Taylor’s 28 points pace Georgia State to rout over Georgia Southern

Georgia State's Lucas Taylor scored a career-high 28 points in the 90-62 win over Georgia Southern on Jan. 13, 2024, at the GSU Convocation Center.

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Georgia State's Lucas Taylor scored a career-high 28 points in the 90-62 win over Georgia Southern on Jan. 13, 2024, at the GSU Convocation Center.

With the largest crowd of the season – motivated by a strong “White-Out” effort against its visiting arch-rival – Georgia State got a career-high 28 points from Lucas Taylor and hammered Georgia Southern 90-62 Saturday to move into a tie for second place in the Sun Belt Conference.

“I thought our guys brought our fight from the beginning,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “I thought our week of prep was really good. I cannot remember a situation where our guys were as locked in on the details.”

Georgia State (9-7, 4-1 Sun Belt) has won three straight and five of its last six. The Panthers have won two straight against Georgia Southern, matched their career best for margin of victory against the Eagles, and lead the all-time series 40-27. They meet again on Saturday in Statesboro.

Taylor led four players with double figures and set a career mark, making 11 of 16 from the field and was 5-for-6 on 3 pointers.

“My teammates always do a great job of putting me in a great position to score,” Taylor said. “I struggled last game (nine points) and just feel like I keep my head steady and not let the outside noises get to me. Just staying focused is the main thing.”

Toneari Lane added 18 points, six rebounds, Dwon Odom had 15 points and nine assists, and Leslie Nkereuwem had 14 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

“I just do whatever I can for my teammates, for my team and do whatever coaches ask of me,” Nkereuwem said. “That’s all it is really.”

Georgia Southern (2-15, 2-3) was suffering tired legs after the long ride to play at Marshall in West Virginia on Wednesday. The Eagles were led by Tyren Moore with 19 points and Eren Banks with 11.

Georgia State dominated the boards, outrebounding Southern 44-31. Jay’Den Turner had 15 rebounds, his fifth straight game with double-digit boards.

“That’s what our team is,” Hayes said. “We’ve made it a concerted effort to be a hard-nosed rebounding team. Ya’ll are not going to believe me when I say it, but it feels like it’s eight of us on the court when (Turner) is out on the floor. He’s all over the place. He just keeps showing up. He’s a lunch-pail guy, a hard-hat fellow.”

The Panthers rode a 13-2 run to a 16-9 lead and continued to build. They stretched the lead to 18 points and led 42-32 at the break. GSU shot 54% in the half with Taylor scoring 14 and Lane adding 12.

Southern opened the second half with Moore’s 3-point play to get within seven. But Georgia State, which overcame a 20-point deficit on Thursday, wasn’t going to fall prey to the same scenario. The Panthers answered with a bucket and 3-pointer and soon embarked on a 22-4 run that extended the lead to 69-41 and put the game on ice.

“We’ve got a confident bunch,” Hayes said. “I keep telling anyone who will listen, we have a resilient bunch and what I’m really starting to see is we have a close-knit bunch. I think that intangible piece takes a decent team to being good and a good team to become great.”

The crowd of 3,152 was the third largest since moving into the Georgia State Convocation Center. Only last year’s game against Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern drew larger crowds.

“I thought it was as lively of an arena as we’ve been in since I’ve been here,” Hayes said. “And I keep telling them, keep showing up because if you have that much energy, that gives our guys so much energy to play for. It’s that factor that you can’t really put a finger on, but when you feel it, they provided that extra, extra push.”

Georgia State begins a four-game road trip on Wednesday at Appalachian State. The teams are tied for second place in the conference.

“We’re going to enjoy this one for a few minutes,” Taylor said.

The Georgia State women (9-6, 3-2) rallied from a six-point third quarter deficit and won the first part of the doubleheader by beating Appalachian State 73-69. The Panthers got 18 points and nine rebounds from guard Mikyla Tolivert and 13 points from Mya Williams.

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