Dawgs fall in SEC opener

STARKVILLE - Mississippi State (11-5, 2-0) displayed yet another impressive defensive performance Saturday afternoon at home in Humphrey Coliseum with a 60-49 victory over the visiting Bulldogs of Georgia (9-5, 0-1).

Leading State to the victory was all-America candidate Jamont Gordon, who notched 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting along with nine boards. Sophomore defensive standout Jarvis Varnado, who ranks atop the SEC and third in the nation in blocks per outing, tied Mississippi State's all-time record for most shots swatted in a single contest with 10, tying his previous record in an outing versus Miami. Varnado also recorded nine points and nine rebounds. Senior all-SEC forward Charles Rhodes saw his first floor time after suffering a sprained left ankle last week, and pitched in eight points and three rebounds in only 12 minutes.

In the loss, Georgia was led in scoring by senior Sundiata Gaines who managed 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting from the field along with only a 1-of-6 mark from behind the arc.

Clinging to a three-point, 27-24 lead at the half, State saw Georgia regain the lead with a 4-0 start to the second stanza. However, MSU would then storm to a 10-0 stretch of their own, carried by three consecutive three-pointers by sophomores Barry Stewart and Ben Hansbrough, and that cushion would prove the difference in the final outcome as UGA could never overcome that MSU momentum.

Georgia is the second consecutive MSU opponent that was held to their lowest scoring total of the season along with the worst field goal percentage of the year, as the Bulldogs of the SEC East only mustered 49 points on 16-of-65 shooting (24.6%) from the field.

The victorious Bulldogs also posted an all-time MSU record for most blocks by a team in a single outing, altering 16 shots as Gordon, Rhodes, and freshman Phil Turner each chipped in two behind Varnado's 10. With the win, MSU now floats just above the .500 mark all-time versus Georgia with 49 wins to 48 losses. Head coach Rick Stansbury moved to 9-1 in SEC home openers and is just four wins shy of becoming the 20th member of the SEC's 200-win club.

In State's current season-best, six-game win streak, the Bulldogs have shot a collective 49.3 percent from the floor while holding their opponents to 31.1 percent shooting. In that same timeframe, MSU has scored an average of 77.5 points per contest while holding their opponents to 56.7 points, an average margin of victory of 20.8 points per win.

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