DAYTON, Ohio - Back in the NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State almost got the chance to keep on dancing. However, a pair of last-second shots didn't fall, and the Bulldogs came up on the short end of a 60-59 decision to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night as part of the First Four at UD Arena.
With under two seconds remaining, Shakeel Moore's potential game-winning 3-pointer bounced off the rim. State's tip-in try was also unsuccessful just ahead of the final buzzer.
"There was no doubt in our minds we'd fight and scratch and claw and we did," MSU head coach Chris Jans said. "We had a couple of chances there at the end to win the game, but it didn't happen."
The frantic finish was fitting for a game that was nip and tuck the entire way. The contest featured nine ties and 21 lead changes. Neither team ever led by more than six points.
Dashawn Davis scored a team-high 15 points for State. Two other Bulldogs reached double figures in scoring as well as Moore totaled 14 and Tolu Smith added 13.
D.J. Jefferies collected an MSU-high 13 boards to help the Dawgs win the rebounding battle 49-28.
It was Moore and Jeffries who gave Mississippi State a tremendous boost early on. The Bulldogs made five of their first seven shots in the game including two 3s each from Moore and Jeffries that helped MSU build a 14-8 advantage less than five minutes in.
However, Pitt answered thanks in large part to its own success beyond the arc. The Panthers went 8-for-13 from long range in the first half and held a 35-34 lead at the intermission.
The game remained a one-possession contest throughout the second half up until the final four minutes. A Panther 3-pointer put Pitt up 58-52 with 3:08 left. The Dawgs weren't done though, responding with a 7-0 run highlighted by a Smith dunk and a Jeffries trey to retake the lead.
Pittsburgh had one final punch though. The Panthers' Jamarius Burton sank a jumper with 10 seconds left that proved to be the decisive blow.