- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee did a good job of rebounding in every sense of the word.

Robert Hubbs III scored 19 points Saturday as the Volunteers controlled the glass and dominated the second half of a 91-74 victory over Mississippi State.

Grant Williams added 17 points - all in the second half - to help Tennessee (10-9, 3-4 SEC) earn its first Southeastern Conference home win of the season after losing at home to Arkansas and No. 24 South Carolina. The Vols also bounced back from an 80-69 loss Tuesday at Mississippi in which they blew a 13-point lead over the last 15 minutes.

“The biggest thing for us is we wanted to be physical,” said Admiral Schofield, who had 15 points and seven rebounds for Tennessee. “We weren’t physical with Ole Miss, and they probably think we’re pretty soft.”

Mississippi State (12-6, 3-3) has dropped two straight after winning three in a row. This marked the first SEC road loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who had won at LSU and Arkansas.

Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said Tennessee’s rebounding edge made the difference. Tennessee outrebounded Mississippi State 49-35 and had 19 offensive boards.

“Losing on the boards by 14, we’re not going to beat anybody in our conference,” Howland said. “We’ve got to do a better job rebounding. That’s what we’re looking for - guys that are going to get in there and fight and rebound for us. We’re not doing a good enough job in that respect.”

Tennessee had that rebounding edge despite being at a height disadvantage.

“It’s just toughness, energy and effort, just trying to out-tough the other team and give more energy than the other team,” said Tennessee’s Lew Evans, who had five points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. “That’s really what rebounding’s all about.”

Schnider Herard had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Mississippi State freshman’s first double-double. Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters had 11 points each, and Mario Kegler added 10.

After trailing most of the first half, Mississippi State scored the first four points of the second half to grab a 38-37 lead with 19:25 remaining.

But the Volunteers dominated from that point on.

Tennessee pulled ahead for good on Williams‘ 3-pointer with 19:08 left and was up by double digits a few minutes later.

Rather than fading down the stretch as they had done at Ole Miss, the Vols built on their lead this time. Tennessee committed just seven turnovers all night and shot 54.8 percent (17 of 31) overall and 66.7 percent (4 of 6) from 3-point range in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs’ lack of defense and inability to connect from 3-point range and the free-throw line in the second half did them in. Mississippi State was 2 of 11 on 3-pointers and 8 of 17 on free throws in the second half.

Tennessee: Williams and Bowden were the key performers in Tennessee’s second-half surge. At halftime, Bowden had just two points and Williams was scoreless. They teamed up for 29 points in the second half, with Williams scoring 17 and Bowden adding 12. They shot a combined 0 for 8 in the first half and 9 of 16 in the second half.

BREAKING GROUND

Earlier in the day, Tennessee held a groundbreaking ceremony on a renovation project for its men’s and women’s basketball locker-room area at Thompson-Boling Arena. The $5 million project has been funded through private gifts.

QUOTABLE

“When I’m on the floor - and that’s something that Grant came in with and I came in with - we don’t think that we’re 6-5 and 6-4,” Schofield said regarding the physical style that he and Williams employ. “We play like we’re 6-10, 6-11, 7 feet. We think we can compete with the best of them.”

Schofield and Williams are both listed as 6-5. Schofield is 238 pounds and Williams is 234.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State hosts Missouri on Wednesday.

Tennessee hosts No. 5 Kentucky on Tuesday.

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More AP College Basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org

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Follow Steve Megargee at www.twitter.com/stevemegargee

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