Tampa’s hospitality, the St. Pete Times Forum, and four days of beautiful weather helped make the 2009 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament a huge success. SEC Fans brought their passion for basketball, food, and partying.
The downtown area found itself jam-packed with those in town to watch basketball and frequent some of Tampa Bay entertainment hotspots. Concepts like Splitsville, Hattricks, Aja, Jackson’s Bistro, Stump’s Supper Club, Andreychuck’s, the Hut, and Gilligan’s Hideaway all had a nice benefit from their proximity to the St. Pete Times Forum and the fan hotels.
The tournament, held at the St. Pete Times Forum March 12-15 brought in 13,000 room nights to the Tampa Bay area and accounted for an estimated $7,245,350 in economic impact.
In game action…
Mississippi State marked upsets throughout the tournament and took home the 2009 SEC Tournament crown March 15th at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Phil Turner scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:35 Sunday, and No. 3 West seed Mississippi State knocked off East No. 1 seed Tennessee 64-61 for their first bid since 2005.
Turner, who had 10 rebounds, hit a big 3-pointer to put Mississippi State (23-12) in front for good, then made two free throws with 8 seconds left to help the Bulldogs hold off the Volunteers (21-12) in a wild finish.
Cameron Tatum's long 3-pointer bounced off the rim and Mississippi State's Barry Stewart rebounded as time ran out on Tennessee's hopes of winning the tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Wayne Chism led the Volunteers with 15 points, but he missed seven of nine 3-points attempts a day after going 4-of-6 to key a victory over Auburn in the semifinals. J.P Prince had 14 points and leading scorer Tyler Smith had 12 on 2-of-14 shooting.
Stewart and Ravern Johnson both scored 11 points for Mississippi State, which also got 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks from tournament MVP Jarvis Varnado. The Bulldogs held Tennessee to 29 percent shooting and forced two of the Volunteers' 14 turnovers with the game on the line.
Stay tuned for more Tampa Bay Sports Commission updates and things to do in Tampa Bay.