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SEC Basketball Recap: Two Upsets, Two Recoveries

Maybe the conference won't get seven teams in the tournament after all.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night was a mixed bag for the SEC's top teams, with two upsets and two recoveries comprising the night's action.

The most important upset was the Mississippi State Bulldogs' last second upset of the Vanderbilt Commodores 75-74. Vandy had led most of the game and was up by as much as 17 during the second half, but that 61-44 lead with 13:40 didn't hold. State scored 30 points the rest of the way after scoring just 32 in the entire first half. Quinndary Weatherspoon sunk in the dagger, making a three pointer at the buzzer to secure his team's win.

It's a disastrous result for the Commodores' postseason hopes. They already were in the worst shape of the conference's real bubble contenders, and then they went and lost to the RPI No. 172 team. This was the kind of loss Vandy needed to avoid down the stretch. They've still got Florida, Kentucky, and Texas A&M on the schedule to try to make up for this loss, but their margin of error is gone.

The other upset of the night was bigger in terms of gap between the teams, as the Missouri Tigers defended their home court and beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 72-67. Carolina's offense had a miserable start to the night, making just 24% of first half shots on the way to a 32-25 deficit. Mizzou led by 11 with seven minutes to go, but a 13-2 run over the ensuing four minutes gave the Gamecocks a 63-62 lead with three minutes to play. MU held S.C. to just one field goal in the final two minutes and made just enough free throws to keep the comeback from working.

Missouri was the No. 199 team in the RPI heading into the contest, so this loss for South Carolina is technically even worse than Vandy's loss to MSU. The clear difference is that the Gamecocks have built up enough cushion with the rest of the schedule to absorb even a loss as bad as this one and still not feel like they have to sweat out Selection Sunday. Where the loss really hurts is in the conference standings, as dropping to five SEC losses with five more games to go means their hopes for a regular season title are largely faded.

A team that should be feeling better is the Texas A&M Aggies, who ended a five-game SEC skid and beat the Ole Miss Rebels 71-56.  TAMU moved to 14-1 at home, where just one of those five conference losses had occurred. It wasn't a runaway game early, as the Aggies only led by five at the break. Their defense along with poor shooting from the Rebels carried the day in the second half, though, as Ole Miss scored just eight points during the middle ten minutes of the period. A&M held Stefan Moody to 17 points on 5/19 shooting, while seven Aggies scored at least six points in a balanced scoring effort.

The Florida Gators recovered from their weekend loss to Alabama and held off the Georgia Bulldogs 57-53 to pick up a nice road victory. A messy first half ended up with UGA up 25-19, with the Bulldogs' stout defense handling the Gators fairly well. Georgia maintained its cushion for about five minutes after intermission, but after that it was back-and-forth throughout. UF got its first four-point lead since the game was 4-0 after Chris Chiozza made a pair of free throws with 33 second left, and though Kenny Gaines answered with a three pointer to make it a 54-53 game with 28 ticks left, Dorian Finney-Smith made two and KeVaughn Allen made one free throw to ice the game.

Vandy's loss means that getting seven teams in March Madness is probably out the window, and South Carolina's loss means that getting anyone but Kentucky and Texas A&M above the 8/9 line isn't that likely either.