March 9, 2013
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.
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.
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.