FWTCT Greatest Games Bracket, RD1: 2004 vs Bama (Basketball) VS. 1963 vs. Loyola (Basketball)

Greatest games 1

Yesterday our Greatest Games Bracket series kicked off with the introductory post and vote for the "play-in" game. Don't forget to go back and vote in that poll, it closes tonight at midnight!

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2004 vs. Alabama (Basketball) VS. 1963 vs. Loyola (Basketball)

2004 vs. Alabama (Basketball)

2004 was a banner year for Mississippi State, and the final game of the season saw the Bulldogs with a chance to claim a regular season SEC championship for the first time in decades. However, the dogs came out flat, and Alabama took advantage of every opportunity that State gave them, maintaining a 20 point lead at halftime. With 9 minutes remaining in the game, State found themselves still down 16, and the task of coming back to seize a victory seemed all but possible. The video of that final 9 minutes can be found below:

2004 Mississippi State @ Alabama basketball (via sparky39762)

After closing the gap and tying the game to send it end to overtime, the Dogs continued back and forth with the Crimson Tide, until it was 81-80 Alabama. With 10 seconds left, State in-bounded the ball, and Timmy Bowers nailed a driving layup with 1 second remaining to seal the game 82-81 and the SEC regular season championship for Mississippi State in 2004.

This game made the greatest games list becuase it was one of the greatest comebacks in MSU history, and because it was one of the greatest seasons in MSU basketball history. Had it not been for Xavier's hot shooting several weeks later (as Croom touched on yesterday), who knows where that team could have finished up in the records books. Still, an SEC regular season championship is something to be proud of, and Timmy Bowers and Co.'s miraculous comeback in T-Town gave us the crown in 2004.

1963 vs. Loyola (Basketball)

This game needs little introduction or summary for most State fans. Even though it was before many of our times, many of us know about it because it was vital in laying the groundwork for integrated basketball play in the NCAA.

1963 was a great year for Babe McCarthy's Bulldogs, as they compiled a 21-5 record and were named SEC Champions. After completing the regular season, the Bulldogs were invited to postseason play, drawing a first round matchup against the University of Loyola (Illinois). In the previous 3 seasons, an unwritten Mississippi law kept 3 white teams from traveling to play black teams, but coach McCarthy, President Dean Colvard and AD Wade Walker made sure the boys got a chance to play. Here's a clipping from an article on the MSU Kinesiology webpage:

Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett wasn't about to let that happen. Nor was state Sen. Billy Mitts, a former Mississippi State student body president and cheerleader. Mitts even got an injunction prohibiting the team from leaving the state.

But before the papers could be served, Colvard left the state for a speaking engagement in Alabama, while Walker and McCarthy drove north, across the state line to Tennessee.
Early the next morning, trainer Dutch Luchsinger and several reserves drove to a private airport in Starkville, Miss. When they saw the path was safe, a call was made for assistant Jerry Simmons and the starters to hurry and join them.

The plane took off without incident, stopped in Nashville to pick up Walker and McCarthy and headed to Lansing and a warm reception. Back in Mississippi, the Ku Klux Klan and segregationists stewed while many others cheered their team's stance.

"When Babe said we were going, it was like God speaking,'' Shows said. "We didn't understand the politics. But we were all on pins and needles. Just as our plane took off, the sheriff drove through the gate. He'd driven to the wrong airport. It turns out he wanted us to go.''

Loyola guard John Egan, the only white starter on his team, said he didn't understand the implications when Harkness and Mississippi State's Red Stroud shook hands at the center jump in Jenison Field House, as hundreds of flashbulbs popped all around them.

"Jerry is very emotional about this and was crushed when Red just died,'' Egan said. "None of us saw it as 'us' against 'them.' The Mississippi State players were true gentlemen. I guess we showed people the way it could be.''

Although MSU lost that game 61-51, the team really won on that day because they defied the powers that be to take part in something that believed was right. That is why this game made the all-time greatest games list.

Well, we've presented you with the 2 games, now you decide which one moves on! The voting for this game will remain open for one week until May 23 at noon. Make sure you get your vote in and do your part to vote your favorite game onto the next round!

Tomorrow's round 1 matchup: 1996 vs. Cincinnati (Basketball) VS. 2002 vs. Kentucky (Basketball)

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