Georgia basketball is going to have to grow up in a hurry if it has any chance of becoming an NCAA tournament team this season.
Coach Tom Crean’s young squad came apart on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday night, falling 91-59 in a battle of SEC Bulldogs.
Crean’s concerns about Mississippi State’s size and rebounding prowess became a reality.
The maroon-and-white clad Bulldogs entered the night as the SEC’s top rebounding team. They proceeded to show why, posting a commanding 40-22 advantage on the glass over UGA. 48 of State’s 91 points were scored in the paint.
Georgia dropped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with the loss, while Coach Ben Howland’s team improved to 11-6 and 2-3 in league games.
UGA freshman Anthony Edwards got off to a rough start at the so-called “Hump.” Edwards was held to 3 points in the first half and made only 1 of his first 9 shots.
Edwards finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 marksmanship beyond the 3-point line.
Georgia, coming off an 80-63 home win over Tennessee, kept things close throughout much of the first half in Starkville.
Freshman Toumani Camera scored all 10 of his points in the opening half, including a dunk that made it 32-28.
But Mississippi State closed the first half on a 10-3 run to take a 42-31 lead to intermission.
Georgia couldn’t get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the game.
Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, UGA’s top interior threat, scored 8 of his 10 points and grabbed 3 of his 4 rebounds in the first half.
Hammonds scored just one basket on 1-of-6 shooting and grabbed just one rebound in the 15 minutes he played in the second half.
The home team went on a 17-3 run late in the game, stretching the lead out to 30 points with four minutes left.
UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who suffered an ankle injury last Wednesday, started and played 21 minutes. Wheeler had 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting, and 1 assist.
The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. at Kentucky on Tuesday.
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