Tennessee rolls Mississippi State

Published 12:02am Sunday, January 20, 2013

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee finally gave Jordan McRae some help, and the Volunteers finally picked up their first Southeastern Conference victory.

Jarnell Stokes scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds Saturday as Tennessee defeated Mississippi State 72-57 to avoid starting 0-4 in SEC competition for the first time since 1993-94.

Josh Richardson added 16 points and McRae had 12 points as the Volunteers (9-7, 1-3) snapped a four-game losing streak. It also ended a string of four consecutive games in which McRae had scored over 20 points.

“We just wanted to overcome,” Stokes said. “We feel all we needed was one win, and now we can bounce back. We have a great opportunity Thursday (at Mississippi) to turn things around.”

The Vols lost three of their first four SEC games last year but rebounded to finish second in the league with a 10-6 conference record. The last time Tennessee started 0-3 in league play was 1997-98, when it went on to finish 20-9 overall and reach the NCAA tournament.

Tennessee believes it can produce a similar turnaround this year.

“Just keep playing well,” Richardson said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that tough. Just play like we know how to play, and we’ll be fine.”