Vols Secure 5th Seed With 64-62 Win

March 9, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee won for the eighth time in nine games and locked up the fifth seed in the SEC Tournament with a 64-62 win over Missouri.

In front of an over-flow crowd of 21,767, the Vols came up huge down the stretch on both ends of the court to finish 19-11 in the regular-season and 11-7 in the SEC. As the No. 5 seed, Tennessee will play the winner of the first game of the tournament, which pits South Carolina vs. Mississippi State on Wednesday. The Vols will play on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.

After scoring just one point in the first half, SEC Player of the Year Candidate Jordan McRae scored 14 in the second half for his eighth game in a row in double-figures, finishing with 15 points.

Jarnell Stokes scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season. He has equalled the most double-doubles by a Vol in a season since Ian Lockhart had 14 in 1989-90.

Trae Golden had 12 points. Josh Richardson tallied 11 for his best scoring game in more than a month.

Missouri (22-9, 11-7) was led by Laurence Bowers, who scored a game-high 20. The Tigers' leading scorer Phil Pressey was held to 10. The Tigers entered the game as the only team in the nation with six double-figures. On Saturday, one two scored 10 or more.

Tennessee fans might have been bitting their nails and sitting on the edge of their seats at the end of the first half with the score tied 29-29.

Not to mention, the Vols' leading scorer, Jordan McRae, only scored a single point the entire first half, but the Vols managed to come out with a win, in large part due to McRae's second half performance.

After McRae's last five games included point totals of: 21, 27, 23, 34 and 15, the guard had made a strong case for the SEC Player of the Year award as his draft hype continued to grow game after game.

But after the first half, McRae's stat line read: 0-for-4 field-goal attempts, 0-for-2 from 3-point range and two turnovers, and all his hard work the past couple games looked to be in vain.

"First half, he started real slow," Josh Richardson said. "We just told him, 'Keep shooting the ball,' and his performance in the second half gave us a big lift."

McRae ended up leading the Vols in scoring with 15 points and hit two key 3-pointers, while also contributing six rebounds and shooting 4-for-11 from the field.

With 10 minutes left in the game and Missouri starting to pull away, 50-44, McRae hit his first 3-pointer from the right corner to pull the Vols within three and pump some much needed life back into Thompson-Boling Arena.

"The first half, I struggled," McRae said. "That's a part of it. But I knew my team needed me, so I had to step up for them."

With just over a minute left and the Vols up 60-57, McRae blocked a mid-range jumper to help prevent any chance of a Missouri comeback in the final seconds.

"They were a great team," McRae said. "I think we've proved over the past couple weeks that we can play with anybody."

By Ryan Howard

The Tigers will be the No. 6 seed, by virtue of the loss to the Vols.

Down by six midway through the second half, the Vols rallied back to take a 54-53 lead on a tip-in by McRae with 5:36 left in the half. Golden knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:55 left to give the Vols a 58-53 lead -- that drew an thunderous ovation and a scream of jubilation from head coach Cuozno Martin.

Missouri cut the deficit to three on a lay-up by Pressey with 2:28 left in the second, 60-57. With a chance to tie the game, Richardson intercepted a Pressey pass with 1:29 left and Stokes finished the sequence with a lay-up with a minute on the clock. That put UT up 62-57. A Bowers lay-up with 56 seconds left, made it 62-59.

Pressey had a chance to tie the game with 12.6 seconds left, but his 3-pointer was an airball, wide right and Vols regained possession.

Golden sealed the game with two free throws with 11.6 seconds left.

After being tied at halftime, the game continued to be tight for the first nine minutes of the second half, as neither team led by more than five points. Mizzou took a 50-42 lead -- its largest of the game to that point -- on a layup by Keion Bell with 9:57 left left in the second half. That finished a run of six points in a run for the Tigers.

An even first half saw the teams deadlocked at 29 at halftime. Tennessee received some early offense from an unlikely source -- redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous, who tallied seven points in 11 minutes of action. Chievous' father, Derrick is the all-time leading scorer at Missouri.

The team's leading scorers, who came into the game averaging 30.8 points, combined, were limited to three total points. McRae (16.2 ppg) was held to a single point in the first half -- a free throw with 1:46 left in the half. Mizzou's Pressey (14.6 ppg) had just one field goal.

The Vols trailed by seven points less than five minutes into the game, but rallied to take a 22-21 lead on a pair of successful free throws from Stokes with 3:55 left in the first half. Back-to-back layups by Golden and Stokes finished a 9-0 run and put UT ahead, 26-21 with 2:45 left in the period.

Missouri made the most of its post play early on, building a 17-10 lead, scoring 12 of those points in the paint.

Tennessee's crowd of 21,767, pushed its season average to 17,395, the eighth-straight year the Vols will finish in the top six in the NCAA in regular-season home average attendance.





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