The Michigan State Spartans topped the Georgia Bulldogs 80-68 Sunday afternoon in a charity game that raised $339,447 for Hurricane Irma relief efforts in front of a crowd of 10,699 at Van Andel Arena.
“When you do something for a cause greater than yourself, you need help to really make an impact, and this couldn’t have happened without Michigan State University and the great support that their fan base and the city of Grand Rapids provided,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “I thank you from the bottom of our hearts from the Deep South.”
A number of charity exhibition games have kicked off the 2017-18 season in college basketball with all of the benefits going towards hurricane relief efforts. The two teams split the proceeds evenly and donate them to their respected charities of choice – Georgia for the American Red Cross of Georgia and Michigan will contribute to the Red Cross – International Services.
The matchup gave Georgia a quality early test as Michigan State received the No. 2 spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The game also highlighted two high-caliber players who were voted preseason player of the year in their respective conferences – Miles Bridges (Big 10) and Yante Maten (SEC). Both players didn’t disappoint as each led their teams in scoring, Bridges with 21 and Maten with a game-high 33.
“I think this game will be terrific for us,” Fox continued. “We scrimmaged somebody Friday night, so we had a quick turn around and obviously a big test against a very complete and terrific basketball team. So we got more out of this game than we probably would have out of two weeks of practice. So I think, if we can utilize it the right way, I think this will have been a terrific experience for our team.”
The game represented a homecoming for Maten and Mike Edwards, both Michigan natives. Maten, of Pontiac, was 13-for-14 at the free throw line and snagged four rebounds. Edwards, of Westland, had two points and grabbed four boards.
The competitive play was illustrated in the first half with 10 lead changes and seven ties. Heading into the break, the Bulldogs trailed 40-31.
The Spartans jumped out to an early 9-2 advantage before Maten made his first two baskets to narrow the gap. A few minutes later Tyree Crump drained a three-pointer to give Georgia its first lead, 13-11. Freshman Teshaun Hightower sank a trey to notch it at 20-all and the two teams continued to go back-and-forth until the Spartans finished the period on an 11-point streak.
Georgia opened the second half on a 6-2 run to make it 42-37, but that eventually ended up the closest the Bulldogs got down the stretch. The Spartans were able to keep a healthy lead despite Georgia’s continuous scoring. At the 11:29 mark, freshman Nicolas Claxton dunked off an assist from freshman Rayshaun Hammonds to make it 50-43. The Bulldogs were able to cut the deficit to nine points three separate times in the final two minutes but Michigan State held on for the victory.
Junior Derek Ogbeide led the Bulldogs on the glass with seven rebounds to add to his six points. Juniors E’Torrion Wilridge and William Jackson II each tallied team-high four assists.
CLICK HERE for the complete box score and stats from Georgia’s exhibition game with Michigan State.
Georgia picks up exhibition play Thursday, Nov. 2 against Valdosta State at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be televised on SEC+ and tip off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.