Courtesy / UT Athletics


Courtesy / UT Athletics

Game Recap: Men’s Basketball | January 27, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee men’s basketball team roared back from a nine-point deficit late in the first half to defeat Vanderbilt, 75-62, Saturday night at Memorial Gymnasium.

Fifth-year guard Dalton Knecht scored a game-best 32 points, his third time reaching that number in a four-game span, to lead fifth-ranked Tennessee (15-4, 5-1 SEC) to its 12th win over the in-state foe Commodores in the teams’ last 13 matchups.

After the Volunteers scored six straight points in 2:18 to break a deadlock midway through the opening half, Vanderbilt (5-14, 0-6 SEC) countered with an 18-3 run in 4:45—started by nine consecutive points in 68 seconds—to go up by nine, 35-26, with 1:17 on the clock.

Tennessee scored the last four points of the frame and went into the locker room down by five, 35-30. Three players scored double-digit points in the opening 20 minutes: Knecht (11), Vanderbilt fifth-year guard Ezra Manjon (12) and Vanderbilt senior guard Tyrin Lawrence (10).

Early in the second half, Knecht went on a personal 7-0 run—giving him 20 points in the contest—in just 1:16 to turn a four-point deficit into a three-point lead, 46-43, with 14:01 remaining. After Vanderbilt tied the game, Tennessee went on a 10-0 burst in just 2:58, started with a 3-pointer by Knecht, to go up by double digits for the first time, 58-48, with 8:59 to go.

Soon thereafter, another 3-pointer by Knecht, giving him his fourth 30-point game of the season, put Tennessee ahead by 13, 68-55, with 5:40 left. The Volunteers took their largest lead of the day, 75-60, with 1:24 to play on an alley-oop dunk by junior forward Jonas Aidoo off a pass from junior guard Zakai Zeigler.

A basket by Vanderbilt to close the contest made the final margin 13 points. It marked Tennessee’s third consecutive victory by at least that many.

Knecht, who scored 21 of his points after halftime, finished 13-of-21 from the field to tie his season high for total makes. The Thornton, Colo., native went 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, grabbed six rebounds, notched three assists and set a career high with a game-leading three blocks.

Fifth-year guard Santiago Vescovi, in his program record-setting 129th start, finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Zeigler logged 10 points and a game-best six assists, while junior guard Jordan Gainey scored 10 points on a 2-of-3 long-range clip and a 4-of-4 free-throw ledger. Aidoo added nine points, a game-high 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Lawrence paced the Commodores with 21 points on an 8-of-13 clip from the field. He led the team in rebounds (eight) and steals (two), while tying for the top mark in assists (three). Manjon totaled 14 points, as Tennessee held him two on a 1-of-6 ledger in the second half.

The Volunteers finished the night with a 13-4 edge in points off turnovers despite each team having exactly seven giveaways. They also logged a 22-6 margin in second-chance points despite being outrebounded on the offensive glass, 11-10.

In the second half, the victors shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26), including 50.0 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, while Vanderbilt logged respective 33.3 percent (10-of-30) and 30.8 percent (4-of-13) clips.

Tennessee now returns home to Food City Center in Knoxville, Tenn., where it plays Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against South Carolina, live on SEC Network.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.  

• Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes now owns 794 victories in his career, 11 behind John Calipari—the lone active DI coach above him—for No. 14 on the all-time wins list (min. 10 years at a Division I school).
• The Volunteers are now 12-1 in their last 13 meetings with Vanderbilt, a stretch that goes back to Jan. 9, 2018.
• Tennessee has been ranked in 11 of the aforementioned 13 contests versus the Commodores, posting a 10-1 record in those outings.
• The Volunteers’ 130 wins over Vanderbilt are 30 more than they have against any other team, as their 100 against Georgia rank second.
• Barnes improved to 30-6 (.833) versus in-state competition during his nine-year Tennessee tenure, including 13-1 (.929) in the last 14 such games and 14-4 (.778) against Vanderbilt.
• The Volunteers are now 29-8 (.784) under Barnes while ranked in the top five of the AP Poll.
• Tennessee improved to 15-1 on non-Wednesdays this season, with the lone setback a four-point defeat against then-second-ranked Purdue during the Maui Invitational on Nov. 21, 2023, in Honolulu.
• At least one Volunteer has scored 20-plus points in nine of the past 11 games, with a total of 11 such performances in that stretch.
• Vescovi passed Chris Lofton (2004-08) and Allan Houston (1989-93) for sole possession of the most starts in program history with 129.
• Vescovi also passed Tony White (1983-87) for third place on Tennessee’s all-time minutes played leaderboard, now with 4,055.
• Saturday marked the ninth time Aidoo has grabbed double-digit rebounds, including the seventh this season.
• Knecht has scored at least 20 points in a half on five occasions this year, including in four of the last five affairs.
• This is the fifth time this season, including the fourth in five road games, Knecht has scored double-digit points in both halves of a contest.
• Knecht is now averaging 31.4 points per game in his five road outings as a Volunteer, posting 24-plus in each contest while shooting 56-of-91 (61.5 percent) from the field and 17-of-36 (47.2 percent) beyond the arc.
• The only other SEC player in the last 19 seasons (2005-24) with 24-plus points in five consecutive road games was South Carolina’s Devan Downey from Dec. 30, 2009-Feb. 6, 2010.
• Since Downey, the only other Power Six players with five straight 24-point road performances in a single season are Seton Hall’s Myles Powell from Dec. 30, 2019-Feb. 5, 2020, and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield from Nov. 17, 2015-Jan. 18, 2016.
• The lone other Division I player with five straight 25-point performances on the road this season is Stetson’s Jalen Blackmon, who did so from Dec. 5, 2023-Jan. 10, 2024.
• Knecht is the second SEC player in the last 19 seasons (2005-24) with five straight 25-point games, joining the aforementioned Devan Downey of South Carolina, who had seven in a row from Jan. 9-Feb. 6, 2010.
• Only three other Division I players have posted five straight 25-point games this season: Monmouth’s Xander Rice (Jan. 8-20, 2024), Denver’s Tommy Bruner (Dec. 29, 2023-Jan. 13, 2024) and North Carolina’s R.J. Davis (Nov. 24-Dec 16, 2023).
• This is the third time Knecht has made 13 field goals in a game, as he also did so on Nov. 29, 2023, at North Carolina and Jan. 16, 2024, against Florida.
• Knecht’s prior career high in blocks was two, recorded eight times, including twice this season with the Volunteers and most recently on Nov. 29, 2023, at North Carolina.
• Knecht is the ninth SEC player in the last 14 seasons (2010-24) with at least four 30-point games in a single campaign, joining Texas A&M’s Wade Tayor IV (2023-24), Alabama’s Brandon Miller (2022-23), Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. (five in 2021-22), Arkansas’ Mason Jones (nine in 2019-20), Vanderbilt’s Saben Lee (2019-20), Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree (2019-20), Kentucky’s Malik Monk (2016-17), Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody (five in 2015-16).
• The last Tennessee player with at least four 30-point performances in a season was Chris Lofton, who had six in 2006-07.
• Knecht is the only SEC player in at least the last 19 seasons (2005-24) with 160 points in a five-game stretch.
• Knecht is the first Division I player this season with 160 points in a five-game span, while the only individuals to do so in the prior three years (2020-23) are Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, Liberty’s Darius McGhee, Bryant’s Peter Kiss, Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosley and Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas.
• The last Power Six player to record 160 points in a five-game stretch was Marquette’s Markus Howard in Jan. 2020, with that the lone other occurrence in the last five seasons (2019-24).
• Per Elias Sports Bureau, Knecht is the first Division I player to log 32-plus points thrice in a four-game stretch since Erik Reynolds of St. Joseph’s from Feb. 26-March 8, 2023, and the first Power Six player to do so since Iowa’s Luka Garza from Nov. 27-Dec. 11, 2020.
• Additionally, Knecht became the first SEC player with 32-plus three times in a four-game span in over 17 years, as Tennessee’s Chris Lofton last did so from Dec. 6-23, 2006.

Courtesy / UT Athletics

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