Dalton Knecht scores 21 to lead No. 17 Tennessee over No. 20 Illinois 86-79

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Dalton Knecht scored 21 points and No. 17 Tennessee rallied from a second-half deficit to beat No. 20 Illinois 86-79 Saturday.

Knecht had 8 points in a pivotal four-minute stretch when Tennessee (6-3) rallied from a 4-point deficit to a 6-point lead with just over 13 minutes to play. The Illini were held scoreless in the stretch.

"This was the most focus, knowing what we had to do on the defensive end, all season," said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. "(The Illini) challenge everything you do."

"Dalton's really good," said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. "Let's be real. He does a good job getting fouled."

Guard Santiago Vescovi added 12 points and 9 rebounds against the much-taller Illini. Jonas Aidoo scored 14 and Josiah-Jordan James had 12 points and 7 assists and Zakai Zeigler scored 11. Tennessee commanded the boards 43-34.

"(Tennessee) whooped our butt on the glass in the second half," Underwood said.

"(Vescovi) is such a big part of who we've been," Barnes said. "I'm really proud of him and the older guys. They were prepared for this. (Vescovi) had an aggressive mentality. He was able to have the 'fix-it' plays that are so important."

Quincy Guerrier and Terrence Shannon scored 22 each to lead Illinois (7-2). Coleman Hawkins had 12. The Illini were limited to 35% shooting from the field.

"We're really good," Underwood said. "We've got a really high ceiling. We just missed some shots and were out of sorts."

Tennessee went more than four minutes without scoring in the first half, allowing Illinois to build a 36-34 halftime lead behind 12 points by Guerrier. Knecht, who was limited to 11 minutes by foul trouble, led the Vols with 8.

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