STARKVILLE, Miss. - D.J. Stewart Jr. exploded for 16 of his career-high 20 points aided by a career-best four treys during the second half to fuel the Mississippi State men’s basketball team to its fifth-straight SEC triumph and an 86-73 victory over Tennessee on Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (14-7, 5-3 SEC) snapped a four-game losing streak to Tennessee (12-8, 4-3 SEC). Mississippi State also erased its second consecutive halftime deficit, its fourth halftime hole of the season and its 19th overall under fifth-year coach Ben Howland.
Once again, the Bulldogs scorched the nets during the second half going 18-of-26 from the field. The 69.2 shooting percentage is the best, while the 58 second-half points are the second-highest versus a SEC opponent under Howland. For Stewart Jr., he was 6-of-9 from the field. The redshirt freshman knocked down a back-to-back triples 27 seconds apart to cap an 18-5 spurt midway through the second half which rallied the Bulldogs from a five-piont deficit to an eight-point advantage.
The Bulldogs have won nine of 10 games when Stewart Jr. produces 10-plus points.
Reggie Perry compiled his SEC-leading 12th double-double of his sophomore campaign and the 21st of his career en route to a game-leading 24 points and 12 rebounds. He was extremely active on the interior and hit on 12-of-15 at the free throw line. The Thomasville, Georgia, native has posted 20-plus point performances in five of the last six games.
Nick Weatherspoon turned in another strong all-around performance from the point guard position. He nearly garnered a triple-double with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting coupled with a career-high nine assists and a career-best eight rebounds. Weatherspoon has piled up 33 assists versus seven turnovers over his last five games, and Mississippi State improved to 8-1 when he dishes out five-plus assists.
Robert Woodard II dialed up 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting to collect his ninth double-digit scoring performance in his last 13 outings. Tyson Carter and Abdul Ado worked their way to eight and six points, respectively. Ado chipped in six rebounds whereas Carter tacked on a pair of assists. The eight points for Carter enabled him to move past Mario Austin (2001-02-03) into 27th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list.
Iverson Molinar and KeyShawn Feazell rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs. Molinar turned in two points and Feazell added one. For the contest, MSU hit 28-of-49 shots from the field (57.1 percent), 5-of-12 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 25-of-30 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent). The Bulldogs had 16 assists and an SEC season-low eight turnovers, while Tennessee had 17 assists and six turnovers.
State held a 36-24 rebounding advantage and has outrebounded its opponents in 16 of 21 games overall highlighted by seven of eight SEC opponents. MSU has won the battle of the boards by double figures in six of its last seven games. Tennessee countered with a 27-of-58 shooting effort (46.6 percent), 10-of-22 from three-point territory (45.5 percent) and a 9-of-13 clip at the charity stripe (69.2 percent).
Uros Plavsic and Santiago Vescovi paced the Volunteers with 16 points apiece. Jalen Johnson had a career-best performance off the bench with 13 points, five assists and four steals.