The No. 23 Tennessee Lady Vols (17-6, 7-3 SEC) lost at home 72-55 to the No. 8 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-3, 9-1 SEC) in their second straight game against a top-10 ranked team. Tennessee fell to No. 1 South Carolina in Columbia 69-48 on Sunday.
The Lady Vols took the floor for warmups in shirts featuring an image of Kobe Bryant to honor him after he passed away on Jan. 26. The image was illustrated by Tennessee men’s basketball player Jalen Johnson, and Johnson’s illustration was also displayed on the jumbotron before the game.
Tennessee had to face Mississippi State without Rennia Davis, who is the Lady Vols’ leading scorer (18.1 ppg) and rebounder (8.3 rpg). She was a game-time decision as she was recovering from the flu, but Davis was ultimately ruled out by team physicians. Davis had previously started every game this season but was replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Rae Burrell.
“We knew we had to step up in different areas. I feel like everyone can play, so it would’ve been difficult all-around whether she played or not,” Jazmine Massengill said on the absence of Davis.
In her first start of the season, Burrell led Tennessee to a hot start. The Lady Vols went into the second quarter with a 21-19 lead over the Bulldogs. Burrell posted a team-high 9 points, and the quarter was capped off with a 2 point jump shot by Massengill to take the lead with only 4 seconds left.
The Lady Vols cooled down in the second quarter, going into the half down 38-30. They allowed Mississippi State to outscore them 19-9, which featured a 10-0 run lasting over 6 minutes. Both teams shot 39% from the field in the half. However, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 8 fewer times than the Lady Vols and shot 4-of-9 from 3-point range compared to Tennessee’s 0-for-3.
Mississippi State was able to stretch their lead in the third quarter. The Bulldogs went up 56-40 at the end of the frame. They finished the quarter on another big run of 11-1, including a layup by Myah Taylor as time expired.
Tennessee was able to hit their first three of the game with 9:28 left in the fourth on a shot from Massengill. Previously they were 0-5 from behind the arc and they finished the game 3-9.
The Bulldogs were able to hold on for the rest of the game and win 72-55. Burrell led the Lady Vols with a team-high 20 point and 10 assist double-double on 8-20 shooting. She also contributed on the defensive end in place of Davis, adding 3 steals and a block to her stat line.
“(Burrell) had a really good practice leading up to the game. She played with confidence and played downhill,” Tennessee Coach Kelly Harper said.
Tennessee will be in action next against LSU in Baton Rouge on Feb. 13. The game is set to be aired on SEC Network+ at 7:30 p.m.
Edited by Christian Knox
Edited by Ben Gleason
Featured photo courtesy of Lady Vol Basketball Twitter (@LadyVol_Hoops)