ATLANTA (AP) — Mississippi State coach Chris Jans tried to warn his No. 21 Bulldogs that a Georgia Tech team coming off back-to-back losses and playing at home would provide a more difficult challenge than they had seen while winning their first six games.
Jans says the message didn't get through.
Miles Kelly scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half and Georgia Tech never trailed while beating Mississippi State 67-59 on Tuesday night to give the Bulldogs their first loss.
“We had to learn a valuable lesson,” Jans said. “I was hoping we could stay away from learning a valuable lesson.”
Mississippi State (6-1) struggled with poor shooting in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. The Bulldogs made only 31% of their shots (20 of 65) from the field.
Mississippi State already had wins over Power 5 teams Arizona State, Washington State and Northwestern. Jans said Georgia Tech (3-2) was more athletic, especially in stopping drives near the basket.
“We had played teams as big but not with that athleticism,” Jans said.
Georgia Tech first-year coach Damon Stoudamire gave freshman guard Naithan George his first start and also added 6-foot-11 senior Ebenezer Dowuona to the lineup. George scored 11 points and Dowuona was an important defensive presence.
“It was surreal,” said George, who was a late signee and had played only 15 minutes in one game before getting the start.
“I've been seeing him coming and playing well for a long time,” Stoudamire said. “He's wore on me. I like the way he plays. I like the way guys play with him. ... I know there's going to be ups and downs. I'm OK with that.”
When Georgia Tech stretched its lead to double figures late in the first half, Mississippi State unsuccessfully tried to rally by placing more emphasis on 3-point shooting.
Kelly also led Georgia Tech with 12 rebounds. The junior sank four 3-pointers, including one in the final minute of the first half and another early in the second half. Deebo Coleman followed with another 3 as the Yellow Jackets matched their biggest lead of 15 points at 47-32.
Josh Hubbard led Mississippi State with 17 points. Dashawn Davis added 12 points.
Kyle Sturdivant scored 12 points for Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs won their first six games despite losing All-Southeastern Conference forward Tolu Smith to a left foot injury before the season. Smith could return in mid-January.