Strong Finish Sends Vols Over Mississippi State 72-63
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Josiah-Jordan James and Kennedy Chandler each scored 18 points and No. 19 Tennessee outscored Mississippi State 11-2 in the final three minutes for a 72-63 victory on Wednesday night.
The second half went back and forth and was tied at 61 before the Volunteers (17-6, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) closed strong for their sixth consecutive league victory. Zakai Zeigler iced the win by making all four free throws in the closing seconds to finish with 11 points along with Santiago Vescovi.
Iverson Molinar had 16 points for the Bulldogs (14-9, 5-5), who dropped their first SEC home game this season. Garrison Brooks had 15 points and eight rebounds while DJ Jeffries had 13 points.
Tennessee sizzled in the opening minutes, making its first six shots for a 14-2 lead following a 3-pointer by Josiah-Jordan James. Mississippi State slowly crept back into the game late in the half with a 10-1 run to lead 28-27 lead thanks to a Molinar 3-pointer, before the Vols recovered for a 35-33 halftime advantage.
Tennessee finished 49% from the field after shooting just 41% in the first half. The Vols also made 4 of 6 from deep after halftime to finish 8 of 19. The Volunteers had just three first-half turnovers and held a 17-16 rebounding advantage.
Mississippi State shot 50% overall and made 10 of 13 at the foul line. The Bulldogs also had eight turnovers in the first half and 16 overall.
Tennessee: The Volunteers have rolled since a 2-3 start in SEC play. They played their first game without starting power forward Olivier Nkamhoua, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend against South Carolina.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs put themselves in a rough spot now after dropping their first SEC home game. They’re 12-2 at home this season and 0-4 in SEC road games.
Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Mississippi State travels to LSU on Saturday.