Georgia Tech freshman Nait George had a coming-out party Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion. And the Yellow Jackets got right back on track with an upset of No. 21 Mississippi State 67-59 in front of a crowd of 3,913.

George, starting for the first time in his career, made an immediate impact from the get-go. The 6-foot-3 native of Toronto finished with 11 points, four rebounds, an assist and a block. He ran point for much of the night while leading Tech to a much-needed win if ever there was one five games into the young season.

“My mindset was just to go. No wasting time, just get straight into it because coach put his trust in me,” George said. “I had to come in there with killer mindset and just not back down from physicality.

“It was surreal (to start), man. Just knowing that coach trusts me, again, was just a big eye-opener because he had told me the season’s really long so just be prepared. I just stayed ready and trusted coach.”

In Tech’s 34-point loss at Cincinnati on Nov. 22, George made his Tech debut off the bench - he scored eight points in 15 minutes. On Tuesday, George was on the floor for 32 minutes and helped ice the victory with three free throws within the final 48 seconds that allowed the Jackets to secure the win.

“I’ve been seeing him coming and playing well for a long time. But sometimes, as with anything, there’s two veteran guys ahead of him so you just kind of look the other way, so to speak,” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said. “(George) is one of those guys that I think, for me, he’s wore on me. I like the way he plays. I like the way guys play with him. He has a calming influence on guys.

“I know it’s gonna be ups and downs, and I’m alright with that. Sometimes you just gotta see what you got and he took advantage of an opportunity tonight and I thought he played well. Yeah there’s ups and downs, but he played (32) minutes. He hadn’t played (32) minutes all season until tonight. For what he did, and I know he got a little tired and legs got tired, but for what he did as a freshman against a top-25 team that applies a lot of pressure on the defensive end? I thought he was great.”

Offensively, Tech (3-2) was led by Miles Kelly who recorded his first career double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Sturdivant chipped in 12 points.

The Jackets, who host No. 7 Duke (5-1) at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, won despite shooting just 21.9% from the floor in the second half. But they did make 17 of their 23 free-throw attempts.

“Just collectively as a group I just loved our defensive intensity,” Stoudamire said. “I thought from jump we made a concerted effort to be in position on defense. I thought we made a concerted effort to help the next person. I thought we were in gaps all game long. We just did a great job.”

Tech began the night on a 7-2 run after George started the scoring by converting a layup then throwing a lob to Baye Ndongo for a slam. Kelly hit a 3 moments later from the right wing, giving the Jackets a five-point lead.

The Jackets built a 13-7 lead only to go 4:34 without scoring. Carter Murphy came off the bench to hit a 3 from the right wing, breaking the drought, and then Deebo Coleman connected on a triple from left of center making it 19-13.

Another Kelly 3 put Tech up 26-17 with seven minutes left in the half, its largest lead of the night at that point.

State crept within 30-24 with 2:20 on the clock, but Tech closed the half on a 9-2 run that was highlighted by a Kelly 3 at the top of the key (giving the junior 700 points for his career) and a Sturdivant steal and layup before the buzzer.

That run was started thanks to a George block on one end that led to an Ebenezer Dowuona layup on the other end.

“I think our team is very deep. We have a lot of guys, so (George) came in and played his role,” Kelly said. “I think we got off to a better start this game and it’s something that we needed. As a team it led to a win. We have a lot of guys that can play many different positions, but I think (George) did a great job tonight.”

Tech, which avoided a 2-3 start for the first time since 2020, opened a 47-32 lead less than five minutes into the second half when Kelly drained another 3 and then George found Coleman in the right corner for the Jackets’ eighth triple of the night. The Bulldogs couldn’t find a run in the arsenal, even when Tech went three minutes without scoring midway through the half. A Kowacie Reeves layup that was goaltended kept the lead at 15 at 54-39.

As the clock crept under five minutes to play, a loose ball kicked to Tech freshman Ibrahima Sacko, who scooped it up and slammed it home to give the Jackets a 58-42 lead. That just happened to be Tech’s final make from the floor.

The Bulldogs (6-1) began to put a rally together from there and were within 58-50 with 2:44 on the clock. But Tech was able to salt the game away with enough made throws, three of which came out of the hands of George.

“My expectation is just to do winning plays,” George told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in August. “Regardless of how many minutes I play, of course I’m going to fight for my minutes and get what I need to get, but for sure I’m just trying to win and do whatever is best for the team.”

Said Stoudamire on Tuesday: “This is the craziest thing. (George) fell in my lap. I had a scholarship, it was late in the game. He was getting recruited by low majors, mid-majors. I mean they were good schools. He came here and he might have signed – it was literally he got here the first day of class or the day before class. The recruitment, it wasn’t really a recruitment. It was kind of speed dating.

“But since he’s been here he’s gotten better each day. Once he gets stronger, once he gets in better condition I think he’ll be a really good player here at Tech.”

State got 17 points from leading scorer Josh Hubbard. The Bulldogs, now 13-17 all-time against Tech, shot 30.8% from the field, missed 23 3-pointers and had 13 turnovers to just five assists.