clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tennessee beats Lithuania U21 team, 97-57: Recap, instant takeaways

Our first look at this group.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament East Regional Practice Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee basketball got off to a great start on Friday night in Italy, taking down the Lithuanian U21 team, 97-57.

It was Freddie Dilione, Santiago Vescovi, Jahmai Mashack, Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo to start for Tennessee. Rick Barnes turned to Dalton Knecht, Jordan Gainey and Tobe Awaka first off of the bench.

Vescovi got things started with a three, then Dilione came up with a steal and layup. In his first moments on the floor for Tennessee, the redshirt freshman guard was aggressive on the offensive end, looking mighty comfortable in the offense. Of course, he got the start for Zakai Zeigler, who is still working his way back from an ACL injury.

Tennessee was working fast and pushing to the bucket. It was a clear emphasis for Barnes, playing fast and aggressive.

Tobe Awaka was a complete animal on the boards in his first few minutes. He made a big difference immediately off of the bench, grabbing rebounds and running the floor for the Volunteers.

Tennessee worked out to a 12-2 lead midway through the first quarter (FIBA rules).

Dilione nailed two three-pointers, then JP Estrella grabbed an offensive rebound and connected on a nice hook shot. Knecht made two long range shots of his own, and the Volunteers were out and running.

Tennessee played a lot of bodies to open, getting everyone some work in the opening quarter. They carried a 29-16 lead into the second quarter.

Awaka’s work continued to start the second, running the floor and converting on the other end. He appeared more aggressive on the offensive end, clearly still beaming from his big performance with the U19 Team USA squad.

Mashack came on strong in the second quarter, finishing a few plays at the rim to push into double figures. The Lithuania side was clearly gassed, and the Volunteers’ depth was showing out.

Jordan Gainey drilled a three from the corner, and Tennessee took a 52-28 lead into the halftime break.

Tennessee-Lithuania U21 Second Half Takeaways

Jordan Gainey got a look running the point to open the second half. It was a lineup of three newcomers, along with Awaka and DJ Jefferson. The Volunteers were sloppy to start, anchored by another three-pointer from Knecht.

Awaka continued his strong showing, looking unstoppable at times in the paint. The sophomore appears ready to become a huge part of this team this winter. In a single sequence, he came up with a run-the-floor block and a run-the-floor putback and-one. He’s going to need to get better from the free throw stripe, but he’s clearly made big strides this summer.

Tennessee went back to their starters midway through the third quarter. Dilone stayed aggressive running the point, appearing more than ready to be a bucket-getter for the Vols this year. We’ve seen him appear in NBA mock drafts this summer — you saw a little of the why today.

Jahmai Mashack made a couple of big defensive plays, just as we’ve grown used to seeing. A couple of those defensive stops turned into offense, as the Volunteers really had their way in the third quarter. The Volunteers lead moved out to 74-34 — Tennessee held Lithuania to just six points in the third quarter.

Gainey drilled a three from the top of the key to start the fourth quarter. He hit another — his fourth of the day — to push Tennessee out to an 85-39 lead.

JP Estrella connected on a couple of tough shots in the paint. The four-star prospect showed nice hands and decent touch at times, getting comfortable in Rick Barnes’ offense. Considering Tennessee’s frontcourt situation, he’s going to have to play early on in the season.

These two teams will play each other again on Saturday afternoon. FloSports will have the coverage at 1 p.m. ET.