By the slimmest of margins, Kentucky is once again the SEC Tournament champion after the 'Cats slid by a very game Mississippi State squad 75-74 in overtime.
It would be difficult to script a closer contest, as neither team ever had a lead of more than five. One of those five point leads came for State on a Ravern Johnson three with about two and a half minutes to go. Patrick Patterson and John Wall would answer with a bucket apiece, but two Barry Stewart free throws pushed the lead to three with eight seconds left.
MSU decided to foul Eric Bledsoe and not give the ‘Cats the chance to make a three to tie. He would make the first but miss the second, after which Wall got the rebound and hoisted a trey. It missed, but DeMarcus Cousins cleaned it up as time ran out to push the game into overtime. Wall would score seven in the extra period to help push the lead out to five for UK this time, and a triple at the buzzer by State's Riley Benock gave the game its one point margin.
Johnson was the high scorer of the game with 20 for the Bulldogs. Bledsoe and Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado were next in line with 18 each, and the Bulldog big man had nine boards and five blocks to go with them. Wall had 17 on the game, though just 10 in regulation, while Cousins had 10 points and 10 boards. State's Dee Bost contributed 16, while UK's Patrick Patterson had 15.
The thrilling finale ensures that Kentucky will be getting a top seed in the NCAA field. The loss prevented Mississippi State from being able to punch a dance ticket for sure, though sending it to overtime was about the next best thing.
The only thing left now is to wait to see if MSU or Florida will give the SEC more than three tournament bids and to wonder who exactly is going to give Kentucky another loss this year, if anyone.