Tennessee aims to win for the seventh time in eight games when it visits Texas A&M on Saturday in Southeastern Conference play at College Station, Texas.
The only blemish for the No. 6 Volunteers (17-5, 7-2 SEC) over the past seven games was a 63-59 home loss to South Carolina on Jan. 30. The Volunteers bounced back with an impressive 103-92 road victory at Kentucky last Saturday and an 88-68 home rout of LSU on Wednesday.
Texas A&M (14-8, 5-4) also is playing well of late with four wins in its past five games.
The Volunteers continue to receive stellar play from Dalton Knecht, who had 27 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals in the victory over LSU.
It marked the seventh outing of 25 or more points in the last eight games for Knecht, who is averaging 29.5 points during the span.
Knecht wasn’t wrapped up about whether or not the performance was his best all-around effort of the season.
“I just care about the win,” said Knecht, who is averaging 20.2 points per game. “I went downhill and was looking for my teammates or just looking for my own shot.”
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said there certainly are plenty of plays for Knecht built into the offense.
“You’ve got a guy like that, who has a knack for scoring,” Barnes said. “And when we do run some isolation plays, which we did because we need him to do that, with his back to the basket, he’s going have to make the right read out of it as opposed to trying to be overly aggressive.”
The victory was the 796th of Barnes’ career and also included strong efforts from guards Jordan Gainey and Zakai Zeigler.
Gainey made three 3-pointers while scoring a season-best 18 points. Zeigler had an all-around stellar game with 17 points, nine assists and tying his career best of five steals.
The Aggies are looking for a second straight home win over the Volunteers. Last season, Texas A&M prevailed 68-63 behind 25 points from Wade Taylor IV.
Taylor is standing out for the Aggies this season with a team-best 19.7 average. He has topped 30 points on five occasions, including a career-best 41-point effort during a 78-77 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 16.
Taylor had 18 points and four steals in Texas A&M’s 79-60 rout of host Missouri on Wednesday. Tyrece Radford led the way with 22 points for his second straight 20-point outing and fifth of the season.
While the scoring outputs were appreciated, Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams was especially excited about Andersson Garcia collecting 16 rebounds. It was Garcia’s ninth double-digit output on the boards this season.
“I’ve never seen someone that has the impact on the game that he does that doesn’t have to have the ball and or doesn’t have to score,” Williams said of Garcia. “What he does changes the entire game because it allows us to stay in control in many respects.”
Williams reminded reporters that he compared Garcia to one of the all-time top rebounders in NBA history earlier this season.
“Andy just has an innate sense,” Williams said. “As I said a month or so ago, he’s Dennis Rodman when that ball’s in flight.”
Garcia averages a team-high 8.9 rebounds while contributing just 6.2 points.
The teams will meet again Feb. 24 in Knoxville, Tenn.
–Field Level Media
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