#15: 2002 – Mississippi State 74 vs. Kentucky 69.
2002 was a breakout season for Mississippi State. It was the 4th season under Stansbury, and his first team to make the big dance. The team was lead by Mario Austin, Timmy Bowers, Markell Patterson and Derek Zimmerman….throw in Michael Gholar for good measure.
MSU started the season with a surprising 10-0 start. After a setback vs. Cincy, they were 13-1 with the Wildcats coming to the Hump. Kentucky was only 9-2, but there were Kentucky.
The excitement level for this game was huge, and the excitement factor of the game itself was equal to the task.
Mario Austin was State’s best player, but he was a dominating inside presence never to be confused with a jump shooter. He didn’t take a single three point shot the entire 2000-01 season. He only made one 3-pointer in 5 attempts in 2001-02. But guess when he made that shot? That right, in this game.
And it came at no other time than to tie the game and send it into overtime. It was unbelievable and totally unexpected the way it happened. Then the Bulldogs went on to win the game in OT vs. #6 UK.
The game was the first one in SEC play, and MSU went on to a 10-6 conference record; finishing 2nd in the West behind SEC Champ Alabama. But, State would beat Bama in the SEC Tournament Championship Game and vault to a ‘3’ for March Madness. Kentucky made the Sweet 16 that year.
Next: 2009 vs. Tennessee