The "40 minutes of hell" that usually has opponents sleepless has done the same for No. 22 Arkansas.
After the Razorbacks went past midnight in their quarterfinal game, Mississippi State extended them to overtime Saturday before Arkansas gathered enough energy to pull out a 84-79 win at the Georgia Dome and advance to the SEC title game.
"I'm still tired ... I'm going home and going to bed," said Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, whose Razorbacks advanced to Sunday's title game against No. 14 Kentucky, a 69-57 winner over No. 4 Auburn earlier Saturday. "And I didn't take a shot or take a charge. I've told these guys to go home and get some rest and get some fluids."
Pat Bradley scored 27 points, including a jumper that tied the game and the game-winning free throws in overtime, to lead the Razorbacks, who stayed with their full-court press most of the game.
Arkansas (22-9), which didn't finish beating No. 21 Florida until 12:30 a.m. Saturday, also got 17 points and 17 rebounds from Derek Hood, who sent the game into overtime with basket off an offensive rebound.
Hood also sealed the win with a crucial blocked shot and a ferocious dunk follow with 23.5 seconds left in overtime.
Detrick White led the Bulldogs (20-12) with 27 points, including 18 in the second half and overtime. Tang Hamilton added 16 points for Mississippi State, but played sparingly in the second half after breaking his nose in the first half.
"If this team is not in the top 64 teams in the country, then they need to change the people making the selections," Bulldog coach Rick Stansbury said while lobbying for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. "If there are 64 teams better than us, then we are in the wrong league."
The Razorbacks, who have never won the SEC title since joining the league seen years ago, now play Kentucky for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Bradley, held to 11 points Friday against Florida, made 5 of 14 3-point attempts, and tied the game at 78 on a turnaround jumper with 1:45 left in overtime.
"Detrick played a great game, but he looked a little tired," Bradley said of his jumper. "So I figured that even as slow as I am, I could get a step on him. I looked up at the (shot) clock, and there were 11 seconds left, and luckily I got a little daylight."
Bradley was fouled on the Razorback's next possession, and made the two free throws to put Arkansas up for good with 51.9 seconds left.
Then, after Hood blocked a White layup that would have tied it, Hood slammed home a miss off the fast break to make it 82-78 and followed that up with two free throws.
"Derek just has a habit of working hard, and today, that habit was especially good," said Richardson, whose team was outrebounded 53-38.
Trailing by as many as 11 in the first half, Mississippi State chipped away at a five-point halftime deficit, with White scoring 16 in the second half alone.
White gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 55-53 with a knifing drive at the 8:44 mark, and then capped a 17-2 run by pulling up for a 3-pointer after an Arkansas turnover.
Neither team led by more than three the rest of the way, and Hood put the game into overtime with an offensive rebound only the Razorbacks' 11th of the game and follow with 7.3 seconds left.
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