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Possession rule helps Kentucky top Miss. St.

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Jan. 14, 2004
If there ever were an example of why the NCAA rules committee should get rid of the alternate-possession rule, it came Tuesday night in Starkville.

Mississippi State made a great defensive play against Kentucky with 2.5 seconds left in the game, forcing a jump ball. The alternate-possession rule awarded the ball to Kentucky, and the Wildcats won 67-66 at the buzzer on an Erik Daniels basket.

Make the referees throw the ball up and play basketball!
Kentucky found a way to win its 21st straight SEC game. Give coach Tubby Smith's kids credit for pulling out another big victory. Coach Rick Stansbury's kids were well-prepared and fought back from an 18-point deficit.

Kentucky is so mentally tough and has responded to all challenges. The 'Cats take everybody's best shot. For those who wondered if previously unbeaten Mississippi State is legitimate, there's no doubt now. The inside-outside combo of guard Timmy Bowers and big man Lawrence Roberts can play with anyone.

What a great environment down at "The Hump"! It was Fun City, baby, at Mississippi State's gym (I was part of ESPN's broadcast crew). Jackie Sherrill, the Bulldogs former football coach who retired after this season, gave me a big cowbell to ring -- he told me the students would go crazy and he was right. The Bulldog mascot was a bit down when Mississippi State was losing, but there was a smile on his face when the team rallied!

It was a great place to see a game. It's a shame that a stupid rule like the alternate possession made the difference. It flat-out stinks -- get rid of it, make the referees throw the ball up and play basketball! Don't allow an arrow to determine whether a team wins or loses, especially after a great defensive effort.

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