The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Humphrey Coliseum - Starkville, MS

Bulldogs rally to beat Vols 64-59

2060 days ago
Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Schnider Herard had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, Xavian Stapleton had 14 points and 11 boards and Mississippi State overcame a 19-point, first-half deficit on Saturday for a 64-59 victory over Tennessee.

The Bulldogs finished the game on a 25-9 run and took the lead for good on Stapleton's 3-pointer with 4:22 left. Stapleton had his first double-double of the season and a game-high four steals.

Mario Kegler led the Bulldogs (14-8, 5-5 SEC) with 17 points and his two free throws clinched the win with 6.9 seconds remaining.

"The great lesson, and I love this lesson when it happens, is to never quit and never give up," said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. "We were down 19 and they kept their heads up, kept battling. Our offense was really, really poor in the first half. But our defense kept us in the game and we were battling, defensively, in the first half.

"Then we did a much better job going to the rim in the second half. Even though we didn't shoot great at the foul line, we got to the foul line. Xavian Stapleton and Mario Kegler also did a phenomenal job defending Hubbs."

The Volunteers (13-10, 5-5) were led by Robert Hubbs III with 13 points and Grant Williams added 11.

In the first meeting this year, Tennessee defeated Mississippi State 91-74 and controlled the boards by a 49-35 margin. But on Saturday the Bulldogs outrebounded the Volunteers 55-45, including 21 offensive rebounds.

"To be honest, it was our defense," said Stapleton. "It was our defensive energy. We got a couple of stops and the energy transferred over to offense. We got to the free throw line at the end of the game, too, and it all worked out."

The Bulldogs missed their first nine shot attempts and Tennessee had a 17-2 advantage in the first eight minutes. Tennessee would lead 29-10 before Mississippi State trimmed the deficit to 33-21 at halftime.

"Lots of credit to Mississippi State," said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. "They were tougher down the stretch and we turned the ball over in ways we shouldn't have. Mississippi State got down but stayed in it and got the momentum going their way. I was disappointed with the way we responded. Coming down the stretch we didn't do what we needed to do.

"I don't want to take anything away from Mississippi State. It's a 40-minute game. We've had leads before and let them get away. We didn't make winning plays."

The Bulldogs shot just 20 percent in the first half and made 3 of 9 free throws. Tennessee shot 44 percent in the first half and also struggled at the charity stripe with a 6-of-14 showing.


Tennessee: Saturday's setback snapped the Volunteers' four-game winning streak. It also marked their second blown lead in the Magnolia State this season. Tennessee led Ole Miss by 13 points with 15 minutes to play before falling 80-69.

Mississippi State: Senior I.J. Ready missed his second straight game for the Bulldogs with a calf muscle injury.


Tennessee: The Volunteers open a two-game home stand Wednesday and host Ole Miss.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs return to the road Tuesday with a visit to Auburn.