Tennessee rallies late to beat Tennessee State 74-69

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Kevin Punter scored 23 points and capped a critical 9-0 run with a 3-point play Tuesday as Tennessee rallied to beat Tennessee State 74-69 despite trailing for most of the second half.

Tennessee (7-5) trailed by as many seven points in the second half before Armani Moore put the Volunteers ahead for good 67-66 on a putback of Punter's missed 3-point attempt with 2:26 remaining. Detrick Mostella's basket and Punter's 3-point play extended the lead to 72-66.

Wayne Martin got Tennessee State (9-4) within 72-69 on a 3-point play with 49 seconds left. Punter clinched the victory by sinking two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.

This marked the second straight game in which Tennessee needed a late run to beat an in-state opponent. The Vols beat East Tennessee State 76-67 on Dec. 22 by scoring the game's final nine points.

Mostella had 16 points for Tennessee. Moore added eight points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Martin scored 19 points, Keron DeShields had 13 points and Marcus Roper had 10 for Tennessee State, which missed six of its last seven shots.

This marked the last game for both teams before they enter conference play this weekend.

Tennessee had won each of its previous four meetings with Tennessee State by at least 16 points, including a 67-46 decision last season. But the Tigers were much more competitive this time around.

Tennessee State closed the first half on a 10-1 run to own a 43-36 lead at the intermission. The Tigers shot 55 percent in the first half and withstood Tennessee's hot 3-point attack and by capitalizing on the Volunteers' uncharacteristic turnover problems.

The Vols entered the day averaging just 10.3 turnovers per game, but Tennessee State forced 10 turnovers by halftime. The Tigers outscored Tennessee 16-3 in points on turnovers in the first half.

Mostella's 3-point play capped a 7-0 run that put Tennessee ahead 49-48 with 13:12 left, but Martin's basket put Tennessee State back in front 27 seconds later. The Tigers continued to lead for most of the second half before Tennessee's late rally.

Tennessee State was seeking to beat an SEC team for just the second time ever. Tennessee State's lone victory over an SEC team was a 64-63 triumph at South Carolina on Nov. 20, 2011.



Tennessee State: Although the Tigers lost Tuesday, they already have nearly twice as many victories as they produced each of the last two seasons. Tennessee State went 5-26 last season and 5-25 in 2013-14.

Tennessee: The Vols improved their home record to 7-0. They haven't won away from Thompson-Boling Arena this season.


Tennessee State: At Southeast Missouri on Saturday.

Tennessee: At Auburn on Saturday.