NCAA: No. 12 Liberty upsets No. 5 Mississippi State

The 12th-seeded Liberty Flames knocked off No. 5 Mississippi State with a 80-76 upset victory Friday night in first-round East Region play in San Jose, California.

The Flames (29-6) reached their fourth overall NCAA Tournament and first since 2013 by beating their regular-season co-champion Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game.

This season was Liberty’s first in the Atlantic Sun Conference after losing an automatic tournament berth on a last-second 3-pointer in their final season in the Big South last year.

Liberty will next get the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 4 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Saint Louis.

Mississippi State, which finished tied for sixth in the SEC regular-season standings, finishes the season with an overall record of 23-11.

The Bulldogs, playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2009, haven’t advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament in seven appearances since a Final Four berth in 1996.