ATLANTA – A Barry Stewart layup with 24.7 seconds remaining helped Mississippi State to an 84-82 win Friday against Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the SEC men's basketball tournament.
Mississippi State (18-12) advances to the first Saturday semifinal (noon CST) against Arkansas, which defeated Vanderbilt 72-71 later Friday.
Ole Miss dominated LSU 80-60 in Friday's last quarterfinal. The Rebels play Florida – which dominated Georgia 74-57 Friday evening – in Saturday's other semifinal (2:15 p.m.)
MSU's Stewart, who finished with seven points, added a free throw with 3.7 seconds left to provide the final margin.
Kentucky led 82-81 with 1:30 left in OT on a tipin by Randolph Morris.
The game was tied 76-all at the end of regulation on a 3-pointer by Jamont Gordon.
Kentucky (21-11) overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half and led 75-73 when freshman Jodie Meeks stepped to the line for two free throws with 5.1 seconds left.
He calmly swished the first and was setting up for the second when teammate Sheray Thomas backed out of the lane a split-second after the official flipped the ball to the shooter.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury stormed onto the court to protest, but the officials has already picked up the unusual violation. They wiped out Meeks’ second free throw and awarded possession to the Bulldogs.
Gordon took the inbounds pass and raced up court, slipping away from the defender with a cross-over dribble and launching a shot from at least 2 feet behind the arc.
The ball hit nothing but net as the buzzer went off, sending the game to overtime.
Gordon had 26 points for Mississippi State. Randolph Morris had a game-high 29 points for Kentucky.