KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Admiral Schofield scored 18 points in his final home game, and No. 5 Tennessee beat Mississippi State 71-54 on Tuesday night for its 26th straight home victory.
Tennessee (27-3, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC, a half-game ahead of No. 10 LSU, which plays at Florida on Wednesday.
The regular season ends Saturday when Tennessee visits Auburn and LSU hosts Vanderbilt. If the teams finish in a tie, LSU would get the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament next week because it beat Tennessee in their only meeting.
Tennessee shared the SEC title with Auburn last season and is seeking to win back-to-back conference championships for the first time.
Grant Williams had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee. Jordan Bowden added 12 points.
Tyson Carter scored 14 points and Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II each added 10 points for Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8), which shot just 33.3 percent (19 of 57).
Schofield and senior classmates Kyle Alexander, Lucas Campbell and Brad Woodson each received a framed jersey in a pregame ceremony. Tears ran down down Schofield’s cheeks as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Schofield and Alexander briefly spoke to the crowd after the game.
Tennessee took the lead for good with a 10-0 first-half run that turned a 15-14 deficit into a 24-15 advantage. Alexander capped the spurt with a dunk after receiving a bounce pass from Jordan Bone.
The Vols went on another 10-0 run early in the second half to extend their lead to 43-27. They stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the night.
Several dozen students sat through the national anthem and offered various chants during the game. The group left in unison during the first timeout of the second half, with many of them holding fists aloft. They were criticizing what they believe was the university’s lack of action regarding a photo of Tennessee students appearing in blackface that circulated last week.
University officials have said they’re still determining how to discipline the students who appeared in blackface.
Mississippi State: Quinndary Weatherspoon entered the night as one of the SEC’s hottest players, having scored at least 20 points in five of his last six games. But the SEC’s second-leading scorer couldn’t get anything going and ended up with more turnovers (eight) than points (seven).
Tennessee: The Vols followed up a school-record 19-game winning streak by losing two of three, but they’ve regained their footing since then. Tennessee has a three-game winning streak, all of them over likely NCAA Tournament teams: Mississippi, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Mississippi State hosts Texas A&M on Saturday.
Tennessee is at Auburn on Saturday.
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