Mississippi State blocks Vols for SEC title, 64-61

TAMPA, Fla. — Tennessee’s SEC season boiled down to the final 11.1 seconds of Sunday’s conference title game.

The verdict: guilty.

“We’ve been consistently inconsistent,’’ UT coach Bruce Pearl said. “We rushed, took a lot of bad shots and struggled terrificly on offense.’’

Mississippi State pulled out a 64-61 victory in the SEC tournament championship game before a crowd of 10,093 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Later, the Vols (21-12) were given a No. 9 seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament and will face No. 8 Oklahoma State (22-11) in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday (TV: WVLT, 12:25 p.m.).

The Bulldogs (23-12) became the fourth team — and second in a row (Georgia) — to win four games in four days at the SEC tournament and earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

UT, meanwhile, made its first appearance in the SEC tournament title game since 1991.

But the first tournament championship in 30 years eluded the Vols in the final, hectic 11.1 seconds.

UT junior J.P. Prince stepped to the free-throw line with the Vols trailing 62-60. He hit the first shot but missed the second. The teams scrambled for the ball before it went out off Mississippi State with 9.6 seconds left.

Tyler Smith, however, was called for a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds pass. Replays showed Smith and Pearl appeared to call timeout before the five seconds elapsed.

The Vols dug in, forcing a turnover on the following inbounds play by trapping Mississippi State guard Dee Bost on the baseline and forcing him to step out with 9.3 seconds remaining.

Smith got his next inbounds pass to Prince, but Prince’s pass back to Smith was tipped, and Smith was called for a foul on Phil Turner in a scramble for the ball.

“I swiped at the ball and got his jersey,’’ Smith said. “They called me for a hold.’’

The 6-foot-3 Turner, who played defense in Smith’s jersey all day, limited the Vols’ leading scorer to 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting, hit both free throws to give the Bulldogs a 64-61 lead.

UT called timeout to set up the final play. Smith inbounded to Prince, who passed back to Smith. Smith brought the ball up court and found Cameron Tatum open at the top of the key.

I thought it was a good shot at the time,’’ said Tatum, who wheeled and misfired. “I saw 5.5 (seconds) on the clock, and I knew it was ticking.

“If it went in, great. But if I missed, we might get another shot.’’

Tatum missed, Turner rebounded, and time ran out.

“It was crazy, real crazy,’’ Smith said, recounting the final seconds. “For us to win, we have to pass the ball and get the open shots.

“We rushed it today.’’

And the Bulldogs rushed the court with the unlikely victory.

The Vols limped to their locker room, disappointed with heads down.

“The (free throw) just rattled out,’’ said Prince, who scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds. “I should have made it. This one is all on me, and I let us down.

“It’s 100 percent my fault.’’

Wayne Chism, the hero of the Vols win over Auburn on Saturday, said SEC tournament MVP Jarvis Varnado got the best of him.

“Me and Varnado have been going at it since we were little,’’ said Chism, who had 15 points and seven rebounds to Varnado’s 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots. “He came out with a championship, and he played hard to win it.’’

Prince vowed the Vols would be back with passion in the NCAA tournament.

“I don’t care who we play — it don’t matter,’’ Prince said. “We’re gonna make this run.’’

Pearl said he continues to believe in the team.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t win this championship,’’ Pearl said. “But I’m proud of my basketball team.

“Look at how many times we’ve picked ourselves up off the deck and played beautiful basketball. We keep bouncing back.’’

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Comments » 446

surfmaster writes:

Before I die, I hope to someday live to see a University of Tennessee basketball team that at least has the desire to win a SEC Tournament championship. What a fokcing embarassment this crew is. That was the most pathetic effort I have seen from this team all season, period. What in the name of all that's holy does it take to win a championship in basketball? I'm done with these guys. What time does the orange/white game kickoff?

rockitwithrespect writes:

horrible officiating

geniuspearl writes:

inbounding the ball is something you don't learn until you get to the NBA. Really advanced stuff.

ZacharyUTK writes:

Verne Lundquist is the most biased commentator on television.

tenmanjonez#561272 writes:

agreed rickitwithrespect. We made some clear blocks just like that Varnado guy, but our name isn't Varnado, so we got called for the foul. That 5-second call was a huge pile as well.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

KILLERxMOOSE writes:

http://goallineblitz.com/game/signup.... everyone should join, pretty cool football game

kixaround writes:

How do you spell suck ? P R I N C E....sure hope this guy is a senior or transfers

jdcvols#230433 writes:

great coaching pearl, so foolmore like. CHOKE!

b_neas writes:

shut it surf.....the fact they got here was a first in years.....yeah they played worse than they had in the last few weeks but the SEC should be ashamed if that is the best ref crew they can put together for a championship......they did not cost us the game but in the last 2 mins i have never seen such terrible calls for both teams....what a disgrace

steelersman42 writes:

what a load of phooey!!! where was the timeout on the 5-second cal?! that said, I'm not about to blame this entirely on officiating, because I've seen fans do that, and I just don't want to do that. but WHAT A LOAD OF phooey!!!

kesterja#235578 writes:

How could JP Prince be named MVP? Turned the ball over repeatedly. Missed what would have been the tying free throw. Both teams deserved to lose. When you have 2 opportunities to have the winning possession and fail to get off a shot??? That is pathetic.

TommyJack writes:

in response to ZacharyUTK:

Verne Lundquist is the most biased commentator on television.

Raftery was worse. Something weird about this team. Can't identify it.

trooper4prezz writes:

I mean what do you expect us to do when we shoot around 30% from the field??? The freaking Lakers couldn't win if they shot 30%!!!!!!

volsare1 writes:

dumb azzes once again played with no heart..seem like they wanted to let msu win just so the sec would get three teams in prob hurt their seed atleast 2 spots prowb went from a 4 to a 6

FulmerWasSabanated987 writes:

in response to rockitwithrespect:

horrible officiating

It was called bad both ways.

steelersman42 writes:

well, I actually said c r a p, but whatever.

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to b_neas:

shut it surf.....the fact they got here was a first in years.....yeah they played worse than they had in the last few weeks but the SEC should be ashamed if that is the best ref crew they can put together for a championship......they did not cost us the game but in the last 2 mins i have never seen such terrible calls for both teams....what a disgrace

absolutely.

This was a pitiful effort by the Vols. Pitiful.

The officiating? wtf is wrong with 'em? I hope SEC higher ups were paying attention.

tnbuco#393180 writes:

in response to surfmaster:

Before I die, I hope to someday live to see a University of Tennessee basketball team that at least has the desire to win a SEC Tournament championship. What a fokcing embarassment this crew is. That was the most pathetic effort I have seen from this team all season, period. What in the name of all that's holy does it take to win a championship in basketball? I'm done with these guys. What time does the orange/white game kickoff?

The first champioship game appearance since 1991 and they lose by 3 points. I don't think that it is bad as you are saying.
Please go root for someone else or better walk in front of a moving car.
You idiots who can't seem to appreciate anything a Tennessee team does or accomplishes are a complete waste of cells and are depriving someone on this earth some much needed oxygen!

Gunslinger477 writes:

in response to surfmaster:

Before I die, I hope to someday live to see a University of Tennessee basketball team that at least has the desire to win a SEC Tournament championship. What a fokcing embarassment this crew is. That was the most pathetic effort I have seen from this team all season, period. What in the name of all that's holy does it take to win a championship in basketball? I'm done with these guys. What time does the orange/white game kickoff?

That is a little dramatic....during tourney time anything can happen....I will agree that some of the plays JP made down the stretch were questionable

CoachNeyland writes:

What is that "free throw" thing?... Do I just throw it towards the backboard?

keithvol1971 writes:

Quit whining about the officiating. Some bad calls both ways. Bottom line, we were not ready or prepared mentally or physically for this game. I'm not sure why we continue to play lazy and like we don't care. Yes we are in but we haven't won a tournament championship in 30 years. You would think our guys would leave it on the court, but apparently not. This team leaves me clueless. I will make a prediction and say we lose first round. I hate being negative but thats how I feel right now.

MillisaAnn writes:

The officating was down right horrible ( the refs gave that game to them) And yes on our part we could have played alot better.

volwalk writes:

in response to rockitwithrespect:

horrible officiating

I agree---they were letting MSU hack the phooey out of our guys inside and hardly called it. For whatever reason our guys were playing about half throttle. I do give credit to MSU for hitting big 3s everytime we got on a run. They are playing good and hopefully will win a few games in the tourney. I am sick and tired of all the so called "experts" dogging our conference. Hopefully, the three or four that get in will win a few games and shut up the critics.

3ballvol writes:

in response to surfmaster:

Before I die, I hope to someday live to see a University of Tennessee basketball team that at least has the desire to win a SEC Tournament championship. What a fokcing embarassment this crew is. That was the most pathetic effort I have seen from this team all season, period. What in the name of all that's holy does it take to win a championship in basketball? I'm done with these guys. What time does the orange/white game kickoff?

You are about an idiot

MillisaAnn writes:

And want to add the commentators were very biased.

beachvol1 writes:

Free Throws and more free throws MISSED!!!!! Don't blame this loss on the officials, put the blame where it belongs...MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, AND MORE MISSED OPPORTURNITIES......

pammyvol1000 writes:

Too many bad passes and missed easy shots and good grief..missed free throws!!

DisorientedVol writes:

I think Pearl needs to enter his team in the Kiffin workouts. I hope everyone was tired because if they were not, we suck. No desire to win on our team, and not much more on Miss.

Basketball_Jones writes:

There were alot of factores that caused this loss. The refs weren't one of them. Plenty of bad calls on both ends.
#1 Pearl having a non shooter in the game late, yank Mr. turnover Prince and put in Hopson.
#2 Bonehead plays, the late pass by Prince, the off balance 3 by Chism (shocker)
#3 Same as #1 BUT...Prince killed us in many spots. His line for the SEC Tournament.....
37 pts 18 rebounds 12 assists and 15 TURNOVERS!!!!

I think this is a bad team loss but I do think they played hard. I cold care less about what the commentators think, cause they have no effects on the outcome. We settled for alot of 3's and should have gone at Varnado alot more. Piss poor job though and where was Mays? 2 assists, 2 TO 2 fouls ZERO pts

donniedem writes:

Tennessee sucked it big today...Champions play like champions when it counts. This team is not tournament champion material. Tyler Smith and JP Prince, thanks for the memories, leave now. There have to be better players out there. One win in NCAA's

mlbrown5454 writes:

in response to kesterja#235578:

How could JP Prince be named MVP? Turned the ball over repeatedly. Missed what would have been the tying free throw. Both teams deserved to lose. When you have 2 opportunities to have the winning possession and fail to get off a shot??? That is pathetic.

That's what I was thinking, but then, who else would it go to?

Hopefully a wake up call for the NCAA Tournament.
Tried to be too flashy in the 1st half.

rockitwithrespect writes:

in response to FulmerWasSabanated987:

It was called bad both ways.

i agree, i didnt say it was just against UT. they had many chances to win but didnt capitalize. too many missed shots close to the rim

DisorientedVol writes:

At least, Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn suck more than we do.

PureOrange writes:

No guts; no glory. This team simply cannot, or worse, will not play hard for three games. Two is the limit, then they take one off.

No coach can make you want to win when you just do not care enough to give the effort.

The only good that may come out of this miserable performance is that maybe our football was watching and realizes that it takes effort and desire to win. Talent is not enough. We clearly have more talent than Miss. St, but we also clearly do not have the guts and the want to.

winbigvols writes:

Prince sucks, we can't even throw it in. Choke city. Tyler didn't show up. If Tyler and Chism think they are ready for the NBA, they are wrong. Both want make a team. We didn't show up, back to playing terrible. This team can either beat a team by 20 or get beat by 20. You never no what team is going to show up.

3ballvol writes:

All of you idiots who keep saying we didn't play hard are probably the same people that think Dane Bradshaw helped this team more than Tyler Smith! Learn and play the game some and I think you will see alot of effort going on out there.

LifetimeVolFan98 writes:

in response to surfmaster:

Before I die, I hope to someday live to see a University of Tennessee basketball team that at least has the desire to win a SEC Tournament championship. What a fokcing embarassment this crew is. That was the most pathetic effort I have seen from this team all season, period. What in the name of all that's holy does it take to win a championship in basketball? I'm done with these guys. What time does the orange/white game kickoff?

Loser - that pretty much sums it up for you. I saw grit and determination - at least we were one of the few top seeds in the country to make it to their respective championship round. I guess only real "fans" saw a great game today.

djwes2 writes:

in response to rockitwithrespect:

horrible officiating

What a %#$^&%$*^ joke. I hope the University takes action against those refs and they never do another UT game. Just once, I’d like to see the players decide the game.

3ballvol writes:

in response to PureOrange:

No guts; no glory. This team simply cannot, or worse, will not play hard for three games. Two is the limit, then they take one off.

No coach can make you want to win when you just do not care enough to give the effort.

The only good that may come out of this miserable performance is that maybe our football was watching and realizes that it takes effort and desire to win. Talent is not enough. We clearly have more talent than Miss. St, but we also clearly do not have the guts and the want to.

effort isn't the difference in the games moron shooting percentage is! Those kids played their butts off but made some poor decisions and didn't shoot well. THEY DID GIVE GREAT EFFORT just didn't shoot well.

ctownvol writes:

30+ games in and we can't inbound the basketball?

ctownvol writes:

in response to smartguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And just who do you pull for "smartguy"?

ssgdebity writes:

This game the Vols had several chances to win it, but for the whole game they where not making the shots like they normally would. Now the lastt 10 sec of the game called the 5 second foul that was clearly a bad call by the ref. And it should have been a TO. But cause of that bad ref is why we lost the game.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to wlvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you are a total dick. I'm gueesing people clean your frickin' clock for you on a daily basis.

ROCKYTOPTENN writes:

in response to tnbuco#393180:

The first champioship game appearance since 1991 and they lose by 3 points. I don't think that it is bad as you are saying.
Please go root for someone else or better walk in front of a moving car.
You idiots who can't seem to appreciate anything a Tennessee team does or accomplishes are a complete waste of cells and are depriving someone on this earth some much needed oxygen!

if you can't see that this was a heartless preformance than your blind this team has no desire to win anything. Prince is just a punk.

volpreacher writes:

in response to FulmerWasSabanated987:

It was called bad both ways.

I see your back now that UT loses. You didn't show up for a while after UT destroyed Alabubba the other night like I told you in advance. Can't wait until UT does it to Alabubba in football this year too.

peerless writes:

in response to gatorz2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are really a vol fan; book it!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

catscratch, didn't you get the feeling we where 'holding back' in the first half??

why would we have not been running MSU and wearing them down??

You and I go way back, so you know what I'm saying...we didn't 'throw' the game, but we sure as hell didn't try real hard to win it.

LifetimeVolFan98 writes:

in response to kesterja#235578:

How could JP Prince be named MVP? Turned the ball over repeatedly. Missed what would have been the tying free throw. Both teams deserved to lose. When you have 2 opportunities to have the winning possession and fail to get off a shot??? That is pathetic.

No sir, that's just good defense - apparently you don't know b-ball only how to coach from an armchair

LAVol writes:

Layups, layups, layups!!! I have never seen a team miss more shots from 2 feet in a single game more than the vols did today. As the announcers said, State wanted it more when there were loose balls and the game was on the line. I would have thought that with it being 30 years since the last tournament title that that would be motivation enough. Oh well! Go vols

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