Score: Tennessee 64, Missouri 62
Star(s): Tennessee: Jarnell Stokes 13 Pts, 13 Reb. Missouri: Laurence Bowers 20 Pts, 5 Reb.
Story: The Tennessee Volunteers slid past the Missouri Tigers 64-62 on senior night in Thompson Boling arena.
In front of a screaming, over-capacity crowd of 21,767, Jordan McRae led the Vols to a victory with 15 points. Missouri’s Laurence Bowers led both teams with 20 points. Jarnell Stokes led the Volunteers with 13 rebounds and 13 points in his thirteenth double-double of the season.
Before the game, Tennessee honored seniors Skylar McBee, Kenny Hall, Dwight Miller, and Rob Murphy.
Missouri took an early 8-3 lead but by halftime the Volunteers had fought back and tied the game at 29-29.
No Volunteer was able to stop Missouri’s Laurence Bowers, but Tennessee freshman Armani Moore blocked one of Bowers’ shots that sent the crowd into an uproar of cheers.
Throughout the second half, the Volunteers fought back to take the lead and defeat the Tigers. Missouri hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was too little too late.
With this season finale win, the Volunteers have won eight out of their last nine final SEC regular season games for two straight years.
“I think we have a level of toughness. We have a tremendous level of togetherness as a team and a family. That’s also the other reason why you win eight out of the last nine. You have to come together as a team,” said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin after the game.
With this win, Tennessee remains in the race for a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Cuonzo Martin addressed this in his post-game press conference.
“The emphasis was do or die because the stage is set now. As a coach, I can say any speech, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have it in your blood in an environment like this, then you’re on the wrong team. The atmosphere presents itself and you have a great opponent come here and you’re fighting for something,” said Martin.
Here’s what Tennessee players Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes, Trae Golden, and Skylar McBee had to say after the game:
Tennessee will battle the winner of the South Carolina/Mississippi State game in the SEC Tournament on Thursday, March 14 at 3:30 p.m.