NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s why you play a full 40 minutes.
For a while it looked like Georgia would coast into the quarterfinals during its Thursday night game against Mississippi State. But a furious rally from Mississippi State, down 16 at one point in the second half, put Georgia’s chances of advancing in doubt.
Mississippi State wouldn’t get closer than a four-point deficit, however, as Georgia took the second-round game between the two teams 79-69.
Georgia (18-12) got a game-high 28 points from junior guard J.J. Frazier. Mississippi State (14-17) was paced by guard Craig Sword, who scored 19.
FOUR WHO MATTERED
Frazier: Frazier was once again the catalyst for Georgia, shooting the deep 3 and driving to create his own looks. He finished with 28 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also made all eight of his free-throw attempts. He did have his leg looked at during the second half but was able to return and finish the game.
Yante Maten: Maten dealt with double teams all night from the Mississippi State big men. It didn’t matter, as he put in a great game, going 7-of-11 shooting from the field and scoring 20 points.
Charles Mann: Mann was Georgia’s third-leading scorer with 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting. He did a good job driving and drawing fouls, which is what he’s been known for throughout his career with the Bulldogs.
Fred Thomas: Every time Georgia threatened to blow Mississippi State out, Thomas answered with a 3. He went 4-of-8 shooting from behind the arc en route to 17 points.
Mississippi State, which made this game interesting late, missed its last eight field goals to close the game. A lot of credit goes to Georgia’s interior defense, which altered a lot of looks. Maten finished the game with 3 blocks.
Full-court press: It looks liked Georgia was about to run away with the game as it held a 16-point lead during the second half. With about 10 minutes to go in the second half, Mississippi State started pressing Georgia, to which the Bulldogs had a ton of trouble with. Georgia’s offense began to sputter and allowed Mississippi State back in the game with six minutes remaining.
Defense steps up: Mississippi State entered the game having shot over 45 percent from the field in its past six games. Georgia held Mississippi State to 37 percent shooting, which proved to be one of the biggest differences in the game. And that was with Mississippi State hitting 8 3-pointers.
Free-throw shooting: Georgia’s free-throw shooting has considerably improved over its four-game winning streak. Against Mississippi State, Georgia went 24-of-28 shooting from the free-throw line.
Geno notches career high: Junior Kenny Paul Geno brought down a career-high 8 rebounds in the game. Four of those rebounds came in the final four minutes of the game.
Weatherspoon held in check: Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon entered the game having made 17 of his last 31 3-pointers. Georgia took him completely out of the game as he missed both of his attempts from the perimeter. Weatherspoon only scored 4 points in 25 minutes.
Four in a row: Georgia extended its winning streak to four games in a row, which matches its season high. From Dec. 8-29, Georgia defeated Winthrop, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Robert Morris.
THEY SAID IT
Fox on Georgia losing the 16-point lead in the second half: "I thought we completely lost our concentration once we got a double-figure lead, didn't handle that very well. But certainly good to win and live another day."
Mann on limiting Weatherspoon's production: "He's going to have a bright future. We just wanted to find him and not let him get height and go off. We did a pretty OK job at it, but he's a great player and it was a team effort."
Maten on playing physical against Ware: "It was definitely a physical game. I knew it was because he's just a physical person, so I was expecting him to try to punch him first and not let him get to his spot because that's pretty much the biggest thing for bigs is, if you let them get to the spot, you can't really do anything because you can't push him because that's a foul. So just trying to get down the court and beat him to the spot."
Georgia will take on No. 3 seed South Carolina on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.