ATLANTA — After winning four Southeastern Conference games all season, Georgia has won three in three days. Two of them came Saturday, improbably leading the Bulldogs into the championship game of the SEC tournament.
Sundiata Gaines scored 20 points before fouling out, and Georgia, playing its second game of the day, overcame a thin roster and little rest to stun Mississippi State 64-60 in the semifinals.
Charles Rhodes scored 22 points for Mississippi State (22-10), which finished first in the SEC West, but his late technical foul helped Georgia, the last-place team in the East, pull off its second upset of the day.
Georgia (16-16) will face Arkansas in today's final with hopes of completing a highly unexpected march to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs were only 4-12 in the league during the regular season and entered the tournament with coach Dennis Felton's job status in apparent jeopardy.
"Nobody wanted to give us credit," Gaines said. "We made history today, but we've got to finish it out tomorrow."
Gaines hurt his hip on a hard foul when picking up his fifth foul on a charge with 7:18 left, but he said the injury wouldn't keep him out of today's game.
"I can't really worry about that right now," Gaines said. "I'm not worried about the hip. I'm worried about my team. ... This just shows if we play together anything is possible."
Georgia upset Kentucky 60-56 earlier Saturday in a quarterfinal game pushed back a day due to the tornado that damaged the Georgia Dome the previous night.
The Bulldogs' win over Kentucky was impressive enough, but few expected they would have enough left to even remain competitive against Mississippi State.
They did — and even had enough left over to celebrate the win. Corey Butler slapped hands with Georgia fans and Felton left the court pumping his fist and slapping hands with several boosters hanging over tunnel.
The semifinal was played before an estimated crowd of 1,000 at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where the final two days of the tournament were moved after a tornado ripped through the Georgia Dome during the quarterfinals Friday night.
ARKANSAS STATE 92, NO. 4 TENNESSEE 91: At Atlanta, Steven Hill hit a turnaround jumper with 5.3 seconds remaining for his only points of the game and Arkansas knocked off Tennessee in the semifinals of the SEC tournament, perhaps costing the Volunteers a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Razorbacks (22-10) surely locked up an NCAA bid and advanced to face Georgia in today's championship game.
The game was played before an estimated crowd of 2,000 at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Atlantic Coast Conference
NO. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 68, VIRGINIA TECH 66: At Charlotte, N.C., Tyler Hansbrough hit a fadeaway jumper off an offensive rebound with 0.8 seconds left to help No. 1 North Carolina beat Virginia Tech in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
Hansbrough finished with 26 points and nine rebounds for the top-seeded Tar Heels (31-2), who trailed almost the entire way against a team it had routed last month. The Tar Heels advanced to today's championship against Clemson, which upset Duke.
A.D. Vassallo scored 17 points to lead the fourth-seeded Hokies (19-13), who couldn't get off a shot on their final possession and watched a possible NCAA tournament bid-clinching win painfully slip away.
CLEMSON 78, NO. 7 DUKE 74: At Charlotte, N.C., Trevor Booker scored 18 points, Cliff Hammonds added 17 and Clemson, the perennial pushover in the Atlantic Coast Conference, stunned Duke to reach the tournament title game for the first time in 46 years.
The third-seeded Tigers (24-8), who had lost 22 straight games to the Blue Devils, pulled away in the second half.
Rugged James Mays, who scored 16 points, had two three-point plays in an 11-4 run that snapped a 56-all tie.
Second-seeded Duke (27-5) cut the lead to 71-69 on Greg Paulus' 3-pointer with 48 seconds left. But then Clemson, a 63-percent free throw shooting team, made 3-of-4 from the line.
Big East Conference
PITTSBURGH 74, NO. 9 GEORGETOWN 65: At New York, Ronald Ramon scored 17 points and Pittsburgh won its second Big East tournament championship in its eighth title-game appearance.
The seventh-seeded Panthers (26-9) shed their runner-up tag with a performance just like those in all the other championship games: a blue-collar effort without a star player.
Roy Hibbert had 17 points for the Hoyas (27-5), who were trying to sweep the regular-season and tournament titles for a second straight season.
Sam Young, who had 16 points and was selected tournament MVP, led the Panthers' balanced offense that thrived on its own missed shots, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds against the bigger Hoyas.
Big Ten Conference
NO. 8 WISCONSIN 65, NO. 19 MICHIGAN STATE 63: At Indianapolis, Brian Butch scored 19, Marcus Landry added 18 and Joe Krabbenhoft had 11 points and 10 rebounds as Wisconsin held off a foul-challenged Michigan State and earned its second straight trip to the Big Ten tournament title game.
Wisconsin (28-4) will play Illinois, which beat Minnesota 54-50.
Drew Neitzel led all scorers with 26. But it wasn't nearly enough to bail out the Spartans (25-8), who were whistled for 30 fouls and had four players foul out, including three in a 56-second span.
Wisconsin won despite going only 26-of-37 from the free throw line.
Big 12 Conference
NO. 6 TEXAS 77, OKLAHOMA 49: At Kansas City, Mo., A.J. Abrams broke out of a shooting slump with seven 3-pointers and 24 points, helping Texas reach its third consecutive Big 12 tournament final.
Abrams kept Texas (28-5) close in a tight first half, then keyed a 14-2 run early in the second to help the Longhorns pull away for their sixth straight win over the rival Sooners (22-11).
Texas, which has lost the past two Big 12 title games to Kansas, shot 50 percent and got 17 points from D.J. Augustin to move on to today's championship game against the fifth-ranked Jayhawks.
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma's all-Big 12 forward, had 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 13 rebounds.
NO. 5 Kansas 77, TEXAS A&M 71: At Kansas City, Mo., Brandon Rush scored a career-high 28 points in front of his home town fans, sealing No. 5 Kansas' win with two free throws in the final seconds.
The two-time defending champion Jayhawks (30-3) will face Texas for the championship for the third year in a row. Kansas and Texas tied for the regular-season title, but the Longhorns bested the Jayhawks 72-69 in their only meeting.
The Aggies (24-10) outrebounded Kansas 35-25 and hit almost 54 percent of their shots but could not stop Rush, the 6-foot-6 junior.
Darnell Jackson had 14 points for Kansas and Sherron Collins added nine. Bryan Davis had 16 points and Joseph Jones 14 for Texas A&M.
NO. 2 MEMPHIS 77, TULSA 51: At Memphis, Tenn., Antonio Anderson scored 19 points, and No. 2 Memphis added a third straight Conference USA tournament championship to the Tigers' third consecutive regular-season title.
Anderson hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range to become the third player to lead the Tigers (33-1) in scoring in as many games. He and Chris Doulas-Roberts, who added 16 points, went a combined 14-of-17 from the floor.
Tulsa (20-13) 7-footer Jerome Jordan had a team-high 17 points, and Ben Uzoh added 13.
The Tigers finished the season with their seventh straight win and 42nd consecutive league win, strengthening their case for a second No. 1 seed in three seasons after tying the school record for wins in a season with 33.
America East Conference
UMBC 82, HARTFORD 65: At Catonsville, Md., Darryl Proctor scored 23 points to help Maryland-Baltimore County earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament with a victory in the America East championship game.
UMBC (24-8) was making its first trip to a championship game since starting Division I play in 1986. The Retrievers, who won the America East regular-season title, also set a school record for victories with the win.
Atlantic 10 Conference
TEMPLE 69, SAINT JOSEPH'S 64: At Atlantic City, N.J., Dionte Christmas scored 22 points and Temple earned its first NCAA tournament bid since 2001 with a victory over its archrival Saint Joseph's in the championship of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Ryan Brooks added 15 points and Chris Clark had 10 as coach Fran Dunphy returned second-seeded Temple (21-12) to national prominence just two seasons after taking over for the John Chaney.
Ahmad Nivins had 18 points and Pat Calathes added 14 for fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's (21-12) which will have to sweat out Selection Sunday to see if it will be returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
KENT STATE 74, AKRON 55: At Cleveland, Haminn Quaintance scored 16 points and Kent State crowned a dominant conference season by beating bitter rival Akron in the Mid-American tournament championship.
Mike Scott scored 14 points with 13 rebounds, Chris Singletary scored 13 and Al Fisher 12 for Kent State.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
COPPIN STATE 62, MORGAN STATE 60: At Raleigh, N.C., Tywain McKee's driving layup with 2 seconds left helped Coppin State to an upset victory in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.
McKee tied a season high with 33 points for the seventh-seeded Eagles (16-20), who blew a five-point lead with 1 1/2 minutes remaining but recovered to claim their first league title — and first NCAA Tournament berth — since 1997.
California transfer Marquise Kately led Morgan State (22-10) with 21 points, but was held scoreless in the final 12 minutes.
Southwestern Athletic Conference
MVSU 59, JACKSON STATE 58: At Birmingham, Ala., Carl Lucas made two free throws with 0.4 seconds left to lift Mississippi Valley State to the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament title.
Mississippi Valley State (17-15) scrambled for a last-second shot before finding Lucas streaking toward the basket. Jackson State (13-20) took a time out to try to freeze Lucas, but the junior calmly swished both free throws. Lucas scored seven points and was selected the tournament MVP.