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Five Best Wins From Tennessee Basketball’s 2023-24 Season

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball concluded its 2023-24 season on Sunday afternoon by falling to Purdue 72-66 in the Elite Eight.

It was arguably the best season in Tennessee basketball history including a SEC Regular-Season Championship and the second trip to the Elite Eight in program history.

Ranking the five best wins of the season.

More From RTI: What’s Next For Tennessee Basketball Following Run To Elite Eight

5. Texas

It wasn’t the best game Tennessee played all season. It, in fact, was one of the ugliest. But Tennessee overcame a dreadful three-of-25 three-point shooting performance to knock off Texas 62-58 to return to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

Led by Zakai Zeigler, Jahmai Mashack and Josiah-Jordan James, Tennessee played stifling defense holding the Longhorns to 36% shooting from the field and forcing 17 turnovers.

Dalton Knecht totaled a game-high 18 points including four clutch late game free throws, James totaled nine points including Tennessee’s final two field goals.

4. at South Carolina

Following a week with emotional wins over Auburn and Alabama, Tennessee headed on the road to face No. 17 South Carolina.

A win gave Tennessee its first outright regular-season conference championship since 2008. A loss meant Tennessee had to beat Kentucky just to earn a share of the title that would have had them as the two-seed in the SEC Tournament since they lost to South Carolina in Knoxville.

The Vols led wire-to-wire behind their top three players. Jonas Aidoo totaled 14 points and nine rebounds. Zakai Zeigler scored 13 points and dished out seven assists while Dalton Knecht was Dalton Knecht.

He scored 26 points on five made triples to lock up SEC Player of the Year honors.

3. at Alabama

A game before Tennessee went to South Carolina to clinch the SEC, they went to Tuscaloosa to face No. 14 Alabama with first place in the SEC on the line.

Tennessee overcame a second half deficit despite shooting 30% from three-point range and a quiet, 13-point night from Knecht.

But the Vols’ defense was fantastic and nearly everyone else showed up. Zeigler scored a team-high 18 points, Aidoo added 12, James totaled 11, Jordan Gainey totaled nine while Vescovi and Mashack added eight.

Mashack was also fantastic and was responsible for the sequence that changed the game.

2. at Kentucky

Tennessee traveled to Rupp Arena coming off a loss against South Carolina and in danger of following to 5-3 in conference play out of the SEC Championship race.

Then the Vols played perhaps their best game of the season, torching the Wildcats’ defense in an 103-92 victory for the program’s fourth win at Rupp Arena under Rick Barnes and just their eighth win there in program history.

James and Zeigler each scored 26 points and Zeigler dished out 13 assists to just two turnovers. Knecht, Aidoo and Vescovi all each scored in double figures and Tobe Awaka gave Tennessee a second half boost on the glass.

Tennessee made 12 three-pointers which helped them overcome a 35-point Rod Dillingham performance.

1. Creighton

Tennessee saved one of its best games of the season for the Sweet 16, using a 18-0 second half run to defeat the Creighton Blue Jays 82-75.

Knecht led the way, scoring 26 points but so many Vols stepped up. Zeigler scored 18 points and dished out six assists and James scored 15 points on five shots.

Mashack played one of the best role player games imaginable, taking Creighton star Trey Alexander out of the game while totaling four points, eight rebounds (five offensive), two assists, two steals and two blocks. Awaka closed things out with an and-one over the 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner and an offensive rebound off a missed free throw.

The team effort sent Tennessee to the Elite Eight for the second time in program history.

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