Dalton Knecht scored 24 points, hitting tough shot after tough shot, and the Vols scored 42 of their 80 points in the paint as the Vols brought home the 80-70 win against Wisconsin.
The offense started out to a 4-0 lead off a Jonas Aidoo put back at the rim and a Dalton Knecht mid-range jumper.
Wisconsin hit the game’s first 3 on the next possession.
A few empty possessions later, Josiah-Jordan James hit a nice lefty layup driving to the hoop — something I think Vol fans would like to see a lot more of.
Jahmai Mashack hit a bit of a reckless layup to push the Vols’ lead out to 8-3, but an offensive foul on Aidoo made it two fouls for UT and none on the Badgers.
After Aidoo’s foul, Wisconsin hit another 3, making it 8-6 with just under 17 minutes left in the half.
Knecht drove for a left-handed layup finish but got called for his first personal foul of the game on the other end.
Jordan Gainey and Tobe Awaka were the first two players off the bench for the Vols, and Gainey hit a 3 nearly within one minute of his entrance. After a missed James 3, Awaka was called for a foul trying to snag a rebound under the hoop, pushing the foul total to 5 for the Vols and none on the Badgers. Tennessee led 13-9 at the under-16 media break.
Right after the break, Gainey hit his second 3 of the game, and a reaching foul on Mashack put the Badgers one foul away from the bonus with 14 minutes left.
The Badgers got their fourth point in the paint on a layup from their center before the first foul got called on Wisconsin on a Knecht drive to the hoop. Knecht missed the second of two tries, making it a 16-11 game.
At the 12:41 mark, Santiago Vescovi scored his first points of the game on a pump-fake, behind-the-back dribble drive combo where he hit the layup, got fouled and hit the accompanying free throw for a 3-point play.
Right before the under-12 break, the Badgers missed a wide-open 3 but got their fourth offensive rebound of the game and converted it into a layup. Wisconsin led the offensive rebounding category 4-1 at this juncture. 19-15 Vols.
Aidoo pushed the lead out to 21-15 with a little jump floater in the lane thanks to a Zakai Zeigler dribble-drive dump off.
With 9:49 left, James got called for a foul on the defensive glass, and Wisconsin missed the front-end of the one-and-one chance. But Mashack picked up his second foul of the game, and this time the Badgers converted both free-throw shots. 21-19 Vols.
Tennessee followed that up with its fourth turnover of the game as Gainey threw the ball out of bounds, and Wisconsin tied the game up the next trip down the floor, on a 10-2 run.
Knecht hit two free throws to break the run and give the Vols back a tenuous two-point lead. Wisconsin tied it up with an easy layup at the rim on its next possession, while UT followed that with its fifth turnover of the half. Tie game, 23-23 at the under-eight time out, with the Vols working on a nearly four-minute drought from the field.
Awaka picked up his second foul of the game and made for TN’s sixth turnover of the half with seven minutes left.
James hit his first 3 after a questionable Aidoo block at the rim, which broke the four-minute-plus FG drought, and then Knecht hit another layup at the rim on the Vols’ next trip down the floor. 28-25 Vols with five-ish left in the half.
Knecht hit another 3 on an out-of-bounds play, but the Badgers took their first lead of the game on their own 3. Knecht followed with two made free throws, putting the Vols back up one at 32-21. An empty Badger possession later, Zeigler hit his first 3 of the game, pushing UT’s lead back out to 35-31 before another foul on Tennessee took the game to the under-four-minute media timeout with 3:19 left in the half. 36-31 Vols.
The Badgers hit both of the following free throws, with the preceding foul being James’ second. Gainey drilled another 3 after Aidoo collected an offensive rebound off a Knecht miss.
Freshman Cade Phillips was the first freshman big man off the bench, and he slammed down an under-the-basket, after timeout, alley-oop to put Tennessee up 41-35. Two Mashack FTs made it 43-35 with under a minute left in the half.
The Vols called a timeout to draw up their final shot of the game at the 27-second mark, but Gainey missed the 3. Despite the scoring drought, foul disparity and defensive-rebounding issues, Tennessee took a 43-35 lead into halftime.
tough 20 in the books pic.twitter.com/KgzGq5r7gO— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) November 11, 2023
Dalton Knecht led the Vols in scoring, and he showed why folks were so excited about him after the preseason — he had 14 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 5-6 from the FT line. He scored with his back to the basket, from deep and driving to the hoop. Gainey finished the half with eight points, while Aidoo had four points, led the team in rebounds with five and added two blocks. Overall, UT shot 56 percent from the field, hit eight of its nine FT tries and had 12 points off six Badgers turnovers. James, Vescovi, Awaka and Mashack all entered the second half with two fouls.
Wisconsin opened the second half with two-straight hoops before Knecht made his way to the hoop for two more points.
Mashack picked up his third foul with just under 19 minutes left in the game, and Badger big man Tyler Wahl dropped in a jump hook at the hoop for two points. The under-18-minute break came at the 17:09 mark, and Wisconsin cut the Vols’ lead down to just four at 45-41, Tennessee.
A Gainey-Aidoo alley-oop pushed TN’s lead back to six, and then the two teams exchanged a couple empty possessions before they traded buckets at the rim, with an Aidoo dunk taking the game into the under-16 timeout, 49-43 Tennessee.
Gainey hit two free throws off a Badger turnover, but Wisconsin got two back on a bucket over Gainey at the rim. Gainey fouled the Badger on the play, but he missed the free throw.
Vesocvi picked up his third foul around the 14-minute mark, then the Badgers hit another jump hook at the rim. James scored his sixth and seventh points of the game on a nice reverse layup but missed the free-throw try.
A Gainey turnover led to a Badger layup and cut Tennessee’s lead just two points in the midst of an 8-2 Badger run. James got fouled going to the hoop right before the under-12 break and bricked the first free throw but hit the second.
James hit a tough, turn-around eight footer as the shot clock was expiring to put the Vols back up 3 at 56-53 before a Zeigler turnover gave the Badgers a free possession.
Knecht got fouled on a fast break and missed the first free throw but hit the second, giving TN a four-point lead with just under 10 minutes left in the half. On the other end, Knecht picked up his third foul, but Wahl hit just one of two at the stripe.
Awaka got on the board with an offensive rebound and put back, putting the Vols up five, but Knecht got blocked going to the hoop and then an Aidoo over-the-back call made it two straight empty possessions for Tennessee.
Wisconsin cut it to three on its next possession, but Knecht went to the hoop, hit the layup and got fouled to stop the bleeding a bit taking the game to the under-eight TV timeout at the 7:33 mark. Knecht hit the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play, giving him 20 points for the game.
that Dalton Knecht I tell you what — Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) November 11, 2023
he's got 20 pic.twitter.com/M39k5SzZvX
Awaka pushed the Vols’ lead back out to eight with a soft-touch seven footer in the lane.
The Badgers hit two free throws on the other end to make it a six-point UT lead, and then Awaka hit another bucket at the hoop after missing his initial shot and getting his own rebound.
Knecht missed a wide-open 3 that would have made it an 11-point game, and Wisconsin went straight to the basket, got fouled but missed both chances.
A Zeigler-Aidoo pick-and-roll led to an uncontested drop in by Aidoo at the rim, causing the Badgers to call a timeout, having not hit a FG for nearly four minutes. Wisconsin hit a 3 out of the timeout, but Vescovi answered with a driving layup. A Badger turnover took the game to the under-4 break, down 70-61.
Knecht turned it over after the timeout, and Wisconsin hit a deep 3 to cut the lead to six points for the Vols.
Zeigler hit two key free throws, but Aidoo got called for his third foul with 2:22 left, and the Badgers hit one of two from the stripe.
Knecht buried a mid-range jumper with two seconds on the shot clock, pushing UT’s lead back to nine. Of course, the Vols got called for a foul on the other end, and this time the Badgers connected on both free throws.
An empty UT possession and the Badgers went back to the free-throw line, where Wahl hit just one of two. Six-point lead for UT with a minute left. The Vols killed the entire shot clock, and Knecht hit a driving layup to take TN’s lead back to eight.
Two James’ free throws made it a 10-point game, and the Badgers answered with a quick two-point jumper.
James iced the game with two more free throws, and Tennessee took the 80-70 win.
Dalton Knecht scored his 1,000th career point while going for 24 on 8-15 from the floor even though he hit just 1-4 from deep. The Vols had four players in double figures: Knecht’s 24, James had 14, Aidoo had 10 and Gainey had 10.
Tennessee ended with just 10 assists on 28 buckets, but that’s likely a factor of Knecht being able to just go get big buckets when the Vols needed them. The Vols also hit 19 of their 23 free throws and had just three turnovers in the second half compared to seven in the first half.
Santi and Zeigler finished with a combined 10 points on 3-9 shooting.
The Vols face Wofford at home next Tuesday.