by Justin Dewitt
In state rivals, Georgia Southern and Georgia State, are on crash course for another epic battle. Every time these two teams meet there is a sellout crowd and the fans are never disappointed. The matchup between these two schools on saturday could prove to be another one for the history books.
This will be the fourth straight sellout in this series at the GSU Sports Arena. Both teams are at the top of the Sun-Belt Conference and both teams are on a 4 game winning streak but tomorrow someone has to lose. The last time these teams met there were 15 lead changes and eight ties.
This is a rivalry that dates back to the 1980’s when both teams participated in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Since the rivalry began the two teams have played each other 51 times with Georgia Southern holding the series lead 42-18. But ever since the Eagles joined the Sun-Belt conference the Panthers have held a commanding lead on the series.
The feud has even made its way to the internet, fans and players from both teams expressed dislike for the other one on twitter, with trending hashtags like #statenotsouthern and #southernnotstate.
There is a unique tension between these two schools that stems from the fact that both universities can be abbreviated with the acronym GSU. Even though Georgia State was founded in 1913 and Georgia Southern was founded in 1906, State uses the acronym as an official logo. However, Southern still claims the right of being “the real GSU” because they’ve had a football program longer than Georgia State and managed to win 6 national championships at the FCS level during that time.
This will be the first of two scheduled meetings between these teams this season. Georgia Southern has lost 8 straight times in the GSU Sports Arena but they’ll be relying on their two top 5 conference scorers Tookie Brown (17.1) and Ike Smith (19.6) to end that streak.
If the panthers are going to continue their win streak they may need to rely on sophomore D’Marcus Simonds who enters the game averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assist. Simonds has scored in double figures in 35 straight games which landed him on the Lou Henson Award midseason Watch List.
This game has more than the in-state rivalry on the line, Saturday also marks the annual ‘Barefoot for Bare feet’ game where head coach and former march madness cinderella darling, Ron Hunter, will coach the game barefoot to raise awareness for Samaritan’s feet. Hunter is 10-0 in games that he coaches barefoot and this will mark the 11th straight year coach Hunter will go without shoes to raise awareness for 300 million children.
“This is always one of the hardest games for me to coach each year,” Hunter said. “There is the pain of coaching barefoot, but I know that will go away. It is just the emotions of knowing that we are hopefully making a difference in the lives of children around the world by raising awareness for such a great cause.”
Tip-off is at 2:00pm inside the GSU Sports Arena. Tune in to WatchESPN to see who will be crowned the real GSU in this matchup.