. Jay’Den Turner had eight points, all in the second half, and 12 rebounds, his sixth straight game with double-digit rebounds.

Georgia State point guard Dwon Odom left the game in the second half with severe leg cramps and did not return.

Appalachian State (14-4, 5-1) also got 15 points from Myles Tate. Gregory had 11 rebounds and one block and Huntley had five rebounds and two blocks.

“They impacted a great deal of shots and that’s part of who they are,” Hayes said. “We didn’t crack the code tonight, but we’ll see them again.”

Appalachian State went on a 7-0 run in the final minutes of the first half to open an 11-point lead. GSU’s Jamaine Mann scored on a short jumper to trim the lead to 39-30 at halftime. The Panthers only shot 1-for-8 on 3-pointers in the first half.

Georgia State trailed by as many as 11 but got back into the game by warming up from the outside. Jamaine Mann hit a 3-pointer and Mackey hit back-to-back treys. The Panthers were able to tie the game 53-53 on a 3-pointer by Turner with 9:24 remaining.

App State answered with a basket by Spillers and GSU fell behind when Mann made just one of two free throws. The Panthers missed two shots that would have given them the lead and Appalachian State soon had the lead back to nine points. GSU got as close as four but Tate iced the game by hitting four free throws in the final minute.

“I think some of our decisions in transition, especially down the stretch, were less than desirable,” Hayes said. “I think Julian had a great night in the role that he played.”

Georgia State travels to Statesboro on Saturday at 3 p.m to play rival Georgia Southern. The Panthers won the first meeting 90-68 on Saturday.

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