Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Left for dead a few weeks back, the Mississippi State Bulldogs put together one of their better stretches of basketball the past two weeks. A season best six game winning streak, including four wins in four days in the SEC Tournament, have the streaking Bulldogs headed to the Big Dance for the second consecutive season.

The number crunchers and alleged RPI pundits projected that the Bulldogs would be left out of the NCAA tournament with a loss today.

Those projections may have been true, but a funny thing happened on the way to the NIT, the Bulldogs won it all.

Running on fumes, youth and determination, the Bulldogs beat Tennessee for the 2009 SEC tournament championship avenging an early defeat in Knoxville and securing the automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.

The past four days have shown that outside of some suddenly realized depth, the Bulldogs best trait may just be good ole fashioned grit.

Phil Turner, an under recruited guard from Grenada, Mississippi, proved to be the hero for Rick Stansbury's team today.

With the shot clocking winding down and the Volunteers seeming to grab the momentum, Turner dropped a 22 foot bomb on Tennessee giving the Bulldogs the lead once again.

Moments later after perhaps the worst clock operating in the history of time keeping, Turner knocked a ball lose on an in-bounds pass and in the process was sent to the line as the result of a Volunteer foul.

With the hopes of the entire Bulldog nation weighing on his every movement, Turner stepped up to the line and knocked down two free throws to give State a three point cushion that would force the Volunteers to heave a desperate attempt from beyond the arc that had a better chance of making the stands than striking iron.

The Bulldogs, suddenly very fond of west Florida, will elect to spend the afternoon there to discover their post season destination.

Meanwhile those same "bracketologists" will try to find a place to slot them while one of their so called "mid majors" prepares for the NIT. In the process those same number crunchers will attempt to find a way to explain it all.

They will forget to tell you that all of them, and I repeat all of them, gave Mississippi State no chance to win today over Tennessee. The same team the same people anointed as the league's pre-season champs despite heavy losses to their sweet sixteeen roster from a year ago.

In the end it's not about Joe Lunardi, Bruce Pearl, Scotty Hopson, ESPN, CBS, or RPIs. It's about MSU.....and of course SEC as in another SEC title for Rick Stansbury and his program.


Gene's Page Top Stories