#6 Tennessee Men Lose At Texas A&M, 85-69

  • Sunday, February 11, 2024
Tennessee guard Zakai Ziegler goes up against an Aggie defender at College Station, Tex. on Saturday. The Vols lost the conference game, 85-69.
Tennessee guard Zakai Ziegler goes up against an Aggie defender at College Station, Tex. on Saturday. The Vols lost the conference game, 85-69.
photo by Andrew Ziegler/Tennessee Athletic Communications

The University of Tennessee men's basketball team fell, 85-69, Saturday night at Texas A&M.

Sixth-ranked Tennessee (17-6, 7-3 SEC) could not weather an early long-range shooting onslaught by the Aggies and climb back at Reed Arena. Fifth-year guard Dalton paced the Volunteers with 22 points in the setback, marking his eighth time posting 20-plus in the last nine contests.

Texas A&M (15-8, 6-4 SEC) made four of its first six 3-pointers, including a 3-of-3 clip from junior guard Wade Taylor IV, to claim a 16-8 advantage after 6:22 of action. After Tennessee got back within three, the Aggies went on a 12-1 run in 3:18 to push their margin to 14, 30-16, with 8:45 on the clock. At that time, they were 7-of-10 beyond the arc, with Taylor a perfect 5-of-5.

The Aggies, who hit eight of their first 12 3-point attempts through 12-and-a-half minutes, took a 42-28 edge into the break. They finished the frame 8-of-16 (50.0 percent) beyond the arc, while Tennessee went 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) at the other end with all three makes from Knecht.

Tennessee went scoreless for the first 4:32 of the second half, missing its first five shots, as Texas A&M extended its advantage to 20 points, 48-28, with 15:33 to go. The home team upped its margin as high as 22, 53-31, with 13:48 remaining.

The Volunteers would not go away and trimmed the deficit down to 12, 66-54, with 6:37 to play after posting six straight points in 73 seconds. They had a chance shortly thereafter to get within single digits, but a 3-pointer by junior guard Zakai Zeigler rimmed out and the visitors never got any closer.

Knecht's 22 points came on a 6-of-11 ledger from 3-point range, good for the most makes from beyond the arc by a Volunteer this season and tied for his most as a collegian. He added a team-best seven rebounds, as well as two blocks, despite playing only 28 minutes due to foul trouble.

Zeigler finished with 15 points, a career-high-tying six rebounds, a team-best six assists and a game-leading four steals. The Long Island, N.Y., native played all 40 minutes, becoming the first Tennessee player to do so in 2023-24.

Graduate student guard Tyrece Radford led all scorers with 27 points for the Aggies, adding five rebounds and five assists. Taylor totaled 25 points and a game-high seven assists, finishing 5-of-11 from deep after connecting on each of his first five attempts.

Sophomore forward Solomon Washington notched 11 points, while senior forward Andersson Garcia scored six points and pulled down 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end, to pace all players.

The Volunteers had a 13-5 edge in points off turnovers and an 18-4 ledger in fast-break points. They also limited the Aggies to just three 3-point makes on their final 16 tries, but the hot start proved too much to overcome.

Tennessee now heads to Fayetteville, Ark., where it plays Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET against Arkansas, live on ESPN2 from Bud Walton Arena.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men's basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.  

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS POSTGAME NOTES
• The Volunteers are now 69-22 (.758) across 91 outings as an AP top-10 team in head coach Rick Barnes' nine-year tenure, all in the past seven seasons.
• Tennessee's last defeat by double digits came on Feb. 18, 2023, a 66-54 result at Kentucky, while its last setback by 15-plus was on Jan. 15, 2022, a 107-79 decision at Kentucky.
• At least one Volunteer has scored 20-plus points in 13 of the past 15 games, with a total of 16 such performances in that stretch.
• At the 12:22 mark of the first half, Knecht converted Tennessee's first four-point play in over a year, as the last came on Feb. 4, 2023, by Santiago Vescovi against Auburn.
• Garcia became the first SEC player with 15-plus rebounds against Tennessee since Arkansas' Jaylin Williams had 16 on Feb. 19, 2022, while his 17 boards marked the most by a Volunteer foe in league play since LSU's Tasmin Mitchell grabbed that many on Feb. 4, 2010.
• The last player with nine offensive rebounds versus Tennessee was Georgia Tech's Ben Lammers on Dec. 3, 2016.
• The Volunteers' 14-point halftime deficit marked their second-largest of the season, trailing only a 22-point margin, 61-39, at North Carolina on Nov. 29, 2023.
• Fifth-year guard Josiah-Jordan James recorded a season-high three blocks, surpassing his prior best of two, set on Nov. 29, 2023, at North Carolina.
• Knecht is the seventh SEC player in the last 13 seasons (2011-24) to score 16-plus points in nine straight league games, joining LSU's Cameron Thomas (2020-21), Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley (2019-20), Georgia's J.J. Frazier (2016-17), South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell (2016-17), Kentucky's Jamal Murray (2015-16) and LSU's Ben Simmons (2015-16).
• The last Volunteer to score 20-plus points eight times in a nine-game span was Kevin Punter Jr., who did so 10 times in an 11-contest stretch from Nov. 22, 2015-Jan. 6, 2016.
• The only other time Knecht has made six 3-pointers as a collegian was on Jan. 14, 2023, when he went 6-of-13 at Portland State during his tenure at Northern Colorado.
• Zeigler became the first Volunteer to play all 40 minutes of a contest since he did so himself on Jan. 24, 2023, at Mississippi State.

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