Vols Fall to Top-Seeded Purdue in Elite Eight

Vols Fall to Top-Seeded Purdue
Photo by UT Sports

DETROIT – March 31, 2024 – The University of Tennessee men’s basketball team took an 11-point first-half lead in Sunday afternoon’s Elite Eight matchup with third-ranked, top-seeded Purdue, but came up on the short end of a hard-fought 72-66 decision.

Fifth-year guard Dalton Knecht poured in 37 points, the most ever by a Volunteer in the NCAA Tournament, for sixth-ranked, second-seeded Tennessee (27-9, 14-4 SEC) at Little Caesars Arena, nearly helping his team rally back from an eight-point deficit with under 11 minutes to go.

Knecht, who became the first Volunteer ever to record six 35-point showings in a single season, shot 14-of-31 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, in his final collegiate game. His showing marked the sixth-highest single-game point total ever by an SEC player in the NCAA Tournament contest and marked just the second time in the last two decades an individual from the league had 37-plus.

No other Volunteer scored in double figures, although junior guard Zakai Zeigler totaled nine points and a game-best eight assists, while fifth-year guard Josiah-Jordan James scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including hitting both his 3-pointers.

Purdue senior center Zach Edey led all scorers with a career-high 40 points, the most by a Tennessee opponent in over 15 years. He shot 13-of-21 from the floor and 14-of-22 at the line—his free-throw attempts mark also set a career high, while his makes put him one off his best tally—as well as pulled down a game-best 16 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer tallied 14 points for the Boilermakers, although Tennessee held him to 4-of-12 shooting, including a 1-of-5 clip from deep.

Tennessee finished 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from 3-point range and limited Purdue to a 3-of-15 (20.0 percent) ledger, as well as totaled a 20-7 cushion in points off turnovers. However, the Boilermakers had a 40-24 advantage in paint points.

Source: UT Sports
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