No. 7 Tennessee surfs into Honolulu for Maui opener with Syracuse
League: NCAA Basketball
Posted on: 19 Nov, 2023 at 03:54 PM
Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
No. 7 Tennessee and Syracuse meet in Honolulu on Monday in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
The Volunteers (3-0) won their first three games easily -- victories by 38, 10 and 21 points while scoring at least 80 points in all three contests. Tennessee is shooting well from the field (47.2 percent), the 3-point arc (37.8 percent) and the foul line (82.1 percent) with Dalton Knecht leading the way.
Knecht averages a team-high 19.7 points and has shot over 50 percent from the floor in all three games. He registered 18 points on Tuesday in an 82-61 triumph over Wofford.
"He can shoot it," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "There's gonna be some nights when he really gets it going."
Barnes had praise for several Vols players following the win over Wofford.
Jordan Gainey scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting - his third consecutive double-digit scoring effort since transferring from South Carolina-Upstate. He is 8 of 18 from 3-point range this year and has made multiple long-range shots in every contest.
"He's a good basketball player," Barnes said. "He's got a good feel. He's a guy that feels he can get a shot off when he needs to get it off. He's proven he can score at three levels."
One other highlight from the win over Wofford was Josiah-Jordan James going over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is third on the team in scoring (11.3) and second in rebounding (6.7) while averaging a team-best 1.7 blocks.
"(James) is a smart player," Barnes said. "He makes a lot of winning plays. He's what we want the program to represent."
For Syracuse (3-0), their program was represented for 47 seasons by Jim Boeheim, who stepped down in the offseason in favor of former player and assistant Adrian Autry. Three games into Autry's tenure, the Orange already have a signature comeback victory.
Syracuse rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit to stun Colgate 79-75 on Tuesday. Chris Bell scored a career-high 25 points, while Judah Mintz contributed 23 points and eight assists.
"I'm just so proud of these guys,'' Autry said. "They could've folded, but they didn't. They didn't.''
After losing to the Raiders in each of the previous two seasons, the Orange held them to 29 second-half points on Tuesday. Syracuse's defense has been a work in progress, as the team has allowed at least 70 points in all three games and has yet to win by more than 12 points despite facing New Hampshire, Canisius and Colgate early on.
Still, Autry viewed the comeback win as a positive for his team.
"I thought they represented what we talk about,'' Autry said. "Relentlessness. Toughness. Grit. Playing together. I was proud of them.''
Devastation from wildfires in Maui led to the games being played in Honolulu as recovery efforts continue on the island.
The Orange have played in the Maui Invitational three times (1990, 1998, 2013) and left as champions each time.
The Vols have also appeared in the Maui Invitational three times (2004, 2011, 2016) but have yet to win the title.
This is the seventh meeting between the Orange and the Vols, who last played in 2002. The all-time series is tied 3-3.
--Field Level Media