If there were any doubts about this year's Youngstown State basketball team, it was put to rest Monday in Athens, Ga.
The Penguins led from wire to wire en route to beating the Southeastern Conference Georgia Bulldogs, 68-56.
This is one of those wins that is a game changer for a program that hasn't seen too many highlights on a consistent basis since the days of the late Dom Rosselli and his predecessor Mike Rice.
YSU coach Jerry Slocum, who is in his eighth season, felt better than normal before the season. However, most coaches feel upbeat before the first dribble of the regular season hits the floor.
This YSU team felt different. They passed the eye test, which can't be said of most Penguin teams that have hit the hardwood.
There's junior point guard Kendrick Perry, who has widened more than a handful of eyes around the Horizon League and around the country.
He used this ESPNU televised stage to display his quickness en route to scoring 17 of his 23 team-high points to lift YSU to 2-0 on the season.
It's not the usual 2-0 start over NAIA or NCAA Division III teams.
YSU won against Atlantic-10 opponent George Washington and SEC foe Georgia, two of the biggest back-to-back wins in school history. Speaking of school history, Monday's win was the first against an SEC opponent.
Perry helped make history when he rallied his personal game after going 0 of 9 from the floor against George Washington. He proved he couldn't be filibustered in two straight games. Perry laid down the law against the Bulldogs.
But, he wasn't the only one to do so Monday.
YSU did something Slocum said was a key to this road trip - rebounding. The Penguins outrebounded Georgia, 42-31.
Warren G. Harding graduate and YSU senior forward Damian Eargle, who has some of the longest arms in the Horizon League, had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The team also snagged 10 offensive rebounds to Georgia's seven.
Defense was important in this game as well as YSU held Georgia to 3 of 24 from the floor in the first half. Say what you will, but it couldn't be all self-implosion on the part of the Bulldogs. Give the Penguins some much deserved defensive credit. They held an SEC opponent to 56 points, 14 of them before intermission.
Then, keep the ball inside and look at 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior forward Kamren Belin. Belin could be one of the best junior college big men for the Penguins since 6-8 forward Adam Baumann, who played for YSU from 2002-04. However, Belin has a longer shooting range than Baumann.
Belin was 5 of 9 from the floor, 3 of 6 from 3-point range and 4 of 5 from the foul line for 17 points - a well-balanced game for a well-balanced player.
This YSU team has many more components that make this Penguins team successful this season, following the program's first winning season (16-15) since the 2000-01 campaign when YSU went 19-11.
This YSU team definitely passes the eye test. See for yourself when it hosts St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday.