KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Dalton Knecht scored 17 points and No. 9 Tennessee's defense was in midseason form as the Volunteers opened the season by beating Tennessee Tech 80-42 on Monday night.

Knecht, a Northern Colorado grad transfer, scored 14 points in the first half. Josiah-Jordan James added 15 points and Jordan Gainey 11.

The Volunteers shot 46% from the field and 40% from 3-point range.

“College basketball has changed,” said Tennessee Tech coach John Pelphrey, noting that shooting is a priority. “(Tennessee's) shooting ... they're going to be hard to handle.”

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes addressed his team's shooting deficiency a season ago by adding Knecht and Gainey, from USC Upstate.

“When the ball goes in, they make it look pretty,” Barnes said. “All our guys have improved.”

Tennessee Tech was limited to 29% shooting. The Golden Eagles turned over the ball 16 times and had eight shots blocked, four by Jonas Aidoo, who also grabbed eight rebounds.

Josiah Davis led Tennessee Tech with 13 points.

“The way we play defense, we put some teams into some long possessions,” Barnes said. “Then, we want to score quickly. We don't want to give the defense time to get set.”

Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler, both preseason all-Southeastern Conference selections, saw their first game action this season after missing both exhibitions.

“This was the first time we had all our guys together,” Barnes said.

The Golden Eagles only managed to make 16% of their shots (4 for 25) in the first 20 minutes and trailed 41-12. Tennessee scored 14 straight points while Tennessee Tech went more than four minutes without scoring.


Tennessee Tech: After going 16-17 last season, the Golden Eagles are poised for improvement. They are not likely to play a team better than Tennessee.

Tennessee: It was important for Tennessee to get a complete unit on the floor before the Vols travel to Wisconsin on Friday. Zeigler missed the two exhibition games while rehabilitating a torn left ACL sustained on Feb. 28. Vescovi was away from the team because of an illness in his family.


Though he scored just three points and had four assists in just over 12 minutes, Zeigler was given the game ball.

“He's the heart and soul of our team,” said Barnes. “He changes the floor every time he's out there. We said all along we'd be cautious with him.”


Tennessee Tech: The Golden Eagles will stay on the road Friday against Murray State.

Tennessee: The Vols will travel to Madison to play Wisconsin on Friday.


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