STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Tolu Smith scored 23 points, including a three-point play with 14.7 seconds remaining, to lead Mississippi State to a 77-72 win over No. 5 Tennessee.

The win marked Mississippi State’s first win over a Top 5 team since defeating Oklahoma in December of 2002. The Vols are the fourth top five team to lose in the past 24 hours as No. 1 Purdue, No. 2 Houston and No. 3 Kansas also were beaten.

Freshman Josh Hubbard led Mississippi State (12-3, 1-1 in SEC) with 25 points, highlighted by a 5 of 10 showing from 3 point territory.

“We just stuck together,” said Mississippi State head coach Chris Jans. “And we made some plays. The game changed quickly in the second half. Out of the gates they made some baskets and Tennessee played with great intensity and passion. We obviously struggled with the press and we’re not a huge pressing team. But I was glad we stuck together.”

Smith missed the first 12 games of the season due to a preseason foot injury. Wednesday marked just his third game of the season and he was 7 of 10 from the field and 9 of 12 at the foul line.

“I think the main thing we focused on in the huddle was not going too hot and not going too low,” said Smith. “We just stayed together. I’ve got great players on my team like Cam Matthews that get me the ball inside. It is like a feeling and it is hard to explain. When I see him and he sees me, we make things happen.”

Dalton Knecht scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for Tennessee (11-4, 1-1). Zakai Zeigler added 26 points for the Volunteers.

Tennessee trailed by 13 at halftime but made a second-half charge led by Knecht. With 11:36 left in the second half, Knecht’s 3 pointer capped a 12-2 Tennessee run and cut the State lead to 51-49.

Later in the half, Knecht tied the game at 62-62 with two free throws and then his dunk tied the game at 72-72 with 35.3 seconds remaining. However, Smith’s three-point play with 14.7 seconds left gave the Bulldogs the lead for good and a Cameron Matthews dunk in the final second clinched the victory.

Mississippi State shot 50% from the field and made 19 of 27 at the foul line. The Volunteers shot 46% from the floor and made 8 of 29 from 3 point range. The Bulldogs had 18 turnovers while Tennessee had 16 and both teams had 33 rebounds.

“That’s the most disappointing thing and just so inconsistent,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said of the first-half deficit. “We took a couple of steps forward and then a step back. But I don’t want to take anything away from Mississippi State and Coach Jans had his guys ready to play. In the first half we had some good looks and just didn’t make them. The second half we fought hard to get back in it and I appreciate that effort.”

Both teams traded leads in the opening moments before Mississippi State took a 15-10 lead after a Smith three-point play. After Tennessee closed the gap to 16-14, Hubbard had a trio of 3 pointers to spark a 17-4 run by the Bulldogs as the lead grew to 33-18. Mississippi State led 35-22 at halftime, which was Tennessee’s lowest first-half scoring output of the season.

Mississippi State shot 50% in the first half while holding the Volunteers to 33% in the opening half. The Bulldogs were 4 of 9 from 3 point range and Tennessee was just 2 of 13 beyond the arc in the first half. Tennessee also had 10 turnovers in the first half.


Tennessee: Wednesday’s loss marked Tennessee’s first loss to an unranked team this season. The Volunteers had won nine of the last ten meetings with Mississippi State and their previous losses this season came against No. 1 Purdue, No. 3 Kansas and No. 7 North Carolina.

Mississippi State: After losing at South Carolina in their SEC opener, the Bulldogs faced a must-win situation. Later this week, the Bulldogs host Alabama before traveling to Kentucky next week.


Tennessee: The Volunteers remain on the road and travel to Georgia on Saturday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs host Alabama on Saturday.


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