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FWTCT Greatest Games Bracket, RD1: 1996 vs. Cincinnati VS. 2002 vs. Kentucky

Yesterday thecristilmethod detailed our first, 1st round game: '04 vs. Bama vs. '63 vs. Loyola. Don't expect the same kind of amazing graphics and videos here, because well, as my pen name suggest - I am lame and don't know how to do stuff. On to the matchup....

1996 vs. (2 seed - #7 in AP) Cincinnati

If for some reason you were unaware that Mississippi State made the Final Four its one and only time in 1996, well, this is the Elite 8 game that proceeded that. Here's a picture of Erick Dampier on the blocks with 2nd team All-American Danny Fortson courtesy of LIFE:

Like some of the other big wins during the '96 run, Mississippi State got out to an early lead with a hot start. But coming out of halftime Cincy made a run to cut the lead to three, and Dampier got his fourth foul with 11 minutes to go. That's when freshman Tyrone Washington came in to bang around with Fortson.

Washington averaged 1.8 PPG during the regular season, but he managed seven with four rebounds and kept the Bearcats from taking over while Dampier was on the bench. State eventually tore the game open behind Dontae Jones' 23 points and won 73-63; advancing to the Final Four.

2002 vs. #6 Kentucky

After the above game, there were no big basketball victories between then and now: 2002 vs. UK. The program sank a bit, and this game was this official 'coming back to relevance party' for MSU.

Mario Austin went off in this game, here's a picture of him doing so...

Yikes. He had 32 points and 8 a big play, but I'll get to that in a sec.

Kentucky, led by Tayshaun Price, jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the game. They had a 40-24 halftime lead and a 48-32 lead with 15 minutes to play. State's intensity forced UK turnovers and the Dawgs battled their way back into the game. The day belonged to Mario Austin, and with :07 left he was unguarded as he knocked down his first career 3-pointer (and only one that season) to tie the game and send it into overtime.

In OT, MSU's momentum sealed the victory 74-69.