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No. 8 Tennessee clobbers Mississippi State, 87-53

Josiah-Jordan James returned for the Vols after nearly a month and threw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk.
Credit: AP
Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) shoots over Mississippi State guard Cameron Matthews (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee men’s basketball clobbered Mississippi State on Tuesday night inside Thompson-Boling Arena, 87-53.

The eighth-ranked Vols jumped out to a 16-0 lead after the first media timeout as the offense lit up the scoreboard and the defense suffocated the Bulldogs.

Santiago Vescovi made three three-pointers in that initial stretch.

Josiah-Jordan James entered the game in the first half, making his first appearance since Dec. 7 against Eastern Kentucky due to knee soreness. In his return, he threw down a thunderous alley-pop after forcing a steal that had the arena going bonkers.

He then hit a three-pointer on the next Vols possession and then assisted Zakai Zeigler on a three-pointer on the next offensive possession. UT led 46-17 at that point.

Tennessee led 46-22 at halftime.

The Vols got up by as many as 36 points in the second half.

Five players scored in double-digits for the Vols. Vescovi had 14 points, Zeigler and Julian Phillips had 11 points, and Olivier Nkamhoua and Uros Plavsic had 10 points.

Coming into the game, Mississippi State ranked top 10 in many defensive statistical categories, but the Vols shot nearly 70% from the field.

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