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WATCH: Josiah-Jordan James runs into Mississippi State mascot 'Bully' chasing loose ball

On3-Social-Profile_GRAYby:On3 Staff Report01/17/23

The Tennessee basketball team is back in action on Tuesday night looking to bounce back from its first conference loss of the season and Vols star Josiah-Jordan James is giving it everything he’s got in the early going, onlookers beware.

In fact, even mascots haven’t been safe in the early going.

Seated courtside on one end of the floor, Mississippi State‘s Bully mascot had to leap to his feet to avoid a Tennessee player crashing into him.

As he was chasing down a loose ball, Tennessee’s Josiah-Jordan James ran up on Bully rather quickly, stabilizing himself just in time before Bully would bear the brunt of his crash into the stands.

The Volunteers certainly appreciated the effort but were locked in a tight battle early on, trailing the Bulldogs 7-5 at the first media timeout in the game.

Tennessee is coming off a weekend loss against Kentucky, falling 63-56 to move to 14-3 overall and 4-1 in SEC play.

Rebounding, turnovers key in Kentucky loss

The Kentucky loss was only Tennessee’s third of the season, and coach Rick Barnes was able to identify the problem areas that popped up in that game pretty quickly.

The Wildcats outrebounded the Vols 43-23, for one.

“We still have too many guys that think offense, as opposed to understanding the role they have on the team. Give (Kentucky) credit. They came in and that was obviously a big part of their game plan,” Barnes said postgame. “They look at those numbers just like everybody. They’re going to say we’re not going to get beat on the boards. And they thoroughly beat us on the backboard.”

Tennessee also had issues with turnovers, which it will look to correct tonight against Mississippi State.

“We turned it over, way too many in the first half. Just turnovers – you can’t have when we maybe had a chance to get a little rhythm first half and broke down. They had a couple of different guys in the first half that carried them,” Barnes said. “Second half, they had more than (Oscar) Tshiebwe carrying them. Just give them credit.

“There are obviously a lot of things I’m disappointed with our guys. But you have to give Kentucky all the credit in the world. Coming off obviously a tough loss and they won the game. They won it.”