KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A strong second half by No. 5 Tennessee proved to be too much for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team, as the Bulldogs dropped a 71-54 contest to the Volunteers Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
MSU’s 54-point total was its lowest scoring output of the season. The Bulldogs are now 21-9 (9-8 SEC), while Tennessee improves to 27-3 (15-2 SEC), including a perfect 18-0 home record. The setback dropped the Bulldogs into a tie for seventh place with Ole Miss in the Southeastern Conference standings, while Tennessee’s win pushes the Vols a half-game ahead of LSU for the top spot.
The game was tight early on, with MSU holding a 15-14 lead with 11:51 remaining after Quinndary Weatherspoon knocked down a 3-pointer. However, Tennessee led by as many as nine points in the first half when the Volunteers took a 24-15 lead at on the heels of a 10-0 run with 7:59 to go in the first stanza. The Bulldogs clawed back to within just a single point at 26-25 with 3:29 to go after the Bulldogs hit three unanswered buckets.
A pair of free throws and layups increased the Tennessee lead back to six points, as the squads entered the halftime break with Tennessee leading 31-25.
Tennessee used a 17-4 run to open the second half and create a big 19-point lead with 13:18 to go in the game. The Bulldogs were never able to bounce back from that run, as the Vols never led by less than 14 points. Tennessee’s lead expanded to as many as 24 points with a score of 61-37 with 5:42 to go in the ballgame. The Vols went on to win by a score of 71-54.
Tyson Carter led the Bulldogs with 14 points, a career-best seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Reggie Perry chipped in with 10 points and 12 rebounds en route to his eighth double-double on the season. Robert Woodard II also scored in with double figures, as he finished with 10 points and added seven rebounds. Weatherspoon was limited to just seven points, which is a season-low for him.
The Tennessee defense limited the Bulldogs to just 19-of-57 shots from the field, including just 4-of-16 shots from 3-point range. The Bulldogs also struggled at the charity stripe, making just 12-of-22 free throws.
MSU’s last regular season game is Saturday when the Bulldogs host Texas A&M at Humphrey Coliseum. Tip time is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN2.