No. 19 Mississippi St. 71, Georgia 58

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)—Mississippi State couldn’t have asked for a better start against Georgia.

Lawrence Roberts scored 17 points and Timmy Bowers added 15 points and nine assists as the 19th-ranked Bulldogs scored the first 19 points in a 71-58 win on Saturday.

Mississippi State (16-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) held Georgia scoreless for the game’s first 8 minutes and never trailed.

“We had it all working,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “I like our energy. I like our chemistry. I like the way this team has continued to get better. I like the direction that we are headed.”

Georgia (9-7, 1-4) got no closer than eight points after the opening spurt and didn’t get its first field goal until Rashad Wright’s 3-pointer with about 10:40 left in the first half.

Georgia, which upset Kentucky and Georgia Tech, shot 25.8 percent in the first half, allowed 14 first-half points off turnovers and couldn’t take advantage of Roberts’ early foul trouble.

“Any time your best player steps out of the game, other guys are going to have to step up,” Bowers said. “I think they stepped up today.”

Winsome Frazier had 14 points for Mississippi State and reserve Marcus Campbell added 12. Branden Vincent had 10 rebounds.

Stansbury said his team should be proud of its effort.

“Georgia beat the No. 3 team in the country in Georgia Tech and went to Lexington and won,” Stansbury said, referring to the win over Kentucky. “Those are two things that a lot of people haven’t done. And for us to not just win the game, but to get off to a 19-0 run is a pretty good way to get a basketball game started against a pretty good team.”

Mississippi State’s only loss is to Kentucky.

Roberts, who came into the game averaging 16.5 points and 10.8 rebounds while shooting 56 percent, had just four points in the first half.

Roberts had to leave the game after picking up his second foul about 10 minutes into the half. He was 6-of-9 from the field for the game.

Georgia tried to change its lineup around to get things going offensively, but the changes had limited success.

“We can match other teams … quick, small or large,” Roberts said.

“The thing we said before the game was that we lost to Kentucky at home and we consider that a losing streak, so we came out ready to play today,” Bowers said.

Mississippi State shot 62.5 percent in the second half and turned back Georgia’s late run.

State led 63-43 with 5:57 remaining after a dunk by Roberts, but Georgia cut the lead with an 11-2 run.

“I saw our team do a fine job of fighting back,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “For a good portion of the second half the lead was like between eight and 12. … Our team didn’t let the emotion of falling back 19-0 destroy them.”

Damien Wilkins had 17 points for Georgia, including a 3-pointer with 3:59 left to cut the lead to 63-49. Wright hit a 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining to make it 65-54, but Roberts dunked 30 seconds later off a miss by Bowers.

Shane Power got State going with a layup off an inbounds pass to open the scoring. Bowers got the final basket of the run, a 3-pointer at 12:54 mark to give Mississippi State the 19-0 lead.

Bowers had eight points in the first half.

Georgia finally ended the run with two free throws by Wilkins with 11:58 left in the first half.

Georgia cut the lead to nine points when Jonas Hayes tipped in a missed shot to make it 25-14 with 6:30 left, but Mississippi State led 33-22 at halftime.

Mississippi State broke a three-game losing streak to Georgia.

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