Field Level Media
Mar 11, 2021
Iverson Molinar made two free throws with 7.1 seconds left and ninth-seeded Mississippi State hung on for a 74-73 win over Kentucky on Thursday afternoon in the second round of the SEC tournament in Nashville.
The Bulldogs won despite losing a 15-point lead in the second half.
Molinar scored 12 of his team's final 14 points and finished with 21 points. No. 8 seed Kentucky had a chance to win and got an open look from Dontaie Allen, but the 3-point attempt bounced off the back rim and the final buzzer sounded inside Bridgestone Arena.
The Bulldogs (15-13) advance to play top-seeded Alabama in the quarterfinals on Friday. Kentucky finishes 9-16 and will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.
The Wildcats trailed 51-36 with 17:44 to play in the game, then caught fire. Kentucky made 51.7 percent of its second-half shots and 7 of 14 from 3-point range. Allen made five 3s in the second half on his way to a team-high 23 points.
Down 62-53 with 10:43 to play, Kentucky proceeded to go on a 9-0 run to tie the game. Davion Mintz knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:30 left, giving Kentucky a 71-66 lead.
But the Bulldogs didn't wilt. Molinar hit back-to-back 3s to put Mississippi State back in front 72-71, then made the two clutch free throws.
Tolu Smith had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Olivier Sarr added 14 for the Wildcats, whose 15-game winning streak against Mississippi State came to an end.
The Bulldogs shot 57.6 percent in the first half on their way to a 44-30 halftime lead, as Kentucky looked headed for an embarrassing early exit. But the Wildcats didn't go away.
--Field Level Media