MISSISSIPPI STATE 64 TENNESSEE 61
Is it just me, or was it amateur hour in Tampa during the last few minutes of the SEC Tournament final? Someone forgot where the “start” button was on the clock, and neither team seemed to want the ball during the last 10 seconds.
There seemed to be 29 consecutive in bounds plays from the same spot on Tennessee’s side of the court. Mississippi State tried to give Tennessee a couple shots at tying the game or taking the lead, but Tennessee politely refused by throwing the ball right back to them. The good will between the two clubs continued with a hug between coaches Bruce Pearl and Rick Stansbury that lasted for about 15 seconds.
Even so, Mississippi State’s win means that the SEC will be spared the embarrassment of getting only two teams into the NCAA Tournament.
Phil Turner led four Bulldogs in double figures with 12 points, and Jarvis Varnado overcame a bit of foul trouble to play an excellent second half to wrap-up Tournament MVP honors.
Tennessee had Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith to thank for their win over Auburn in the semi-finals, but today, their shooting betrayed them. They scored only 27 points between them (that’s how many Chism had last night), and shot 7-31.
Here’s what the recently announced All-Tournament Team looks like:
MVP: Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
Barry Stewart, Mississippi State
Wayne Chism, Tennessee
Tyler Smith, Tennessee
Korvotney Barber, Auburn
So, now that the SEC Tournament is done, let’s take a look at the SEC teams that will be very interested in a couple hours as they tune in to watch the Selection Show:
LSU: FINAL WORD-IN, PROJECTED SEED-7
The Tigers missed out on a chance to boost their seeding a line or two higher by losing in the semifinals to Mississippi State, but they are safe, and need only worry about their seed, where they will play, and who they will play.
TENNESSEE: FINAL WORD-IN, PROJECTED SEED-7
Tennessee improved its seeding quite a bit with their run to the Finals, even though they are certainly disappointed to not seal the deal. Tennessee can feel safe about their Tournament chances, but their inability to close out the final game does not bode well. Tennessee is still in love with the three point shot, even though they are awful shooters. It happens entirely too much that Tennessee comes down the floor for a big possession and they jack up a very poor shot, particularly Wayne Chism, who was a staggering 2-9 from three against Mississippi State.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: AUTOMATIC BID, PROJECTED SEED-12
They probably had an argument even if they lost, but I doubt they would have gotten in. There’s no doubt now, and the Bulldogs will try to continue their Cinderella run on Thursday or Friday.
AUBURN: FINAL WORD-OUT
Auburn made an admirable one to close the season, but the general thought among the “experts” is that they are among the final teams out. Ironically, it may be fellow SEC West member, Mississippi State that sealed their fate by winning the SEC title.
SOUTH CAROLINA: FINAL WORD-OUT
South Carolina looked like they would find their way in for most of the SEC season, but they could not afford to lose the late season games that they did, and they are in trouble.
FLORIDA: FINAL WORD-OUT
Two years in a row, the Gators will be disappointed on Selection Sunday, but they have no one to blame but themselves. They played a garbage non-conference schedule, stumbled down the stretch, and couldn’t beat fellow bubble dweller Auburn in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. It seems like it’s been longer than two years since they won their second consecutive national title.
Once the brackets come out, we’ll be around for analysis and predictions. Until then, congrats to the Louisville Cardinals for a great run in New York. As much as it pains me to say it, the Cards are playing some of the best basketball in the country, and without a doubt deserve a #1 seed, maybe even the #1 overall seed. Even so, I’ll be looking for an excuse to pick an 8 or 9 seed over UofL in the second round!!