Mississippi State Finishes Surreal Pop Job

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↵In a finish that'd make Andre Breton proud, Mississippi State pulled off a three-point upset of Tennessee to clinch the SEC's automatic berth. An already tiny bubble shrinks, with the Bulldogs stealing a tourney berth from some team that had a better regular season. But even without the impact of a nation of sweat-bound teams on the brink, this game had all sorts of drama.
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↵The Bulldogs pulled a two-point lead late with a monster deep three from Phil Turner. We ended up with the same margin -- 62-60 -- with 10 seconds left. It stayed there for a while. The sequence which followed was incredible, and not necessarily in a good way. On Tennessee's inbounds play, it appeared (doubly so on replay) that Vol J.P. Prince traveled; referee Doug Sirmons instead called a foul on Mississippi State. Prince hit the first, and missed the second. But Wayne Chism got in Jarvis Varnado's grill, and the ball bounces out-of-bounds off the Bulldog.
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↵After a timeout, Tennessee went to inbound from the baseline with 9.6 seconds left. The first attempt went out off a Bulldog. The second ... never came in: Sirmons called Tennessee for a five-second violation as the Vols desperately tried to call a timeout. The call was close, and Bill Raftery noted that most refs would have not have made that call.
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↵The Bulldogs inbounded to Dee Bost, who awaited the intentional foul. It came ... but Sirmons didn't call it before Bost had fallen (or stumbled) out-of-bounds. Turnover. Tennessee ball, eight seconds left. After a timeout, the Vols try a touch pass back to the inbounder. Turnover. Mercifully, Mississippi State got the ball in and got to the line to seal the game.
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↵If Sirmons hadn't sent questionable calls at both teams, he'd be hung in effigy during this afternoon's Selection Show by bubbly coaches. I have a sneaking suspicion he won't be allowed to muck things up in the conference championship game next year. (By the way, TSB capo Chris Mottram will be liveblogging the Selection Show at 6 p.m. ET. Come for Chase Budinger's nervous twitch, stay for the witty commentary.)↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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