Frazier leads Georgia past Mississippi St. 72-66
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) In front of its largest crowd this season of 7,549 at Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State battled back from a 12-point second half deficit before falling just short against Georgia, 72-66.
A career night from Georgia’s J.J. Frazier was the difference for the surging Dawgs, knocking down all seven of his 3s for 37 points.
”Every time it left my hands I knew it was going in,” Frazier said. ”For the most part, I try to get good shots for my teammates. Today, I got open and just knocked shots down. I’ve never been perfect from the three point line. I’m pretty sure this was the best game of my career so far.”
Frazier led all scorers and his 37 were the most points at the Hump since 2012. He made 12-of-14 from the floor. The effort from the sophomore could be attributed to MSU focusing on shutting down star forward Marcus Thorton, who finished with just three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
”The good thing about Marcus (Thornton) playing so well is eventually it’s going to open up shots for other people,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ”We just kind of do things in the framework of what we do.”
Georgia (13-5, 4-2 SEC) shot 49 percent from the field but hit 11 of 18 from three-point range for 61 percent. The majority of its offense, however, came from an incredible performance from Frazier, who put in 27 points above his average.
After a seven-point halftime lead from Georgia, MSU (9-10, 2-4) got no closer than three points the rest of the way and the Bulldogs led by as many as 12.
”Georgia is probably the second best team in the league and, by far, the most physical team,” MSU coach Rick Ray said following the loss. ”To our guys’ credit, we didn’t stop taking it to the rim. I thought we had opportunities to finish at the rim that we didn’t do.”
MSU was led by a career-day from Roquez Johnson, who had 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting and made it a double-double by adding 11 rebounds.
”We just have to learn from this game. I felt like we had a good game overall,” Johnson said. ”We’re learning off our mistakes. We’ve just got to stay together. I know that’s a tough loss, but we’ve just got to move on to the next game.”
MSU shot 34 percent and tied a season-high eight 3-pointers on 18 attempts. It out-rebounded Georgia 42-32 and had the advantage in the paint, 28-18.
Georgia extended its lead to 12 in the second half, but Mississippi State wouldn’t go away. It twice battled back to a three-point game and had a 9-2 run thanks to three straight 3s to cut the margin to a point, 65-64, with less than two minutes left. Georgia hit key free throws down the stretch to clinch the road win.
”I think anyone that has seen us from beginning to end can see that we’re playing our best basketball,” Ray said of his squad. ”You want the end result to end up being a win, but just because you didn’t get the win doesn’t mean that you’re not making strides as a basketball team. I think we did today.”
The loss snapped back-to-back wins for MSU who was coming off of a home win last Saturday against Vanderbilt and an upset victory in Auburn on Wednesday, the first road win in over two years for Ray. Georgia has reeled off four-consecutive victories to move to 4-2 and in prime position behind undefeated Kentucky.
Georgia: J.J. Frazier was 12-for-14 shooting on the day hitting 7-for-7 from three. The rest of the team shot 12 of 29 and 4 of 11 from three. Frazier was averaging just nine points coming into the game and 41 percent from beyond the arc.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs of Starkville got a combined 23 rebounds from their starting post players, Gavin Ware and Roquez Johnson. Ware had 12 rebounds, giving him 28 in the last two games combined.
Georgia heads back home for a Tuesday matchup against Vanderbilt. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (ET) tip on SEC Network.
Mississippi State heads to Oxford for a rivalry matchup against Ole Miss at Tad Smith Coliseum on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.