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Jan 13, 2024 2:39 pm

No. 5 Tennessee makes late run to surge past Georgia

Dalton Knecht scored 36 points, one off his career high, and No. 5 Tennessee rallied from an eight-point deficit with a game-ending 15-1 run Saturday that led to an 85-79 win over Georgia in Athens, Ga.

Knecht put the Volunteers (12-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) ahead for good in the second half with a 3-pointer at the 1:56 mark for an 81-79 edge, then added two foul shots with 40 seconds remaining. Zakai Zeigler finished things off by making two free throws with 16 seconds left.

Zeigler added 18 points and five assists, while Jonas Aidoo starred inside with 10 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. His work in the lane enabled Tennessee to earn a 46-38 advantage on the glass.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points to lead the Bulldogs (12-4, 2-1), which ended a 10-game winning streak, their longest in 76 years. Noah Thomasson added 14, while Silas Demary Jr. and RJ Melendez each tallied 13 points.

It appeared that Georgia would hand the Volunteers their second SEC loss of the week when Blue Cain swished its 14th 3-pointer of the day for a 78-70 lead with 5:03 left. But the Bulldogs missed their last nine shots.

Tennessee controlled most of the first half behind accurate shooting and dominant rebounding that offset a spate of turnovers. It committed five in the first eight minutes but already owned a 20-13 lead by then because it hit four 3-pointers and a 3-point play.

The Volunteers kept converting and owning the boards. Tobe Awaka’s layup at the 10:51 mark gave them their first double-figure advantage at 24-14. When Zeigler stole and scored with 4:01 left in the half, they possessed a 42-28 cushion.

But Georgia took momentum into halftime by scoring the last nine points, getting its large crowd fully engaged. Abdur-Rahim capped the run with two foul shots 49 seconds before the break, cutting Tennessee’s lead to 42-37.

The Bulldogs managed to stay in contention despite hitting just 10 of 35 shots.

–Field Level Media

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