Charles Mann scored 19 points and Juwan Parker added 16 as Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Mississippi State 75-55 on Wednesday night.
Georgia struggled early, needing more than six minutes to score from the field. However, behind 22-8 midway through the first half, Coach Fox inserted Booneville, Mississippi native Kenny Paul Geno into the game. With friends and family cheering from behind the Georgia bench, the former Mississippi State fan scored 6 points and inspired the visiting Bulldogs to go on a 20 – 5 run and take a 28-27 halftime lead. Georgia eventually stretched the one point advantage into a 24 point lead late in the second half.
Georgia (13-10, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) is now tied with Mississippi for third place in the league. The Bulldogs meet the Rebels on Saturday in Athens, Ga.
Mississippi State (13-11, 3-8) has lost six straight. It was a miserable shooting night for MSU, which made just 3 of 25 attempts (12 percent) from 3-point range. Craig Sword led Mississippi State with 10 points.
While Kenny Paul Geno was the feel good story of the game, Charles Mann was the player of the game, shooting 4 of 7 from the field and 10 of 11 on free throws in 34 minutes of play. Mann also added six rebounds and five assists and had only 3 turnovers. Over shadowed by what was perhaps Mann’s best performance of the year was the play of Juwan Parker.
In 20 minutes of action, Parker scored 16 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 7 of 7 from the free throw line. Parker also claimed 5 rebounds. Marcus Thornton added nine points and eight rebounds. Georgia shot 17 of 23 (73.9 percent) from the field in the second half.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 22-8 lead after a 3-pointer by Fred Thomas with 9:54 remaining in the first half. Georgia struggled to put anything in the basket early, missing its first eight shots before Brandon Morris finally knocked down a jumper.
Georgia coach Mark Fox used 12 players in the first half, trying to find a few who could produce points.
In the second half, Georgia pounded inside for easy baskets and stretched the lead to 57-39 on Marcus Thornton’s layup with 8:16 remaining. Georgia scored 40 points in the paint.
It was a bitter loss for Mississippi State, which squandered the 14-point first-half lead and was then embarrassed in the second half as Georgia picked apart its defense.
Now MSU faces two straight road games against Auburn and LSU before returning to Humphrey Coliseum.