As a whole, the Southeastern Conference underperformed on Saturday as the Big 12 dominated the challenge. However, three SEC teams earned massive wins on Saturday. All three with wins on Saturday needed those wins to help with an identified crisis felt across the programs in question. Mississippi State, Missouri, and Tennessee were the three Southeastern Conference wins. For Missouri and Tennessee, the wins over Iowa State and Texas were a bit more flashy than the thrilling overtime win for Mississippi State.
Missouri started the day by dominating twelfth-ranked Iowa State 78-61 in Columbia, Missouri. It was the type of effort that Missouri fans have expected to see from their Tigers this season. Like many other programs this season, Missouri has struggled to find consistency; with their win on Saturday, things in Columbia could be turning the corner for an exciting late-season rush to the NCAA Tournament.
High on Rocky Top, it was the Tennessee Volunteers who destroyed the likeness of the Texas Longhorns. Tennessee jumped out in front of Texas and never looked back. It was as if Tennessee was the varsity team and Texas was the JV. Tennessee had two guys, Olivier Nkamhoua and Zakai Zeigler led the way in scoring for the Volunteers with over twenty-five points a piece.
In Starkville, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, in front of the home crowd at the Hump, defeated #11 TCU in an overtime thriller. Mississippi State produced one of the best offensive performances of the season, with a season-high of 81 points to earn one of the biggest wins under first-year Head Coach Chris Jans. Tolu Smith led the way in scoring for Mississippi State with 27 points. Mississippi State needed the win to keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive as the Bulldogs prepare for a late-season push.
Overall, Saturday wasn’t the banner day the Southeastern Conference was looking for, but for the three winners, Saturday was what the doctor ordered. It might not seem like much, but those three wins will provide a huge confidence boost as those programs inch closer to March Madness.