STARKVILLE, Miss. - The first half for Mississippi State and Georgia was a story of defensive stops and missed opportunities.
The second half was different and Mississippi State pulled out a 60-49 victory Saturday to extend its winning streak to six games. Mississippi State (11-5, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) has not lost at home since Dec. 13.
Mississippi State opened the game on a 9-2 clip, but could not sustain any momentum. The Bulldogs had nine blocked shots in the opening period, and the teams combined to shoot 2-for-17 from beyond the arc. Mississippi State led 27-24 at the half.
Georgia (9-5, 0-1) took an early 28-27 lead in the second half, but didn't hold it long.
A 3-pointer by Ben Hansbrough, who played almost the entire game with a swollen left hand, started an 18-2 run that would eat 10 minutes off the clock and put Mississippi State up 45-30.
"It was a tough stretch and none of us were getting anything to fall," said Mississippi State sophomore Barry Stewart said. "But when Ben hit that shot, I guess it helped up relax a little bit."
Georgia responded with its own 9-0 run late in the half, but a 3-pointer by Mississippi State freshman guard Riley Benock ended the comeback.
Georgia's Sundiata Gaines and Mississippi State's Jamont Gordon led all scorers with 15 points each.
"They have those big bodies and made it difficult for us to execute at all," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "On the other hand, our team found a way to do what it does best. We held a team that is averaging 70 points to 49, and to 24 percent shooting from the field. It was a game about toughness, and I'm proud to see the way we stepped up and played."
Mississippi State finished the game with a school record 16 blocks, 10 by team-leader Jarvis Varnado, who fell one point and one rebound short of a triple double. Varnado's block total ties his career high set earlier this year against Miami.
Mississippi State averages an SEC-leading number of rejections at more than eight per game.
"It's the blocks," Georgia head coach Dennis Felton said. "You don't have to be a genius. When I was looking at them as a team, if a team makes 40 percent of the shots they normally block, then they're giving up like 47 or 48 percent shooting."