Georgia State can’t carry momentum forward in loss to Mississippi State

Corey Allen was the only Panther in double figures in scoring. AJC file photo

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Corey Allen was the only Panther in double figures in scoring. AJC file photo

The Georgia State basketball team had some of its best practices of the season over the last week and carried high expectations into Tuesday’s road trip to Mississippi State. Those good feelings quickly vanished and led to the most disappointing loss of the season.

The Panthers shot just 32.8% from the floor, made only 6 of 23 3-pointers and were beaten 41-27 on the glass. The result was a 79-50 loss to the Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.

“I really feel bad for the guys, to be honest with you,” Georgia State coach Rob Lanier said. “Three of our last four practices were some of our best practices of the year and I think we came into the game with the right spirit and effort. But they defended us, we didn’t make shots, they did a great job defensively. They deserve a lot of credit.”

Georgia State (5-4) was led by Corey Allen with 13 points, the only Panther in double figures. Nelson Phillips made three 3-pointers and scored nine.

Justin Roberts, the team's leading scorer at 16.9 points, scored his lone points on a basket with 2:13 remaining.

Roberts came off the bench, as the Panthers were trying to go with a larger lineup against Mississippi State.

Mississippi State (7-3) got 18 points from Iverson Molinar, 15 points from D.J. Jeffries and 10 points and nine rebounds from Derek Fountain. The Bulldogs ended a two-game losing streak.

It is unlikely that Georgia State will play a worse first half of basketball this season.

The Panthers couldn’t shoot; they made only 26.7% from the field and endured a stretch where they made 1 of 11 shots. They were bad from distance, making only 2 of 11. They were beaten on the boards, 22-14. As a result, the Panthers trailed 43-21 at halftime.

Mississippi State went on an early 8-0 run to take a 14-8 lead and continued to build the momentum. The Bulldogs, who were playing without starters Cameron Matthews (toe) and Tolu Smith (hip pointer), closed with a 16-4 run -- going 1-for-7 to close the half -- and led by 21 when Molinar made a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining.

“The ball not going into the basket really created some frustration in our guys that kind of chipped away at us on the defensive end,” Lanier said.

Georgia State showed some life in the opening minutes of the second half, using an 8-0 to cut the lead to 15 points. But the momentum disappeared minutes later when Mississippi State went on a 14-0 run and extended the lead to 28 points at 61-33.

Georgia State is 0-4 against Mississippi State.

Georgia State plays again on Saturday at home against Toccoa Falls.

“We’ve got to go back and pick up the pieces and get these guys playing a lot better,” Lanier said. “That’s the magic that we’ve got to find and that’s part of the frustration. We’re a team that’s trying to get better and build confidence and grow and become the team that we’ve got the ability to become.”