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Mississippi State looks to knock off No. 18 Tennessee

Game time is slated for 6 p.m. CT.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Mississippi State men’s basketball team visits No. 18 Tennessee on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. CT showdown at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will air on SEC Network.

The Bulldogs (9-7, 4-4 SEC) are coming off an 81-73 road loss to then-No. 18 Alabama on Saturday. MSU surrendered 14 3-pointers by the Crimson Tide and made only four 3-pointers. The Bulldogs are 5-0 when they make eight or more triples and 4-7 when they hit fewer than eight.

Redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. and sophomore guard Iverson Molinar scored 27 and 19 points, respectively. Stewart was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and Molinar was 8-for-8.

Stewart leads MSU with 18.0 points per game, while Molinar is second with 17.5. Redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith is averaging 13.2 points and a Southeastern Conference-leading 8.8 rebounds.

Tennessee (10-3, 4-3 SEC) dropped to No. 18 in the latest AP rankings following losses to Florida (75-49) and then-No. 19 Missouri (73-64) last week. Senior forward Yves Pons scored a season-high 20 points in that game.

The Volunteers have relied on a trio of double-digit scores in redshirt senior forward John Fulkerson, redshirt junior guard Victor Bailey Jr. and freshman guard Jaden Springer. Fulkerson leads the team in both points (11.8) and rebounds (6.2). Bailey is averaging 11.6 points. Springer, who is averaging 10.0 points, has missed the last two games with an ankle injury he suffered Jan. 16 against Vanderbilt. He is questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Tennessee tops the SEC leaderboard in scoring defense (59.8), scoring margin (plus-14.2) and turnover margin (plus-5.5). The Volunteers have also limited their opponents to 39.9% shooting on the year, which is second in the league.

Tuesday’s contest will be the 130th meeting between the two programs on the hardwood. Tennessee owns an 85-44 series advantage, including a 46-11 record in Knoxville.