Dalton Knecht scores 24 points to lead No. 9 Tennessee to 80-70 victory at Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Dalton Knecht scored 24 points to continue his smooth transition to high-major basketball as No. 9 Tennessee defeated Wisconsin 80-70 on Friday night.
Knecht led the Big Sky Conference with 20.2 points per game last season. The transfer from Northern Colorado averaged a team-best 16.3 points during Tennessee’s three-game exhibition tour of Italy this summer and had 17 points in his Volunteers debut Monday, an 80-42 blowout of Tennessee Tech.
A fifth-year guard, the 6-foot-6 Knecht shot 8 of 15 from the floor and 7 for 9 on free throws Friday.
Josiah-Jordan James scored 14 points, while Jonas Aidoo and Jordan Gainey each added 10 for Tennessee (2-0). AJ Storr scored 17, Steven Crowl 14, Chucky Hepburn 13 and Tyler Wahl 10 for Wisconsin (1-1).
Tennessee had a 43-35 lead at the break after shooting 15 of 27 over the first 20 minutes and closing the first half on a 12-4 run. Wisconsin continually crept closer in the second half, but Tennessee answered every time.
After Wahl scored to cut the Vols’ lead to 54-53 with 11:45 left, Tennessee responded on its next possession as James scored with the shot clock about to expire. Wisconsin’s Nolan Winter then missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 10:44 remaining.
Wisconsin cut the lead to three again on another basket by Wahl with 8:03 to go, but Knecht answered by driving the baseline, scoring and drawing a foul to convert a 3-point play. That started a 9-2 run in which Wisconsin missed three straight free throws, enabling the Vols to grab a double-digit lead with less than five minutes left.
Tennessee’s lead didn’t drop below six the rest of the way.
Tennessee: The Vols did a nice job of staying poised while facing an early road test in front of a sellout crowd. Tennessee shot 50% from the floor and showcased its depth by outscoring Wisconsin 23-8 in bench points.
Wisconsin: This represented the first big test in the Badgers’ grueling pre-holiday schedule. Wisconsin hosts No. 5 Marquette on Dec. 2, visits No. 4 Michigan State in its Big Ten opener Dec. 5 and travels to No. 12 Arizona on Dec. 9. The Badgers will need to shoot better from 3-point range and the foul line to have a chance in those games. Wisconsin went 6 of 24 on 3-point attempts and 14 of 23 on free throws Friday.
Wisconsin currently is receiving the most votes of any team not in the Top 25, so a victory almost certainly would have put the Badgers in the poll next week.
Tennessee: Will host Wofford on Tuesday.
Wisconsin: Plays at Providence on Tuesday.
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