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#18/#17 Tennessee Vols Basketball faces off against Mississippi State at Thompson-Boling Arena, Tonight

 

#18/#17 Tennessee (10-3 | 4-3 SEC) vs. Mississippi State (9-7 | 4-4 SEC)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 | 6:01pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: SEC Network

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsKnoxville, TN – The 18th-ranked Tennessee basketball team gears up for a new week when it takes on Mississippi State on Tuesday evening, January 26th, 2021. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is slated for 6:00pm CT on SEC Network.

Fans can catch Tuesday’s game on SEC Network and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes will have the call.

Tennessee Men's Basketball plays Mississippi State at home Tuesday night. (UT Athletics)

Tennessee Men’s Basketball plays Mississippi State at home Tuesday night. (UT Athletics)

Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.

Last time out, Tennessee fell to No. 19 Missouri at home, 73-64. Despite the loss, senior forward Yves Pons poured in a season-high 20 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting from the field, while also knocking down all five of his attempts from the foul line.

A victory would halt the Vols’ two-game losing skid and give UT three consecutive home victories over Mississippi State.

Tennessee Vols, Mississippi State Series

Tennessee leads its all-time series with Mississippi State 85-44, dating to 1924. The Volunteers own a 46-11 advantage when the series is contested in Knoxville and have won two straight home games vs. the Bulldogs.

Santiago Vescovi and Uroš Plavšic both scored 16 points in last season’s loss in Starkville.

Vols head coach Rick Barnes is 9-3 in head-to-head meetings against teams coached by Ben Howland (6-2 with Tennessee).

A Win Would

Snap Tennessee’s current two-game losing skid and avoid the program’s first three-game losing streak since Jan. 25-Feb. 1 of last season (at Kansas, Texas A&M, at Mississippi State).

Give the UT Vols three straight home wins over Mississippi State.

Layup Lines

Freshman Jaden Springer missed Tennessee’s last two games with an ankle injury suffered January 16th against Vanderbilt.

The Vols have struggled without Springer, having lost the last two without him in the lineup. In UT’s only other loss, an in-game ankle injury vs. Alabama limited him to only five minutes played.

Senior Yves Pons is coming off a season-high 20 points Saturday vs. Missouri. It was his first 20-point game of the season and the second of his career.

Tennessee’s 10 wins this season have come by an average of 22.8 points.

 


 

During SEC play, only 4.7 points per game separate Tennessee’s top seven scorers.

Tennessee is No. 11 in the latest NCAA NET ratings, with wins over three teams in the top 35.

The Vols entered last week ranked third nationally in turnover margin (+6.5) but committed 36 total turnovers in last week’s two losses for a -5.0 turnover margin.

Vols senior John Fulkerson has been named to the Wooden Award’s Midseason Top-25 List.

Defense Wins

Tennessee ranks seventh in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 59.8 points per game.

According to KenPom, the Vols rank third in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 88.1 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.

The Vols are forcing 16.6 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 18.5 points per game. Tennessee’s turnover margin stands at +5.5 (sixth nationally).

Tennessee has forced 10 of 13 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions.

Tennessee has allowed only one opposing player to score 20 points all season (Xavier Pinson).

Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has 19 blocks through UT’s first seven SEC games. Pons has 99 blocks in his last 44 games.

 


About Mississippi State

Mississippi State has been one of the few programs across the country that has largely gone unscathed in terms of COVID-19 Coronavirus issues. The Bulldogs have played 16 games, compiling a 9-7 record overall and a 4-4 mark in conference play, while not having a game affected due to COVID-19. The Bulldogs’ most recent result was a tough loss to SEC leader Alabama, 81-73, on Saturday night.

Sixth-year head coach Ben Howland has a history of wanting to fill his frontcourt with big, physical players, and 2020-21 is proving to be much of the same style. Despite losing bucket-getter Reggie Perry after last season, Mississippi State leads the SEC in total rebounding margin (+8.6) and offensive rebounding percentage (.371).

Sophomore forward Tolu Smith has led this physical frontcourt, averaging a league- and team-leading 8.8 rebounds per night, while also ranking third on the team in scoring, pouring in 13.2 points per outing.

Senior Abdul Ado has joined Smith in the rebounding department, ranking second on the team and 12th in the SEC, hauling in 6.3 rebounds per night. Ado is also third among SEC players in blocks, with 2.1 per game.

At the guard position, sophomore D.J. Stewart Jr. has been the Bulldogs’ floor general, leading the team and ranking fourth in the SEC with 18.0 points per game. Stewart Jr. also sits in second on the team in assists, dishing out 2.5 per game.

One in every three meteorologists in America is a graduate of Mississippi State’s nationally recognized Meteorology program. It’s a program that consists of both a professional meteorologist and broadcast meteorologist concentration. So, if the weather is crummy Tuesday, let’s all blame the Bulldogs.

 


Tennessee’s Last Meeting With Mississippi State

Despite a season-high 16 points from freshman Uroš Plavši? and a career-high 13 points from junior Jalen Johnson, Tennessee fell, 86-73, at Mississippi State on Feb. 1, 2020, in Starkville.

For the first time in program history, Tennessee started a lineup featuring four different nationalities (American, French, Serbian, and Uruguayan).

The Bulldogs were paced by Reggie Perry and D.J. Stewart Jr., who finished with 24 and 20 points, respectively.

The Vols were led by then-career-best scoring outputs from Plavši? and Johnson, along with freshman Santiago Vescovi, who scored 16.

Tennessee senior Jordan Bowden scored all 12 of his points in the second half.

A balanced opening 12 minutes that saw five different Vols (and five different nationalities) pen their names on the score sheet, and a 12-4 run spanning a period of five minutes, gave UT a 21-17 lead at the under-eight media timeout.

Mississippi State responded with six straight points before the Orange & White used a 13-5 run to close the half and head to the locker room with a 34-28 advantage.

Out of the break, the Bulldogs came out firing, taking a 45-40 lead less than six minutes into the half. Their charge was spearheaded by a 10-0 run over two minutes.

Over the next six minutes, MSU continued to control the game, stretching its lead to 63-52 with 7:50 remaining.

MSU stifled each of UT’s late comeback bids, increasing its lead to as many as 17 points to cement the final score and close the afternoon.

Tennessee Vol Memorable Performances Against Mississippi State

Junior Dale Ellis grabbed a school-record seven steals as the Vols defeated the Bulldogs 54-44 at “The Hump” in Starkville on January 20th, 1982.

Bill Justus’s two game-winning free throws in the third overtime in Starkville on March 6, 1967, gave the Vols the outright SEC regular-season title. Justus scored 14 in the contest.

While Justus earned the credit for sealing the win in Starkville in 1967, the Vols would not have contended for the win without 35 points from Knoxville native Ron Widby, who went on to be a Pro Bowl punter for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Ernie Grunfeld scored 37 and Bernard King added 30 as the “Ernie & Bernie Show” rolled to a 97-87 win in Starkville. on January 25th, 1975.

Mississippi Lettermen Uncommon

Incredibly, Tennessee has had just one all-time letterman from the state of Mississippi. Sardis, Mississippi, native Torrey Harris played for the Vols from 1995-99.

Struggling Without Springer

Freshman guard Jaden Springer injured his ankle late in the win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 16. Tennessee lost both games last week with Springer out. The Vols also lost to Alabama on January 2nd, a game Springer left early with an ankle injury after logging only five minutes of action.

Taking last week’s two losses plus the portion of the Alabama game after Springer was sidelined, Tennessee has been outscored 205-162.

The team’s third-leading scorer (10.0 ppg), Springer owns a plus/minus rating of +11.6 per game.

Turnover Turnaround

Tennessee won the turnover battle in its first 10 games this season and entered last week ranked third nationally in turnover margin (+6.5).

Also entering last week, the Vols averaged fewer turnovers than every other SEC team—overall and in league play.

But in consecutive losses at Florida and vs. Missouri last week, Tennessee looked like a different team. The Vols turned it over 18 times in both games, lost the turnover margin in both outings, and posted a two-game turnover margin of -5.0.

Florida scored 27 points off turnovers, and Mizzou scored 17.

 


Next Up For Tennessee Men’s Basketball

The Tennessee Vols conclude their three-game homestand with a Saturday night bout with No. 15 Kansas. The opening tip is slated for 5:00pm CT on ESPN.


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