JONESBORO, Ark. — Senior Manny Atkins recorded his fourth double-double of the season and scored a career-high 30 points to lead Georgia State to a 79-76 overtime win at Arkansas State on Tuesday night. Due to snow and ice in Arkansas, the Panthers overcame a three and half hour bus ride that delayed the game 50 minutes to win their sixth-game in a row.
Atkins finished 9-of-16 from the floor, knocking down five 3-pointers and pulled down 11 rebounds, just one shy of a career-high, playing all 45 minutes of the overtime contest.
Georgia State (23-7, 16-1 Sun Belt) trailed 66-63 with less than a minute to play in regulation before Ryan Harrow hit a jumper with 56 seconds to play. On the Panthers next possession, Harrow hit a lay-up to put GSU up one with 37 seconds remaining.
After a missed 3-pointer by Arkansas State’s Cameron Golden, Atkins made a pair of free throws that appeared to secure the win. However, with three seconds to play, Melvin Johnson III hit a 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Georgia State scored the first five points and free throws by Devonta White and Atkins down the stretch secured the victory.
Arkansas State fell to 17-11 and 9-7 in the Sun Belt. Johnson III led the Red Wolves with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Kirk Van Slyke added 18 points.
Georgia State won for the 20th time in the last 21 games, the best stretch in program history. Due to the snow and ice storm moving across the country, the Panthers spent nearly 20 hours on a bus over the course of the last three days traveling from Austin, Texas to Jonesboro, Ark., as flights were grounded in the area.
“This team absolutely gutted out a win tonight,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Everything was against us, but our players stepped up and played championship basketball. Manny Atkins played as well as I have ever seen him play. He is finishing his career in the best possible way a senior can.
“This team has some magic going on right now and if there was ever a time to sell-out this Sports Arena, this Saturday is that time. Our seniors and this team have put in so much hard work and a sell-out would be the perfect send-off for this group.”
Arkansas State took an early 7-0 lead, but Georgia State responded with an 11-5 run to cut it to 12-11 on a Rashaad Richardson 3-pointer with 13:36 to play.
The Red Wolves led by five before a White lay-up at the buzzer sent the Panthers into the locker room trailing by just three, 30-27. Georgia State shot just 33.3-percent in the first half, but stayed in the game by trailing by just three on the boards.
Georgia State trailed 35-27 early in the second half before a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers by Atkins.
The Panthers took their first lead of the game, 46-45, on a 3-pointer by White with 11:05 to play.
With five minutes to play, Georgia State trailed 60-53 before Atkins made back-to-back baskets once again to cut the deficit to 60-57.
Richardson, who was starting in the place of sophomore R.J. Hunter, finished with six points and tied a career-high with eight rebounds. Ron Hunter had announced before the game that R.J. would rest after banging his knee last week. He will be ready for the regular season finale on Saturday and could have played if necessary on Tuesday night.
Harrow finished with 18 points with White chipping in 13 and dishing out six assists. White now has 401 assists in his career and became just the third Panther with 400 career assists.
Curtis Washington added seven points and eight rebounds for the Panthers.
Cameron Golden and Brandon Reed each scored 13 points for Arkansas State.
Georgia State finished the game outrebounding Arkansas State 42-39, knocking down 10 3-pointers.
The sixth-straight win is tied for the ninth-longest win streak in program history after already putting together a school-record 14 game win-streak earlier this year.
Georgia State will conclude the regular season hosting Western Kentucky on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Following the game, a championship celebration is scheduled on the court, including a presentation of the 2013-14 Sun Belt regular season trophy.