#5 Tennessee: 77-72 loss at Mississippi State
The Vols fell on the road in Starkville on Wednesday despite scoring 50 second-half points and forcing 15 steals on the night.
Despite their poor start offensively, Zakai Ziegler was a major bright spot, scoring 26 points while Knecht (28 points) was able to get going in the second half as well.
Although the Vols put up a valiant effort in the second half, it wasn’t enough as freshman Josh Hubbard – the teams leading scorer at 15.1 PPG – tallied 25 points on the night and Tolu Smith – who recently returned in late December following a foot injury in October – was a major force inside the arc both offensively and defensively.
Level of concern: 2/10
I’m not incredibly concerned following Tennessee’s loss to Mississippi State, although I do think the first half showed a glimpse of past issues relating to Rick Barnes-led teams.
Because Chris Jans and Mississippi State remain one of the SEC’s best defensive teams along with Tennessee, the game was bound to get a bit choppy on the offensive side of the floor early on.
Tennessee did a good job with getting back into the game and forcing turnovers, but they ultimately dug themselves in too big of a hole to get any sort of separation in the second half.
The metrics are still high on Tennessee, and I am too. The Vols will travel to Athens on Saturday to take on a red-hot Georgia squad that has won 10 straight.