Unbeaten Georgia faces Mississippi State in SEC opener

·2 min read

Georgia finished its nonconference schedule undefeated and now it gets to see how it measures up against SEC competition.

The Bulldogs (7-0) will host Mississippi State (5-3) in the conference opener for both teams Wednesday night in Athens.

"I'm really eager to get there," said P.J. Horne, who had 11 points and seven rebounds in a 76-58 victory against Northeastern in Georgia's last game Dec. 22. "We have a strong team and once we get there, we will fight and learn how to go about things in the SEC."

Georgia faced a 15-point deficit early in the second half against Northeastern, but used a 21-0 run on its way to outscoring the Huskies 44-13 in the second half.

Coach Tom Crean said it was "huge" that his team had the experience of overcoming such a large deficit to claim a victory.

"You don't like it when it's happening, but you certainly appreciate it after," he said. "There are a lot of different experiences, and we've had a lot of different experiences, whether it's a pace game, whether we have to come back, whether we have to build on a lead. There's a ton of room for this team to get better."

Mississippi State wasn't as successful in its nonconference schedule as Georgia, but opening league play on the road will be a good gauge.

MSU won its five home games by an average of 20.5 points but lost all three games at neutral sites against generally stronger competition than it faced at home.

"Right now, the bottom line is the SEC is a whole new season," MSU coach Ben Howland said. "Everything starts over, in terms of SEC play. Once it starts, it never stops -- 19 games (counting Iowa State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge), and they're coming at you.

"Starting at Georgia is tough. It's a grind. It's going to be a real challenge. Our league is so good. We have some teams that are really playing well in our conference right now. We're just on to the next game, which is Georgia, and that's going to be a big challenge."

MSU's last game was an 87-48 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 21. Five players scored in double figures and the Bulldogs had a season-high 19 assists on 33 field goals.

--Field Level Media