The 2009 season was supposed to be a real fine year, but in the offseason Ben Hansbrough and the Delk twins transferred out, and left some gaps in the team. State fumbled through the non-conference and fumbled through the SEC schedule and found themselves off the bubble and playing on Thursday in the SEC Tournament.
While this team wasn’t Stansbury’s best, it was his deepest. Late in the year and in the SEC Tourney he would substitute all five guys at once. Barry Stewert, Ravern Johnson and Jarvis Varnardo all averaged 12 point something points per game. Dee Bost was a freshman with 10.9 and 4.3 assists.
This SEC Tournament was held in an unusual place – Tampa, Florida. The Dawgs whipped Georgia, then South Carolina, and then SEC champ LSU to arrive in the Championship game. The Vols, led by Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism, had beaten Alabama and Auburn to get there.
Mississippi State put together a gutsy performance as they threw up 3 after 3 and Jarvis Varnardo continued his staunch defensive play down low. It was an exciting back and forth game.
With 1:31 to play Phil Turner hit a three from 25 feet away to give State a 70-68 lead. With :08 to play and up 62-61, Turner deflected a Tennessee in-bounds pass and was fouled. He hit both free throws forcing UT to toss up trey which missed.
For a recap of MSU’s great run in the tournament, watch this video.
After the tourney the NCAA selection committee thought MSU should get a ’13’ seed, and have to play the University of Washington in Portland, Oregon on a Thursday afternoon. Well, they lost. Tennessee didn’t fair any better as they lost to Oklahoma State in the first round.