Panthers cruise in 90-50 season-opening win as D’Marcus Simonds punches his name in Panthers’ history book with first triple-double

Devin Mitchell blocks an attempted shot by Carver Bible College player on Nov. 10. Photo by Julieann Tran | The Signal

The Georgia State Panthers had an historic night as the men’s basketball team secured its first regular-season win (90-50) behind D’Marcus Simonds’ triple-double against Carver Bible College on Friday. His triple-double of 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds was the first in Panthers’ history. Simonds accomplished this feat in just 28 minutes of action. He had 12 points in the first half.

Outside of Simonds’ historical performance, the Panthers had substantial contributions from their starting five. Malik Benlevi, Devin Mitchell and Jordan Sessions finished the game in double figures.

Junior forward Benlevi had a very productive night with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. His contributions played an integral part in the Panthers’ success against the Cougars. Benlevi also showed his range by shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc (3-6).

Junior guard Mitchell is known for his three-point shooting ability, but had a streaky-shooting night against the Cougars. However, he managed to score 18 points. Senior forward, Sessions played big for the Panthers on the low block with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Quantitatively, the Panthers overpowered their opponent in every facet of the game, but Head Coach, Ron Hunter was disappointed in his team’s mental approach. Although he was relieved that his team secured its third-straight home game dating back to last year, he admitted that his guys didn’t seem to be enthusiastic about the matchup—which in turn could’ve resulted in a loss.

“Although we came away with a win, I was not happy with our mental preparation the last two days,” Hunter said. “I didn’t think we executed to our ability and made too many mistakes. With that said, give Carver a lot of credit. They came in and played hard for all 40 minutes.”

When asked how he plans on preventing his team from having a mental lapse moving forward, Hunter said “Come at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and you’ll see what I’m gonna tell them.” Hunter noted last Saturday was going to be an off day for his guys, but he insisted that he wants to make sure his guys are mentally focused on every game.

During the first half, Carver secured their first lead of the night (7-6) with just under 16 minutes to play after knocking down three of their first four shots to start the game. The Panthers finally got into a rhythm with 4:28 left to play in the first half as they held a 31-13-point lead at that point. Going into halftime, the Panthers had a 42-19 lead behind Simonds’ 12 points and Benlevi’s 10 points.

To begin the second half, the Panthers scored seven straight points and shortly after went on an 11-0 run to push the lead to 64-27 with 13:21 left to play in regulation.

It’s also worth mentioning that redshirt-sophomore Jordan Tyson had eight points and seven rebounds and freshman; Josh Linder had eight points.

Georgia State defeated Temple 75-54 during the first game of the MGM Grand Main Event. Led by Jeff Thomas’ 18 points, the team made 11 three-pointers.

The 2-0 Panthers’ next game is on Friday when they face off against Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. Tipoff is set for 7 P.M. ET and can be heard on 1300 AM/103.7 FM and WRAS-FM 88.5.