Dalton Knecht poured in another ridiculous 39 points, and the Tennessee defense made life difficult for Florida as UT beat the Gators by 19 points at home.
Jonas Aidoo started tonight’s scoring off with two buckets for Tennessee, but Florida picked up two easy points on the offensive glass for its first bucket.
Josiah-Jordan James picked up the game’s first triple around the 16:30 mark, which gave the Vols an early 9-4 lead before the first media timeout.
UT gave up points five and six via the free-throw line after the offense turned it over for the second time.
Tobe Awaka got on the board with a nice two-point bucket in the paint, and Jahmai Mashack hit a mid-range jumper to put TN up 14-8 at the 12-ish minute mark.
Mashack scored another two points on a reverse layup in the lane and then followed it up by forcing the Gators’ fourth turnover. 16-11 Tennessee by the under-12 break. Santiago Vescovi got on the scoreboard to make it 20-11 Vols, and Aidoo hit another inside look for his fourth score of the contest to give UT an 11-point lead by the under-eight TV timeout.
Zakai Zeigler found Dalton Knecht at the rim for Knecht’s second score and second dunk of the game around the 7-ish minute mark to put UT up 24-12.
Knecht hit a back-to-the-basket jumper and then drilled a corner 3 to put the team up 31-17. After two Gator FTs, Knecht hit another shot with his back to the hoop and one more layup to extend Tennessee’s lead to 14 points at 36-22 with three minutes until the half.
Florida cut into UT’s lead late in the half with some work on the offensive glass — collecting an extra shot on consecutive possessions, but Knecht answered with two-straight 3s in the final minute.
The Gators got an easy two points right at the end of the half on a silly Tennessee turnover, but at the half, the Vols led 44-32.
Knecht had 22 points on nine made FGs in the first half, while Florida collectively had just 10 makes on 34 attempts. Knecht scored 20 of Tennessee’s final 22 first-half points. 13 assists on 18 made baskets for UT.
UT jumped out to a 9-5 second-half run finishing with two Zeigler FTs. Florida’s offense started just 1-7 in the second half, and Tennessee led 53-37 by the under-16 timeout.
Two UF FTs cut the lead from 20 down to 18 at the 15-ish minute mark, and two more made it a 16-point game. Tennessee fouled five times in the first five minutes of the second half, and the Gators converted that into five points. Zeigler committed three turnovers in the first seven minutes and UT led by just 10 with 12:54 left in the game.
Knecht finally got on the board in the second half on a baseline out-of-bounds shot at the rim, and Aidoo hit a nice left-hook shot to give TN a 12-point lead by the under-12 timeout.
He turned a quick Gator TO into two FTs at the 10:46 mark to put UT back up 14.
Mashack drove and dropped a nice dime off to Aidoo, who hit another mid-range shot, and then Knecht hit his fourth 3 of the game to make for 29 total points. Tennessee went on a 10-0 run from the 12-ish minute mark to the 8-minute mark and got back up 20 at the under-eight media break.
Jonas + DK.— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 16, 2024
DK + Jonas.
keying a big 9-0 run to get us back +19 pic.twitter.com/4utFcPIiN6
A Knecht left-handed layup put UT back up 19 points near the six-minute mark, and two more FTs around a minute later gave him 35 points for the game. That’s three-straight 25-plus point games for Knecht. Another mid-range jumper tied his career high at 37 points at the 4:20ish mark.
FTs at the 2:31 spot gave him 39 for the game, and an Estella dunk put an exclamation point on the contest, with the final score being 85-66.