Mississippi State leaves bubble for NCAA berth
When Mississippi State finished its surprising run through the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Twany Beckham grabbed an SEC sign and hoisted it high above his head.
One problem: It was upside-down, which may have been fitting considering it was the Bulldogs celebrating the league title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, not regular-season winner LSU, co-East Division champion Tennessee or perennial powerhouse Kentucky.
"The only thing I know is we don't have to sit here and worry about being on a bubble," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "We busted that bubble. That's all that matters."
Phil Turner scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1 minute, 35 seconds yesterday, and No. 3 West seed Mississippi State knocked off East No. 1 seed Tennessee, 64-61, for their first tourney bid since 2005.
Turner, who had 10 rebounds, hit a big three-pointer to put the Bulldogs (23-12) in front for good, then made two free throws with 8 seconds left to hold off the Volunteers (21-12) in a wild finish.
Cameron Tatum's long three-pointer bounced off the rim and Mississippi State's Barry Stewart rebounded as time ran out on Tennessee's hopes of winning the tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Mississippi State got 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks from tournament MVP Jarvis Varnado.
In other men's tournaments:
* ACC: No. 9 (28-6) Duke swamped upstart Florida State with a barrage of three-pointers on the way to a 79-69 victory, its ninth conference crown in 12 years. Tournament MVP Jon Scheyer scored 29 points, Gerald Henderson had 27 and the Blue Devils (28-6) turned in one of their most complete performances of the season to keep their Tobacco Road heirloom from heading down to the Sunshine State. Toney Douglas led the No. 22 Seminoles (25-9) with 28 points.
* Big Ten: E'Twaun Moore scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and No. 24 Purdue rallied to beat Ohio State, 65-61, for its first Big Ten Tournament title. JaJuan Johnson scored 16 points, and tourney MVP Robbie Hummel added nine points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the third-seeded Boilermakers (24-9).
* Southland: Matt Kingsley scored 20 points and Stephen F. Austin (24-7) earned its first NCAA Tournament berth with a 68-57 victory over Texas San Antonio in the Southland Conference championship game.
In women's tournaments:
* Pac-10: Kayla Pederson's 25 points led Stanford (29-4) to an 89-64 rout of USC (17-15), and into the NCAA field.
* Big 12: Jhasmin Player scored a season-high 25 points, Morghan Medlock came off the bench to add 15 and No. 7 Baylor(27-5) beat 10th-ranked Texas A & M (25-7) 72-63 to win the championship at Oklahoma City.
* Missouri Valley: Amy Gallagher sank a 10-footer with 0.3 seconds left to give Evansville (15-18) a 47-45 win over Creighton (21-11) to claim the title in St. Charles, Mo.
* Mid-American: Porchia Green scored on two driving layups in the final 26 seconds to lift Ball State (25-8) to its first Mid-American Conference title and the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 55-51 victory over top-seeded Bowling Green (28-4) in Cleveland.
* America East: Courtnay Pilypaitis scored 22 points and May Kotsopoulos had 21 to lead Vermont (21-11) to a 74-66 victory over Boston University (24-7) for the America East championship at West Hartford, Conn.
* Northeast: Kaitlin Sowinski had 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks to help Sacred Heart (25-7), winner of 21 straight games, beat Saint Francis (Pa.) (15-17), 74-66, and win the Northeast Conference tournament at Fairfield, Conn.
* Horizon: Kayla Tetschlag and Kati Harty scored 12 points apiece to lead the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (29-3) to its 21st consecutive victory, a 65-41 win over UW-Milwaukee (15-18) in the championship game at Green Bay.
* Big South: Rachel Hammond scored 13 points and Liberty (24-8) needed a late defensive stop to extend its dominance of the conference, beating Gardner-Webb (17-15), 51-50, to claim its 12th NCAA berth at High Point, N.C. *