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Mississippi State hands UT third straight loss

Associated Press • Feb 1, 2020 at 5:37 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Reggie Perry had 24 points with 12 rebounds and D.J. Stewart had a career-high 20 points to lead Mississippi State to an 86-73 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.

Perry’s output marked the seventh time in the last 10 games he has scored at least 20 points. The sophomore forward also collected his 12th double-double of the season and 21st of his career. Stewart was 6-of-9 shooting and made 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.

Robert Woodard added 14 points for Mississippi State, which has won five straight Southeastern Conference games. Nick Weatherspoon had 11 points, eight rebounds and a career-high nine assists for the Bulldogs (14-7, 5-3).

Uros Plavsic and Santiago Vescovi each had 16 points for Tennessee (12-9, 4-4), which lost its third straight. Jalen Johnson added 13 for the Vols and Jordan Bowden had 12.

Trailing by six at halftime, Mississippi State stormed out of the gates in the second half. A 10-0 run capped by back-to-back buckets by Perry gave the Bulldogs a 45-40 advantage with 13:21 left. A Vescovi 3-pointer cut the Mississippi State lead to 45-43 but Stewart responded with back-to-back 3-pointers. That jump-started a 14-3 run by Mississippi State and Tennessee never got within 10 the remainder of the game.

The Bulldogs shot 57% for the game and made a sizzling 69% in the second half. Mississippi State made 5 of 12 beyond the arc and 25 of 30 free throws. The Bulldogs also held a 36-24 rebounding advantage and out-rebounded the Vols 23-8 in the second half. Tennessee shot 47% from the floor and made 10 of 22 from 3-point territory. The Vols had just six turnovers and made 9 of 13 at the free-throw line.

“Really dominating performance by Mississippi State in the second half,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. “I’m really proud of our guys the way we started the game because we had to change things in the lineup. But I was proud of the way the young guys responded. They just dominated us inside, though, and we had no answer for it.”

Starting freshman guard Josiah-Jordan James did not start for Tennessee because of a groin injury and Barnes said he was “day to day.”

The first half featured several runs by both teams and the lead changed hands five times with three ties. After Mississippi State took an early 13-6 lead, the Vols responded with a 15-4 spurt and held a 21-17 lead with 7:36 left in the opening half.

The Bulldogs answered with a 7-0 run to hold a 23-21 advantage but it would be Mississippi State’s final lead of the half. Tennessee closed the half on a 13-5 run and led 34-28 at halftime.

Tennessee shot 52% in the first half and made 5 of 9 shots beyond the arc. Mississippi State made 44% from the floor and just 1 of 7 attempts beyond the arc. The Vols held a 16-13 rebounding advantage in the first half and both teams had five turnovers.

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: The slumping Vols remain on the road next week. Saturday’s loss also snapped Tennessee’s four-game winning streak against Mississippi State.

Mississippi State: Since inserting Stewart in the starting lineup, Mississippi State has won five straight SEC games. The Bulldogs opened with an 0-3 conference mark.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: The Vols continue their road swing and play at Alabama on Tuesday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs return to the road to play No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday.

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