Tennessee reaches Elite Eight again

March 30, 2024 4:27 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Dalton Knecht had 24 points, six rebounds and five assists and Tennessee captured an 82-75 Sweet 16 victory over Creighton in the Midwest Region on Friday night.

Tennessee (27-8), the No. 2 seed, qualified for the Elite Eight for the second time in school history. Zakai Zeigler supplied 18 points and six assists, and Josiah-Jordan James contributed 17 points.

Baylor Scheierman led No. 3 Creighton (25-10) with 25 points. Steven Ashworth added 16 points, Ryan Kalkbrenner had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Trey Alexander added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

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Tennessee starting guard Santiago Vescovi missed the contest due to an illness.

Neither side led by more than four points in the first half. Scheierman had 15 points as Creighton carried a 35-34 lead into the break. Knecht had 10 for the Volunteers, who committed just two turnovers during the half.

Tennessee’s defense sparked the pivotal 18-0 run early in the second half. After two free throws by Knecht, James hit a jumper.

James then blocked a shot by Kalkbrenner, leading to Knecht’s fastbreak layup. Knecht then made a steal and fed Jahmai Mashack for a layup.

Mashack then made a block, leading to another layup by Knecht. Zeigler then dropped in a 3-pointer and Mashack scored on a putback of Knecht’s miss. After Scheierman couldn’t hit a layup, James fired in a corner 3-pointer after a to make it 55-39 with 13:59 remaining.

Scheierman halted Tennessee’s run with a 3-pointer.

Kalkbrenner cut the Volunteers’ lead to 60-50 with a basket in the lane. The Bluejays soon went on a 9-0 run, including the last four from Kalkbrenner, to cut the Volunteers’ lead to three at 62-59.

Knecht halted that burst with a 3-pointer, giving his club a 65-59 advantage. After Ashworth made a layup to make it 68-64 minutes later, both teams went cold until Tennessee’s Tobe Awaka converted a three-point play with 1:39 remaining.