By The Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wendell Lewis dunked with 3 seconds left as Mississippi State held off Tennessee to get a 70-69 win on Saturday.
It was the Bulldogs’ first win in Knoxville since 1999 and put them in a tie with Arkansas for second place in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division with two games left in the season.
Mississippi State (15-13, 7-7) was up 68-64 after Brian Bryant hit a pull-up jumper with 1:12 left. Dee Bost fouled Tennessee’s Melvin Goins, who hit a pair of free throws with 53 seconds to go.
Riley Benock missed a 3-pointer for Mississippi State, fouled Scotty Hopson on the other end, and Hopson hit the first of two foul shots. The ball was tipped out of bounds and went to Tennessee after Hopson missed the second shot, and Tobias Harris dunked the inbound pass to give the Vols a 69-68 lead with 10 seconds left.
Bost drove the floor and dished to Lewis, who was in perfect position under the basket for the dunk and was fouled by Brian Williams in the process. Lewis missed his free throw, and Hopson missed a shot from half court as time expired.
Ravern Johnson led Mississippi State with 20 points, Kodi Augustus got his eighth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Bost added 14 points.
Hopson had 22 points and Harris had 16 for the Vols (17-12, 7-7), who lost their seventh home game of the season, the most ever under coach Bruce Pearl, who was charged earlier in the week with unethical conduct by the NCAA following a 22-month investigation into recruiting.
The teams came out of halftime tied at 34. Tennessee outscored the Bulldogs in the paint 36-28, but Mississippi State shot at a 43.8-percent clip and hit 5 of 14 from 3-point range.
Augustus hit all three of his 3s in the second half, and the third one gave the Bulldogs a 56-49 lead with 7:54 to play.
Tennessee shot 38.7 percent in the second half but used an 11-2 run after Augustus’ last 3 to take a 60-58 lead with 4:24 left. The game, which included 11 lead changes and nine ties, remained close the rest of the way.
The teams were pretty evenly matched through halftime, with Mississippi State shooting 35.5 percent and Tennessee hitting 34.3 percent.
Williams put back a missed layup from Goins to give Tennessee a 25-17 lead with 6:17 in the first half. Bost hit a 3-pointer, launching a 15-1 scoring run for Mississippi State.
The Vols went 4:03 without a field goal and sent the Bulldogs to the free-throw line for four straight foul shots after John Fields fouled Lewis and Steven Pearl was given a technical for running his mouth in front of the referees. Augustus hit two free throws and Lewis hit one of his two shots.
A set of Lewis free throws gave Mississippi State a 32-26 lead with 3:17 in the first half, but Harris hit back-to-back 3s and a pair of free throws to tie the score at 34 at halftime.
Longtime Mississippi State announcer Jack Cristil, a Tupelo resident, got to say his signature call “Wrap It In Maroon and White” at the end of the game. Cristil, Mississippi State’s play-by-play man the past 58 years, called his final game after announcing his retirement Wednesday.
Read more about Jack Cristil’s career in a story from Brad Locke in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.