Vols Hold Off Late Surge by Mississippi State to Win, 62-59

Tennessee came up with a hard-fought, 62-59 win over seventh-seeded Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at the Scottrade Center on Friday night.

Led by SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner‘s 15 points off the bench, the Vols (24-7) punched their ticket to Saturday’s semifinals with the win. Turner also added eight rebounds and a career-high four steals.

Tennessee plays sixth-seeded Arkansas Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Despite having a tough night from the field, SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. All-SEC wing Admiral Schofield was the only other Vol to score in double digits, finishing with 13 points and eight boards.

After another slow start in the second half by both teams, the Bulldogs (22-11) battled back to make it a 51-49 game with 6:43 remaining after a 9-2 run, highlighted by a pair of threes from Lamar Peters.

Mississippi State cut it to a one-point deficit, but Turner responded with a hard cut to the basket for a contested layup to make it a three-point game heading into the final media timeout in regulation.

The shot would spark a 6-0 run by Turner himself with three consecutive baskets to make it a 58-51 game. After Peters converted on two more three-point plays, the Bulldogs found themselves within one score with 42 seconds left in the game. MSU came up with a defensive stop, and Xavian Stapleton got a wide-open look from three but his shot didn’t fall.

After Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone got the rebound, was fouled, and hit one of two from the charity stripe to make it a three-point game, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie things at the buzzer but were unable to get a shot off.

Tennessee held a 50-33 advantage on the boards, including 22 offensive rebounds. The Vols converted those into 22 second-chance points.

After a back-and-forth start, the Vols used an 8-0 run to take a 15-10 lead over Mississippi State early in the first half. After MSU tied things up, Tennessee ended the half on a 15-8 run to enter halftime up, 31-24.

Neither team could find the hot hand in the period, as both squads shot 32 percent from the floor. UT was able to extend its lead behind four threes in the half compared to just one by the Bulldogs.

Schofield led the way for the Volunteers in the frame with eight points and five rebounds, while Turner chipped in an additional eight points, three rebounds and two steals.

UP NEXT: Tennessee advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and will face sixth-seeded Arkansas on Saturday 25 minutes after the matchup between Alabama and Kentucky (1 p.m. ET tip).

MOVING ON IN THE TOURNEY: With its fifth straight win, Tennessee has advanced to its first SEC Tournament semifinal since 2014, when the Vols made a run to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE BY WILLIAMS: SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. It marked the fifth of his career after posting a team-high four double-doubles last season. This was the 25th time this season Williams has eclipsed double-digit scoring and the third time he’s had at least 10 boards.

WINNING THE REMATCHES: UT’s win over the Bulldogs on Friday improved its record to 5-0 in rematch games this season. Tennessee has played six different SEC teams twice and is 11-1 in those games.Angie Cox Article Lower 650 Ad 2016

Source: University of Tennessee Athletic Department