Bulldogs seek wins heading into tourney

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoBy Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

Rick Ray’s first Southeastern Conference road game ended in a 72-61 Mississippi State victory at Georgia.

Since that time MSU has gone 0-17 on the road, including 16 straight in the SEC.

State returns to Stegeman Coliseum tonight at 6 to face Georgia hoping to earn its first road victory in 14 months.

“You can’t talk about road wins, you just talk about getting better at what you do,” said MSU assistant coach Chris Hollender. “Obviously Georgia has been playing very well here in SEC play. You’ve just got to make a point to (our players) that we’ve got two games left here and we have to do everything we can to go in there, fight and get a win.”

Mississippi State (13-16, 3-13) is in the midst of a season-long 11-game losing skid. MSU will finish the regular season with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1988-89.

State is coming off an 85-66 road setback at Missouri over the weekend. MSU was without sophomore shooting guard and leading scorer Craig Sword, who missed the game while attending his grandmother’s funeral in Alabama. Freshman point guard I.J. Ready was lost in the second half after aggravating a knee injury.

“I think we did some good things,” Hollender said. “Our guys had a good couple of days of practice and we came into the game and got off to a really good start. We actually shot the ball from 3 better than we have all year.”

Both Sword and Ready are expected to be back in the lineup tonight in Athens where both sets of Bulldogs are locked in a 53-53 tie in the overall series. Georgia has a 27-19 advantage at home although Mississippi State has won two of its last three trips there.

Last time

Georgia (16-12, 10-6) won their earlier meeting between the two programs 75-55 on Feb. 12 in Starkville, MSU’s worst home loss this season. State let an early 14-point advantage slip away as UGA’s Charles Mann and Juwan Parker scored 18 and 16 points respectively.

Booneville’s Kenny Paul Geno also contributed off the bench for Georgia, scoring a career-high six points in 14 minutes.

Sword was the only Mississippi State player in double figures against Georgia with 10. He paces MSU with 13.3 points per game.

Georgia has won two of its last three but is coming off an 87-75 loss at Arkansas on Saturday. UGA is led by the backcourt duo of Mann and Kenny Gaines both averaging 13 points a game.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com