KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The 23rd ranked Lady Vols took a lead into the second quarter but couldn't hang on, falling to No. 8 Mississippi State on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, 72-55.
Sophomore Rae Burrell led Tennessee (17-6, 7-3 SEC), scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 boards to record a double-double in her first career start and her third overall. Freshman Jordan Horston and sophomore Jazmine Massengill were also in double digits with 12 and 11, respectively, as the Lady Vols played without leading scorer Rennia Davis (18.1 ppg.), who is recovering from a bout with the flu.
Rickea Jackson was Mississippi State's (21-3, 9-1 SEC) high scorer, tallying 14 points and nine rebounds. Chloe Bibby was close behind with 13 points.
UT out-rebounded Mississippi State, 40-39, as both teams recorded 16 offensive boards. Tennessee shot at a 36.2 percent clip from the field while holding the Bulldogs to a 40-percent performance that was 7.5 percent below their 47.5 season mark. The Big Orange also held MSU 9.5 points below their typical scoring average of 81.5.
Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the game after Massengill scored a jumper and Horston made a free throw. The Bulldogs responded with a 4-0 run, but Burrell got the Lady Vols the lead back by draining a jumper and a free throw, making it 8-6.
The Big Orange went on a 7-0 run that included back-to-back fast break buckets from Burrell to give UT a 15-11 lead. Tennessee finished the quarter with two unanswered scores from Kasiyahna Kushkituah and Massengill, giving the Lady Vols a 21-19 advantage after ten minutes.
Burrell led the team with nine points and three rebounds in the first period. UT also out-rebounded MSU, 12-10, and shot at a 47.4 percent rate.
In the second quarter, Kushkituah scored the opening points for the Lady Vols and gave them a 23-21 lead. Mississippi State responded with a 10-0 run, which was ended by a lay-in from Horston. The freshman went on to score the last three points for Tennessee, cutting the Big Orange's deficit to 38-30 at the half.
Coming out of the break, Massengill got points on the board for UT and the Lady Vols closed to within six after scores from Horston, freshman Tamari Key and Burrell, making it 43-37 with 4:48 left in the third stanza. The Bulldogs then went on an 8-0 run and held Tennessee to just one more bucket in the quarter to give themselves a 56-40 lead going into the final period.
UT opened up the fourth quarter with a lay-in from Key and a three-pointer from Massengill, cutting MSU's lead to 11. Burrell continued her stellar performance by scoring the Big Orange's next seven points, and Horston closed out the game by scoring a three-pointer with 29 seconds left.
Up Next: UT will return to action next Thursday, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., for a 7:30 p.m. ET (6:30 CT) rematch against #RV/RV LSU. The game will be available for streaming via SECN+ and broadcast on Lady Vol Network radio stations.