Sabonis Powers Zags Past Tennessee 86-79 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Sabonis Powers Zags Past Tennessee 86-79

Sabonis made 12 of 16 shots, was 12 of 15 at the free-throw line and grabbed 16 rebounds. Sabonis made 12 of 16 shots, was 12 of 15 at the free-throw line and grabbed 16 rebounds.

SEATTLE (AP) — Domantas Sabonis scored 20 of his career-high 36 points in the first half, Kyle Wiltjer added 24 and Gonzaga blew a 19-point lead before holding on late for a 86-79 win over Tennessee on Saturday night.

Playing their annual game at Seattle's KeyArena, the Bulldogs (8-3) dominated the first half only to be challenged in the closing minutes after Tennessee rallied to take a 61-59 lead with 9:42 remaining. Quiet for most of the second half, Sabonis scored 14 points in the final 8:37 as the Bulldogs responded after dropping two of their previous three games against power conference opponents.

Sabonis made 12 of 16 shots, was 12 of 15 at the free-throw line and grabbed 16 rebounds. His previous career-high was 26 against Northern Arizona earlier this season.

Kevin Punter Jr. led Tennessee (5-5) with 23 points. Devon Baulkman added 17 points and Armani Moore had 16 for the Volunteers.

Sabonis simply went over the top of the shorter Vols in the first half. He made 7 of 9 shots, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 13 minutes. His first half production could have been more if not for foul trouble that forced him to the bench with 4:08 left in the half.

Tennessee went to a zone defense early in the second half and aggressively double-teamed Sabonis when he caught the ball in the post and the shots that came so easy in the first half were regularly contested. At the same time, the Volunteers' offense got clicking thanks to Punter and Moore.

Down 16 at halftime, the Volunteers outscored the Bulldogs 28-10 to open the second half. Tennessee trimmed Gonzaga's lead to 58-54 when Moore raced for a layup with 12:25 left and Baulkman cut Gonzaga's lead to two with a steal and layup. After Wiltjer split free throws, Moore hit a left-handed runner to pull Tennessee within 59-58 with 10 minutes left and Baulkman's 3 off an inbound play gave the Vols their first lead since the opening moments of the game.

Gonzaga responded with two straight baskets from Sabonis, the Bulldogs' first field goals in more than five minutes. Wiltjer's basket in the lane off an offensive rebound by Sabonis with 5:15 left pushed Gonzaga's lead to three. After a pair of defensive stops the Bulldogs went ahead 73-67 with 3:43 on Sabonis' dunk while being fouled off a pass from Wiltjer.

It took less than 2 minutes for Tennessee to pull even at 75-all on free throws from Punter with 2:04 remaining, but Sabonis scored on the baseline with 1:42 left and Gonzaga hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:03 to pull away.

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TIP INS

Tennessee: The Volunteers played on the West Coast for the first time since 2009 when they lost at USC. Tennessee's last West Coast win was in 2007 against Gonzaga in Seattle. ... Baulkman has now made a 3-pointer in nine straight games. He's shooting nearly 35 percent on 3s this season.

Gonzaga: Gonzaga played without center Przemek Karnowski for the sixth straight game as he continues to suffer from back problems. ... Crowd of 16,770 was largest of the 13 regular season games Gonzaga has played at KeyArena.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: The Volunteers host East Tennessee on Tuesday.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs open WCC on Monday hosting Pepperdine.

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