KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Dalton Knecht had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead No. 6 Tennessee to an 88-68 victory over LSU on Wednesday night.

Zakai Zeigler had 17 points, nine assists and five steals and Jordan Gainey came off the bench to score 18 for the Volunteers (17-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference).

“It’s important to note there are some really good players around Knecht,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said. “He has turned himself into a Top 10 NBA pick. It’s a tough cover. We just make his shots as difficult as we can.”

Will Baker had 16 points and Derek Fountain scored 11 for the Tigers (12-10, 4-5).

“Zeigler does a great job organizing that team,” McMahon said. “When he’s is shooting well, he’s hard to cover.”

The most interesting statistic came with LSU dominating the rebounding 40-27. Trae Hannibal, a 6-foot-2 guard, led the way with 11.

“I thought we tried to rebound the ball with one hand,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “You've gotta grab it and secure the ball with two hands. You can't be a great team if you can't rebound the ball.”

Tennessee led by as many as 26 points early in the second half. LSU went on a 13-0 run midway through the second and got as close as eight before a three-point play by Knecht bumped the lead back to double digits.

“(Tennessee's) pressure really bothered us,” said McMahon. “We didn't have anything left in the tank. We couldn't get it any closer than eight.”

Tennessee hit its first five shots of the game and led 15-1. Knecht, who had three blocks, led the Vols with 14 points and they held a 50-27 edge at intermission. Zeigler had 11 points and Gainey 10.

“That’s in (Zeigler’s) DNA,” Barnes said of Zeigler’s well-rounded game. “That’s how we need him to play.”

Tennessee shot better at the 3-point line (9 of 14, 64%) than it did from the field (18 of 31, 58%). LSU managed to shoot just 37% (10 of 27) in the first half.

“We would love to bottle that first half,” Barnes said. “We were terrific. Our shot selection was not as good in the second half.”


LSU: Freshman guard Mike Williams III is starting to make significant progress as the season wears on. Heading into the trip to Tennessee, Williams had scored in double figures in four of the last six games.

Tennessee: The Vols followed their worst clunker of the season - scoring just 59 points in a loss at home against South Carolina - with impressive efforts against Kentucky and LSU. Josiah-Jordan James broke out of his slump against the Wildcats. He had gone eight games without reaching double figures, then scored 26 in his last game in Rupp Arena.


LSU: The Tigers will meet their second straight Top 25 team when they host No. 16 Alabama on Saturday.

Tennessee: The Vols will be on the road against Texas A&M on Saturday night.


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