Rawr

2011-12 Record: 14-7 (6-4 CAA)
2011-12 RPI:
164
Player to heckle:
Jihad Ali, Sr., G (12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

The skinny: VCU heads to Atlanta where it’ll try to slow down the upstart Panthers. Georgia State stunned the Rams 55-53 at the Verizon Wireless Arena Jan. 4 and will be looking for their first-ever season sweep of VCU. The Rams shot 27 percent in that contest.

Georgia State, led by first-year coach Ron Hunter, turned heads early in the season with at that win at VCU and over preseason league favorite Drexel, but has lost three of its last four games. As bad as the Rams need this game to keep pace with the CAA pack, the Panthers may need it more.

The energetic Hunter has breathed new life into guys like Jihad Ali, who was having an unremarkable college career up until this season. High-flying forward Eric Buckner likes to block shots – 70 so far this season – like I like hot wings and a frosty beverage. That means less space for slashing VCU guards Darius Theus and Rob Brandenberg.

In their last meeting, Georgia State deftly maneuvered VCU’s pressure defense. The Panthers turned the ball over a reasonable 13 times and hit shots at critical junctures. They’ll look for a similar performance Saturday.

On an aside, there is an interesting subtext to this game, in that it is the final contest before BracketBusters selections are announced Monday.

Fast fact: Georgia State is 10-0 at home this season, the second-longest such streak in school history.

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