Sunday, March 7, 2004
No. 5 Mississippi St. 82, Alabama 81 (OT)
Bowers' late shots rescue Bulldogs
By John Zenor
The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Timmy Bowers had the swagger, Lawrence Roberts the muscle and No. 5 Mississippi State the poise and pluck.
Bowers hit last-second baskets in regulation and overtime and the Bulldogs clinched their first outright Southeastern Conference title in 41 years with an 82-81 victory over Alabama on Saturday.
Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts (4) goes up for a shot as Alabama's Chuck Davis (1) defends.
Mississippi State (25-2, 14-2) capped its best regular-season ever with an eloquent statement for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Afterward, coach Rick Stansbury stated his team's case, saying his team has done everything that selection committee chairman Bob Bowlsby has said matters.
"There will not be a resume put in front of (Bowlsby) that's better than Mississippi State when you look at the criteria they're talking about," Stansbury said. "What else can you do?"
For Bowers, not much.
The gutsy senior guard made a layup in traffic with a second left in overtime, capping his team's momentous season in high style. He also made a last-second shot over Earnest Shelton from the free-throw line with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
"Late in the game, obviously I want the ball," said Bowers, who had only three points at halftime but finished with 20. "I just have that total confidence that I can make the bucket any time I want to. I think it comes with experience."
The Crimson Tide, which led by 18 points early in the second half, had a couple of chances in overtime. Jermareo Davidson rebounded a missed shot by Kennedy Winston but Antoine Pettway stepped on the baseline for a turnover to give Mississippi State the ball back with 19 seconds left.
After a timeout, Gary Erwin caught the inbounds pass and dished it to Bowers. The senior guard drove the left baseline for the game-winner just when it appeared he might not get a shot off in time.
"He tried to make one move, and I cut him off," Alabama's Kennedy Winston said. "He made another and I cut him off. He tried to pump fake and I tried to hold my hands up and keep from fouling.
"He put it up and laid it off the glass. I knew he wasn't going to pass."
With the win, Mississippi State set school regular-season records for overall and league wins, finishing 12-0 on the road. Alabama (16-11, 8-8) had won the first meeting, 77-73, a few weeks ago to start a four-game winning streak that will likely catapult the Tide into the NCAA tournament.
Bowers and the Bulldogs kept that from being a lock and made sure the Tide wouldn't get a first-round bye in the SEC tournament, dropping Alabama to the No. 3 seed.
Bowers also hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in regulation, then Shelton missed his first free throw in a 1-and-1 situation after the official asked for the ball back the first time he prepared to shoot.
"He gave me the ball to shoot it and as I began to shoot it he stopped me," Shelton said. "I kind of told him, 'You shouldn't be able to do that. You can't throw anybody off like that."'
"In my opinion that's a violation," Tide coach Mark Gottfried said. "I think it does affect your concentration. I don't think you can blame it (the miss) on that, but it was kind of a unique play."
Bowers made only 8-of-22 shots but also eight assists. Roberts had 18 points and 21 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end.
Roberts, the favorite for SEC player of the year, didn't hit a field goal after the 16-minute mark of the second half but the Bulldogs started to hit their 3-pointers. They made 11-of-27 3s, seven after halftime.
Stansbury savored the title regardless of its historic aspect.
"I know everybody talks about, we haven't done it since the '60s. Forty years is not something that's really important to me," he said.
"Just winning the SEC championship - I don't care if you've done it last year, it'd be special to do it again."
For Alabama, Shelton had 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Pettway had 21 point and Winston added 15.
Alabama had no answer for Roberts & Co. inside, getting outrebounded 56-36 and giving up 29 offensive boards.
The Tide's first basket of the second half pushed the lead to 18 points. The Bulldogs kept pecking away at the lead, then caught up with a 19-3 run to make it 67-all with 3:09 left.
"They just made tough shots," Shelton said. "They inched back and inched back and before knew it we had a game."
It was a mirror-image of the Tide's game Wednesday night, storming back from a 22-point deficit before pulling out an overtime victory.
MISSISSIPPI ST. (25-2)-Roberts 5-18 8-11 18, Power 3-7 2-2 11, Vincent 2-6 1-2 5, Bowers 8-22 0-0 20, Frazier 5-14 3-4 15, Ervin 2-5 2-3 8, Stelmach 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 2-2 1-3 5. Totals 27-74 17-25 82.
ALABAMA (16-11)-Davis 4-8 3-3 11, Winston 5-17 4-4 15, Davidson 1-2 0-0 2, Shelton 8-17 7-8 25, Pettway 7-14 3-4 21, Thomas 1-5 0-0 3, Rambo 2-2 0-0 4, Brock 0-0 0-1 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 17-20 81.
Halftime-Ala. 47-31. Regulation-75. 3-Point goals-Miss. St. 11-27 (Bowers 4-10, Power 3-5, Ervin 2-2, Frazier 2-9, Roberts 0-1). Ala. 8-22 (Pettway 4-5, Shelton 2-7, Winston 1-5, Thomas 1-4, Davis 0-1). Fouled out-Frazier, Davis. Rebounds-Miss. St. 56 (Roberts 21), Ala. 36 (Shelton 9). Assists-Miss. St. 12 (Bowers 8), Ala. 8 (Shelton 4). Total fouls-Miss. St. 21, Ala. 22. A-15,316.
REDS / SPRING TRAINING
Daugherty: Reds seem all-natural
Outfielder makes life a journey
Reds e-mail Q&A
Inside Reds camp
Recovering Cruz making progress
Specter of drugs clouds the game
A-Rod joins in Yankees-Red Sox fun today
BENGALS / NFL
Bengals retain Braham
Monster trade ultimately may favor Redskins
Traded to Ravens, Owens seeks to become an Eagle
Bobbitt's big shot gives Bearcats share of title
Banks grabs Bearcats' attention
XU takes Temple's best punch
Chaney doesn't temper criticism
Flyers prevail in regular-season finale
Florida adds fuel to UK players
RedHawks gain 3rd seed
No. 5 Mississippi St. 82, Alabama 81 (OT)
Washington 75, No. 1 Stanford 62
Marquette 81, No. 25 Louisville 80
Top 25 roundup: Duke back on winning track
Racers earn 5th NCAA berth in 8 years
Xavier women bow out of Atlantic 10 Tournament
MND, C-J on collision course
Turpin wins first sectional title since 1992
Chiodi's buzzer-beater downs Bluebirds
Badin girls upset Kenton Ridge
Wendeln puts on record FT show
Div. I girls' playoffs roundup
Gymnastics: Badin senior excels
State hockey: Talawanda falls to St. Ed
Prep sports schedules
Groeschen: Reading mourns Ramsey's death
Ernst: Father, son may meet in final
TOP O' THE SECOND
Good Sports: Trio train for the fight of their lives
What's up with that?
A quick chat with ... Chris McKee
Long shots suit Henderson
Planning ahead: Can't miss TV
This week's poll question
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Parry wakes up in time to grab one-stroke lead
NBA: Bryant could miss month with sprained shoulder
Harvick wins wild Las Vegas race
Sports today on TV, radio