Georgia State Panthers vs. Georgia Southern Eagles Preview

We made it. Game No. 30. State vs. Southern. 7:00 p.m. tonight.

It is game day, baby. Here is what to look for tonight as the Georgia State Panthers host the Georgia Southern Eagles in a sea of white.

Conference Tournament Implications

As many Panther fans know, the team needs a game to bounce back. They are 4-6 with a few bad losses in their last ten games and need to get out of the slump. They need a win to remind themselves how good a team they are. Tonight is that game. 

Both teams hold an 11-7 Sun Belt Conference record. However, Georgia State, a 5.5 point favorite in tonight’s game, sits one game above Georgia Southern in the overall rankings; Georgia State is 18-11 and Georgia Southern is 17-12. 

This game could very well decide where each of these teams will place in the Conference Tournament, which begins March 7.

The Justin Roberts Show?

Redshirt sophomore guard Justin Roberts is currently on a tear for the Panthers in his first season repping the blue and white. When Georgia State came into Statesboro and saw the court, they conquered: It was an 82-77 victory for head coach Rob Lanier’s men.

A big part of the win was the 5-foot, 9-inch Roberts’ 13 points on 3-6 from three-point field goals. His two steals were crucial as well, and we are all aware of just how impactful he is on defense. But for his first home game against Georgia Southern, Roberts knows what it means to play in one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball.

“From what I know, it can get really feisty,” Roberts said, following Wednesday’s practice. “A lot of trash talking probably, a lot of rough play, a lot of big plays being played, a lot of emotion coming into the game just off the crowd and the intensity.”

Roberts has played in front of a hostile Statesboro crowd, but tonight will be his first time having 3,854 fans on his side. He wants to do as much as he can to put on for the city.

“I’m over here getting shots up after practice,” Roberts said. “I’m just trying to be ready for every opportunity.”

He will have plenty of opportunities in a matter of hours.

Kane Williams’ Leadership

Unlike Roberts, Kane Williams has been in this game plenty of times. Last season, his games were anything but quiet against Georgia Southern. In the season finale against the Eagles on March 9, Williams scored a game-high 23 points on 7-11 shooting as the Panthers knocked off the Eagles 90-85.

He continues to give great advice to his team prior to tonight’s game.

“It can get overwhelming if you’re not used to it,” Williams told his teammates, including Roberts. “It’s fun to play in. Just enjoy it.” 

Williams knows how much a home win means tonight. He has been here before and is ready for the battle ahead.

“It’s a big game,” he said. “I know it’s a big game for the crowd and students, it’s a big game for us too. Tied at third in the conference and we need it.”

While Williams is a crucial piece to the team, he is also very coachable. His coaches continue to give him advice while the Panthers are coming off consecutive losses for the fourth time this season.

“Stay together and keep your head up,” Williams said when asked what the coaching staff has told him. “Keep moving forward. Can’t dwell on the past cause the past is the past and the future’s the future so we just gotta keep playing.”


The line for this game favors the Panthers by 5.5 with the over/under set at 155, according to The Action Network. For the Eagles, it will be difficult to come into such a hostile environment. The chances of a win are slim, which means that there is only more pressure on the Panthers.

But Georgia State has been here before. They are well prepared, and the stats are on their side. The Panthers are above the Eagles in all major categories. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives them great odds to win tonight at 73.9%.

Come out, enjoy the best game of the year for the men’s basketball team, and prepare for madness.

Panther fans, bring your voices tonight. But cheer loud enough to where you will not have yours tomorrow morning.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.