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Mississippi State survives Florida, advances in the SEC Tournament with 69-68 win

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics
Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics

Mississippi State knew coming into today’s game with Florida that a win would be enough to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. The Bulldogs made it as difficult as they possibly could on themselves, but in the end, they did enough to grab a 69-68 overtime victory and in all likelihood, earn that invite to the Big Dance.

State led by as many as 14 in the first half, but the Gators chipped away after the break to grab a lead of their own. State’s All-SEC center Tolu Smith carried his team throughout the game, finishing with 28 points and 12 rebounds, including the game winner with 4.3 seconds to go in the extra time. State shot poorly in the game, only 39.1% from the floor and 60.7% from the line, but dominated the boards, with 18 on the offensive end alone. The Bulldogs had to overcome 20 turnovers of their own.

State improves to 21-11 on the season, and now looked poised to advance into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. ESPN’s Karl Ravech said during the broadcast that the company’s Joe Lunardi had the Bulldogs as “a lock” with a win, meaning State should be able to be in the field without having to go to Dayton for the opening round games. The Bulldogs will take on Alabama tomorrow at 11 AM.

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