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ATLANTA- Led by 25 points from junior Jeff Thomas, Georgia State cruised to a 100-64 exhibition win over Lees-McRae College on Thursday night at the GSU Sports Arena.
Thomas finished 8-of-10 from the floor and knocked down five 3-pointers as the Panthers shot 54.2 percent, including 12-of-29 from 3-point range.
Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds added 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and has now scored 49 points in two exhibition games. He was named to the All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team on Tuesday after earning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors last season.
“I want to tip my cap to Lees-McRae as they came out and played hard for all 40 minutes tonight,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “For just our second exhibition game, I thought we did a lot of things well. That isn’t to say we don’t have plenty to still work on, but I like the direction we are going. We were able to get some young guys good minutes tonight and that will help us in the long run.”
Georgia State got off to a quick start, scoring the first five points before the Bobcats got on the board. The Panthers followed with a 10-0 run to take a 15-2 lead with 14:58 remaining in the first half.
After Lees-McRae cut the lead to 17-13 with just over 11 minutes to play, Georgia State responded with an 8-0 run to take a 25-13 lead with 8:50 remaining in the half.
Shooting 59.3 percent from the floor and 6-of-12 from 3-point range, the Panthers went into the locker room leading 47-25 as both Thomas and Simonds each scored 14 first half points. On the other end, Georgia State held Lees-McRae to just 24.1 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes and just 3-of-19 from 3-point range.
Georgia State continued to apply pressure in the second half, outscoring the Bobcats 53-39. The Panthers finished the game with 16 steals, forcing Lees-McRae into 22 turnovers.
The Bobcats were led by Jordan Turner who scored 12 points, while Kamil Williams added 10.
Freshman Kane Williams came off the bench to add 13 points and three steals for Georgia State, while senior Jordan Session finished with a team-high seven rebounds.
Junior Malik Benlevi finished with a balanced night of eight points, five rebounds and four assists in just 23 minutes.
Georgia State will conclude the exhibition portion of the schedule facing Coker College on Monday night in the GSU Sports Arena at 7 p.m. Admission to the games is free and does not require a ticket, however fans are encouraged to bring canned goods for Panther’s Pantry which provides meals to at-risk students facing financial difficulties and inadequate access to food.