With 8 of our top 9 players returning, Mississippi State (18-8, 6-5 SEC) entered the 2010 season with high expectations. But disappointing non-conference losses and some close calls in the SEC – including the heart-breaking overtime home loss to #2 Kentucky – had MSU reeling and needing a victory. LSU’s (8-17, 0-11 SEC) SEC Title a year earlier seemed a distant memory as their 2010 squad was winless in conference play, hoping to sneak in a home win over an emotionally-drained MSU team. In short, we could not afford to lose this game.
I’ll fast forward through a listless first half. State was up 24-20 at the break and as was customary for some of Stansbury’s later teams, MSU settled for more threes (4-13) than twos (4-9).
The second half was mostly a tight game, with State briefly grabbing a couple of 6-point leads. Jarvis had all 7 of his blocks in the 2nd half, and at one point, MSU shot 9-straight threes without attempting a shot inside the arc. A Phil Turner 3 with 4:18 left put State up 7, and so began the "Stansbury stall."
Four of the next five MSU possessions, State did not attempt a shot with more than 10 seconds left on the shot clock, shooting 2-3 with 2 turnovers. Meanwhile, LSU rebounded well and shot 4-8 with 2 threes, cutting the MSU lead to 1. With ball possession and down by 1, LSU called a timeout with 44 seconds left.
After 2 missed jumpers in the lane and 2 offensive rebounds for LSU, Tasmin Mitchell drained a three with 16 seconds left, putting LSU up by 2. Rather than call a timeout, Stansbury allowed the inbounds to play out. Dee Bost drove right and kicked it back to Phil Turner, who hit a deep three from the right elbow, regaining a 1-point lead for State. LSU’s too-early half-court heave was off target, and State escaped with a 60-59 win.
2-20-2010 Phil Turner's game winner vs LSU (via MSUhistory)
The dramatic end of the game avoided another embarrassing loss on MSU’s resume. But in the end, there were too many and State wound up in the NIT, eventually losing to North Carolina in the 2nd round.