Tolu Smith scored 28 points, including the go-ahead layup with 4.1 seconds left in overtime, lifting ninth-seeded Mississippi State to a 69-68 overtime win over eighth-seeded Florida in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
With the win, the Bulldogs (21-11) likely punched their ticket to an NCAA Tournament berth and will advance to face top-seed Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Shakeel Moore added 13 points for Mississippi State, who held Florida to 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 22.9 percent shooting from 3-point range (8 of 35).
Riley Kugel led Florida (16-16) with 14 points, his ninth straight game scoring in double figures. Kowacie Reeves and Myreon Jones added 11 points apiece.
A Kugel steal and Niels Lane layup gave Florida a brief 68-67 in overtime with 13 seconds left, but Mississippi State answered by driving the ball quickly downcourt and finding Smith, who banked in a layup with 4.1 seconds left for the game-winning score.
Florida had one last chance to win the game, but Jones missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
With Florida down 57-51 and under two minutes to go in regulation, Jones sank back-to-back 3-pointers, including one with 36 seconds left to tie the score at 57 and force overtime. Off a Mississippi State miss, Florida had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but a Jones 3-point attempt at the buzzer clanged off the side iron.
Moore scored 10 points in the first half, helping Mississippi State jump to a 36-26 halftime lead.
After an inside layup by Florida’s Alex Fudge cut Mississippi State’s lead to 17-15, the Bulldogs went on a 14-2 run. Dashawn Davis’ 3-pointer put MSU up 30-17 with 7:54 left in the half before Smith split two free throws to compete the burst.
The Bulldogs maintained the lead for the rest of the half, holding Florida to 36 percent shooting and 23.1 percent (3 of 13) from 3-point range. Mississippi State had its way inside throughout the first half, outscoring the Gators 12-0 in second chance points and 16-10 in points in the paint.
–Field Level Media