Tennessee basketball fought out of a slow start to down Syracuse 69-56 on Day 1 of the Maui Invitational.

And though Syracuse is not the strongest opponent the Vols will face in Honolulu, this was a mightily impressive win for Rick Barnes’ Vols. Tennessee lost perhaps their top rebounder Tobe Awaka early and played much of the final stretch without their top offensive scorer, Dalton Knecht following a cramp.

Syracuse took an early lead following Awaka’s injury behind a flurry of 3-pointers and solid rebounding, giving the Orange a few 2nd-chance opportunities. But Tennessee ended the first half well, entering the locker room up 5.

The 2nd half was almost entirely Tennessee. Syracuse was able to keep it close, but some huge minutes from Jahmai Mashack, Jonas Aidoo and Santiago Vescovi sealed it.

Aidoo and Josiah-Jordan James finished with a double-double, Aidoo had 14 points and 11 rebounds while James had 15 points with 11 rebounds. Dalton Knecht led all scorers with 17 despite missing a good chunk of the 2nd half.

Tennessee will play the winner of Purdue/Gonzaga Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.