#19 Vols pull away late at Mississippi State
Published 8:36 am Thursday, February 10, 2022
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CONTRIBUTED BY UT ATHLETICS
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Kennedy Chandler and Josiah-Jordan James both provided standout performances on the offensive end and hit shots in the clutch to help No. 19 Tennessee pull away from Mississippi State Wednesday night on the road, 72-63.
Chandler and James led Tennessee with 18 points apiece. Chandler was 8-for-13 from the field, while James was 7-for-12, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
Santiago Vescovi and SEC Sixth Man of the Year candidate Zakai Zeigler also scored in double figures for the Vols with 11 points each.
Defensively, Chandler and Zeigler each had five steals. In Tennessee’s first game without injured starting forward Olivier Nkamhoua, freshman Brandon Huntley-Hatfield recorded his first career start, scoring four points.
Freshman forward Jonas Aidoo also stepped up, playing a career-high 12 minutes and finishing with two points and four rebounds. In what was a back and forth, closely-contested second half, neither team led by more than five points for the first 19 minutes of the half.
Despite the close nature of the final period, Mississippi State took the lead just one time—a one-point lead on a Garrison Brooks 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining.
From that point forward, Tennessee (17-6, 8-3 SEC) allowed just four points by the Bulldogs—finishing the game on a 14-4 run. Sparking the Vols’ final push was James, who buried a deep 3-pointer from the right-wing to put Tennessee back in front by two points.
After Mississippi State quickly responded with a mid-range jumper by Cameron Matthews, the Vols fired right back with a driving layup from Chandler, followed by a deep three from Vescovi.
Zeigler finished the game on a 6-0 run by himself to seal the win, driving straight to the rim for a layup with 2:26 remaining to put the Vols back in front by five and then going 4-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final minute.
Overall, Tennessee finished the game by hitting eight of its final nine field-goal attempts. Despite a red hot offensive start to the game from Tennessee, the Vols led by just two at halftime, 35-33.
Tennessee controlled the game out of the gates, making its first six field-goal attempts and storming out to a 14-2 lead four minutes into the game.
The Vols maintained their lead through the under-12 media timeout, after which Mississippi State began its run. The Bulldogs outscored Tennessee 18-4 over the next five minutes of game time, forcing the Vols to make just one of their next 14 shots.
Mississippi State hit six of seven field goals in that same time frame.
Tennessee is back at Thompson-Boling Arena for the first of two consecutive home games, taking on Vanderbilt Saturday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
CHANDLER HITS 100 ASSISTS, 50 STEALS:
With five steals during Wednesday’s win, Kennedy Chandler eclipsed the 50-steal mark on the season. Chandler also has 109 assists this season, making him the first Vol since Josh Richardson in 2014-15 to tally 100 or more assists and 50 or more steals in the same season.