State v. Southern: the age-old rivalry continues

Illustration by Demetri Burke | The Signal

On Saturday Georgia State men’s and women’s basketball will play their first games of the season against rival, Georgia Southern.

Georgia State and Georgia Southern’s men’s teams split the games by winning at home. Georgia State protected their home winning streak against the Eagles, winning 83-66 in the first match-up on Jan. 20. D’Marcus Simonds was the top performer, finishing the game with a double-double, 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Panthers have not lost at home to their rival since 1992.

Last year’s game also sold out for the fourth straight year in a row at the GSU Sports Arena.

The second game on Feb. 16, the Panthers fell 80-85. That game went right down to the wire as the Panthers mounted a great second half comeback. Despite holding Georgia Southern scoreless over the last five minutes, the Eagles held on to the lead and won to split the series.

This year, the Panthers will go into the game off to a hot start in conference play, winning their first five out of six. The Panthers have also been protecting home court this year winning their first seven games.

They have a lot on the line heading into the rivalry game. The Panthers want to protect a piece of their program history by keeping the home winning streak against their rivals alive. Then, of course it is always good to get the first win in the rivalry series since these two schools won’t see each other again until March 9.

Women’s basketball will start their part of the rivalry series on the road new Sun Belt Conference schedule format.

Last year the Panthers swept the Eagles in one of their worst seasons in school history. In the first game last season, the Panthers won 71-56. In that first win, the Panthers out-rebounded the Eagles 56-24. They dominated the boards and did all the little things to pull off the huge win.

The second contest last season was a second half battle in Statesboro just like in the men’s game. The Eagles stormed back and took at late 54-53 lead with 4:49 left. The Panthers, however, went on a 14-4 run to end the game and swept the season series with a 66-58 win.

Janessa Murphy was the top performer in the second contest. She just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

This year, the Eagles will look to get some revenge on last year’s sweep. The Eagles are coming off their first conference win this season, a 65-55 road win at Texas State. The Panthers are .500 in conference play this season, and they will be looking for a big win to move up in the Top 5 in conference standings.

Both the men’s and women’s teams need wins to keep their winning seasons rolling and grab victories in the rivalry series.