ATHENS, Ga. – An impressive second-half comeback attempt fell short as the Georgia men’s basketball team was defeated by Mississippi State, 68-67, on Wednesday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
Five Georgia players contributed double-digit points for the Georgia offense, including senior forward Derek Ogbeide (10), senior guard Turtle Jackson (11), junior guard Jordan Harris (13), junior guard Tyree Crump (10) and sophomore forward Rayshaun Hammonds (12).
Hammonds and Harris highlighted the Georgia offensive performance. Hammonds recorded his second double-double on the season and the third of his career. Harris’ stellar offensive efforts resulted in two new career-highs, as he tallied 13 points and sank three baskets from behind the three-point line.
On defense, Georgia committed a season-low nine turnovers against a Mississippi State team that ranks third in steals in the conference.
“We had that bad stretch at the end of the first half. We broke some plays, made some sloppy passes, and didn’t have our hands up in the zone,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “We overcame all of that. I’m not sure a couple weeks ago if our team overcomes that. We’re getting better. I think everybody can see it, I hope everybody can see it. The last two games we were good enough to win, but we just didn’t get the result. But we’re absolutely getting better, and we’re going to stay with it.”
Jackson sparked the Georgia offense in the first minutes of play, scoring eight of the first 10 points with two three-point baskets and a layup. A layup in transition by freshman guard Tye Fagan, along with a deep three from junior guard Tyree Crump, brought the Georgia squad within one point of Mississippi State with eight minutes remaining in the first period.
Following a made three-point basket from Harris to tie the game at 20-all, Georgia regained its first lead since the opening minutes of play with a layup from Ogbeide. The Georgia defense strung together two-straight stops, and Claxton’s first basket of the day gave Georgia a four-point advantage with just under four minutes to play.
Mississippi State then went on a 11-0 run within the last two minutes of play in the first period, sending Georgia into the locker room trailing, 36-25.
Out of the locker room, Mississippi State extended its run to 17-0 to give Mississippi State a 42-25 advantage. After knocking down a three-point basket, Harris stole the ball and was fouled going up for the shot. The junior guard sank one free-throw, bringing Georgia within single digits of Mississippi State for the first time in the second half.
With 13 minutes remaining in the second period, Georgia went on a 7-0 run to cut the Mississippi State lead to single digits. Jackson contributed assists in three-straight scoring possessions in under two minutes. Scoring the trio of baskets were Hammonds and Claxton. Hammonds highlighted the 7-0 run with two back-to-back baskets, the last of which from behind the arc. Capping the run was a jam from Claxton to lessen Mississippi State’s lead to five (56-51).
The Georgia offense continued to chip away at the Mississippi State lead. Back-to-back baskets from Ogbeide brought Georgia within four with 4:30 to play, marking the smallest deficit of the second half for Georgia. Harris countered a Mississippi State three-pointer with an and-one to maintain the four-point margin. The Georgia defense came up huge with a steal from Hammonds, resulting in a jumper from Crump to make it a two-point game with three minutes remaining.
Despite the impressive second-half performance by the Georgia offense, shooting 55.2 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the three-point line, Mississippi State held on to defeat Georgia, 68-67.
With this loss, the Georgia Bulldogs fall to 1-12 in the SEC and 10-16 overall. Next, Georgia travels to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on Ole Miss on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 3:30 p.m. E.T. on SECN.