Mississippi State beat Georgia, 68-67, on Wednesday night. The game’s M.V.P.: a stuffed bulldog.
With the score tied at 67-67 and a half-second to play, Quinndary Weatherspoon was sent to the line for visiting Mississippi State.
Georgia fans were unhappy with the foul call and made their displeasure known. Apparently, one fan was incensed enough to take it beyond booing.
After Weatherspoon’s first free throw left his hands, something small hit the floor a foot or two behind him. It was a stuffed baby bulldog. Although the bulldog is the mascot of both teams, this particular dog appeared to be Uga, the mascot of Georgia.
With 0.5 seconds to play in a tie game, a fan tossed a stuffed animal onto the court in Georgia.
The Bulldogs were assessed a technical foul. Mississippi St made the FT, and won the game. Wow ? pic.twitter.com/7PNheymQrp
In the meantime, the free throw missed, although it was far from clear that the stuffed animal had any impact.
Georgia’s coach, Tom Crean, immediately got on the microphone to urge fans not to throw anything on the floor. But as he was doing so, the refs were conferring. Georgia was assessed a technical foul.
Weatherspoon made the tech to give his team a 68-67 lead. He missed his second free throw on purpose, to make it more difficult for Georgia to get a good shot off. Sure enough, Georgia missed its heave, and time expired.
Weatherspoon finished with a game-high 31 points, none more important than the Uga-inspired technical foul shot.
Crean praised his team for coming back from 17 points down. But he wasn’t happy with the crucial call.
“I’m 52 years of age, been a head coach for 19 years, been an assistant — been coaching since I was 18 and college since I was 20, I’ve never seen that,” he said. “Not without a warning. And certainly without an explanation.”
“Man I’d be so frustrated if I were his team, the University of Georgia, to have that happen,” said Mississippi State’s coach, Ben Howland. “Because that was crazy.”
For Mississippi State, the bulldog-assisted win was crucial; the team is considered a likely N.C.A.A. tournament team, but at 7-6 in conference play, it cannot afford a losing streak.
At Georgia, though, it’s been a tough year, its first under Crean, the former Marquette and Indiana coach. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 1-12 in the Southeastern Conference, ahead of only hapless Vanderbilt.
As of now, the fan with the love of plush toys and a solid throwing arm is unidentified.
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