"We weren't for sure that we would have Lawrence Roberts," said Stansbury. "And if we had him, could he play? It was a warmup decision. He said he could go. I had no idea that he would play 36 minutes. That was huge for a guy who hadn't practiced in four days."
The Bulldogs from Georgia took an early lead, but Mississippi State, needing this win to solidify an NCAA berth, battled back, finally tying the game 28-28 with about five minutes left in the first half. Mississippi State then took a lead and ended the half with a 43-36 advantage.
Stansbury admitted after the game how important this win was to his team. "Without me just coming right out and saying this was a must win for us, we all understood that," said Stansbury.
State came out in the second half and expanded their lead to as many as 12 before Georgia started chipping away. They eventually got the lead down to five points with 8:30 to go, but Mississippi State once again expanded the lead.
Over the course of the final 5:35, Mississippi State used a 13-4 run to put the game in the W column against a Georgia team that had just defeated Auburn after getting their leading scorer, Levi Stukes, back after a three week absence due to a sprain ankle.
"I'm really proud of the way our kids responded with their backs against the wall," said Stansbury. "They did it against a very, very pesky Georgia basketball team that was coming off a win against Auburn. They are now full speed with their best player back."
MSU outrebounded Georgia 45-25 and had a season-high 14 steals.
"I thought, for the first time in a long time, I saw a little bit of our old basketball team," said Stansbury. "We were getting in some passing lanes, scoring in transition, rebounding the basketball and playing good defense. That was the key to us getting it going in the first half."
Winsome Frazier, who had not recorded a steal since coming back from his foot injury, had 4 in the game.
"That is a key to our basketball team," Stansbury said of Frazier's ability to once again move well enough to get in the passing lanes and steal the ball. "We hadn't seen him do that in a long time."
Georgia put four men in double figures, led by the 14 points of Channing Toney, followed by Levi Stukes' 13 points, Sundiata Gaines' 12 and Dave Bliss' 10 points.
Mississippi State's next game is Saturday at 6 p.m. versus Ole Miss in Humphrey Coliseum.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.