The first two games of the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament provided major drama Tuesday night in Dayton. First, it was Texas A&M-Corpus Christi who earned the right to take on Alabama in the first round by dodging a game-winning three-pointer from Southeast Missouri State in the dying seconds.
An all-out slugfest ensued between Mississippi State and Pittsburgh, who played Iowa State on Thursday for a place in the first round. After the two teams caught fire after three came out of goal, the pace of the goals quickly slowed as Pitt led 35-34 at halftime, and a defensive battle ensued in the second half as the two teams came together only scored 50 points. Buckets were in high demand and for a brief moment it looked like Pitt would pull away as they went 58-52 by just over three minutes deep three by Blake Hinson – the first of either team in the half.
However, Mississippi State would fight back into the game and put up a 7-0 run of their own to regain the lead with 1 on a last-minute layup by Tolu Smith.
Pitt would find the answer at the other end in the form of a hard midrange pullup from Jamarius Burton that gave the Bulldogs 10 seconds to set up a game winner.
Guillermo Diaz-Graham then came on Tolu Smith with a huge block three seconds from the end, setting up an out-of-bounds baseline for Mississippi State to try again to win the game by a bucket.
They raised a beauty to shoot a wide-open three out of the corner, but that went beggingly, as did a clean tip-in attempt that bounced off the backboard and the other side of the rim to somehow allow Pitt to survive and advance.
It’s hard to blame a team for that look, but for a team that finished last in all D-1s in three-point shooting this season (26.6%), it’s hard not to look back and ask in hindsight wondering if they should have looked closer to the edge. Pitt clearly didn’t expect them to run for a three, but they got away with a total defensive error to leave him uncontrolled in the corner and then didn’t punch when the shot went up.
https://uproxx.com/dimemag/mississippi-state-pittsburgh-first-four-missed-three-tip-in-video-highlights/ Mississippi State missed a wide open three to lose to Pitt