Colorado State (1-0) takes on Sun Belt Conference favorites Georgia State (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Moby Arena. CSU head coach Larry Eustachy has called this the second toughest game on the schedule prior to Mountain West play other than Colorado. Here is what the Rams must do to defend their home court and what the Panthers must do to spoil the party.
Three keys for CSU:
Limit Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter
Georgia State took 64 field goal attempts in their loss to Iowa State with Harrow and Hunter accounting for 42 of them, and more than half of the team’s points. The Rams must contain their production by specifically denying the two any easy looks, even if that opens things for the frontcourt of Curtis Washington and Markus Crider. Harrow was held to 12 points on 22 shots against the Cyclones, while Hunter was limited to an just eight made field goals on 20 attempts. The Panthers cannot win on that type of inefficient shooting performance.
Take advantage of bench depth
One of CSU’s biggest strengths this season should be the multitude of scorers on their roster. The Rams have a host of guards in Gian Clavell, John Gillon, Antwan Scott and Carlton Hurst who proved they can score by chipping in 33 points off the bench against Montana. If they can recreate that type of production it will be difficult for Georgia State to keep up offensively.
Play inside and get to the line
The Rams have a pair of gifted offensive forwards with JJ Avila (16.6 points per game last season) and Stanton Kidd (19 points against Montana) who like to score inside. Even CSU’s defensive-minded big man Tiel Daniels can finish and draw fouls, and guards can also contribute by attacking the basket to put the Panthers in the bonus like Gillon did against Montana (eight free throw attempts off of the bench). They also make it a point to crash the offensive glass and they might get their fair share of setbacks and second-chance points against a Georgia State team that finished 307th amongst NCAA Division-I teams in rebounding last season (31.6 per game). Scoring in the paint, controlling the glass and getting to the line would make life tough for the Panthers.
Three keys for Georgia State:
Establish Curtis Washington on the block
The 6’10” big man is supposed to be a focal point of Georgia State’s offense this season. Head coach Ron Hunter has talked about making a concerted effort to get Washington the ball in the post but did not have much success with that against Iowa State as he was held to just two points and played only 14 minutes (every other starter played at least 30). Hunter and Harrow cannot be expected to do all the scoring so the Panthers will need to feed Washington the ball early and often to get him going.
Force CSU to use untested depth and shooting
The Rams showcased their depth and perimeter shooting (9/14 from on three-pointers in first half) against Montana, but can they do it again? The Panthers need to make them prove it. Players like Clavell, Gillon and Scott might make them regret that but it seems like a safer than daring all-conference players like Avila and Daniel Bejarano to beat you. And is that outside shooting sustainable? Against a CSU team with the personnel to attack the rim, the Panthers should look to find out even if it takes a zone that dares CSU to shoot.
Find bench production
In their loss to the Cyclones, Georgia State only received nine points from their bench. Forward T.J. Shipes gave them a solid six points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes but the only other players to register 10 minutes off the bench, Jalen Brown and Ryan Green only combined to provide one field goal while turning the ball over three times. That won’t cut it against a team as deep as CSU. The Panthers need to get valuable minutes out of their reserves in order to win.
Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.