Georgia led the game early and held onto its edge for a decent chunk of the first half. Kenny Gaines, playing through injury, scored five quick early points, and a Charles Mann three put UGA up 14-10 with 11:29 to go. The Bulldogs then suffered a four-minute scoring drought, during which Michigan State took a lead it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way.
Despite a 13-point MSU lead at the half, Georgia didn't give up. Mann scored six points of a 10-0 run UGA had early in the half that cut the lead to two, but the Spartans would answer that with a 21-6 run over the following seven minutes that put them really in control.
Michigan State thought about giving it away in the final two minutes, and Georgia did what it could to try to take it. If not for Denzel Valentine making six free throws in the final half minute, the Bulldogs easily could have won this thing. Cameron Forte nailed a couple of free throws with 1:16 to go, and he stole the ball and then dunked it to cut the lead to eight with 53 seconds to go. MSU missed a shot, after which Mann made a layup to cut it to six.
After Mann and Valentine traded two-point free throw trips, Gaines made a three-point play to cut the lead to just three with 21 seconds to go. Valentine iced it from there with four more unanswered free throws to push the lead to an unbeatable seven with 11 seconds left.
Mann led the way for Georgia with 19 points, while Gaines poured in 15 despite a gimpy wheel. Marcus Thornton scored 12 points, eight of them from the line, and hauled down 10 rebounds. Valentine led Michigan State with 16 points, while Travis Trice had 15 and Branden Dawson had 14 points.
There is no shame in losing to a better-seeded Tom Izzo team in March, and Georgia should not feel bad about its performance today. UGA finally feels like it's building something, and this loss won't be a setback towards that future.