Fan throws stuffed animal, results in game-losing technical foul for Georgia

By Alex Butler

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A fan threw a stuffed bulldog onto the court, giving Georgia a technical foul and Mississippi State a game-winning free throw opportunity to beat the Bulldogs.

The sequence came with just 0.5 seconds remaining in Mississippi State's 68-67 win on Wednesday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.


Mississippi State's Quinndary Weatherspoon was at the free-throw line and missed a shot with the game tied at 67-67. He had just released the ball when the stuffed bulldog came flying and landed on a patch of the court behind where he was standing.

Mississippi State coach Ben Howland yelled at referees after he watched the sequence unfold, calling for a technical foul. Referees consulted the scorers' table and assessed the Bulldogs with the infraction, keeping Weatherspoon at the line.

The senior guard made the final attempt to give his team a late lead. He missed his second free throw, but Georgia could not respond as the buzzer sounded.


"I don't know the rule, but I thought we should have got the free throw back," Howland told reporters. "The first one, the front end, when the thing was thrown out there -- that was a huge play, someone throwing a little bulldog ... That was crazy.

"He [Weatherspoon] made the first one. I called him over and told him to miss the second one [on purpose] because with 0.5 [seconds] left. It's hard once it bounces [off the rim] to get it and get the shot off which is what happened. We're blessed and fortunate."

Weatherspoon scored a game-high 31 points in the win. Jordan Harris led Georgia with 13 points in the loss.

Turtle Jackson led Georgia early on, scoring eight of his team's first 10 points, but the Bulldogs still trailed in the first half. Georgia fought back for a 24-20 lead with 3:57 remaining, but Mississippi State closed out the first act on a 13-0 run to own a 36-25 lead at the break.


Mississippi State continued the hot streak in the second stanza, with Weatherspoon scoring 16 points during a 22-1 run in 4:48 between the end of the first half and start of second half.

The road squad led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but had to hold off a late Georgia rally to secure the victory.

Georgia's Tyree Crump tied the score at 67-67 on a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining before the Bulldogs sent Weatherspoon to the line for the decisive free throw.

"We had that bad stretch at the end of the first half," Georgia coach Tom Crean said. "We broke some plays, made some sloppy passes, and didn't have our hands up in the zone. We overcame all of that. I'm not sure a couple weeks ago if our team overcomes that."

"We're getting better. I think everybody can see it, I hope everybody can see it. The last two games we were good enough to win, but we just didn't get the result. But we're absolutely getting better and we're going to stay with it."

Mississippi State hosts South Carolina at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss. Georgia battles Mississippi at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.


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