Feb 20, 2024; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Jordan Gainey (2) shoots as Missouri Tigers center Mabor Majak (45) defends during the second half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Escapes Missouri to Stay Towards Top of SEC

The Tennessee Volunteers took on the Missouri Tigers on Tuesday night. The No. 5 Volunteers came out with their 20th win of the season, 72-67, after being down at halftime. Meanwhile, Missouri remains winless in conference-play this season.

Tennessee and Missouri Battle in in First Half

The Volunteers got off to a good start, up 7-2 early in the first. With about seven minutes left in the half, the Tigers took a 14-13 lead with a basket from Nick Honor. It was a back-and-forth game, with the Volunteers taking a 17-16 lead with six minutes left in the first.

The score was tied, 22-22, with three minutes left in the first and Sean East II gave the Tigers a two-point lead with a lay-up. The next possession, East made a three, and all of the sudden, the Tigers were up 27-22.

The Volunteers wouldn’t let the Tigers into halftime with that big of a lead, as Tobe Awaka cut the deficit to one, 27-26, with a dunk.

Tennessee and Missouri went into the lock room with the Tigers holding a three-point advantage, 29-26.

Tennessee Survives the Second Half

The Volunteers came out of halftime ready to play, immediately tying the game 29-29 with a jump shot from Zakai Zeigler. However, Missouri strung together a bit of a run to go up 38-31. The Tigers seemed to have an answer for each Tennessee basket.

The No. 5 Volunteers would not back down, however, evening the score. They took a 50-49 lead thanks to a lay-up from Dalton Knecht. Tennessee finally began to pull away a bit, with Knecht making another three to give Tennessee a six-point lead, 58-52. Zeigler made a three to extend the Volunteers lead, which got as big as 13.

A couple late baskets from the Tigers made the score closer than it appeared but ended with a 72-67 win for Tennessee.

Two Volunteers ended the day with double-doubles. Awaka and Knecht had 18 and 17 points, respectively, and 10 rebounds each.


Looking Ahead

With a little over two weeks left in the regular season, Missouri is still searching for its first SEC win, currently sitting 0-13 in SEC play and 8-18 overall. Tennessee improves to 10-3 in SEC play, 20-6 overall on the season. The Volunteers sit half-a-game behind Alabama for the SEC lead but control their own destiny with a matchup with the Crimson Tide looming in the distance.

Missouri will play Arkansas on Saturday while Volunteers will take on Texas A&M also on Saturday at home.

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