Pitt make history as they hold on to beat Mississippi State 60-59 in stunning First Four game as NCAA Tournament gets going with a bang
Jamarius Burton made a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds left as Pitt edged Mississippi State 60-59 in a back-and-forth First Four game Tuesday night that featured 21 lead changes – the most in the NCAA Tournament in five years.
Mississippi State had a great chance to win at the end, but Shakeel Moore missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner with two seconds remaining and D.J. Jeffries’ tip-in attempt was off target just before the buzzer.
Nelly Cummings led Pitt with 15 points. Greg Elliott scored 13 and Blake Hinson added 12 as the Panthers (23-11) won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2014. They slotted into the Midwest Region as the 11th seed and advanced to face No. 6 Iowa State on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina.
A layup by Tolu Smith gave Mississippi State a 59-58 advantage with 32 seconds left, but Pitt – after a three-minute scoring drought – grabbed the lead back on Burton’s short jumper.
The Panthers (23-11) advance as a No. 11 seed to play sixth-seeded Iowa State on Friday in a Midwest Region first-round game in Greensboro, N.C.
Jamarius Burton hit a floater in the final seconds to take Pitt beyond the First Four Tuesday
Shakeel Moore missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner with two seconds remaining and D.J. Jeffries’ tip-in attempt was off target just before the buzzer for Mississippi State
Dashawn Davis led the Bulldogs (21-12) with 15 points while Shakeel Moore scored 14 in the season-ending loss. Tolu Smith had 13 points and eight rebounds, and D.J. Jeffries contributed nine points and a game-high 13 reboudns.
The game was back-and-forth from start to finish.
The Panthers took a 58-52 lead with 3:08 left on a wild catch-and-shoot 30-foot 3-pointer from Hinson.
The Bulldogs scored the next seven points, highlighted by Smith’s layup with 32.9 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up 59-58.
After Burton’s go-ahead hoop, Pitt’s Guillermo Diaz Graham blocked Smith’s shot on a drive to the basket with 2.7 seconds remaining before Moore missed a corner 3-point attempt and Jeffries couldn’t put back a rebound tip.
Twice in the first 12 minutes of the game, Mississippi State fouled a Pittsburgh shooter on a made 3-pointer. But in each case, the Panthers could not convert their four-point play opportunity.
Pitt claimed a 35-34 halftime lead thanks in large part to its potent 3-point offense. The Panthers converted 8 of 13 from beyond the arc, including two apiece from Sibande, Elliott and Cummings.
Mississippi State, which was shooting just 26.6 percent from beyond the arc on the season entering the night, made three of its first five 3-point attempts. But the Bulldogs reverted to form, and they wound up at 6-for-23 (26.1 percent).
The Panthers hit 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from long distance overall.
The Panthers converted 8 of 13 from beyond the arc, which was crucial in the No. 11 seed’s win