GAME NOTES: The Georgia Bulldogs will play their final home game of the season on Wednesday night, as they welcome the last-place Mississippi State Bulldogs to Stegeman Coliseum for an SEC bout.
Mississippi State has been stuck in a prolonged tailspin for more than a month, as it has lost 11 consecutive games to slip to 13-16 overall and 3-13 in the SEC. The squad's streak of futility continued on Saturday with a convincing 85-66 loss at Missouri to remain winless on the road in nine tries.
In terms of its overall record, Georgia is only a few games better than Mississippi State (16-12), but it has performed very well in league action as it sits alone in third place in the SEC at 10-6. The team had difficulty in a tough road environment on Saturday, losing 87-75 at Arkansas, but it has been outstanding on its home floor at 13-2.
Georgia made easy work of Mississippi State in Starkville on Feb. 12, 75-55, to knot up the storied all-time series at 53 games a side.
Mississippi State trailed by 13 at the half of its contest over the weekend and never threatened the lead from that point forward, falling behind by as many as 28 before it was all said and done. It shot just 40.7 percent from the field in the setback while allowing Missouri to net a blistering 62.3 percent of its field goal attempts. Fred Thomas put up a strong effort with 18 points on 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Gavin Ware poured in 13 points, while Trivante Bloodman and Jacoby Davis had nine points apiece.
It's no surprise that MSU ranks near the bottom of the SEC rankings this season in both scoring offense (68.2 ppg) and scoring defense (71.3 ppg) while boasting poor percentages from beyond the arc (.310) and the free-throw line (.659). Craig Sword leads the way with 13.3 ppg, although he has more turnovers (83) than assists (74). Ware mans the paint with 10.3 ppg (on 59.8 percent field goal shooting) and 7.2 rpg, while Roquez Johnson (9.6 ppg), Colin Borchert (9.2 ppg) and Thomas (8.7 ppg) have also been solid.
Georgia was locked up in a tight battle against Arkansas early in its latest contest, but after battling through eight ties and 10 lead changes in the first half, Arkansas went on a 16-2 run to end the frame to go into intermission up seven and never looked back from there. UGA was outshot from the floor, 48.2 percent to 43.1 percent, and lost the turnover battle, 16-8. Kenny Gaines was outstanding despite the setback, knocking down 6-of-9 from 3- point distance on his way to 25 points. Marcus Thornton poured in 13 points and Brandon Morris scored 11.
On the season, Georgia has made the most of a modest offense, as it shoots 44.1 percent from the field for 69.3 ppg. It has stepped up its play on the opposite end of the court, allowing 67.4 ppg on a lowly 39.8 percent shooting. Charles Mann (13.2 ppg) and Gaines (13.1 ppg) are neck-and-neck for the scoring lead, with Gaines having topped 20 points in three of the last five games and having made 21 of his 44 3-pointers over that span. Morris (9.2 ppg) and Nemanja Djurisic (9.1 ppg) also bring regular contributions to the table.
Even though Georgia fell flat in its latest contest, it will certainly welcome a return home to play the SEC's last-place team.
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