McRae, Stokes, Maymon Double-Doubles Pace Vols' 75-68 Win

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Tennessee Vols posted their ninth wire-to-wire victory this season, topping Mississippi State, 75-68, on Wednesday night.

The Vols were once again led by the trio of Jordan McRae (29 points and 10 rebounds),

html">Jarnell Stokes (14 points and nine rebounds) and Jeronne Maymon (10 points and 11 rebounds).

McRae had his second career double-double while Maymon had a double-double for the second straight game and fourth this season. It is the fourth time this season and second in a row that Tennessee had a pair of players with double-doubles.

The Vols improved to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the SEC, taking over fourth place in the league. Mississippi State lost its 10th game in a row as the Bulldogs are now 13-15 overall and 3-12 in the SEC.

Tennessee's defense was stout, limiting Mississippi State to 42.9 percent from the floor and just 3-of-14 from 3-point range.

Led by McRae -- who had a season-high in rebounds -- the Vols outrebounded the Bulldogs, 43-35. Stokes became Tennessee's career leader in offensive rebounds with five of his nine boards on the offensive glass. With 303, has passed Wayne Chism (302).

The Bulldogs were led by Roquez Johnson, who had 19 points. Leading Craig Sword (13.5 ppg) was limited to nine points. Fred Thomas added 18 points, 14 in the second half.

Up by 11 at halftime, Tennessee fended off the Bulldogs early in the half as Mississippi State got as close four points on three occasions midway through the half.

After Sword's jumper cut the Bulldogs deficit to 54-50 with 10:18 left in the game, McRae went to work. The senior jammed home back-to-back slam dunks to regain a 10-point bulge for Tennessee with 8:34 left, 60-50.

Mississippi State got back within four points on a Sword layup with 2:16, as he cut the Vols lead to 67-63.

McRae, Antonio Barton and Josh Richardson each made a pair of free throws in the final 1:30 to seal the win.

Tennessee had just two turnovers in the second half after nine in the first 20 minutes.

The Vols outscored the Bulldogs 19-9 late in the first half to lead 35-24 at halftime. McRae (12) and Stokes (10) combined for 22 first-half points. McRae tied his season high for rebounds in the first half alone with seven.

Mississippi State missed its first six shots from the field as the Bulldogs didn't make a basket for the game's first 5:30. The Bulldogs shot just 34.6 percent in the first half and were just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

The Vols return to action on Saturday as Tennessee hosts rival Vanderbilt at 12 Noon. That game airs on ESPN2 and can be heard on the Vol Network.

On Saturday, Tennessee will retire the No. 14 jersey of Dale Ellis. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:40 a.m., for the ceremony prior to the 12:02 p.m. tipoff.

Postgame quotes:

Head coach Cuonzo Martin

(On the game)
"I thought it was a hard fought game from both teams. When watching (Mississippi State) on film, you can't look at their record because they compete and play hard. It's amazing how when they get down in games how they can get themselves back in it. I was just trying to get our guys to understand that. We compete until the buzzer sounds because of the way they play and the way they compete.

"I said it before Craig Sword is one of the best in the country when it comes to getting to the rim in transition. It puts so much pressure on you. I thought they came out of the gate and they got good minutes. They did a good job as a team. It's always tough going against Roquez Johnson because of how hard he plays and how he battles. He's a physical player. I just told our guys it is more mental for us in a game like this. Even though it was a physical game, we had to get over that mental hump. We needed to get a win and move forward. You know worrying about bubbles and NCAAs and all that. We just need to play a basketball game and try to win the game and move on."

Senior Guard Jordan McRae

(On the win)
"I just knew what we had to do. We have to win these last four games. We have to do things that we might not do to win these last four games, Jarnell and Jeronne did a great job of finding me. We knew they were the kind of team that would play hard and grind. They got it to the right people.

(On Mississippi State)
"They play hard, they played hard the whole game. We did a good job of not letting them get up in the second half. When you have guards that are playing the four, they pop for Jeronne, we have to play good team defense."

(On only two second-half turnovers)
"When you turn the ball over, some passes you are hesitant to make it, the second half we got that under control." 

(On Saturday's game vs. Vanderbilt)
"Vandy and Tennessee rivalry goes back far, I am looking forward to it."

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 

 

 



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