ST. LOUIS — Tennessee gave Mississippi State all kinds of chances in its SEC Tournament quarterfinal game Friday night.
But there’s a reason one team is going to be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and the other is headed to the NIT.
Tennessee made just enough plays.
Mississippi State did not.
The Vols (24-7) advanced with a 62-59 win that was a brutal offensive game with a wild finish.
Mississippi State had a chance at the end of the game when Xavian Stapleton missed an open 3 from the corner with three seconds left. After Tennessee’s Jordan Bone missed the second of two free throws with 3.4 seconds to play, Mississippi State was unable to get a shot off.
The teams combined for 33 turnovers and 76 missed shots. The Vols had a 50-33 rebounding advantage.
The game had to be stopped with only 46 seconds gone in the second half when Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon went down hard and appeared to hurt his neck and hip and then had his face stepped on.
Weatherspoon had to be carried off on a stretcher and to a St. Louis hospital.
Mississippi State is now 22-11 and almost certainly headed for a high seed in the NIT. A soft non-conference schedule doomed the Bulldogs in RPI and Quadrant 1 wins.
Lamar Peters led the Bulldogs with 22 points. Coaches’ player of the year Grant Williams had an off night going 3-for12, but finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.