Mississippi State played an inspired game against Kentucky. It pushed the No. 2 team in the country beyond 40 minutes, despite the suspension of its leading scorer and the foul-out of its best player. It did everything but beat the Wildcats.
But in the end, here is the double dose of disappointment for the Bulldogs:
They didn’t close the door, losing a seven-point lead with 2:45 to play in regulation.
And then their fans – some of whom are the nastiest and most vulgar I’ve heard in 19 years of covering SEC basketball – embarrassed the school by throwing bottles on the floor.
Mississippi State fans had their fodder when Kentucky got as many as three key calls in its favor in the final minutes: a block-charge call that went Patrick Patterson’s way, when virtually every collision had been called a charge all night; a no-call on a John Wall goaltend; and a tickle foul on a Wall jumper.
Those calls contributed to – did not cause, but contributed to – an 81-75 Kentucky victory in overtime. It was a game the Bulldogs desperately needed to make the NCAA tournament. It was a bitter loss.
But so what. There is no excuse for throwing what appeared to be a full water bottle at official Mike Kitts. There is no excuse for throwing empty bottles. There is no excuse for throwing anything on the floor during a basketball game.
Same with the West Virginia fans who have cheapened their university with their behavior at recent home games. A couple of knuckleheads can make an entire university look bad.
This was a game destined to be unusually heated. Mississippi State fans got hold of combustible center DeMarcus Cousins’ cell number and allegedly bombarded him with calls and texts – some of them slurs, according to Cousins. Reporters said Kentucky players engaged fans in some trash talk before the game, and the Wildcats appeared to be in flaunt-and-taunt mode after it was over.
So perhaps some idiot behavior was inevitable. But it doesn’t make anyone look good, and it shouldn’t make anyone feel better.