Vanderbilt 75, Mississippi State 72: Too Close for Comfort

Eric AdamsContributor IFebruary 4, 2010

You know going into a game that fans don't have much impact on a game. Sure, they can help a team's effort by getting crazy loud. They can disrupt an opponent's rhythm by yelling so they can't hear play calls. If you want to get serious about it, you can even curse and torment other teams to the point of national embarrassment. (See West Virginia fans ).

But there is nothing worse as a fan than the feeling when your team is collapsing in front of you. The feeling of utter helplessness and frustration. That's what happened in the final four minutes of Vanderbilt's 75-72 victory over Mississippi State.

Quick side note: Before I rant a bit, this is a quality win for the 'Dores. Before the Bulldogs had some tough road losses last week, they were a borderline top 25 team. This is a great win against one of the SEC's best.

With four minutes left to play, Vanderbilt was leading 71-57. What ensued was 15-4 Mississippi State run that nearly sent Memorial into a tail spin. There were a couple key errors during that stretch that compiled to make the Bulldogs' comeback possible.

Mainly, a couple quick shots with time left on the shot clock and some misses inside. With a barrage of threes from the Bulldogs and a late turnover from Jermaine Beal, State closed the gap to 73-72 with 28 seconds left.

A lot of people will hammer the 'Dores for the following sequence, but I think it was Mississippi State that screwed up.

The Bulldogs allowed the Commodores to inbound the ball deep into their back court. The stationed two players near between three-quarter court and half court to trap Jermaine Beal. A timeout when he got in trouble burned 10 seconds off the clock.

Why in the world didn't Mississippi State foul early? Extend the game, fellas.

Anyway, 17 seconds left. The ball is passed around in a sequence similar to: Beal, Brad Tinsley (who had already missed some key free throws), John Jenkins. There might have been another pass in there, but I'm not sure because my blood pressure was already too high.

So Jenkins has the ball with six seconds on the clock. Instead of dribbling/passing the ball out, he decides to take a shot from the low block.

The decision to put the ball up in the air is dangerous. Best case scenarios: You hit the shot or you're fouled in the attempt. Unless you get a three-point play out of it, you've only accomplished scoring two points with six seconds still on the clock. Both outcomes result in your opponent getting a chance to tie.

A better solution you ask? Here is something I'm dying to see happen. If Jenkins makes one pass out. Let's say he kicks to Tinsley. All Tinsley would have to do is launch the ball about 40 feet in the air. Miss the jumbotron and all six seconds are gone. You wouldn't allow another shot.

Tinsley would have gotten the ball, he holds until they get close, then heave-ho. Even if the ball came back down with a bit on the clock, there wouldn't be a clean catch.

Anyway, Jenkins puts up the shot, fouled, and calmly knocks down both free throws.

Six seconds, Vandy by three.

Coach Stallings wants the team to foul and not give up a three-point attempt. On the inbounds, Jeffery Taylor mauls Dee Bost, but nothing is called. Anything worse and they probably could have called an intentional. I don't see how you can get on Taylor for this.

Luckily, Dee Bost completes his 1-7 performance with a badly missed three; victory is secured. Wait, what was that whistle? Oh nothing important, just Lance Goulbourne committing one of the dumbest fouls of all time on a meaningless put-back attempt!

If Romero Osby hit that shot, and completed a three-point play...I mean...that was really bad. At that moment, they had one second left and NO chance of tying the game. Who cares that Lance fouled hard enough for him to miss the shot, it still put into play: Hit the first, miss second on purpose, quick tap-in for the tie.

I know it all happened in like two seconds, but you still have to know the situation you're in.

Stallings' face was priceless. A good combination of shock and anger.

With a missed free throw on his first attempt, the game was over.

Last night reminded me of the Missouri contest. Good win but almost gave it away.

Only one player I wanted to comment on: Jarvis Varnado. 12 points, 14 rebounds, and nine blocks. That would have been a very impressive triple-double. I can't wait to see him and Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins go toe-to-toe.