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Pitt edges Mississippi St in back-and-forth First Four game

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Pittsburgh’s Nelly Cummings is defended by Mississippi State’s Shakeel Moore.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pittsburgh’s Nelly Cummings is defended by Mississippi State’s Shakeel Moore.

DAYTON, Ohio >> Jamarius Burton made a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds left and Pitt edged Mississippi State 60-59 in a back-and-forth First Four game tonight that featured 21 lead changes — most in the NCAA Tournament in five years.

Mississippi State had a great chance to win at the end, but Shakeel Moore missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner with two seconds remaining off an inbounds play. D.J. Jeffries’ tip-in attempt was off target just before the buzzer.

Nelly Cummings led Pitt with 15 points. Greg Elliott scored 13 and Blake Hinson added 12 as the Panthers (23-11) won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2014.

They slotted into the Midwest Region as the 11th seed and advanced to face No. 6 Iowa State on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

A layup by Tolu Smith, a Kahuku graduate, gave Mississippi State a 59-58 advantage with 32 seconds left, but Pitt — after a three-minute scoring drought — grabbed the lead back on Burton’s short jumper.

Guillermo Diaz Graham blocked Smith’s driving layup attempt out of bounds with 2.7 seconds left, setting up the final sequence.

Dashawn Davis had 15 points for the Bulldogs, and Moore scored 13.

The 3-pointers were being launched right away as the teams combined for 13 in the first half.

Mississippi State (21-13), not a good outside shooting team, hit four in the first five minutes but cooled off after that. The Panthers went 8 for 13 from beyond the arc in the opening period.

The teams hit just one each from long range in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: Came out firing from long range, but in the second half returned to the inside game that got the Bulldogs this far. They scored 30 points in the paint.

Pitt: Were better from outside and finally managed to open a lead against Mississippi State’s solid perimeter defense.

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