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Edwards sensational, but late Bulldog rally falls short

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Michigan State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia once again trailed by double digits at the half in the Maui Invitational, but this time they very nearly found a way to win anyway.

Alas, it was not to be.

The Bulldogs’ 28 point comeback attempt against #3 Michigan State fell short in a 93-85 loss in the first consolation game of the Maui Invitational.

Freshman Anthony Edwards got off to another slow start before an electrifying second half to finish with 37 points and 6 rebounds, both team highs. Edwards also contributed 4 steals, 3 blocks, and 2 assists. He didn’t fail to manufacture a partridge in a pear tree. He just ran out of time.

Edwards’ 37 points is the 11th highest single game total in school history, and the most since J.J. Frazier also went off for 37 against Mississippi State in 2015.

Rayshaun Hammonds continues a strong early season, scoring 13 and grabbing 4 rebounds.

Freshman guard Sahvir Wheeler continues to earn time in the rotation and was the only other Bulldog in double figures, scoring 10.

The Red and Black played the Spartans close at the start, but a 10-0 Michigan State run staked Sparty to a 15-9 lead that they would extend into double digits just after the under ten mark. With some solid shooting from the outside the deficit ballooned to 52-31 by the half, and 28 points by the 16:30 mark of the second half.

But just when it looked like things had gotten completely out of hand, the Hoop Hounds started to make it interesting. AntMan dropped in three straight baskets, including a three to bring the ‘Dawgs within 21. Playing with renewed confidence, Edwards dropped two more threes to bring Georgia within 13 points with twelve minutes to play.

A three pointer by Wheeler got Georgia within 10, Rayshaun Hammonds got in on the action, and some cold Spartan shooting brought the Athenians within a basket at 75-73, making MSU fans decidedly nervous.

But Tom Izzo’s crew righted the ship from there, in large part due to the efforts of guard Cassius Winston, who provided 8 points and 3 assists down the stretch to stave off what could have been a comeback for the ages.

Georgia now awaits its last game in the islands, in which they will face the loser of the UCLA/ Chaminade matchup. That game will be Wednesday at 9:00 eastern on ESPNU.

While it’s disheartening to have a shot at one of college basketball‘s true dynasties and miss, there are a lot of positives to take away from this loss. For one, Anthony Edwards established himself as a bona fide superstar. His performance against one of the most experienced squads in college basketball, a team that retuned most of the pieces from a 2019 Final Four run, is the kind of thing scouts will remember at draft time.

The rest of the Bulldogs did a better job of staying out of foul trouble and protecting the basketball than they had against Dayton. This is the kind of loss that doesn’t really ding you in the eyes of the selection committee. No one expects Georgia to beat Michigan State. The fact that they dang near did it is a huge positive.

The task for Tom Crean’s squad now is to build on that as they finish up in Hawaii and return home with a handful of tough out-of-conference matchups and the SEC schedule looming. Until later...

Go ‘Dawgs!!!