Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers – NCAAM January 26

Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-7, 4-4) at No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers (10-3, 5-3)

Time:  4 PST – 6 CST – 7 EST
Place: Thompson Bowling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SEC Network


Tennessee which was the sexy preseason pick as the regular season champion is on life support after the Vols were dominated in two losses to Florida and Missouri last week. Tennessee checks in at three games back in the loss column behind front-running Alabama as a loss here would further dim the Vols’ hopes of the title.

Mississippi State has lost three of it’s last four as two of the losses were at home in what was perceived as winnable games against Texas A&M and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs defeated Tennessee, 86-73, last season in Starkville and look for back-to-back conquests of the Vols for the first time since 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Vs. The Spread:

Mississippi State:

  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of MSU’s last 8 games
  • The OVER has also been the play in 9 of State’s last 10 road games
  • The total has also gone OVER in six of the last 7 games when the Bulldogs travel to Tennessee


  • The Vols are 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games
  • Tennessee checks in at 1-4 ATS int heir last 5 at home
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 6 Volunteers-Bulldogs matchups

Last Time Out:

Mississippi State has lost three of it’s last four as the Bulldogs were played undefeated Alabama to the wire before dropping an 81-73 decision at Alabama on Saturday. The Bulldogs, who cut an 11-point second half deficit to three in the waning moments, were led by 27 points from D.J. Stewart while Iverson Molinar popped in 19.

Tennessee looked flat from it’s previous 26-point loss at Florida and the Missouri Tigers made them pay in leading from wire-to-wire in a 73-64 win over the Vols in Knoxville. Tennessee opened much like it did against Florida as Missouri lead 17-5 midway through the first half as the Vols had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Yves Pons had 20 points while Victor Bailey, Jr., and Josiah Jordan-James had 12 apiece.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Mississippi State +9½ (-115) +395 O 126½ (-120)
Tennessee -9½ (-105) -500 U 126½ (+100)

Bulldogs Stat Pack:

  • Watch how many players reach double figures as the Bulldogs are 7-1 when four or more players hit the double figures mark.
  • The Bulldogs have 512 points in the paint as Abdul Ado and Tolu Smith give them a post presence and also a fleet of guards who can produce inside off the dribble.
  • Mississippi State is 5-1 this season when committing 12 turnovers or less and 4-6 when committing 13 or more.

 For the Bulldogs to Win:

Mississippi State Bulldogs LogoThe post game with Abdul Ado (6.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg – SEC) and Tolu Smith (12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg – SEC) could be effective this evening when you consider that the Volunteers’ opponents are out-rebounding them by 3.1 boards per outing in SEC play. Both big men have had higher productivity inside the league, so if they are efficient, then the backcourt of Iverson Molinar and D.J. Stewart could have a productive evening. Stewart is fourth in the SEC in scoring at 18 point per night while he joins Molinar in scoring 192 of MSU’s 426 baskets (45%).

The Volunteers will try to use the athleticism of Yves Pons and Josiah Jordan-James in the paint to go with the physicality of John Fulkerson. Both can step out and drain the triple which could change the matchups and place them more in the Volunteers’ favor. Mississippi State’s opponents have made 37.6 percent of their threes in league play.

Volunteers Stat Pack:

  • Tennessee’s defense is still in good position in forcing 16.6 turnovers per game while converting those into 18.5 points per game. Their (+5) turnover margin is still sixth in the NCAA.
  • In SEC play, only 4.7 points separate Tennessee’s top seven scorers.
  • The Vols have had only one opposing player score over 20 points this season – Missouri’s Xavier Pinson netted 27 in Saturday night’s loss.

For the Vols to Win:

Tennessee Volunteers LogoA healthy freshman phenom in Jaden Springer (10.0 ppg, 53.3%-FG) would be a good place to start. Watch out if he is out of the lineup tonight as an ankle injury has sidelined him for the last two games where the Vols have struggled so mightily. In addition in the other loss to Alabama, he suffered the ankle injury and was limited to only five minutes in that game.

He is currently listed as questionable. Springer’s absence in the backcourt takes it’s roll as UT tallied 36 turnovers in last week’s two losses, so valuing the basketball has to be on top of the chart on coach Rick Barnes’ grease board this evening. Santiago Vescovi (9.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) continues to power the Volunteers from the back court with 44 assists against only 23 turnovers. He and Victor Bailey, Jr., (11.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg) must run things with efficiency against Molinar and Stewart. Vescovi was 5-of-11 from the field with five assists and five turnovers in last week’s two losses.

Winner: Tennessee 74, Mississippi State (+9½) 68
O/U: Take OVER 126½

The Bets
Mississippi State +9½
OVER 126½
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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