Mississippi State dumps cold-shooting Georgia

Tolu Smith’s 19-point, 12-rebound effort led Mississippi State to a 75-62 Southeastern Conference win over Georgia on Wednesday in a matchup of Bulldogs at Starkville, Miss.

Josh Hubbard added 14 points for Mississippi State (15-8, 4-6 SEC), while Shakeel Moore scored 11 and KeShawn Murphy came off the bench to net 10 points. Mississippi State made just 41.7 percent of its shots from the field but controlled the boards 43-33 and boasted a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint.

Noah Thomasson scored a game-high 20 points for Georgia (14-9, 4-6), hitting 6 of 11 3-point attempts, and Blue Cain contributed 10 points. It wasn’t enough to prevent the visitors from dropping their fourth straight game. Georgia made 12 of 33 3-point attempts (36.4 percent) but finished the game at just 35.1 percent from the field.

Mississippi State led for nearly 38 minutes but still needed a late surge to put the game away. Georgia used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to pull within 56-53 with 6:21 left when Cain sank a basket.

However, Mississippi State promptly got back-to-back 3-pointers from Shawn Jones Jr. and Hubbard in a 20-second span, fueling an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 11. Georgia never really threatened again.

The early storyline was Georgia being absolutely ice cold to begin the game. After Thomasson initiated the visitors’ scoring with a 3-pointer just under two minutes in, Georgia went 4 1/2 minutes before Jabri Abdur-Rahim made a 3-pointer.

Then Georgia went another 3:49 before making its first 2-point shot on a midrange jumper by Cain. However, Mississippi State wasn’t a whole lot better offensively, so Georgia trailed only 14-8 with just over 10 minutes elapsed.

Both teams found some offensive traction after that. Mississippi State upped the advantage to 31-17 when Jones dunked with 3:06 left in the half, but Georgia fought back. Silas Demary Jr. made two foul shots with two seconds left as Georgia finished with an 8-2 spurt to pull within 36-28 at halftime.

Georgia managed just nine makes in 29 field goal attempts (31 percent) in the half. Mississippi State was 11 of 29 (37.9 percent) from the floor before the break.