Volunteers Look To Remain Undefeated at Home
This game is not for the faint of heart, as Tennessee and Mississippi State rank third and fourth nationally in scoring defense and are among the top 10 nationally in offensive rebounds per game.
Shawn Jones Jr. has missed the last four games for Mississippi State with a leg injury and is questionable. He is averaging 4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game.
For Tennessee, guard Josiah-Jordan James is questionable with an ankle injury. James has averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals in the five games he played.
Tennessee is 6-0 at home, while Mississippi State is playing just its second true road game of the season.
Tennessee is eighth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and ninth in the coaches poll, while Mississippi State dropped out of both after back-to-back losses to Drake and Alabama.
According to the college basketball odds, Tennessee (+1500) has the fifth-best odds to win the national title.
Smith Looks To Get Going
After six straight double-digit scoring games, Mississippi State’s Tolu Smith managed a total of 14 points in losses to Drake and Alabama.
While Smith missed eight of his 13 field-goal attempts, the bigger issues have come at the foul line. He was just 3 of 15 from the line against Alabama, and the Bulldogs lost by 11 points.
Smith is shooting a career-low 54.2% from the foul line and he figures to get plenty of chances to shoot foul shots as teams will not hesitate to send him to the line if the struggles continue. Smith was 7 of 8 on free throws in the two games against Tennessee last season.
Mississippi State has covered against the Las Vegas odds in just one of the last eight games.
Finding His Range
After missing the first two games that Tennessee played in December, Tennessee’s leading scorer Santiago Vescovi had a couple of tough outings.
Vescovi was 4 of 23 from the field and 2 of 16 from 3-point range as Tennessee struggled to beat Maryland and then lost at Arizona.
He has looked more like himself in the last two games. He made all five of his 3-pointers on his way to scoring 18 points in a win over Austin Peay and then scored 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting (3 of 7 on 3-pointers) as the Volunteers topped Ole Miss in their SEC opener.
Solid start to conference play.
— Tennessee Athletics (@Vol_Sports) December 29, 2022
Tennessee has five players scoring more than 10 points per game, but when the Volunteers need a big shot they often look for Vescovi who has started 88 of the 92 games he has played over the last four seasons.
The NCAA basketball odds total has gone under in four of Tennessee’s last five games.
Mississippi State vs Tennessee Game Injuries
Mississippi State vs Tennessee Head-to-Head
Tennessee has won the last three meetings with Mississippi State as well as seven of the last eight.
Tennessee has won and covered each of the last six matchups in Knoxville in the series, with the last road win by Mississippi State coming in 2015.
Just two of the last 16 games between the Volunteers and Bulldogs finished as one-score games. Eight of the last 13 games finished under the total.
Mississippi State vs Tennessee Game Information
- Game: Mississippi State (11-2, 0-1 SEC) vs (No. 8) Tennessee (11-2, 1-0)
- Location: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
- Day/Time: Tuesday, Jan. 3, 7:00 p.m. ET
- Mississippi State vs Tennessee Live stream: TBS.com
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Mississippi State vs Tennessee Betting Lines
Mississippi State vs Tennessee Picks & Prediction
After an 11-0 start, Mississippi State has dropped its last two games as the Bulldogs have shot just 37% from the field and committed 32 turnovers. Heading to Knoxville to try to end a brief losing streak could be rather challenging.
Tennessee has won its last two games. Strong work on the glass has played a key role as the Volunteers have outrebounded Austin Peay and Ole Miss 85-54, including a 28-18 edge in offensive rebounds. The last time the teams met, it was Mississippi State that finished with the edge in rebounds.
Mississippi State lost its only game this season when listed as the underdog while Tennessee is 11-1 as the favorite. Only six of the 20 games played by the team went over the total so perhaps that is why the total is set at 123.
Don’t be surprised to see Tennessee add another home win to its growing total. However, the 10-point line seems a little on the high side.
Mississippi State is listed at +385 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Bulldogs, you have a chance to win $385. Tennessee is -500, offering a chance to win $20 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Mississippi State a 20.62% chance to win, with the Volunteers at 83.33%.