Mississippi State earns automatic bid from SEC

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mississippi State showed all those bubble teams from the Southeastern Conference how to get into the NCAA tournament.

Phil Turner scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:35 Sunday, and the Bulldogs knocked off Tennessee 64-61 to win the SEC tournament championship and the league's automatic NCAA berth.

Turner, who had 10 rebounds, hit a big 3-pointer to put Mississippi State (23-12) in front for good, then made two free throws with 8 seconds left to help the Bulldogs hold off the Volunteers (21-12) in a wild finish.

Cameron Tatum's long 3-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 since 1979.

The victory was the sixth straight for Mississippi State, which entered the tournament needing a strong run to improve its chances of making the NCAA field. The Bulldogs' first SEC title since 2002 ensures the league at least three spots, with Tennessee and regular-season champion LSU considered locks.


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