The Rhode Island Rams, winners of three of their last five, will try to achieve something that has been beyond their grasp so far this season: a winning streak. URI goes for their second victory in a row (and fourth overall) tomorrow at the Ryan Center, and on the surface, it seems like it should be a very winnable game. Let’s break it down:
Georgia State University
Location: Atlanta, GA
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
2011-12 Record: 22-12 (11-7) [Lost in Second Round of CIT]
The Panthers put together a very solid season last year despite starting the campaign at 0-3. They then ran off 11 straight victories en route to a 20-win year and a post-season berth, albeit in the CIT. This year’s team… eh, not so much. They’re currently 5-6 on the year, and their wins have been… less than impressive. Check this list: Monmouth, Tennessee State, South Alabama, Liberty, and Southern Polytechnic. Not exactly world beaters. Georgia State is coming off back-to-back losses by a combined three points, including a 69-67 loss to Southern Mississippi in which the Panthers led for nearly all of the first 38 minutes. They’ve also dropped games to Duke and BYU, amongst others.
Projected Starting Lineups
G: Devonta White, Jr, #12, 5’10″, 158
G: Rashaad Richardson, Jr, #25, 6’4″, 179
G: R.J. Hunter, Fr, #22, 6’5″, 175
F: Manny Atkins, Jr, #23, 6’7″, 205
C: James Vincent, Sr, #50, 6’10″, 260
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Nikola Malesevic, Sr, #23, 6’7″, 200
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205
As you may recall, the Panthers completely smoked Rhody last season down in Atlanta, but Georgia State is only returning two starters from the team that put a 96-64 hurting on the Rams. Unfortunately, one of those players was the team’s high scorer against URI – junior guard Devonta White. He put up 20 points on 8-13 shooting against Rhode Island, and also tallied five assists and three steals. Fast-forwarding to this season, White has scored in double-figured in every Georgia State game but one, en route to a 14.7 PPG average, good for second on the team. He’s also averaging 2.4 steals per game, so the Rams will have to keep an eye on him on both ends of the floor.
The Panthers most dangerous player, however, is R.J. Hunter, a guy that Rhody didn’t see last year. Son of head coach Ron Hunter, the freshman is leading Georgia State in scoring at a 14.9 PPG clip. He’s coming off a 24-point effort against Southern Miss, and included in that total is six made threes. Hunter is shooting 34% from downtown on the season, and has scored 20+ points on four different occasions so far. It’s likely that Andre Malone will be charged with covering the 6’5″ wing, and limiting him from downtown should be a priority for URI.
Tomorrow will also mark Rhody Rampage’s first trip to the Ryan Center this season, so we’ll find out for sure if we’re good luck or not. The Panthers do not appear to be a great team, but the Rams still need to put forth a good effort if they expect to win this one. Rhody Nation would sure love an early Christmas gift.