We have finally arrived. The first game of the SEC Tournament for the Tennessee Volunteers.
It’s time to play some freakin’ basketball.
The Vols discovered their first opponent of the postseason on Thursday night after the Mississippi State Bulldogs trounced the Texas A&M Aggies, 80-54.
Can the Bulldogs avoid another humiliating defeat at the hands of the Vols?
Mississippi State Final Record and Standings
- 23-9 (10-8)
- 6th SEC
- Won last game
- G Quinndary Weatherspoon: 12.0 PPG, 83.3 FG%, N/A FT%, 100.0 3PT%, 4.0 REB, 9.0 AST, 3.0 TO, 3.0 STL, 29.0 MIN
Even though Peters led the team in scoring against the Aggies, Weatherspoon is still the best player on the team.
If you look at his stat line from the game, you can just tell that he had a helluva night. His presence was felt on both sides of the ball as he made plays everywhere on the court.
This is one guy that will definitely be looking to avenge his previous performance against the Vols.
- G Lamar Peters: 15.0 PPG, 45.4 FG%, N/A FT%, 55.5 3PT%, 2.0 REB, 3.0 AST, 4.0 TO, 2.0 STL, 34.0 MIN
Now that his wrist is finally healthy, will Peters be able to carry his team to another victory?
He was very effective from beyond the arc (5 of 7) against Texas A&M, but missed all six of his shots from inside. That really doesn’t matter against the Vols, though. As we all know, Tennessee is not very good at guarding the perimeter.
If Peters gets hot, then look out. He’d be the exact type of presence needed for a Bulldog victory.
- G Tyson Carter: 14.0 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 66.6 FT%, 28.6 3PT%, 2.0 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.9 TO, 1.0 STL, 33 MIN
Don’t forget, this guy led the team in scoring the last time these two teams met. He can do everything the guys above can do, but he is a much more physical presence.
Regardless, he’ll be another player that the Vols will have to account for. If they don’t then life will be very tough on Friday night.
**Please note that these stats reflect SEC Tournament stats, not the regular season**
As previously mentioned, the Bulldogs flexed their collective muscle against the Aggies to the tune of an 80-54 defeat in Bridgestone Arena.
The Bulldogs - now winners of seven of their last nine - never trailed during the game and Peters led the team with 15 points.
State held A&M to just 37.6 percent shooting from the floor, including a dreadful 27.8 percent from three. The Bulldogs not only forced 12 turnovers, but were able to convert them into 18 points. They also outrebounded the Aggies, 38-24.
Great guard play from the trio of Peters, Weatherspoon, and Carter was key in the win. They combined for 41 of them team’s 80 points and all three finished with at least 10 points and combined to force nine of the team’s 12 turnovers.
Mississippi State led by double-digits early and by 15 at halftime. The team never looked back as it coasted throughout the entirety of the game.
Tennessee should be focused and ready, but you can guarantee the Bulldogs will be too.
The Vols put them out to pasture the last year when these two met in the conference tournament. So, the Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a year’s worth of losses in this one.
If State can get the type of guard play that it did against the Aggies, then all bets are off. That would allow the Bulldogs to drive, penetrate, and kick out for a three - where the top five players in minutes all shoot at least 38 percent from the arc.
Weatherspoon should be a factor in this game. He was the team’s leading scorer and playmaker during the regular season. It’s hard to see Tennessee shutting him down for two straight games.
Aric Holman is another player to watch as well. He provides an inside presence at 6-foot-10, 225-pounds and can also drain it from the outside. The Vols struggled with Chuma Okeke against the Auburn Tigers and Holman is almost that exact type of player.
The Bulldogs also shot 25 three-point attempts against the Aggies and made 11 of them. If they are hitting like that on Friday night, then Tennessee will most certainly be in trouble.
Expect this game to be much, much closer than the first meeting, but if the Vols play their game — then expect a SEC tournament win as well.
Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET, but expect that to creep closer to 9:30, depending on the Kentucky-Alabama matchup. The game can be seen on SEC Network.