Knoxville, Tenn. – Tennessee secured its first SEC win of the season with a 72-57 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. Jarnell Stokes posted his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Richardson (16), Jordan McRae (12) and Trae Golden (10) also scored in double-figures.
The Vols ended their four-game losing streak and moved to 9-7 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Bulldogs (7-9, 2-2 SEC) were led by Knoxville native Jalen Steele, who had 15 points.
The Vols moved the ball well all afternoon as they posted a season-high 19 assists (on 28 baskets) with Golden notching the most by a Vol this season, nine.
Freshman guard Armani Moore corralled a career-high 11 rebounds, the most by a Vols’ guard since Scotty Hopson had 11 vs. VCU on Nov. 24, 2010. Moore had eight rebounds in the first half alone to double his previous career-high of four.
Tennessee dominated down low outscoring the Bulldogs, 42-16 in the paint. UT also outscored MSU, 18-4, on points off turnovers.
The Vols held an eight-point halftime lead, 37-29 behind 11 points from Richardson and 10 from McRae. It was the first time all season the Vols had two players score in double-figures in the first half.
After a sluggish start to the second half, the Vols started to connect on 3-pointers as Skylar McBee combined with a pair of Derek Reese for three trifectas in a row for the Vols putting UT ahead, 48-37 with 14:35 left.
Dunks by McRae and Stokes pushed the Vols’ lead to 52-39 with 12 minutes left. Then Reese bombed another 3-pointer for a 16-point bulge with 11:38 left.
Tennessee continued to pull away with Golden becoming the fourth Vol in double-figures with a layup at the 1:19 mark, giving UT its largest lead at 17, 72-55.
In the first half, the lead pushed to eight at 31-23 on a layup by Golden with 4:39 left in the half. Stokes’ bucket gave the Vols their double-figure lead of the game, 37-27 with 1:23 left in the first half.
The game stood tied at 16 on a jumper by Steele with 10:52 left in the half. The Vols went on a 9-2 surge to take a 25-18 lead on a McRae layup with 7:30 left. Stokes’ dunk with 9:44 left gave UT the lead for good.
Richardson scored seven of the Vols’ first eight points as Tennessee jumped out to an 8-2 lead.
The Vols new football coaching staff led by head coach Butch Jones was introduced to the crowd during a timeout late in the first half. Former Vols baseball player Chase Headley, who led the National League in RBIs while playing with the San Diego Padres was also recognized at the game.
The Vols began a stretch of three home games in four overall contests with the Mississippi State game. UT travels to Oxford to play Ole Miss on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 6:00 PM.
UT will host Alabama next Saturday at 1:00 PM and Vanderbilt on Jan. 29 at 6:00 PM.