Dalton Knecht wasn’t quite his usual 30-something points a game self on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, the Vols didn’t need him to be.
Tennessee topped the Alabama Crimson Tide 91-71 on Saturday afternoon inside Thompson-Boling Arena, snapping Alabama’s 6-game winning streak. Knecht managed to post a game-high 25 points on 8-20 shooting (1-6 from three). He was outstanding at the free throw line, making all eight attempts. Jonas Aidoo was terrific for the Vols in the paint, tallying 19 points on 9-14 shooting with four big blocks and five rebounds. Jordan Gainey added 15 points with 3-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Mark Sears led Alabama with 22 points.
After some early back and forth scoring, Tennessee was able to go on a 20-9 run to take a comfortable early lead at 27-14 around midway through the first half. Tennessee’s one-two punch of Knecht and Aidoo were responsible for 17 of the 20 points. Aidoo had nifty back-to-back baskets on hook shots close to the rim.
Tennessee would remain in control the rest of the first half, leading between 9 and 15 points for the remainder of the period. The Vols took a 50-37 into the locker room.
Tennessee was able to extend their lead to 18 early in the second half on consecutive baskets from Aidoo and Zakai Ziegler. Aidoo took a missed alley oop and quickly banked in a shot before the shot clock expired. Ziegler popped a step back three to push the lead to 59-41 and put Tennessee firmly in control early in the second half.
Tennessee stretched its lead to as much as 27 points. That came when the Vols pushed their lead to 81-54 on a three pointer by Santiago Vescovi, who finished with 10 points on 2 of 6 shooting from three. Reserve guard Freddie Dilione V tacked on the Vols’ final five points.
Up next: Alabama hosts #13 Auburn on Wednesday 1/24; Tennessee travels to Vanderbilt on Saturday 1/27.