In a game with nine lead changes, Missouri State gave No. 23 Tennessee all it could handle, but in the end the Bears came up short losing 60-56 Wednesday night in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Knoxville, TN.
The Bears (2-1) erased a 31-27 halftime deficit with a 9-2 run to start the second half. The 36-33 advantage with 15:17 to go came after Adam Leonard faked a three-pointer from the right wing and found a wide open Kyle Weems for a short jumper off the glass.
Tennessee (3-0) reeled off five unanswered points after that to retake the lead, 38-36 on a jumper by Scotty Hopson and the Vols would lead by as many as seven the rest of the way, but could not shake the Bears who got three pointers from both Jermaine Mallett and Leonard in the final 20 seconds to make it a 58-56 contest.
The ensuing in-bound pass appeared to be stolen by freshman Corey Copeland who hit a streaking Nick Valla for a layup. Copeland, however, was whistled for a foul on the play, sending UT’s Trae Golden to the line on the other end. Golden made both free throws, and Tennessee advanced to the national semifinals in New York with a four-point win.
Weems led all scorers with 18 points, while Mallett scored 12, and Will Creekmore contributed 11.
Story courtesy of Missouri State athletics.