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Tennessee takes down LSU 88-68

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers didn’t let up on the heels of a historic Saturday.

After scoring the most points in a regulation game since 1989 in a 103-92 at Kentucky, Tennessee came out strong on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, clubbing the LSU Tigers 88-68.

Dalton Knecht led Tennessee with a game-high 27 points on 9-19 shooting with 5 rebounds, 6 assistants, and 3 blocks. According to the broadcast, he became the first Tennessee Vol since Grant Williams on March 24, 2019 go reach the 15/5/5/3 stat line (points/rebounds/assists/blocks). Jordan Gainey had a season-high 18 points off the bench. Zakai Zeigler had another all-around solid day with the ball in his hands, scoring 17 points and dishing out 9 assists.

It was a red-hot start for the Vols, as Tennessee stormed out to a 13-0 lead before the Tigers knew what hit them. All points came from Tennessee’s highest-scoring trio from Saturday night: Knecht, Josiah-Jordan James, and Zeigler. LSU, as they would do more than once on the night, made a big run to catch up, going on a 14-6 scoring stretch to draw to within 21-15.

Tennessee pushed the lead back to 14 at 32-18 on back-to-back threes from Gainey and Zeigler, and the Vols would hold a double-digit lead until well into the second half. Tennessee took a 50-27 lead into the locker room.

After pushing the lead to 26 points early in the second half, the Vols slowly went on cruise control and almost got caught napping at the wheel in the game’s final 10 minutes. LSU went on a 13-0 run to trim a 70-47 lead into a 70-60 one with just under 7 minutes to go in the game. A Derek Fountain layup with 4:39 to go brought LSU back to single digits for the first time since early in the first half.

Fortunately, Tennessee answered the call from a pleading Thompson-Boling Arena crowd in time to avoid disaster. Free throws from Jonas Aidoo and Knecht put Tennessee up 13, and a jumper from Knecht with under 2 minutes to go was effectively the final nail in the Tigers’ coffin. The Vols went on a 16-4 run to finish the game after LSU drew the lead to 8.

Next up: Tennessee plays at Texas A&M on Saturday night; LSU hosts Alabama on Saturday.