Mississippi State 70 Tennessee 69 - Roller Coaster Continues

Everything to be said has been said before.  The Vols got 22 from Scotty Hopson and 16 from Tobias Harris, though Harris again struggled at just 4 of 13 shooting.  Melvin Goins added 9.  The Vols got nothing of note from anyone else.

That led to a 36.4% shooting performance in a game where the Vols watched Mississippi State take a ton of stupid shots, and then decided they'd immitate.  The Vols shot 5 of 21 (23.8%) from the arc.  Here again:  Scotty and Tobias were 4 of 11 from the arc.  The rest of the team was 1 for 10.  Cameron Tatum was 1 for 5 with 5 points, continuing his disappearing act.

Mississippi State played the second half without Renardo Sidney, out with an illness.  But late in the game, State's threes started falling.  It kept them in front or within a possession at every turn.  Meanwhile, Tennessee tried to catch up at the free throw line, and shot a decent 16 of 23 (69.6%).  But the biggest stat of the game was State's 12 of 15 (80.0%) performance at the line - again, always kept them in it, and helped negate Tennessee's advantage on the glass.

With the game on the line, Scotty Hopson missed the second of two free throws to tie, but the Vols got the ball back after it went off State out of bounds.  And just when Tennessee did something really well - the best end-of-game inbounds play we've run all year, a wide open Tobias dunk for the lead - the roller coaster continued to express itself as the dominant narrative of this year's team:  the Vols didn't play strong transition defense, and allowed an and-one dunk on the other end for the Mississippi State win.  (And why did Bruce Pearl burn his final timeout before the free throw, essentially forcing a halfcourt shot when State missed the free throw?)

The Vols, who have always been so strong at Thompson-Boling under Pearl and lost only once there last year, have now lost seven home games this year, including three of our last four.  The only team we beat in that stretch is our next opponent, at South Carolina on Thursday.  Who knows what'll happen there.

The Vols can still make the dance, could still beat Kentucky and who knows what'll happen in March.  To expect anything, good or bad, from this team at this point is an exercise in stupidity.  The roller coaster rules the day.

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