- Sunday, March 14 2010 -
SEC Tournament Championship (at Nashville, TN)
Kentucky - 75 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 2nd by AP and 2nd by ESPN/USA Today]
Mississippi State - 74 (Head Coach: Rick Stansbury) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Mississippi State 35, Kentucky 31
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 74 - 45|||||East Tennessee State 100 - 71|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Kentucky is king of the Southeastern Conference once again.
The Cats won their 26th SEC Tournament championship in thrilling fashion, beating Mississippi State 75-74 in overtime in front of 20,082 fans at Bridgestone Arena. DeMarcus Cousins' putback with no time remaining sent the game to overtime and John Wall's leaning three-pointer over a defender gave UK just enough cushion to beat State in extra time for the second time this season.
"It was crazy," UK forward Ramon Harris said. "That's something you could put in a storybook. That's some 'Beyond the Glory' type stuff. That's an instant classic."
The game was back and forth from the outset, with neither team leading by more than five at any point. The Cats appeared to be out of lives when John Wall missed a potential game-winning jumper in the lane with nine seconds left in regulation and Barry Stewart made two free throws with 8.2 remaining to give State a 64-61 lead. The Bulldogs fouled Eric Bledsoe on purpose with 4.9 seconds left so UK could not get a potential three to tie but the freshman guard made the first attempt and flung the second high into the air to set up a potential offensive rebound.
Patrick Patterson came from the right side and back-tipped the ball to the corner where Wall tracked it down, shook his defender and took a long jumper. The shot barely drew iron but fell into Cousins' hands, who then got the tying shot off with 0.1 on the clock. As the Cats celebrated wildly officials reviewed the play and confirmed it was off in time.
"It just fell in my hands," Cousins said. "I knew it was good. I knew it was good."
In overtime it was almost all Wall, who had struggled mightily with his shot all day. He hit two free throws, drew a goaltending call and then hit the dagger when he somehow willed a three to go with 22.6 seconds remaining to give UK a 74-69 edge. After State pulled within three Cousins made a free throw with 5.3 remaining to seal the deal.
As has been the case so many times this season the Cats irrepressible freshmen were not to be denied.
"You know what, they've been doing it all year," UK coach John Calipari said. "They have an unbelievable will to win. How did we win this game? How did we go to overtime? I don't know. Does that make sense, what I just said?"
What has made perfect sense all season is UK's ability to make a critical play at every juncture. The Cats looked dead in the water down 64-59 with under a minute left but Wall stripped Dee Bost in the backcourt and got a lay-up to make it 62-61 with 39.6 seconds left. In overtime it was more of the same when Wall drilled a three leaning to his left with Bost hanging all over him.
The ending left Mississippi State, which was fighting for its NCAA Tournament life, incredulous.
"Time never ran out it seemed like," Stewart said. "The longest 4.9 seconds of my life."
And 4.9 seconds the Cats will remember for eternity.
"You want to win championships," UK guard Mark Krebs said. "We've had a will to win all year. It was trophy day so you have to win. This means so much."
John Wall defends against Mississippi State's Barry Stewart
Perry Stevenson (#21) defends against Jarvis Varnado
DeMarcus Cousins puts a missed shot in the basket with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. The shot tied the score and put the game into overtime.