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Takeaways: Tennessee basketball knocks off Lithuanian U21 in second game of Italy trip

May 24, 2023

Tennessee basketball defeated the Lithuanian U21 National Team for the second consecutive day on Saturday, winning 116-90 in Florence, Italy. Seven different Volunteers finished in double-figures.

The Vols won 97-57 on Friday in their first of a three-game exhibition trip that is spanning 10 days. They're now 21-7 all-time in international exhibitions.

Tennessee spent the first days of the trip in the Lake Como region before taking a bus to Florence for a multi-day stop, and will board a train for Rome on Sunday. In addition to the games, UT had plans for a boat tour of Lake Como, a tour of the Florence Cathedral and stops at the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and Vatican City.

Here's our takeaways from the new-look Vols' second win in Italy in as many days.

Tennessee continued to shoot it well from behind the three-point line. After knocking down 12 three's in Friday's win, UT went 16-for-37 (43%) in game two. The Vols have shot a combined 38% from three in both games.

Perimeter shooting was an area of focus this offseason for Rick Barnes, who sat in a seat across from the Tennessee bench for the second straight day so that associate head coach Justin Gainey could handle the coaching duties. Though it's early, UT has shown significant signs of being an improved shooting team.

Santiago Vescovi led the way from distance. He went 5-for-7 for a team-high 19 points while Northern Colorado transfer guard Dalton Knecht went 4-for-7 for 19 points, respectfully. USC Upstate transfer guard Jordan Gainey was 2-for-4, fifth-year senior forward Josiah-Jordan James was 2-for-6, redshirt-freshman guard Freddie Dilione and redshirt-freshman wing DJ Jefferson were both 1-for-4 and junior guard Jahmai Mashack was 1-for-1.

Knecht was very impressive in his second appearance as a Vol, particularly on the defensive end where he finished with multiple blocks. He dished out three assists in addition to his 19 points.

The transfer guard made four three's in the fourth quarter of Friday's game. Gainey picked up right where he left off in the second game by coming out and knocking down early three's to finish with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor. He also dished out a pair of assists.

It wasn't just Gainey's ability to shoot the basketball that was impressive in game No. 2. He also showed an ability to make plays whether it be as the primary ball-handler or the off-ball guard. And he wasn't afraid to mix it up with a Lithuanian player when Ernestas Matulevic seemed to challenge half the Vols to a fight at mid-court in the fourth quarter.

Gainey flew under-the-radar as an addition because he's the son of the associate head coach. But make no mistake, the younger Gainey is going to play and he's going to contribute.

One of the best three-point shooters in the history of the SEC was much more active in the second game of the trip. Vescovi exploded for 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting after taking two shots total in the first contest. He was more active off the ball, he made plays as the primary ball-handler and his defense gave Lithuania fits on the other end of the floor.

Tennessee's two post players anchored the team's win on both ends of the floor. Aidoo finished with a double-double courtesy of 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor while grabbing 10 rebounds.

Awaka finished with 16 points on 5-for-5 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, a day after recording a double-double. The sophomore forward also showed signs of improvement at the free throw line, making all four of his attempts.

Aidoo and Awaka combined to grab 18 rebounds to help the team grab 16 offensive rebounds on the afternoon.

The Vols will be back in action on Monday afternoon when it plays its final game of the trip against A.S. Stella Azzura in Rome. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET on FloSports.