SEC Tournament: Mississippi State Bows Out But Prepares For the Next Step in 83-76 Loss to Tennessee

From 2013-2017, a loss in the SEC Tournament meant the end of the men’s basketball season at Mississippi State. Last year, the Bulldogs slid into a NIT berth for the school’s first game past spring break weekend in 6 years. This season, Friday night’s 83-76 loss to Tennessee simply means the Bulldogs will go home to await their seeding and destination from the NCAA Tournament Committee for the first time in a decade. State fought hard against the Volunteers, but a mid-second half run turned a tie ballgame into a double digit lead for the Vols, who held on to advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Kentucky, a game that likely has a one seed hanging in the balance for the winner. For the Bulldogs, the atmosphere in the locker room was that of a group who knows there is still basketball to be played.

WHOLE LOTTA HOLMAN

Aric Holman’s inconsistent play was a huge storyline throughout SEC play, but if the last three games are any indication, the senior has found his way back. Holman went for 20 points to lead MSU on Friday, hitting 5-5 from behind the arc, the final three keeping MSU within striking distance in the game’s final minutes. Holman and Lamar Peters look to be showing the flashes that they are going to be players to watch in the NCAA Tournament, and it’s Holman’s ability to stretch the floor and make shots from outside that make him a mismatch for a lot of players. This Aric Holman can carry Mississippi State into the second weekend of the Big Dance.

TYSON’S OFF NIGHT

Carter would go on to finish 0-5 from behind the line, and only put 6 points on the board. It’s been Carter’s emergence in Nick Weatherspoon’s absence that has sparked the Bulldogs, and losing his scoring tonight was a big part of why State couldn’t get it done. Carter has been a 37% shooter from three this season, losing his perimeter scoring is not something the Bulldogs can afford if they want to make this March a memorable one.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Mississippi State will gather as a team on Sunday to see where they will be headed next weekend, as the Bulldogs are safely in the field of 64. The latest bracketology as of earlier this afternoon had State headed to the West Regional for a matchup with New Mexico State, with the Bulldogs seeded #5. It will be interesting to see if that seeding holds or if the Bulldogs drop back to a #6 as the rest of the conference tournaments play out. Regardless, there will be no drama for MSU.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics