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First-year coaches have Georgia, Miss. State thriving

Jan 7, 2023; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Terry Roberts (0) dribbles the ball around Florida Gators guard Kyle Lofton (11) during the second half at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia will look to double its win total from all of last season when it hosts Mississippi State in Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday in Athens, Ga.

Coming off the worst season in SEC history, Georgia (11-4, 1-1 SEC) is much-improved under first-year coach Mike White, who arrived after leading Florida for seven seasons. He replaced Tom Crean, who was let go after the Bulldogs went 6-26 last season.

Georgia, which has dropped five straight to Mississippi State, is coming off an 82-75 loss to host Florida on Saturday that ended its four-game winning streak.

Mississippi State (12-3, 1-2) ended a three-game skid with a 64-54 win over visiting Ole Miss on Saturday.

Georgia led the Gators by 13 points in the first half before trailing by that many in the second half en route to its seventh straight loss to Florida.

Terry Roberts, who averages a team-high 15.7 points and 4.2 assists per game, finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists. Kario Oquendo, who averages 14.1 points per game, added nine points. Braelen Bridges, who averages 7.5 points per game, chipped in 10 points and five rebounds against the Gators.

“I thought we were terrific defensively throughout the entire game,” White said. “We were really scrappy on the offensive glass and in transition offense to make it interesting down the stretch. I thought we responded to being down. … I’m really proud of this group. We continue to fight.”

Mississippi State rallied from a seven-point deficit with 12:43 left by going on a 16-3 run to take a 47-41 lead it wouldn’t relinquish with 7:42 to go.

“Our backs were against the wall,” Mississippi State first-year coach Chris Jans said. “We had to win, plain and simple.”

Will McNair Jr., who averages 4.1 points per game, had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Tolu Smith, who averages team-highs in points (14.2) and rebounds (7.8), finished with 12 points and five rebounds.

Eric Reed Jr. added nine points and eight rebounds, while D.J. Jeffries, who averages 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, finished with six points and eight rebounds against the Rebels.

–Field Level Media