Of course, Kentucky. Everyone’s greatest and worst memories in basketball seem to revolve around them. #3 on the list comes from 2004’s matchup: #5 UK 67, #20 MSU 66.
I was a student at Mississippi State at the time, and I never saw anything like this. At that time (not sure how it is now), students went to the Bryan Building on Monday to get their “free” tickets for all the home basketball games that week. This game was on a Tuesday.
Mississippi State was on a tear behind the power of Lawrence Roberts. The Dawgs were 13-0 and had just come off a road win at Ole Miss and a 18 point thumping of Arkansas on Saturday. Excitement was building (especially after another lackluster football season).
When I arrived at the Bryan Building it was 8:00 A.M. Monday morning. The line was 100 yards short of the Hump. Seriously. Usually, a casual stroll to the ticket office at any time Monday got you a ticket. 30 minutes after I arrived the line was so far behind me I couldn’t see the end of it. Luckily, I got a ticket…and I learned my lesson that I would be arriving at 4:00 AM in all future weeks.
It was an 8:00 tip, I got to the game 3, 4, 5 hours early. I don’t know exactly, but I do know that I sat on concrete for long enough that standing for two hours was a welcomed pleasure. Even as early as we got there, we still were unable to procure our “lucky” seats. The Hump was glorious, EVERYONE wore white…quite a sight.
Kentucky came out swinging and led MSU by 18 in the first half. The Bulldogs were doing all they could to catch up and they only got it to single digits a couple of times until late into the second half. The exciting offense of Timmy Bowers, Winsome Frazier and Lawrence Roberts got State the lead, 64-63, with two minutes left.
Both teams traded buckets and it was 66-65 MSU. Frazier came to the line with a chance to extend the lead with :31 left, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Roberts got the rebound but he too missed the free throw. Kentucky got the ball back and everyone’s heart was in their throat.
With :02.5 left, UK was set to inbound the ball near their bench. Cliff Hawkins lobbed it to Chuck Hayes near the rim but Roberts got a hand on it. For a split second it seemed like State had held on defense until Erick Daniels charged in with a buzzer-beating tip-in. Oh, the humanity.
The Hump went from it’s highest volume ever to complete silence in 2.5 seconds. It was a sickening feeling. It didn’t disrupt the season, however, and MSU went on to a SEC Championship. Both teams bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the 2nd round.