Feb. 25, 2009
Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl: "That was a good team effort. As I told the team, to have four guys in double figures is very helpful.
"Josh Tabb and Brian Williams came off of the bench and did a good job. We turned Dee Bost over six times. We have encouraged Scotty Hopson to be more aggressive, and he has been. He knows we cannot win unless he plays like this. It was the fact our team was struggling that got Hopson going; he has really stepped it up.
"We played much better as a team tonight. They made 11 3-pointers, and we told our players that they would have to watch out for Ravern Johnson, Bost, and Barry Stewart. Brian Williams' physical presence was a huge factor - he gave us a good lift.
"We are still in the race, but we have got to play Florida next Sunday. If we did not win tonight, we would have been in real trouble as far as having a chance to win Sunday. Our offense was good during the second half; they played smart.
"Rick Stansbury has gone a good job with this Mississippi State team. With their 3-point shooting, their shot-blocking, and with that coach, do not count them out.
"Bobby Maze has stepped up big-time. He plays with energy. We got good point guard play against them.
"Every team in the SEC has some weaknesses, but South Carolina has fewer than others. When we play them it will be our job to find theirs and to hide ours."
Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury: "They had two guys hurt us tonight - Bobby Maze and Scotty Hopson. When their perimeter guys have big nights, it helps their team so much. Most times it is Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith and that perimeter is kind of up-and-down. Maze and Hopson both had good nights and they were the difference in the game.
"Maze has not been a factor lately, but Maze was a huge difference tonight in the game. He has not been starting, and Bruce Pearl starts him tonight and he gets 14. He hit some big shots - a 3-pointer, and that desperation one with the shot clock running down. They made the plays. He and Hopson made plays.
"There was nothing different (about our second-half shooting). We just made them the second half. Sometimes it is easier shooting them when you are behind than ahead."
- Scotty Hopson's 21 points were a career high. His previous career best was 20 vs. Florida (Jan. 31, 2009).
- Bruce Pearl improves to 4-0 vs. Mississippi State while at Tennessee.
- Tennessee scored 44 of its 81 points in the paint tonight.
- The Vols have forced 93 turnovers in the last five games (17 tonight), for an average of 18.6 turnovers per game.
- UT's bench outscored the MSU bench 12-4. The Vols' bench has outscored the opponent's bench in 24 of 27 games this season.