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Feb 6, 2024 8:43 pm

Georgia, Mississippi State aim to end SEC skids

Tolu Smith

Georgia and Mississippi State are looking for the same thing: a bounce-back effort to snap a string of Southeastern Conference losses and get back on track toward a potential NCAA Tournament at-large berth.

The seemingly evenly matched sets of Bulldogs will have to go through each other to make that happen Wednesday night in Starkville, Miss., in a much-needed home date for Mississippi State (14-8, 3-6 SEC).

Those Bulldogs lost 99-67 Saturday night at conference leader Alabama, committing 18 turnovers that led to 27 points and giving up a season-high point total to the nation’s top-scoring team (89.9 ppg).

But Mississippi State coach Chris Jans looks back a season to find optimism for a turnaround.

“Last year, at the turn, we were 2-7 (in SEC play),” he said. “We found a way to stay together, and we continued to practice and fight. We ended up turning the tide a bit and made the NCAA Tournament. I’m pretty confident I’ve got a group of men in there that understand we have to move on.”

Tolu Smith leads Mississippi State — which has lost two games in a row — with an average of 16.9 points per game and is coming off a game-high 23 at Alabama. Freshman guard Josh Hubbard supplies 14.8 ppg but hit for only seven on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Georgia (14-8, 4-5) is trying to snap a three-game skid after losing 72-62 Saturday to newly ranked South Carolina. Georgia led by two at halftime but was outscored 34-22 in the second half despite getting 20 total points from Jabri Abdur-Rahim.

Georgia coach Mike White said his team needs to reconsider some things amid its longest losing streak of the season.

“It’s something we haven’t been through yet,” he said. “We’re going to try to talk some things out. We’ve got to figure out what gives us the best chance to win moving forward.”

Abdur-Rahim leads the team’s balanced attack at 13.4 ppg, while Noah Thomasson chips in an average of 12.0 and RJ Melendez 11.0.

Georgia made only 22 of 56 attempts from the field (39.3 percent) against South Carolina, including 9 of 28 from 3-point range.

–Field Level Media

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