TAMPA, Fla. -- Mississippi State advanced to the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament championship game with a stunning 67-57 victory over 20th-ranked LSU in the St. Pete Times Forum Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs will face either Tennessee in a noon CT start Sunday for the tournament championship. The winner receives an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
MSU will be playing in the SEC Tournament championship game for the fifth time in school history and fourth time since 1996. The Bulldogs last played in the finals in 2003 and last won the tournament in 2002. On Saturday, this MSU squad became the first Bulldog squad to advance to the finals from the first round - having to win three straight tournament games to accomplish that feat.
With the victory, MSU improves to 22-12, while LSU completes league tournament play at 26-7.
Jarvis Varnado led the MSU attack with 19 points and seven blocked shots. Phil Turner had another monster night on the glass, claiming 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs had an atypical day from 3-point range, only hitting three. MSU also shook off early free throw struggles. Defense and rebounding proved enough to offset those numbers as MSU knocked off LSU for the first time in three tries this season.