Mississippi State University men’s basketball team dropped another conference game to the University of Tennessee by a score of 70-59 at Humphrey Coliseum Tuesday night.
With Tennessee missing three players, the contest was much closer than the Bulldogs’ previous matchup with the Volunteers earlier this season.
In the first half, Tennessee had a dreadful start. The Bulldogs’ offense took advantage of their miscues and lead 19-10 at one point. The Volunteers fought back to tie the game at 23 going into halftime.
The game had a few lead changes in the second half, as MSU lead 46-44 before being outscored by Tennessee 26-13 the rest of the way. Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler scored 24 points and six rebounds and was on fire from beyond the arch.
The Bulldogs have struggled with their shooting but showed improvement Tuesday night. MSU shot 14-22 (63.6%) from the free throw line, 19-57 (33.3%) from the field and 7-26 (26.9%) from the three.
Guard Shakeel Moore led the Bulldogs with a career-high 20 points, along with two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe.
MSU forward Tolu Smith finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and ten rebounds, while also recording two blocks.
After the loss, the Bulldogs are now 12-6 (1-5 in conference play) and have lost four of their last five games. With more games to be played, the Bulldogs need to regroup and find an identity in order for their name to be heard come Selection Sunday in March.
"[I told the team after Tuesday's game] that we're a good basketball team," Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans said. "If we can stick together and stay the course, we'll have the opportunity to win games in this league this year.”
“But it's a big challenge,” Jans noted. “It's a big challenge that we all face. It starts with me and my staff to set the mood and the vibe to stay hungry and stay focused and continue to work and believe — just to believe in what we're doing and believe in one another. That'll be a big focus for us heading into the Florida game.”
Next up, the Bulldogs will host the University of Florida in Humphrey Coliseum Saturday at 7:30 p.m. SEC Network will broadcast the game.