By DONNELL SUGGS (Special to the Daily World)
The Georgia State Panthers handily defeated visiting Tennessee Tech, 74-43, in a first round of the CIT Tournament at the GSU Sports Arena on March 13. The win was the 22nd of the season for the Panthers.
In its fourth season, the tournament was created for teams with winning records that are not selected by the NCAA selection committee for post-season play.
Tennessee Tech rode into Atlanta on familiar grounds. The visiting Golden Eagles came into the game with eight Georgia natives on their roster, led by senior guard Kevin Murphy (Fairburn), who is averaging 21.1 points per game and ranked 10th nationally.
But all season the Panthers have relied on their full court press and half court trap, and Tuesday’s game was no different. GSU forced 16 turnovers by Tech. Murphy was responsible for four of those turnovers, while hitting just 3-of-11 from the field and 0-6 from the 3-point range. Murphy finished with seven points, well below his average.
Not only did the Panthers’ defense stifle Murphy, but it put an enormous amount of pressure on Tennessee Tech’s second leading scorer, junior guard and Riverdale native, Jud Dillard, who came into the game with a 17.7 point average. He finished with only seven points as well.
The Panthers extended their lead to 21 points by the half off the play of sophomore point guard Devonta White and senior guard James Fields.
White scored 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the 3-point perimeter, while Fields, a native of Savannah, hit 6-of-9 field goals for 15 points. Murphy and Dillard were the third highest scoring duo in the nation coming into the game.
The GSU seniors all contributed in their own way. Forward Josh Micheaux led the team with seven assists, Eric Buckner had a team-high three blocks and Jahid Ali led the team with eight rebounds.