Bulldogs open SEC play with win over Georgia

Bulldogs open SEC play with win over Georgia
SOURCE: MSU Athletics (Source: MSU Athletics)

ATHENS, Ga. - Iverson Molinar and Deivon Smith pumped home career-highs with 24 and 13 points, respectively, to spark the Mississippi State men’s basketball team to a wire-to-wire 83-73 victory over Georgia during Wednesday’s SEC opener for both teams.

The win enabled Mississippi State (6-3, 1-0 SEC) to put a couple of losing streaks in the rearview mirror. The Bulldogs won their first SEC opener since a 78-75 triumph over then No. 22 Arkansas (01/02/2018) and picked up a victory during their first conference road game since a 98-75 rout at LSU (01/07/2017).

Mississippi State won its fourth consecutive decision over Georgia (7-1, 0-1 SEC) and knocked the homestanding Bulldogs from the ranks of the unbeaten. The four-game run for State is its longest in the series going back to 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons. It marked the first time that MSU has won consecutive road games in Athens since the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.

Molinar fired in 16 of his career-high 24 points during the second half. He hit on 8-of-14 of his shot attempts and sank four three-pointers. He also tacked on three assists and three rebounds over his 26 minutes of action.

D.J. Stewart Jr. dialed up 18 points, coupled with a season’s best seven rebounds and two assists. He extended his streak to nine consecutive games in double figures.

Deivon Smith returned his home state in-style as the Loganville, Georgia, product exploded for a career-high 13 points aided by a trio of three-pointers. All 13 points for Smith came during the first half. He handed out three assists and grabbed two steals.

Jalen Johnson made it three-for-three in double figures as a starter for State. He notched 12 points, five rebounds and a block.

MSU’s starting frontcourt of Abdul Ado and Tolu Smith impacted the game in all facets. The duo teamed up for 12 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. The two blocks for Ado allowed him to surpass former teammate Aric Holman (2016-17-18-19) for fourth place on the program’s blocks list.

Javian Davis and Cameron Matthews rounded out the scoring for State with two points apiece, while Quinten Post secured two blocks on the defensive end.

For the contest, Mississippi State came away with a 29-of-66 shooting effort (43.9 percent), a season-high 12 triples on 27 attempts (44.4 percent) and rattled home a 13-of-18 clip at the free throw line (72.2 percent).

State won the battle of the boards by a 42-41 margin and turned its 13 offensive rebounds into a 13-5 edge in second-chance points. MSU also forced Georgia into 15 turnovers and scored 22 of the game’s 31 points off turnovers.

UGA countered with a 26-of-65 mark from the floor (40.0 percent), a 9-of-25 performance from three-point territory (36.0 percent) and was 12-of-18 on foul shots (66.7 percent). P.J. Horne delivered 21 points, fueled by five treys. Toumani Camara collected a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He had to work for his 11 points on 13 shot attempts.

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