With a global audience on ESPN3, JMU plays its penultimate home game of the season tonight as the Dukes welcome the resurgent Panthers of Georgia State on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
Picked 11th in the CAA preseason poll, GSU enters the night in fifth place at 17-9 overall and 9-6 in the league. JMU sits ninth in the standings at 11-16 overall and 4-11 in CAA play. The Panthers are coming off of an overtime home loss to Delaware 80-77 on Saturday while the Dukes hung on in a tight game to defeat Towson 58-56.
On Saturday, JMU built an early 18-point lead in the first half and had its second-biggest halftime lead of the season at 36-21 at Towson. However, the Tigers cut the margin to single digits to open the second half and then used a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game 51-49. Devon Moore scored six points in the final 90 seconds with a go-ahead runner and four free throws and JMU survived a last-second attempt to tie to record a 58-56 win while snapping a five-game losing streak. Humpty Hitchens and Andrey Semenov each went 5-for-8 from the arc to finish with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Moore had 10 points and eight assists for the Dukes, who shot 45 percent and limited the Tigers to 27.6 percent, their best defensive mark in 10 years.
Game presented by RMH GAME PROMOTIONS Ray's Jeweler's Halftime Promotion
Free Game Programs
Domino's Pizza Scream
Sayre T-Shirt Toss
SVRA Best Seat in the House
Chick-Fil-A 3 Point Shirts
Flip N 79 Promotion
Free Daily News-Record Distribution
Game presented by RMH
Ray's Jeweler's Halftime Promotion
Georgia State utilizes as deep of a rotation as any team in the CAA with nine players seeing regular action. Using that depth, player length and an aggressive defense, the Panthers average 9.5 steals per game and force an average of 15.7 turnovers per game. Five different players average between eight and 13 points per game, led by Jihal Ali at 12.7 points per game. Devonta White (12.0), Eric Buckner (11.0), James Fields (9.1) and Josh Micheaux (8.1) rank as the other leading scorers. Buckner averages 6.8 rebounds per game and has 89 of the team's 128 blocks.
JMU has been one of the CAA's top long-range shooting teams all season and has been especially sharp of late. The Dukes are averaging 9.8 made three-pointers per game over the last six games, including 10 in Saturday's win at Towson. Humpty Hitchens already ranks seventh in JMU history with 77 made threes this season on 194 attempts (39.7 percent). Andrey Semenov (39.8 percent) and A.J. Davis have each made 43. Davis and Hitchens rank fourth and fifth in the league in scoring with 16.2 and 15.6 points per game, respectively. They are also fifth and sixth in overall shooting percentage at .448 and .431. Semenov averages 9.4 points per game and Devon Moore 9.3.
Georgia State leads the brief series against JMU 6-5. The Panthers overwhelmed the Dukes 74-58 in Atlanta on Jan. 23, leading by as many as 23 points with three minutes to go. GSU had 14 steals and forced 21 JMU turnovers. Humpty Hitchens led JMU with 15 points. A.J. Davis had 11 points. Arman Marks had 10 points while making his only start of the season in the absence of Devon Moore (wrist injury). James Fields led GSU with 21 points and eight boards. Eric Buckner had 13 points, eight boards and six blocks. Josh Micheaux had a double-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
JMU travels to Detroit on Saturday to participate in the annual Sears BracketBusters weekend. The Dukes battle the Horizon League's Titans at 2 p.m.