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Ben Howland out as men's basketball coach at Mississippi State

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James leads 2-seed Vols past 10-seed MS State (0:32)

Behind Josiah-Jordan James' 16 points, Tennessee pulls away to defeat Mississippi State, 72-59, in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. (0:32)

Ben Howland is out as men's basketball coach at Mississippi State, the school announced Thursday, ending his seven-year stint at the school without an NCAA tournament victory.

Howland, 64, reached three Final Fours while coaching UCLA from 2003 to 2013. He could never recapture any of that magic in Starkville, however, as his lone trip to the NCAA tournament with the Bulldogs ended with an upset loss to No. 12 seed Liberty in 2019.

Howland finishes his tenure at Mississippi State with a 134-98 overall record and a 59-67 record in the SEC. The Bulldogs failed to finish higher than fourth in the SEC during his seven seasons.

"We are appreciative of the time and effort Coach Howland devoted in leading our men's basketball program," athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. "We thank him for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes and pouring his heart and soul into our program from the day he arrived in Starkville. There's no question he left our program better than he found it. MSU owes a debt of gratitude to Coach Howland, and we have the utmost respect for him as a coach and person."

In addition to Mississippi State and UCLA, Howland also guided Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh to NCAA tournament berths over a 26-year career that includes 533 wins.

Mississippi State entered this season with high expectations thanks to a flurry of high-profile transfers, which included Garrison Brooks and D.J. Jeffries. The Bulldogs, however, never found traction as early losses to Louisville, Minnesota and Colorado State set a course for a mediocre 18-16 season that ended with an NIT loss at Virginia on Wednesday night.

Howland's defense-first instincts and State's slow style of play have dragged on interest and attendance, with the Bulldogs ranking No. 258 in adjusted tempo this season.

Howland had one year remaining on his contract with the university and is expected to be owed $833,000. He could be owed more through a deal with the Bulldog Club, as is common with Mississippi State contracts.

Cohen said Mississippi State has started its search for Howland's successor.