Mississippi State gets its first win in Thompson-Boling since '99

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson tries to swipe the ball away from Mississippi State guard Ravern Johnson at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson tries to swipe the ball away from Mississippi State guard Ravern Johnson at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011.

— Tennessee staged another major meltdown in the final seconds of Saturday’s game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Mississippi State’s Wendell Lewis dunked home the game-winning points with 3.4 seconds left, lifting the Bulldogs to a 70-69 victory over the Vols before a crowd of 20,777.

Tennessee (17-12, 7-7 SEC) had a last-gasp shot opportunity, but Scotty Hopson’s heave from near midcourt failed to draw rim at the buzzer.

The Vols drop to 2-7 in games decided on the final possession of regulation.

Hopson led all scorers with 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Tobias Harris had 16 points and eight rebounds. Ravern Johnson led the Bulldogs (15-13, 7-7) with 20 points and forward Kodi Augustus scored 15 points.

There was plenty of blame to go around in UT’s loss, and Bruce Pearl was as pointed in his criticism of his team as he’s been at any time in his five-plus years as the men’s basketball coach.

“We are not getting good leadership within the team,’’ Pearl said. “We have some competitors, but we have no leaders.

“Defensively, we played pretty well . . . we held them to 40 percent (39.7 shooting), out-rebounded them (48-40), we didn’t turn them over enough (seven), and I didn’t think our energy or our passion was what it needed to be,” he said. “The team does not play well together offensively.

“We haven’t all year, it’s been a struggle . . . I don’t see that effort on the offensive end; we slop through things.’’

Harris put UT ahead 69-68 with 11 seconds remaining when he dunked off an inbounds pass.

The Bulldogs, out of timeouts, rushed down the floor, putting the ball in the hands of point guard Dee Bost (14 points, 10 assists).

Bost spun in the lane and, as he was stumbling forward, he delivered the key pass to an open Lewis.

Lewis, who matched his season-high with 24 minutes after starter Renardo Sidney fell ill at halftime, went up strong and dunked despite getting fouled by Brian Williams.

Lewis missed the free throw, Hopson rebounded and raced up the floor before launching the shot.

But that wasn’t the miss Hopson will remember: with 13 seconds left, he went to the line with the Vols down 68-66 and hit the first free throw before missing the second.

The ball was tipped out of bounds and ruled off a Mississippi State player, leading to Harris’ go-ahead dunk.

The bloody details of the loss included a 13-0 Bulldogs run in the first half after the Vols had forged ahead by eight, and a 7½-minute stretch of the second half in which UT was a collective 1-of-12 shooting as Mississippi State went up 56-49 with 7:51 remaining.

Vols senior point guard Melvin Goins, who had nine points and five assists, was visibly bothered when asked about Pearl’s comment about the team lacking leadership.

“I don’t agree with that — well, I do agree — from the top all the way down, you know,’’ Goins said. “So if that’s what (Pearl) says, that’s what it is, a lack of leadership.

“I’m talking about whoever is in a leadership position . . . since the beginning of the year, it’s been a struggle within our team,’’ Goins said. “Going through the situations we’ve faced is a tough thing to do.’’

UT has been hounded throughout the season by an NCAA investigation, and Pearl was suspended from coaching the first eight games of the SEC season.

Hopson took Pearl’s comments about the lack of leadership personally.

“Maybe (Pearl’s) coming at me; whenever he challenges me, I always step back up,’’ Hopson said. “I think he wants me to do more on the basketball floor.’’

Hopson described Pearl as “upset, very, very upset” in the post-game locker room, and said Pearl challenged the team as individuals.

“But we’re going to bounce back,’’ Hopson said. “I’ll make sure of that, Mel (Goins) will make sure of that.

“This team is destined for greatness.’’

Tennessee returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday at South Carolina (14-13, 5-9).

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 257

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Can't wait to see the highlights.

eduardo writes:

This yr cant end quick enogh. Too much ball pressure at the end of the game. Much rather get beat by a 25 ftr than a drive and dunk at the basket. Just get this garbage over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

james#216392 writes:

Can you say "stupid coaching". You have a time out with 2:30 to go and down one and don't put Williams back in. Then you call a timeout 20 seconds later to get him in. Then with 3.4 seconds, you take your last timeout. Save that and call it as soon as Hopson gets the rebound. You can then throw it 1/3 to 1/2 of the floor and you can get to the basket in 3 seconds. Calling the last timeout forces you to get the rebound and run with it. Stupid- This is elementary coaching.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

How does a backdoor happen on the last play?

tennisvol writes:

Worse thing for TN - playing at home. Out played and certainly out coached.

james#216392 writes:

And yes, the Mississppi player walked!!

TritanVol writes:

Hit a few free throws here and there and the no-call walk might not have mattered.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

I'd agree, poor coaching...why the TO with 3.2 and the FT??

use the TO after the FT...

oh weil, our D absolutely stunk, and still not enough hopson...

just a pretty miserable year.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

To answer my own question...no defense all night then no defense last play!

mhsvol writes:

12-point favorites indeed. The NCAA may need to broaden their investigation to include players. There was something awfully funny about all the missed two and three-foot put backs and layups.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

btw, not advocating for bruce to be fired...but his end of game coaching still sucks most games.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

We have no one to blame but OURSELVES for losing that game. It wasn't the refs, it wasn't Miss. State--it was Tennessee!

I don't know when our team will learn that you CANNOT win basketball games if you:
1. Play as individuals
2. Don't play defense (particularly help-side)
3. Overwhelmingly rely on perimeter shooting

We had a series in the 2nd half where, for 5 or 6 straight possessions, we came down the floor on offense and took a horrendous, rushed jump shot. Several players did this, and it was mostly 3-point attempts that were "bad looks". Don't know why Pearl didn't call a timeout and chew their tails.

We continue to make the same mistakes, and we continue to get the same results. When we lose, it's usually because we make poor offensive decisions and play poor defense.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Didn't get to see the game, but looking at the result, I'm not surprised.

TopTenn writes:

Disappointing! That is all.

james#216392 writes:

The back door happens because guys don't know how to play defense. People have to rotate. When the guard started toward the basket, leave the man and help. Williams did the right thing and no one else helped out. Had Williams stayed with his man, the guard shots a layup.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

...and yet ANOTHER heart breaking loss at HOME

Who knows, we play better out of TBA, so we just might do well at the SEC tourney. GBO!

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to mhsvol:

12-point favorites indeed. The NCAA may need to broaden their investigation to include players. There was something awfully funny about all the missed two and three-foot put backs and layups.

Hilarious! I needed a laugh after that game. Always appreciate a good sense of humor!!!

volzrock54 writes:

This has got to be the dumbest group of players ever assembled on one team. We got beat by two descent plyers and a group of high school kids today. We just gave up on any form of organized ball and went to hood rat ball for most of the game. Pathetic. Be glad when this year is over.

chiputfan writes:

Sad. Simply Sad!

james#216392 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I wish people would quit cutting on Hopson. He is the only one out there, besides Pearl, who hustles and trys to make things happen. We lost the 8 point lead because Hopson was on the bench.

196SVol writes:

Gators lose at Rupp, Bama loses to Ole Miss. Only Vandy looked good today.

Slystone writes:

MSU was the better team today, but the Vols had a chance.

Rocky_Top_Mama writes:

in response to james#216392:

And yes, the Mississppi player walked!!

Yes, he did!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

5-23 from three-point land and 16-23 at the line isn't going to win you a lot of games. 36% from the field? c'mon, guys, give me a break!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

RIP

orangecountyvols writes:

Vol friends,

I was wondering what we would say about this one so am curious as to what the rest of you have to say. There's the usual "who wants it more talk" etc.
Aside from that, someone clue me in on the wisdom of this 3 point shooting. First for MSU, we knew that's what they'd do, yet they got their open shots ........and worst of all, made them. Our shooting 3's? Is it that we feel an obligation to do it??? WE cannot make them. Tatum.......sure he made one, but the one he took and missed, then they came down and hit their's..........a 6 point play.

Free throws once again. We lose by one and had opportunities to make 2 shot fouls, or a conventional 3 point play...........and we'd miss them.

Tobias? I don't think I heard his name in the 2nd half until that inbounds dunk at the end. It just seems we are h*** bent to shoot threes and it's like a turnover IMO. For whatever reason, it just seems we are not going inside unless it's a cutter such as Scotty.

I guess there will be some who say something about the coaching..........and biggest to me was being up 8 and allowing a 13-0 run w/o a timeout.

Sorry guys, I'll shut up. Seems like every game is a mercy killing of sorts.

theoldbear writes:

Is this seven games the Vols have lost on the last possession this year?

Have they learned a thing from any one of them?

Still no leadership, no coaching, no consistency.

When Steve Pearl plays his last game for the Vols (and he did put the Vols ahead tonight!)then Bruce Pearl should be gone, too.

And Mike Hamilton needs to go with them.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to goodbad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i don't know why people want to focus on the walk. Vols should've blown MSU right out of TBA tonight. Instead, they continue not to be able to hit the broad side of Charlie Weis.

8ball writes:

in response to james#216392:

Can you say "stupid coaching". You have a time out with 2:30 to go and down one and don't put Williams back in. Then you call a timeout 20 seconds later to get him in. Then with 3.4 seconds, you take your last timeout. Save that and call it as soon as Hopson gets the rebound. You can then throw it 1/3 to 1/2 of the floor and you can get to the basket in 3 seconds. Calling the last timeout forces you to get the rebound and run with it. Stupid- This is elementary coaching.

Ditto...

wellswillie#404648 writes:

Too many perimeter jump shots tonight. If I had to pick just one win this week it would be Vandy but both would have been great. But we will still need 20 wins to get in NCAA IMO. We gotta perform next week and win some in SEC Tourney.

james#216392 writes:

in response to goodbad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are only allowed two steps if you shoot. Otherwise it is a walk. Don't believe the guys calling the game. They have never ref'd a game. He clearly walked. But if you read my post just before the "yes he walked", you would see I wasn't blaming ref's. I never blame the ref's, I used to be one!!!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey, baseball team's 4-1! Booking a flight to Omaha! LOL

tomkats3242 writes:

UT fans need to realize that we don't have much of a team. Mostly those other teams did not want. Why do we pick them up. Maybe we cannot recruit good players or maybe we have players who don't play hard because they don't practice hard. Stay in the gym until you can make free throws. Most high schoolers know that. Maybe next year????

Rocky_Top_Mama writes:

Bubble team...this team don't deserve to play in the NCAA tournament! The way this team plays...no doubt there are 68 better teams.

TheFuj writes:

Just horrible again. So hard to watch again. Why did Pearl call his last time out before the State player shot his free throw? Not that we would get a better shot than a mid court heave anyway. Have seen way to many of them this year.

orangeblood1128 writes:

Typical Vol team this year. Maybe one day we will have fans that might make some noise from the beginning instead of when a team is 10 points ahead! Team has no advantage because fans are asleep.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to goodbad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WRONG... his post wasn't fickle... the key is "WHEN this team decides..." And it is an absolutely true statement. They evidently decided to do neither tonight, and it cost them. You see, when you look at the proper context, it prevents you from making idiotic judgements, like the one you just did.

tomkats3242 writes:

FIRE MIKE HAMILTON NOW, not after the NCAA comes down on us. Cut ticket prices back to a reasonable amount and fans will show up to watch poorly coached teams.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vol friends,

I was wondering what we would say about this one so am curious as to what the rest of you have to say. There's the usual "who wants it more talk" etc.
Aside from that, someone clue me in on the wisdom of this 3 point shooting. First for MSU, we knew that's what they'd do, yet they got their open shots ........and worst of all, made them. Our shooting 3's? Is it that we feel an obligation to do it??? WE cannot make them. Tatum.......sure he made one, but the one he took and missed, then they came down and hit their's..........a 6 point play.

Free throws once again. We lose by one and had opportunities to make 2 shot fouls, or a conventional 3 point play...........and we'd miss them.

Tobias? I don't think I heard his name in the 2nd half until that inbounds dunk at the end. It just seems we are h*** bent to shoot threes and it's like a turnover IMO. For whatever reason, it just seems we are not going inside unless it's a cutter such as Scotty.

I guess there will be some who say something about the coaching..........and biggest to me was being up 8 and allowing a 13-0 run w/o a timeout.

Sorry guys, I'll shut up. Seems like every game is a mercy killing of sorts.

OCV, I'll give you my take on the "wisdom of shooting 3-pointers". Here it is: Pearl's system is perimeter-based and everything originates on the outside, particularly shooting 3's. When we're hitting it's great, but when we're missing it's tough to watch.

This has been my biggest criticism of Pearl's system--it's the exact opposite of core basketball. Legit big men won't come to UT because they're not going to get the looks inside and, thus, they're not going to develop.

When our "bigs" get points, it's usually from put-backs off of jumpers. Most of the time, though, our "bigs" don't produce points--and it's because of Pearl's philosophy on offense.

That's my take.

SEC1 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

football? vols will end up 4th best in the east in football as well. cinny= dog fight, gators= l 7 in a row, ga=l, lsu=l, bama=l, cocky=l, razorbacks=l, so as you can see you will end up fighting for your music city bowl lives against vandy and kentucky once again.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

Relax guys, and just let it go.
Coach Pearl is just doing what he has to do to save his job and try to keep the NCAA from hammering us too hard.
They will be better prepared and play much better next year after the sanctions are determined

jcp201 writes:

ughhhhhhhhhhhhh.

1bigvolman writes:

For those who say he only took 2 steps...you can only take 2 steps when you shoot, you can't take steps then pass. That is a walk, I can't believe Nesler doesn't know that. That being said, should have never come down to that call, PLAY SOME D!!!!

eVOLved writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

How does a backdoor happen on the last play?

I think it was Goins who went for the steal, and was out of the play. Harris (guarding the wing) had to come help, but the MS guard made a good pass to make it 2 against 3 under the basket.

mhsvol writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Hilarious! I needed a laugh after that game. Always appreciate a good sense of humor!!!

Thanks for the kind words, BigVol. However, after reading your post, I wish I had intended to be humorous. But alas, I was dead serious!

Aussievol writes:

BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

HEARTLESS!!!

GUTLESS!!!

STUPID!!!

This team deserves nothing and will most likely get it. Cant hit free throws, lay-ups, 3-ptrs. Just awful. Way to follow up all the big talk about protecting our house. Just got beat by a Miss St team down 2 starters. If I was a season ticket holder I would want my money back. Disgraceful. All will be better next year when we are horrible and we dont have to worry about this garbage anymore.

BOOOOOOOOOO!!

bigdisbig writes:

How can you continue to lose at home to teams you should beat? How can you not defend a wide open opponent under the goal with less than 7 seconds left in the game. How can you not be ahead by 20 with 3 minutes to go with a team like Miss. State? HOw can you keep Steve ( I can't even hit a layup) Pearl in the game more than a minute?
All this team has is Hopson and Harris. The rest can't beat my church team.

For what reason I can't understand Pearl has lost his touch coaching. Maybe its all the turmoil in his life or maybe he has just given up but he needs to be in Goin's face for clanging a 3 point shot he should not have took. He needs to be in Brian Williams face for not defending the goal. He needs to bench his son. He needs to make Maymon do leg presses until he can jump more than 6" off the ground.

Kentucky will once again embarass Pearl if he don't get his act together and COACH THESE LOSERS.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to james#216392:

I wish people would quit cutting on Hopson. He is the only one out there, besides Pearl, who hustles and trys to make things happen. We lost the 8 point lead because Hopson was on the bench.

I agree. Hopson was one of the few who seemed to care enough to give it a good effort. It says a lot for him--who I have criticized a lot this year--but not much for some of the others that he brings as much energy as, and more performance than, anyone on the team.

rockytopnation16 writes:

In all honesty, I would have rather lost by 40+ points than 1. It is becoming the theme of the season. If all of the nail-bitter finishes went our way this season, we are a Top 10 team with 2-3 losses. I hate thinking "what if". What if we make 1 free-throw, 1 shot, or 1 bad call goes our way. I am pissed to the max.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to Aussievol:

BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

HEARTLESS!!!

GUTLESS!!!

STUPID!!!

This team deserves nothing and will most likely get it. Cant hit free throws, lay-ups, 3-ptrs. Just awful. Way to follow up all the big talk about protecting our house. Just got beat by a Miss St team down 2 starters. If I was a season ticket holder I would want my money back. Disgraceful. All will be better next year when we are horrible and we dont have to worry about this garbage anymore.

BOOOOOOOOOO!!

I understand you're frustrated, but do you really want to have the kind of season reminiscent of those pre-Pearl years. Winning 8 games all year and playing in a cave? No thanks.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features