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January 16, 2010

State wins battle of the Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, Miss. - A season-high 15 points from senior Phil Turner sparked an impressive late-game rally to lift the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-3, 3-0 SEC) to a 72-69 victory against the Georgia Bulldogs (8-8, 0-3 SEC) at Humphrey Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Turner provided the energy MSU required off the bench and added five rebounds and three vital steals in the game's final minutes to secure the win for State. The win is Mississippi State's 12th in its last 13 games as it stays among the league's undefeated teams.

Sophomore Dee Bost tied Turner for the team lead with 15 points and 7 assists, while all-SEC senior Jarvis Varnado contributed 14 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks to record his 10th double-double of the season and 24th of his career. Senior Barry Stewart added 10 points to round out State's double-digit scorers.

Leading all scorers was Georgia's Trey Thompkins, who recorded 18 points on 8-of-19 shooting.

Georgia dominated the game's first 35 minutes, holding a 41-30 halftime advantage and leading 64-51 with just 5:33 left.

Mississippi State wasn't deterred.

State inserted Turner, who immediately drained a trey and the resulting foul shot to help MSU orchestrate a 14-0 run in just 92 seconds to take a 68-67 lead with 2:39 remaining. After a dunk from Georgia's junior Jeremy Price at the 2:31 mark, Stewart made two free throws, and Bost hit a fading mid-range jumper to push MSU's advantage to 72-69 with 39 seconds remaining. Two timely blocks from Varnado and Stewart on attempted Georgia treys, secured the victory for Mississippi State.

"This game was a great example of how solid this league is," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "When you aren't at your best, anybody can beat you in this league. Give credit to Georgia, though. They beat Georgia Tech, played Kentucky to a good game and should have beaten Ole Miss. From the seven to eight minute mark, I thought we were at our best. I saw another level of energy and competitiveness on the court."

The Bulldogs now depart from Humphrey Coliseum next Saturday to challenge the Alabama Crimson Tide (11-6, 1-2) in Tuscaloosa. Tip for the CBS-televised contest is set for 11 a.m.



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