Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulldogs Unleash 'D,' Collar Southeast Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulldogs Unleash 'D,' Collar Southeast Title

Article excerpt

An incredible two-week run has Mississippi State in its first Final Four. Now all the Bulldogs have to do is keep it going.

They added to their impressive close of the season Sunday with a 73-63 victory over Cincinnati in the championship game of the Southeast Regional.

The Bearcats were only the latest high-profile team to fall to a school that suddenly has grabbed attention.

Mississippi State beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game 14 days ago and knocked out top-seeded Connecticut on Friday night in the regional semifinals. In the weekend wins over the region's top two seeds, the Bulldogs never trailed.

Next up for fifth-seeded Mississippi State (26-7), which has won seven in a row, will be Syracuse in Saturday's semifinals at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

The Orangemen beat Kansas 60-57 in the West Regional final.

"Dreams are coming true for us," said Dontae' Jones, who led the Bulldogs with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Top-ranked Massachusetts will play No. 2 Kentucky in the other national semifinal, and the winners meet next Monday night.

The SEC has two teams in the Final Four for the second time in three years. In 1994, Florida and eventual champion Arkansas made it to the national semifinals.

Mississippi State played its usual tight defense against Cincinnati (28-5), which was looking for its second Final Four appearance in the '90s, and was able to hold off the one big run the Bearcats made at them.

Jones, the unanimous selection as regional MVP, had 28 points in the 84-73 victory over Kentucky, only the Wildcats' second loss of the season. On Sunday, he had 15 points in the game's opening 7 minutes 19 seconds, making six of his first seven shots.

"Those are the shots I usually take, and I guess the adrenaline was a little more pumped than usual," the junior forward said. …

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