KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A dominant defensive showing and an offensive effort that saw every Vol pen their name on the score sheet helped the 18th-ranked Tennessee basketball team battle past Mississippi State, 56-53, on Tuesday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
After uncharacteristically losing the turnover battle in each of their last two games, the Volunteers (11-3, 5-3 SEC) forced 18 (9-8, 4-5 SEC) turnovers, earning a +7 turnover margin on the night.
Senior Yves Pons led UT in scoring, dropping 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting with three ferocious dunks.
In 12 strong minutes off the bench, sophomore Olivier Nkamhoua scored five points, grabbed four rebounds and dished off an assist.
The freshman duo of Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer combined to score 17 points while delivering several key plays late to give Tennessee some winning momentum entering Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge showdown with 15th-ranked Kansas (6 p.m. ET, ESPN).