Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee jumped out early on Mississippi State and dispatched the Bulldogs, 69-53, in the SEC Tournament Second Round at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday afternoon. The Vols (20-11) won for the ninth time in 10 games, secured their 20th victory of the season for the sixth time in eight years and gave head coach Cuonzo Martin his 100th career win as a head coach. Martin is now 100-67 in his career as a head coach.
The Vols advanced to the quarterfinals where Tennessee will play Alabama on Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT. The teams split two regular-season meetings with each winning on their home floors: Alabama, 68-65 on Jan. 12 and Tennessee, 54-53 on Jan. 26. In their last meeting in the SEC Tournament, Tennessee posted an 86-62 win in the first round in 2009.
The Vols had four players score in double-figures led by SEC first-team guard Jordan McRae, who had 17. Junior guard Trae Golden netted 15.
Redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous had a career-high with 10 points, as he has 17 points in his last two games after scoring 32 total points for the entire campaign prior to the regular-season finale vs. Missouri.
All-SEC second-teammer Jarnell Stokes added 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Mississippi State (10-22) saw their season come to an end. Craig Sword led the Bulldogs with 19 while Colin Borchert added 12. With just 53 points, Tennessee held an opponent to less than 60 for the 12th time this season, twice against MSU.
Up 16 at halftime, the Vols continued to lead by at least nine for the entire second half.
Chievous was a new source of offense for the second game in a row as he scored back-to-back baskets midway through the half as UT maintained a 53-37 lead. A pretty alley-oop dunk by Armani Moore off a feed from McRae with 8:10 left in the game, put UT up, 57-40.
McRae put the exclamation point on the game with a 360-degree spinning slam dunk with 1:19 left off his own steal. That put UT ahead, 67-51.
MSU got within 10 on a tip-in by Borchert with 5:45 left, cutting the Vols’ lead to 58-48. Once the deficit was cut to single-digits, McRae scored his first points of the second half on a runner, which he was fouled on. Stokes cleaned up McRae’s missed free throw with a putback and the lead went back to 13 at 62-49 with 4:27 remaining.
Tennessee used an early 12-0 run to take command. McRae and McBee keyed the run with 3-pointers during the spurt as the Vols took a 12-4 lead less than four minutes into the game. The Vols scored six consecutive points to take a 13-point lead. Stokes’ two-handed slam dunk put UT ahead 25-14 with 8:49 left in the first half.
The lead expanded to 19 on a slam dunk by Chievous with 3:44 left in the first half. That finished off another run — of 8-0. Chievous continued to be a factor for the Vols, for the second game in a row after setting a career-high with seven in the regular-season finale vs. Missouri.
The Vols held a 35-19 lead at the half thanks to a stifling defense as the Bulldogs shot just 25.9 percent from the floor, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range. On offense, Tennessee shot 48.4 percent with McRae leading the way with 10 points.
Courtesy UT Media Relations