DAYTON, Ohio — Mississippi State basketball’s return to March Madness was short-lived. MSU, in a thrilling game filled with runs, fell 60-59 against Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the First Four at University of Dayton Arena.
Mississippi State guard Shakeel Moore had an open look from beyond the arc with a chance to win the game. Forward D.J. Jeffries couldn’t get the tip-in to fall at the buzzer.
Coach Chris Jans‘ first season at the helm ends in heartbreak with Mississippi State (21-13) returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 but failing to advance to the first round.
Mississippi State’s hot start quickly cooled
Few would expect the nation’s worst 3-point shooting team to make an NCAA Tournament appearance, but it’s part of what has made MSU’s success all-the-more surprising this season. However, the game’s first five minutes sent a different message.
The Bulldogs made four of their first five attempts from deep to jump out to a 14-8 lead before the first media timeout. Jeffries, who made two of his last 20 shots from beyond the arc entering Tuesday, made a pair in that stretch.
However, the law of averages quickly took over. Mississippi State had a scoring drought last nearly six minutes after the hot start. The Bulldogs trailed 35-34 at halftime after missing nine of their last 10 attempts from deep.
Pittsburgh, the nation’s No. 79 3-point shooting team, was 8-of-13 (62%) in the first half.
Former Ole Miss foe strikes for Pitt
Pitt only attempted six 3-pointers in the second half − missing its first two. However, with 3:08 left and Pitt up three, Ole Miss transfer Blake Hinson, hit one from well beyond the arc. Hinson finished with 12 points.
MSU went on a 7-0 run following what appeared to be a dagger from Hinson to regain the lead. However, a 2-point jumper from Jamarius Burton gave Pitt the lead with 9.8 seconds to go.
Moore’s miss came off an inbounds pass from below the bucket after a timeout by Jans.
Pitt without Federiko Federiko
The Panthers (23-11) were shorthanded with 6-foot-11 sophomore center Federiko Federiko sidelined due to a knee injury. Freshman Guillermo Diaz Graham, a 7-foot center out of Spain, started in his place despite averaging 10 minutes per game.