Knecht scores 17 points, No. 7 Tennessee beats Syracuse 73-56 in first round of Maui Invitational

Purdue guard Braden Smith (3) tries to dribble past Gonzaga guard Ryan Nembhard during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

HONOLULU (AP) — Dalton Knecht scored 17 points and Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo each recorded a double-double to lead No. 7 Tennessee to a 73-56 win over Syracuse on Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

The Volunteers (4-0) shot 50% (13 of 26) from the field in the second half to pull away from the Orange (3-1), who shot 35% (21 of 60) for the game.


Knecht, one of three fifth-year players for Tennessee, had 15 points by halftime. He left the game at the 10:20 mark of the second half with an apparent left leg injury, but returned to the contest in the closing minutes.

James had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Aidoo had 14 points with 11 boards.

“It was a really tough, hard fought game,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought our older guys — guys that have been in a lot of big games — were locked in and really good for us.”

Tennessee out-rebounded Syracuse, 48 to 33.

“Coach preaches rebounding the ball and that’s the main thing. If we rebound the ball, we win the game,” Aidoo said.

The Volunteers shot 20 of 27 from the free-throw line, while the Orange were just 8 of 17.

Chris Bell scored 16 points and Judah Mintz had 15 to lead Syracuse.

“I thought we played well for a big part of the game defensively,” Syracuse coach Adrian Autry said. “Overall, I thought we competed and battled. We’ve got to get better rebounding the ball.”

Syracuse held a 24-21 lead after a Bell 3-pointer from the left wing with about six minutes remaining in the first half, but missed its last six shots from the field before the intermission.

Tennessee went on a 9-1 run over that stretch and took a 30-25 lead at the break.

Tennessee will at least match its best finish in the Maui Invitational, when it claimed fourth place back in 2004. The Volunteers improved to 4-6 all-time in the event.

Syracuse took its first loss under first-year coach Adrian Autry, who was named as the successor to Jim Boeheim in March. Autry played for the Orange in the 1980 Maui Invitational. Boeheim retired after 47 seasons as coach at Syracuse.

A first for ‘Cuse

Syracuse had never lost a game in the Maui Invitational before Monday. It won the tournament in 1990, 1998 and mostly recently in 2013. The Orange are now 9-1 in the event.

Zach Edey, No. 2 Purdue rally to beat No. 11 Gonzaga 73-63 at Maui Invitational

HONOLULU (AP) — Zach Edey scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the first half and No. 2 Purdue rallied to a beat No. 11 Gonzaga 73-63 in a Maui Invitational quarterfinal game on Monday.

The Boilermakers (4-0) trailed by as many as nine points late in the first half, but outscored the Bulldogs (2-1) 43-28 in the second half to remain unbeaten.

“The start of the second half was key for us, getting some transition baskets, getting some steals, I thought we had some active hands at that time and I think that kind of set the tone for us in the second half. The other difference, I thought, was their inability to make 3s in the second half,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. Edey, a 7-foot-4 senior center, shot 8 for 16 from the field and made 9 of 10 shots from the free throw line. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots in 33 minutes.

Lance Jones and Braden Smith added 13 points apiece for Purdue, which shot 54.5% from the field (18 of 33) in the second half. Smith also notched five steals.

Graham Ike led Gonzaga with 14 points and seven rebounds. Ryan Nembhard had 11 points, six assists and three steals, and Nolan Hickman added 11 points and three steals.

The Bulldogs were 26-for-69 shooting (37.7%) from the field.

Purdue dominated Gonzaga in points in the paint, 44-30.

Gonzaga was only 5 of 8 from the line, while Purdue made 13 of 16 free throws.

The Boilermakers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but the Bulldogs answered with a 14-0 run that was capped by a Hickman pull-up jumper at the 14:28 mark.

Purdue took the lead for good with 14:53 left to play on a Edey putback dunk that gave the Boilermakers a 43-42 advantage.

Gonzaga shot 6 of 19 from beyond the arc in the first half and went 0 for 13 from long distance the rest of the way.

“I think if you look at the 3s we took, they were all good shots. I don’t know that we took any bad ones during that stretch. Obviously, that was a fairly big factor, I thought the bigger factor was that we just turned the ball over too much,” said Bulldogs coach Mark Few, whose team committed 14 turnovers.

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