Vols knock off Mississippi State at SEC Tournament
NASHVILLE — Admiral Schofield scored 20 points and No. 8 Tennessee defeated Mississippi State 83-76 in a Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Friday night.
The third-seeded Volunteers (28-4) advanced to a Saturday semifinal with No. 4 Kentucky (27-5), the second seed in this tournament. Tennessee lost 86-69 at Kentucky on Feb. 16 to end a school-record 19-game winning streak but trounced the Wildcats 71-52 at home two weeks later.
This semifinal pairing represents a rematch of last year’s SEC Tournament championship game, which Kentucky won 77-72 to capture its fourth straight title.
Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams each scored 16 points to help Tennessee reach the semifinals. Jordan Bone had 14 points and nine assists with only one turnover, and Jordan Bowden added 10 points.
Aric Holman scored 20 and Quinndary Weatherspoon had 17 for Mississippi State (23-10). Reggie Perry had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Lamar Peters also scored 15 points.
Mississippi State had lost 71-54 at Tennessee just 10 days earlier but was more competitive this time.
The Bulldogs rallied from a 34-28 halftime deficit to tie the game at 38-all on a Lamar Peters basket with 17:14 left. Tennessee went ahead for good with 14:17 remaining when Bone hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer as the shot clock was running down.
The game remained close until Tennessee went on a 10-0 run to extend its lead to 59-46 with 9:33 left as Schofield started to take over.
Tennessee led 53-46 when Schofield drove to the basket, scored and drew a foul with 10:53 remaining. Up to that point, Tennessee hadn’t attempted a free throw all night.
Less than a minute later, Schofield threw down a one-handed dunk while getting fouled again. Schofield missed the free throw and three-point play opportunity after both baskets, but his big plays put the Vols in control and delighted a pro-Tennessee crowd.
Schofield added a 3-point basket later to give Tennessee its biggst lead at 65-51 with 7:02 left.
Mississippi State tried to rally but couldn’t get the margin below seven the rest of the way.