NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kenny Paul Geno got the nod with under five minutes remaining in the game. As someone who doesn’t close games often, especially those within single digits, Geno knew he’d have to step up and take on the responsibility of cleaning up any defensive rebounds.
When Mississippi State cut Georgia’s lead to only four points with 4:14 to go, Geno said he took it upon himself to do everything he could give his team possession. What transpired was an inspired performance with 4 important rebounds in the final four minutes of Georgia’s 79-69 second-round win over Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament.
Geno finished with a career-high 8 rebounds but particularly crashed the boards hard down the stretch of Thursday evening’s game. It was one of Geno’s better games of the season, which came at a perfect time.
"We were only up by four so I had to get these rebounds," Geno said. "Yante (Maten) had to handle Gavin Ware in the post and block him out. I was trying to hit, release and get the ball out quick."
One of Geno’s best traits this season has been his ability to play positions three through five. Against Mississippi State, Geno played a lot of power forward with Mississippi State running four smaller players and Ware in the second half.
"We played small there for a big chunk of minutes, and certainly (Geno) and Yante’s ability to rebound the ball and move and get to balls was important for us," Fox said.
Mississippi State missed its final eight field goals of the game, which came through a combination of missed 3-pointers and altered shots inside.
Maten did a good job altering shots – and blocking one – in the final four minutes. That allowed Geno to do what he was able to do for the Bulldogs in the victory.
"He’s definitely an athletic player," senior guard Kenny Gaines said. "The fact he can use his God-given gift to help his team out was a blessing."