Vols get over the Hump against Mississippi State

#9 Tennessee bounces back from Kentucky’s loss with a 70-59 win over the Bulldogs.
A strong finish in Starkville put Tennessee back in the win column after defeating Mississippi State, 70-59.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 8:04 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:25 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee (14-3, 4-1 SEC) is coming off its first SEC defeat of the season Saturday, falling to Kentucky, 63-56.

Despite the loss, senior forward Uros Plavsic had a career-best day, scoring a career-high 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting in a season-high 26 minutes.

Tuesday’s game is the second meeting between Tennessee and Mississippi State this season. The Vols defeated the Bulldogs in Knoxville on Jan. 3, 87-53, behind the fourth-highest field-goal percentage in program history (.692). The 34-point margin of victory was the largest margin of victory in the history of the 133-game series.

Could Vols match that shooting prowess at Humphrey Coliseum, aka The Hump? Not even close in the first thanks in large part to the absence of sharpshooters Tyreke Key (Illness) and Santi Vescovi, who aggravated his shoulder in last Saturday’s loss to the Wildcats.

Despite turning the ball over 11 times and shooting 2-15 from beyond the arc, 32% overall, the Vols would go on a 6-0 down the stretch to tie the game at 23 at halftime.

In the 2nd half the Vols caught fire from outside. Tennessee 8-of-9 at one point, ten 3-pointers all together including 4 from Zakai Zeigler, 3 from Josiah-Jordan James, 2 from Julian Phillips and one from Olivier Nkamhoua to take 64-55 lead with 2:41 to play.

Tennessee connects on 10 of 24 3-pointers on the night and 14 of 15 free throws. Zakai Zeigler (24 pts.) and Julian Phillips combine for 42 points as the Vols (15-3) improve to 5-1 in SEC play.

The Volunteers remain on the road with a 4 p.m. game at LSU on Saturday.