The Georgia men’s basketball team hosted Gardner-Webb at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. (Photo by Jack Casey)
Jack Casey

Georgia basketball loses 88-72 to Mississippi State in Starkville

Georgia basketball led Mississippi State at halftime on Wednesday night but could not hold on, falling 88-72 on Wednesday night at Humphrey Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

Georgia (5-11, 0-3 SEC) was 23-of-55 shooting on the night and surrendered 15 turnovers. Mississippi State (11-4, 2-1) finished 37-of-70 shooting with just 8 turnovers.

Kario Oquendo had a season-high 28 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Iverson Molinar scored 28 points, dished out 7 assists, and pulled down 3 rebounds to lead the Maroon Bulldogs. The 28 points were a career high for the junior.

Georgia got started early from behind the 3-point line. Two deep threes from Oquendo and Noah Baumann gave Georgia a 14-8 lead at the 14:38 mark of the first half.

Mississippi State relentlessly attacked the rim, scoring 24 of its 35 first-half points in the paint. It ultimately outscored Georgia 58-28 in paint points, taking advantage of Coach Tom Crean’s team having a depleted front court after season-ending injuries to graduate transfers Jailyn Ingram and P.J. Horne.

State struggled to score from deep, though. Mississippi State was 2-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.

Georgia also made nine free throws in the first half. A Noah Baumann layup with 10 seconds remaining gave the visiting Bulldogs a 36-35 advantage at halftime.

Mississippi State had an electric start to the second half. A five-minute, 16-5 run put it firmly in the driver’s seat for the final stretch of the contest.

A Molinar layup at the 13:17 mark capped the runoff and gave Mississippi State a 53-43 lead, the first double-digit lead for either team.

Seven consecutive points courtesy of Jabri Abdur Rahim pulled UGA within three points of Mississippi State. A Javian Davis dunk put the cherry on top of an 8-0 run that quickly put Georgia in the rearview mirror of a 65-57 advantage.

One final 11-2 run in the final five minutes put the red and black Bulldogs to bed for good.

The loss followed Kentucky’s defeat of Georgia Tuesday night, where the Bulldogs trailed the No. 16-ranked Wildcats by just three at the half before falling 92-77.

Georgia will be back at home playing host to Vanderbilt Saturday night.