By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State gave another valiant effort Wednesday night against Tennessee but once again came out on the losing end.
The Bulldogs battled back from a 14-point deficit to cut the lead to four on five different occasions in the second half but could not draw any closer.
The Volunteers claimed a 75-68 victory, handing MSU its 10th consecutive loss.
“We’re not giving up, we’re doing all we can to get a win,” said MSU guard Fred Thomas. “It’s going to be hard but we’re going to compete any way that we can.”
The Bulldogs trailed by four with under two minutes to go but Tennessee converted 8 of 8 from the free throw line down the stretch to improve to 17-11 on the year and 8-7 in conference play.
The Vols shot 39.4 percent from the field and were led by Jordan McRae with 29 points. McRae was 9 of 19 from the floor and knocked down four shots from the perimeter and also added 10 rebounds.
“I feel like he’s the best guy I’ve guarded all year,” Thomas said. “With the offense they run, he’s coming off staggers and screens and you have to stay down at all times. It’s really hard.”
Jeronne Maymon also had a double-double for Tennessee with 10 points and 11 boards while Jarnell Stokes scored 14.
State (13-15, 3-12) shot 42.9 percent for the game led by Roquez Johnson’s 19 point effort in his second straight start.
Thomas added 18 points in 32 minutes off the bench in his return to the floor.
The Bulldogs visit Missouri at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.