Tennessee basketball is back in the semifinals of the SEC tournament for the first time in four years.
The No. 13-ranked Vols beat Mississippi State 62-59 Friday night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, holding off a furious Bulldogs’ rally in the final minutes.
Lamonte Turner led Tennessee (24-7) with 15 points, and Admiral Schofield added 13 as the Vols won their fifth game in a row..
Tennessee plays at 3 p.m. on Saturday against the winner of Friday night’s game between Florida and Arkansas.
The Vols led by as many as nine points with 8:17 left before the Bulldogs (22-11) cut it to 2 points on two occasions.
Tennessee held a 31-24 lead at the half, with Schofield and Tuner scoring 8 points each through the first 20 minutes.
SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams had 4 of his 10 points in the game on 1-of-5 shooting through the first 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs missed their fist eight attempts from beyond the 3-point arc before Lamar Peters connected with 1:12 left in the opening half.
Mississippi State hit 10-of-17 shots from beyond the 3-point line in its win over LSU on Thursday.
The Bulldogs were held without an assist until there was 9:23 left in the game. It was Mississippi State’s only assist in the game, and it had 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs were also 20-of-56 shooting, 35.7 percent.
The Vols dominated the glass, out rebounding Mississippi State 50-33 while scoring 22 second-chance points to the Bulldogs’ 11.
Nick Weatherspoon injury
The Vols held a 31-28 lead at the 19:14 mark when Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon suffered a neck injury and was taken from the court on a stretcher after getting his head stepped on by Kyle Alexander and lower body stepped on by his brother Quinndary Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon took a hard fall on a drive to the basket, hitting his head and hip, and stayed down as play continued. The players who stepped on him didn’t appear to notice he was still laying on the floor on Quinndary’s breakaway.