'Dogs Bounce Back With a Win Over Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. - Mississippi State picked up a much needed "bounce back win" in men's basketball action Saturday night. The M-State Bulldogs scored the game's first seven points, built a 19-point lead and later held on for a 67-61 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs before a crowd of 8,326 at Stegeman Coliseum.

With the victory, MSU improved to 14-6 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia fell to 9-10 and 0-4. MSU made amends for Wednesday's night 81-57 league setback at LSU. The Maroon and White Bulldogs have now won five of their last six games overall, two road contests in league play and also won here for the first time since 2005.

Ravern Johnson opened a monster night by draining a 3-point basket on his first shot attempt. After a basket by Jarvis Varnado, steal by Barry Stewart and layup by Phil Turner, the visiting Bulldogs had sprinted to a 7-0 advantage.

The lead grew to 15-2 less than two minutes later when Turner drained a 3-point basket. A 3-point basket by UGA's Ricky McPhee cut the lead to 19-11. The M-State Bulldogs would eventually hit four of their first six shots from 3-point range and opened the game's largest lead at 30-11 with 9:05 remaining in the half.

Behind a 3-point basket by Trey Tompkins and a pair of baskets by Corey Butler, the hosts slowly climbed back into the contest. Despite an amazing 16 first-half turnovers, Georgia ended the half on a 15-6 run and only trailed 36-24 at the intermission.

The hosts still trailed by double digits, down 47-37 with 12:24 remaining. From there, UGA reeled off the game's next six points. At the 7:21 mark, a 3-point basket by McPhee brought the home crowd back into the activity as UGA was only down 52-50.

From there, MSU used an 8-2 run to open up some breathing room. Barry Stewart and Turner hit back-to-back 3's for the visiting Bulldogs.

Still, UGA had one last stand. A 3-pointer by Dustin Ware cut the deficit to 64-61 with 21 seconds remaining. However, UGA missed five of its final six shots and MSU hit enough free throws to seal the victory.

For the contest, MSU hit 23 of 56 shots from the field (41.1 percent), 9 of 24 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 12 of 19 shots from the foul line (63.2 percent). UGA hit 22 of 57 shots from the field (38.6 percent), 9 of 24 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 8 of 10 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent).

UGA held a 41-32 rebounding advantage. MSU had eight assists and 13 turnovers, while UGA had seven assists and 22 turnovers.

Johnson led MSU with 21 points - all in the opening half. For the 6-foot-7 sophomore, it was his second biggest scoring night of the season. Johnson missed all three of his second half shots but still finished 8 of 15 from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

Varnado finished with 14 points, including 12 in the game's final half. Varnado finished with a team-high eight rebounds and also blocked four shots. Turner was also in double figures with 13 points.

McPhee paced UGA with 15 points, while Dustin Ware scored 14 points. Jeremy Price added 10 points. Terrance Woodbury and Thompkins each had a team-high six rebounds.

MSU returns home to host in-state rival Ole Miss Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs and Rebs tip at noon inside the Humphrey Coliseum. That contest will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports.

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