The Georgia State men’s basketball team is going dancing after their 80-71 win against the Louisiana Rajun’ Cajuns in the Sun Belt Championship. For the Panthers, this will be their first tournament appearance since 2019 and their third appearance in the last five years.

Panthers guard Corey Allen led the Panthers in scoring with 29 points in the win, while shooting 50% from the field and a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line. His play earned him Sun-Belt tournament MVP.

“I’m really happy for these guys,” said Panthers head coach Rob Lanier. “We developed some metal and we showed that tonight. I’m glad I was able to be apart of the (experience) with them. It’s a great night.”

Lanier, who is in his third season as head coach for the Panthers, will be going dancing for the first time under the Panthers. The last time he led his team to the tournament was 2002 when he was head coach of Sienna.

This is special for the Panthers who were so close to having an NCAA tournament bid last year but fell in the Sun-Belt Championship game to Appalachian State 80-73. This was a major factor in the “super” seniors such as guards Allen, Kane Williams, Justin Roberts and forward Eliel Nsoseme returning.

“The experience we had last year led to these guys’ desire to return,” said Lanier. “They were motivated to be here and do this. They continued to trust us. We had a breakthrough somewhere along the line and these four guys stepped up and brought us here and got it done.”

Along with coming back for another season, early on the Panthers struggled. Injuries, covid issues played a role in the Panthers going on a five-game losing streak from Jan. 8- Jan. 22 before getting a win against Louisiana on Jan. 27.

“Along the way, it didn’t look like we’ll be here,” Lanier said. “We were in a dark place, we were losing. When you get into that situation, you’re either going to give in or persevere. We broke through in that we didn’t give in, we didn’t quit.” 

Nsoseme finished with a double-double with 13 rebounds while being tied second in scoring with 12 points.