Perry, Stewart power Mississippi State past Tennessee 86-73

Mississippi State Bulldogs guard D.J. Stewart Jr. (3) handles the ball while defended by Tennessee Volunteers guard Yves Pons (35) during the first half at Humphrey Coliseum. (Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports)
By  | 

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Reggie Perry had 24 points with 12 rebounds and D.J. Stewart had a career-high 20 points to lead Mississippi State to an 86-73 victory over Tennessee.

Perry's output marked the seventh time in the last 10 games he has scored at least 20 points. The sophomore forward also collected his 12th double-double of the season and 21st of his career. Stewart was 6 of 9 shooting and made 4 of 5 shots from 3-point distance.

"I just wanted to get to the line as much as I could," said Perry, who was 12 of 15 at the free throw line. "They tried to keep it out of my hands in the first half and we had to adjust. But basically, I just tried to get to the line."

Robert Woodard added 14 points for Mississippi State (14-7 overall, 5-3 in the SEC), which has won five straight conference games. Nick Weatherspoon had 11 points, eight rebounds and a career-high nine assists for the Bulldogs.

Uros Plavsic and Santiago Vescovi each had 16 points for Tennessee (12-9, 4-4), which has dropped three straight games. Jalen Johnson added 13 for the Volunteers and Jordan Bowden had 12.

"Obviously a really, really big win for us against a really good program," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "They did a good job coming out early and playing inside-out, and got (Abdul) Ado in foul trouble. Our defense was not nearly as good with Ado out but it was our defense in the second half. We played much better defensively in the second half and that gave us more opportunities in transition."

Trailing by six at halftime, Mississippi State stormed out of the gates in the second half. A 10-0 run capped by back-to-back buckets by Perry gave the Bulldogs a 45-40 advantage with 13:21 left. A Vescovi 3-pointer cut the Mississippi State lead to 45-43 but Stewart responded with back-to-back 3-pointers. That jump-started a 14-3 run by Mississippi State and Tennessee never got within 10 points the remainder of the game.

"Really dominating performance by Mississippi State in the second half," said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. "I'm really proud of our guys the way we started the game because we had to change things in the lineup. But I was proud of the way the young guys responded. They just dominated us inside, though, and we had no answer for it."

BIG PICTURE
Tennessee: The Volunteers find themselves on a three-game losing streak and remain on the road next week. Saturday's loss also snapped Tennessee's four-game winning streak against Mississippi State.

Mississippi State: Since inserting Stewart in the starting lineup, Mississippi State has won five straight SEC games. The Bulldogs opened with an 0-3 conference mark.

UP NEXT
Tennessee: At Alabama on Tuesday.

Mississippi State: At No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday.