Georgia got what it needed on Saturday night in Starkville: a win.
For just the second time this season, UGA won a game away from Athens, boosting its overall record to 14-9 overall, 7-5 in the SEC. More importantly, the Dawgs avoided what could have been their worst loss of the season as the Maroon Dogs entered tonight’s game with an ugly RPI of 164.
Coach Fox’s team won tonight’s game with defense. The Dawgs played matchup zone for a majority of the night, limiting Mississippi State to just 31% from the floor. Missy State entered this contest with the 3rd best shooting percentage in the conference in SEC games at over 45%; yet, Georgia managed to hold them in check, contesting shot after shot. UGA also did an excellent job of securing their opponent’s misses, out rebounding State by a tally of 45-35. The Dawgs have the best defensive rebounding percentage in the SEC in league games, and tonight was no different as Georgia hauled in 75% of the Missy State misses.
The Maroon Dogs were led offensively by Quinndary Weatherspoon, who netted 17 points. The team’s leading scorer, Gavin Ware, finished with only 6 points, nearly 10 below his SEC average.
UGA closed out the first half with an 11-4 run, capped off by a Yante Maten jumper that sent the score to 32-21 going into the break. Maten, who finished with a game-high 25 points, scored 15 of them prior to the intermission. He was unstoppable this evening, scoring on an array of layups, hook shots, and midrange jumpers.
Georgia began the second half with an 11-2 run, and after a pair of free throws from none other than Yante Maten, the Dawgs’ lead had blossomed to 43-23 with a little over 17 minutes remaining in the game. From this point on UGA coasted, leaving Starkville with the 66-57 victory.
Charles Mann played arguably his best game of the season, scoring a season-high 21 points, six of which came on a pair of three-pointers.
Freshman Derek Ogbeide got the start tonight at the five spot, a position that has been somewhat of a revolving door for the Dawgs this season. While Ogbeide only netted 4 points, he did grab a team-high 13 rebounds.
The Dawgs have two days off before they returning to action on Tuesday night in Athens for a big time showdown with the Florida Gators. Both Florida and Texas A&M lost today, putting UGA in a four-way tie for 4th place in the conference (with Vanderbilt being the other 7-5 team).
The contest with the Gators could have huge SEC and NCAA tournament ramifications.