Dalton Knecht may have a few posters made after his first collegiate game with the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday afternoon.
Knecht, a fifth-year transfer from Northern Colorado, came to Tennessee this offseason and was expected to help the Vols tremendously on the offensive side of the court as a forward who can stretch the floor and shoot three-pointers. What maybe wasn’t as expected, though, is how early Knecht was able to find his rhythm on the court.
Knecht’s 28 points on Sunday led No. 9 Tennessee to an 89-88 win over No. 4 Michigan State in a charity exhibition game on Sunday afternoon in East Lansing. The transfer forward shot 8-of-16 from the floor including 3-of-9 from the three-point line and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.
“No, I haven’t seen that,” head coach Rick Barnes said on if he had seen that Dalton Knecht on the practice court. “I’ll be honest with you, I mean, offensively yes, I have. We think offensively that he’s an extremely gifted player, but the way he came out and played defensive star the game I have not seen that at any point in time, which is a good thing because it’s on film now. And he’s raised the bar, which is a good thing… And again, as a coaching staff, what we want see him is to play that hard defensively. And his offense is gonna take care of itself. It is. But that’s the hardest I’ve seen him play defensively at any point in time since he’s been with us.”
And if there was a statistic for recording posterizing dunks… Boy, Knecht would have a tally under his name there, too.
During a fast break play early into the second half, Knecht made a lane for himself by shaking a defender off of him with a behind-the-back move followed by a ridiculous one-handed slam on Michigan State forward Malik Hall.
“I just seen it, it was a two-on-one with me and Jo and I just kind of took off and put that thing down,” Knecht said. “Pretty much RC (Rod Clark) told me to set a lane and step up, just go up and punch it, go up and dunk it, and that’s what I did.”
You’ve got to see this one.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) October 29, 2023
“No, it didn’t surprise me at all,” transfer guard Jordan Gainey said. “That’s DK. DK’s gonna do that. DK is a really good player. Really good player.”
Knecht looked like a veteran in Sunday’s game and helped Tennessee find a strong victory despite not having Zakai Zeigler or Santiago Vescovi available for the game.
“That dunk [Dalton] had, that one surprised me, kind of brought me back to my playing days, you know?” Barnes said with a smile after the game.
Tennessee will play one more exhibition game this Halloween night (Tuesday) before opening up the season at Food City Center on Nov. 6 against Tennessee Tech.
For more takeaways and observations on Tennessee’s exhibition win over Michigan State on Sunday, click here.
To see Dalton Knecht’s postgame press conference on Sunday, click here.