Bulldogs Down Gators in SEC Tournament
The Southeastern Conference's East Division, stacked with teams like Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, has overshadowed and run roughshod over the West Division this season - Mississippi State is doing its best to make sure that isn't the case for the SEC tournament, too. Barry Stewart scored 17 points and hit five late free throws as Mississippi State, the only West Division team left in the tournament, held on to defeat Florida 75-69 in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
Entering the game, the SEC East's top four teams, which included Florida, had a combined 28-0 record against teams from the West. By the time Mississippi State and Florida tipped off, all other West teams had been eliminated.
Freshman Kenny Boynton, who led Florida (21-12) with 23 points, hit a jump shot over Varnado's head to cut Mississippi State's lead to 71-68 with
27 seconds left, but Stewart hit 5 of 6 free throw attempts down the stretch to preserve the win.
Mississippi State is trying to secure a place in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs shared the SEC West regular-season title with Mississippi but don't have a resume-building win to make a strong case for the postseason.
Florida's chances are even murkier. The Gators' biggest win was a 75-62 victory at home over then-No. 19 Tennessee, but they finished fourth in a crowded SEC East.
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