NASHVILLE — The Mississippi State men’s basketball fell 83-76 to the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers during Friday’s quarterfinal action at Bridgestone Arena.
The Bulldogs (23-10) will now await the NCAA Tournament, while Tennessee (28-4) will advance to meet second-seeded and No. 4 Kentucky in Saturday’s semifinal game.
The squads traded baskets early on before a 9-0 run for the Volunteers made it 17-9 with 9:59 remaining in the first half. An Aric Holman 3-pointer cut the deficit to five points at 25-20 with 5:39 to go before the Vols answered with a 3-pointer of their own to increase their lead back to eight.
MSU came within four points with just under a minute to go in the first stanza, but Tennessee answered with a layup, as the teams went into the locker rooms with the Volunteers holding a 34-28 lead.
Like the first half, both teams traded buckets to begin the second half. MSU cut the deficit to a single point after Tyson Carter made two free throws and missed one to make it 36-35. Tennessee made a layup to push its lead back to three before a Lamar Peters 3-pointer knotted things up at 38-38 with 17:14 to go.
Things stayed tight until a 10-0 run by Tennessee made it a 13-point game with 9:33 to play. After that run, the game was never closer than seven points, as the Bulldogs dropped the quarterfinals match up 83-76.
MSU had four players score in double figures, with Holman’s 20 points on five 3-pointers leading the way. Quinndary Weatherspoon dropped 17 points. Peters added 15 points, five assists and four steals whereas Reggie Perry compiled his ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
As a team, MSU had 11 assists and 11 turnovers, while the Volunteers had 21 assists and nine turnovers.
The Bulldogs will now await an at-large selection to next week’s NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Field of 68 will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised by CBS. The Bulldogs are looking to secure their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2008-09 season.