After getting back in the win column last Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the LSU Tigers men’s basketball team went on the road to play the Tennessee Volunteers. Rick Barnes’ group lit up the scoreboard early to get out to a sizeable lead at halftime. LSU attempted to make a comeback but couldn’t do enough, falling 88-68 and dropping to 12-10 on the season and 4-5 in SEC play.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
LSU found itself in an early hole as Tennesse started hot, making their first five shots. Dalton Knecht drew a foul on Jordan Wright on the first possession and made both for his free throws. Zakai Zeigler, Knecht, and Josiah-Jordan James all knocked down open three-point shots while James also made a layup off the Knecht pass. Zeigler’s no-look pass to Jonas Aidoo for the open dunk. The two-hand slam put the Volunteers up 15-1 three and a half minutes into the game.
The Tigers responded and cut their deficit to single digits. It began with Mike Williams III knocking down a shot from the left elbow for the team’s first basket, and then Derek Fountain got the put-back layup. After a goaltend by LSU, Tyrell Ward hit a left-wing three and Will Baker made a mid-range jumper to start the first of five straight made shots. Both teams got tired after each was playing aggressive defense, which led to open layups by Jordan Gainey, Wright, and Knecht while Fountain made a three-pointer to make it a 21-15 game in favor of the Vols.
Coach Rick Barnes’ team came back and extended their lead for the final 10:50 of the first half. Aidoo’s layup and Gainey’s three quickly put Tennesse up 11 but Trey Hannibal stole Santiago Vescovi’s pass and ran past everyone for the coast-to-coast dunk.
The Volunteers then went on a 24-9 run as Gainey, Zeigler, Knecht, and Jahmai Mashack made a total of five three-point shots. Knecht scored seven points, blocked Hannibal’s shot, and grabbed a couple of boards on the offensive end as Tennessee went into halftime with a 50-27 lead.
After James made another Tennessee three-point shot, the Tigers went on a 14-6 run as LSU players such as Baker, Williams III, and Fountain found success attacking the basket and making a couple from mid-range. Those shots cut it to an 18-point deficit for the Tigers with 13:23 to go.
Ward fouled Gainey from downtown, which allowed the junior to score five straight points with back-to-back possessions after Vescovi got the steal of Ward.
It was back-and-forth over the next three minutes as layups and jump shots were being traded by each team. Zeigler assisted Knecht and Aidoo to put the Vols up 70-47 with 9:05 to play in the second half.
LSU’s Mwani Wilkinson became a huge spark as he knocked down three straight threes that were all assisted by Hannibal. Wright also hit from downtown as the Tigers cut Tennessee’s lead to just 10 with a 13-0 run.
Tennesse tightened up the rest of the way with an 18-8 run that included seven more points from Knecht and a corner three for good measure from Gainey. With that shot, the Volunteers came out on top 88-68 to drop LSU to 12-10 and 4-5 in conference play.
BIG NUMBER: 6
The Tennessee Volunteers’ defense didn’t make it easy for the Tigers in the paint as they blocked six LSU shots, three each by Aidoo and Knecht.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dalton Knecht
Knecht had a good Wednesday night as he scored 27 points on 9-19 shooting (2-5 from three), grabbed seven rebounds, had six assists, two steals, and three blocked shots in an 88-68 win over LSU.
UP NEXT: The LSU Tigers men’s basketball team will be back home on Saturday when the Alabama Crimson Tide comes to Baton Rouge. Tip-off in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is set for 11:00 a.m. and the action can be heard on ESPN 103.7 Lafayette 104.1 Lake Charles.