Robert Hubbs III scored 19 points Saturday as Tennessee pulled away in the second half of a 91-74 victory over Mississippi State.
Grant Williams added 17 points to help Tennessee (10-9, 3-4 SEC) earn its first Southeastern Conference home win of the season. Admiral Schofield had 15 and Jordan Bowden added 14.
Tennessee had lost 82-78 to Arkansas and 70-60 to No. 24 South Carolina in its first two SEC home games.
Mississippi State (12-6, 3-3) has dropped two straight after winning three in a row. This marked the first SEC road loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who had won at LSU and Arkansas.
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Schnider Herard had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Mississippi State freshman’s first double-double. Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters had 11 points each, and Mario Kegler added 10.
After trailing most of the first half, Mississippi State scored the first four points of the second half to grab a 38-37 lead with 19:25 remaining.
But the Volunteers dominated from that point on.
Tennessee pulled ahead for good on Williams’ 3-pointer with 19:08 left and was up by double digits a few minutes later.
The Vols had blown a 13-point advantage in the final 15 minutes of an 80-69 loss at Mississippi three nights earlier, but this time they took control rather than collapsing down the stretch. Tennessee committed just seven turnovers all night and shot 54.8 percent (17 of 31) overall and 66.7 percent (4 of 6) from 3-point range in the second half.
Earlier in the day, Tennessee held a groundbreaking ceremony on a renovation project for its men’s and women’s basketball locker-room area at Thompson-Boling Arena. The $5 million project has been funded through private gifts.
The Bulldogs’ lack of defense and inability to connect from 3-point range and the free-throw line in the second half did them in. Mississippi State was 2 of 11 on 3-pointers and 8 of 17 on free throws in the second half.
The Vols have been up and down for much of the season, and they were back on an upswing Saturday because they got big performances from guys who had struggled Wednesday at Ole Miss. Bone, Schofield and Williams combined for 11 points Wednesday in a loss at Ole Miss. That trio combined for 40 points Saturday.