Bulldogs' run ends with loss to Vols; NCAAs next

 

From Special Reports

 

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mississippi State's run after a Southeastern Conference ended with Friday night's 83-76 loss to eighth-ranked Tennessee. 

 

Admiral Schofield scored 20 points and the Vols advanced past the Bulldogs and into Saturday's semifinal-round game against fourth-ranked Kentucky, a game the Vols also won. They play Auburn on Sunday for the league championship. 

 

The Rebels are back home today to await their spot in the NCAA Tournament when the seedings are announced on Selection Sunday. 

 

"It's not just making it," MSU's Aric Howland said. "We want to go in there and perform. No doubt, this entire team has earned this through a long campaign." 

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

"I kind of just shot it with confidence," Bone said. "I knew I had to get it up." 

 

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. 

 

"I think fatigue probably was a factor because we played last night and they didn't," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "That's definitely an advantage." 

 

Schofield added a 3-point basket later to give Tennessee its biggest 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. 

 

"Basketball's a game of runs," Peters said. "We allowed them to make a late run, so it was kind of hard for us to get back in the game." 

 

The game got a little heated with less than five minutes left when players from both teams jawed with one another after Alexander blocked a shot from Mississippi State's Reggie Perry. Alexander, Schofield and Perry all ended up receiving technical fouls. 

 

 

 

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