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Thomas’ Career High 30 Leads Georgia State To 62-60 Win Over Mercer
Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics

Thomas’ Career High 30 Leads Georgia State To 62-60 Win Over Mercer

ATLANTA- Jeff Thomas set career-highs with 30 points and eight 3-pointers as Georgia State held on for a 62-60 win over in-state rival Mercer on Tuesday at GSU Sports Arena.

Georgia State (2-1) led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but Mercer fought back, cutting the lead to two with under a minute to play. After a missed free-throw by Damon Wilson, Djordje Dimitrijevic missed a 3-pointer that could have won the game for Mercer (1-2) in the closing seconds. D’Marcus Simonds secured the rebound and the win for the Panthers.

Thomas finished the game 11-of-17 from the floor and 8-of-13 from 3-point range along with five assists. The eight 3-pointers are tied for the sixth-most in a single game in program history.

Simonds, fresh off earning Sun Belt Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in his career, added 16 points. With this performance, he moved into 12th place in program history in career-points scored, passing Thomas Terrell, who was recently inducted into the GSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I’ve seen a lot of different things in my career, but I don’t know if I have ever had a team shooting 35 3-pointers,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We made a bunch early, but then it slowed as Mercer changed up their defense and we didn’t respond the way I would like. With that said, that is a very good team and at the end of the season this will prove to be a very good win.”

Georgia State got out to an early lead behind a 17-4 run led by Thomas and Simonds, who combined for 29 of Georgia State’s 40 first-half points.

Despite a 15-point halftime deficit, Mercer kept the game close in the second half thanks to a 16-2 run of its own, cutting the Georgia State lead to five with just under five minutes to play. Kane Williams quickly hit a 3-pointer to put the Panthers back up by eight, but a three by Ross Cummings and a couple free-throws by Dimitrijevic cut the lead back to four.

Thomas hit a step-back jumper to put the Panthers back up by six, but Mercer answered right back with two free-throws by Ethan Stair and a layup by Dimitrijevic, cutting the lead to two before the missed Williams free throw and the miss by Dimitrijevic in the closing seconds.

Although Mercer still leads the all-time series 45-37, the Panthers have won 17 of the last 20 meetings dating back to 1996.

Mercer was led by Ethan Stair who just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. The Bears were held to just 7-of-26 shooting from 3-point range while the Panthers finished 15-of-35 from behind the arc.

Notes:

  • The Panthers improved to 2-1 for the third time in four seasons.
  • Head coach Ron Hunter picked up the 149th win of his career at Georgia State.
  • Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Georgia State has won 112 games, the most of any NCAA D1 team in the state of Georgia. Mercer has won 100 games, the second-most in the state.

Georgia State will play its next six games away from the GSU Sports Arena. It starts next Monday facing St. Bonaventure in the opening game of the Cayman Islands Classic. Tip is set for 5 p.m.

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