On Monday in Honolulu, the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers defeated Syracuse 73-56 thanks to a 12-0 run in the last three minutes of regulation. After defeating New Hampshire, Canisius, and Colgate, the Orange suffer their first loss of the year in their first real test. Tuesday afternoon, Cuse takes on Purdue or Gonzaga in the loser’s bracket match.
Cuse had trouble making free throws and was unable to generate much offensive production off of Tennessee turnovers. A physical Tennesee squad forced Syracuse into foul trouble, which led to 27 attempts by the Vols from the free-throw line. Before the Vols mounted a comeback in the second half to hand Syracuse their first loss of the year, the Orange held a 12-minute lead in the first half.
With 10:23 left in the first half, Syracuse led 19–11 thanks to a goal from Benny Williams, who ignited SU’s offense off the bench. In the first frame, Williams scored eight points in eleven minutes, making two three-pointers.
UT shot a pitiful 25.9 percent from the field, but Tennessee opened the half with a 19-6 run to take a 30-25 lead. PG- After sitting out the last 12 minutes due to two early fouls, Judah Mintz only had two points in the first half. Grad transfer Dalton Knecht led the Vols with 15 points, shooting 3–4 from three and 5–9 from the field.
Syracuse went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 35 points after taking an 11-point lead early in the second half. Chris Bell and Maliq Brown, two forwards, converted six Tennessee turnovers into easy paint points. With seven minutes left, Mintz made it a four-point deficit with a beautiful pull-up three before UT wrapped up the victory.
Cuse began the game 4-5 from beyond the arc and finished 2-15 from three. The Orange’s shooting problems extended to the free-throw line, where they shot 47 percent (8-17). Despite forcing 16 turnovers from the Volunteers—well above their nine-per-game season average—Syracuse only scored six points off of those turnovers. Tennessee scored 18 points despite Syracuse committing a season-high 15 turnovers.
For the second straight game, Chris Bell led Cuse in scoring with 16 points. Bell had 33 minutes of action during which he shot 7-13 from the field and 2-5 from three. Mintz missed his first seven field goals before making his final four, and he scored six of his fifteen points from the charity stripe.
Nine points, four rebounds, and a team-high five assists were all tallied by JJ Starling. Despite going scoreless, Justin Taylor pulled down the most rebounds for Syracuse with seven.
Jordan Josiah For Tennessee, James and Jonas Aidoo each had double-doubles. James finished with 12 rebounds and 15 points, his third consecutive game in double figures. Twelve of Aidoo’s fourteen points came from the second half.
Leg cramps limited the sharpshooter to just 10 minutes remaining in the game, so Knecht’s 17 was a game-high.
Now, Tennessee has defeated Syracuse in the previous three meetings. The two teams’ most recent meetings took place in Knoxville in 2002 when UT won 66-62 and in 2000 when UT won 83-70 on the road at the Dome.
Syracuse’s next matchup will be against the winner of #2 Purdue vs #11 Gonzaga. On Tuesday, the game will also tip off at 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2.