Starkville Daily News - - SCORE­CARD -

come with a win tonight. There would still be work to do even beyond that, with a road trip to LSU this week­end and the SEC Tournament still re­main­ing, but a vic­tory tonight would ob­vi­ously be a hu­mon­gous boost to­wards help­ing Mis­sis­sippi State achieve its goal.

It won't be easy though. Ten­nessee needs some help to get there, but the Vols are still

play­ing to win the SEC's reg­u­lar sea­son cham­pi­onship. They cur­rently sit in sec­ond place only one game off the pace of Auburn.

Ten­nessee has been car­ried this year by its de­fense. The Vol­un­teers boast the top scor­ing de­fense in the SEC, lim­it­ing op­po­nents to just 66.9 points per game.

How­land says Ten­nessee's de­fense isn't the only scary part of the Vols' game though. He be­lieves Ten­nessee is a com­plete team.

“(For­wards) Grant Wil­liams and (Ad­mi­ral) Schofield, those guys are just studs and

re­ally good play­ers,” How­land said. “They run a lot of stuff through them. They take the most shots, but they also have re­ally good guard play.

"(Ten­nessee head coach Rick Barnes) is one of the best coaches in the game, not just in our league. When you win nearly 700-some­thing games and have been to the tournament 22 times and been to Fi­nal Fours – things that coach Barnes has done – it's pretty in­cred­i­ble. He has won ev­ery­where he has been.”

While Ten­nessee is un­ques­tion­ably tal­ented

in mul­ti­ple ways, the Bull­dogs aren't so bad them­selves. State is par­tic­u­larly good on the home floor it'll look to de­fend tonight. MSU has a school-best 18 wins on its own court this sea­son. The Bull­dogs' only home loss came against Auburn.

If Mis­sis­sippi State can again hold serve at home, their tournament dreams will be­come that much closer to a re­al­ity. State is trea­sur­ing even hav­ing that chance.

“It's a great feel­ing to be right here,” Hol­man said.

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