KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In the final home game of the season, No. 5 Tennessee will honor its four seniors on Tuesday night as the Vols host Mississippi State at Thompson-Boling Arena on Senior Night.
The game will tip at 9 p.m. ET and will be televised on SEC Network and can also be viewed online through WatchESPN. Fans can listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp describing the action. Tickets for the game are still available at AllVols.com.
With a chance to repeat as SEC Champions, the Vols (26-3, 14-2 SEC) defeated Kentucky on Saturday to remain in a 2-way tie for first place in the league with LSU. UT clinched a top-4 seed and a double-bye for the conference tournament with a win last week at Ole Miss.
The four seniors being honored are Kyle Alexander, Lucas Campbell, Admiral Schofield and Brad Woodson. Each were part of the first class brought in during Rick Barnes‘ first season and have been crucial in building the foundation of the program. While there is still a lot to be achieved this season, this group has brought Tennessee basketball to one of the top programs in the country during the last two seasons, winning an SEC Title, earning a No. 1 ranking for the second time in program history and earning two bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Mississippi State (21-8, 9-7 SEC) is one of five teams in a battle for the four seed and a double bye in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs enter the game coming off their first loss in three weeks, falling 80-75 at Auburn on Saturday. Three-time All-SEC performer Quinndary Weatherspoon leads the SEC in scoring (19.8 ppg) during league play and has dropped 20 points in 13 games this year.
• Tennessee leads its all-time series with Mississippi State, 83-43, dating to 1924.
• The Vols have a 45-11 edge when the series is played in Knoxville.
• Tennessee is 4-1 against MSU under head coach Rick Barnes.
A WIN WOULD…
• Preserve Tennessee’s perfect home record this season.
• Give the Vols their first undefeated home season since 2007-08.
• Stretch the Vols’ home win streak to 26 games, dating to last season.
• Give the Vols seven consecutive wins over teams from the state of Mississippi.
• Exceed Tennessee’s win total from last season (26-9).
• Four Volunteers seniors will be honored before Tuesday’s game: Kyle Alexander, Lucas Campbell, Admiral Schofield and Brad Woodson.
• Tennessee is in a two-way tie for first place in the SEC standings with LSU.
• Two of Tennessee’s three losses this season have come in overtime, and all three were away from home against top-15 opponents and Q1 teams.
• For the second year in a row, the Vols are assured of finishing the season with single-digit losses.
• Tennessee’s average home attendance of 18,945 ranks fourth nationally.
• Tennessee guards Jordan Bone (2.9) and Lamonté Turner (2.4) rank first and second in the SEC, respectively, in assist/turnover ratio during league games. Not surprisingly, the Vols also rank first as a team (1.7).
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE
• Ben Howland’s squad is one of five teams in a battle for the four seed and a double bye in the SEC Tournament. Mississippi State enters the game coming off its first loss in three weeks, falling 80-75 at Auburn on Saturday.
• The Bulldogs (21-8, 9-7 SEC) are led by three-time All-SEC performer Quinndary Weatherspoon (18.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 spg). The senior guard leads the SEC in scoring (19.8 ppg) during league play and has dropped 20 points in 13 games this year.
• Junior guard Lamar Peters leads MSU in assists (5.4 apg), steals (1.7 spg) and 3-pointers made (68) and is second on the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game. Peters, Weatherspoon (46) and junior Tyson Carter (43) are all capable of going off from beyond the arc on any given night. Carter (9.8 ppg, .458 FG%) dropped a season-high 22 points behind four threes against Missouri last week.
• As a team, the Bulldogs are one of the best squads at blocking shots (5.2 bpg), ranking ninth in the country and second in the SEC behind the Vols. They are also second in the league in 3-pointers per game (8.4) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.374). MSU is 20th in the nation and third in the conference in steals per game (8.3), as well.
LAST MEETING VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE
• Tennessee came up with a hard-fought, 62-59 win over seventh-seeded Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at the Scottrade Center on March 9, 2018.
• Led by SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonté Turner’s 15 points off the bench, the Vols punched their ticket to the semifinals with the win. Turner also added eight rebounds and a career-high four steals.
• Despite having a tough night from the field, SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. All-SEC wing Admiral Schofield was the only other Vol to score in double digits, finishing with 13 points and eight boards.
• After another slow start in the second half by both teams, the Bulldogs battled back to make it a 51-49 game with 6:43 remaining after a 9-2 run, highlighted by a pair of threes from Lamar Peters.
• Mississippi State cut it to a one-point deficit, but Turner responded with a hard cut to the basket for a contested layup to make it a three-point game heading into the final media timeout in regulation.
• The shot would spark a 6-0 run by Turner himself with three consecutive baskets to make it a 58-51 game. After Peters converted on two more three-point plays, the Bulldogs found themselves within one score with 42 seconds left in the game. MSU came up with a defensive stop, and Xavian Stapleton got a wide-open look from three but his shot didn’t fall.
• Tennessee held a 50-33 advantage on the boards, including 22 offensive rebounds. The Vols converted those into 22 second-chance points.
MEMORABLE VOL PERFORMANCES AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE
• Junior Dale Ellis grabbed a school-record seven steals as the Vols defeated the Bulldogs 54-44 at “The Hump” in Starkville on Jan. 20, 1982.
• Bill Justus’s two game-winning free throws in the third overtime in Starkville on March 6, 1967, gave the Vols the outright SEC regular-season title. Justus scored 14 in the contest.
• While Justus earned the credit for sealing the win in Starkville in 1967, the Vols would not have contended for the win without 35 points from Knoxville native Ron Widby, who went on to be a Pro Bowl punter for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
• Ernie Grunfeld scored 37 and Bernard King added 30 as the “Ernie & Bernie Show” rolled to a 97-87 win in Starkville. on Jan. 25, 1975.
MISSISSIPPI LETTERMEN UNCOMMON
• Incredibly, Tennessee has had just one all-time letterman from the state of Mississippi. Sardis, Mississippi, native Torrey Harris played for the Vols from 1995-99.
BONE DRIVING VOLS’ OFFENSE
• Point guard Jordan Bone—touted by Rick Barnes as the team’s most improved player prior to the season—is the sparkplug of Tennessee’s offense.
• In addition to averaging a career-best 13.6 points, Bone leads the Vols with 6.1 assists per game (first in the SEC) and a 2.93 assist/turnover ratio (second in the SEC).
• Bone’s 176 assists have directly led to 407 points. Coupled with his 393 points scored, he is responsible for 33.3 percent of the team’s scoring (800 of 2,401).
PICK YOUR POISON
• Tennessee’s roster features five different players who have multiple 20-point games during their careers.
• Grant Williams owns a team-high 24 20-point games, while Admiral Schofield follows with 15 such performances.
• Lamonté Turner has scored 20 or more points seven times, Jordan Bowden and Jordan Bone each have done it four times.