No. 9 Tennessee holds on to beat No. 4 Michigan St 89-88 in charity game for Maui Strong Fund

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dalton Knecht had 28 points and Jordan Gainey scored his 20th and final point on a free throw with 1.9 seconds left, helping No. 9 Tennessee hold on to beat No. 4 Michigan State 89-88 on Sunday in an exhibition game to raise funds and awareness for the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund.

A.J. Hoggard made a game-tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to pull the Spartans into a tie, helping them rally from double-digit deficits in each half. Gainey drew a foul on the ensuing possession and made one of two free throws for the win.

Top-ranked Kansas traveled to play No. 25 Illinois, where coach Bill Self returned for the first time since leaving to lead the Jayhawks, later in the day in another charity game benefiting the same organization that is assisting in relief efforts for the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

Tyson Walker scored 22, Malik Hall and Hoggard had 14 each for the Spartans.

Even though the games didn’t count in the standings, the matchup at the Breslin Center looked like it could have been played in March.

Michigan State’s arena was nearly filled with 14,000-plus fans paying to attend an exhibition that was not part of the season-ticket plan and all proceeds were donated. Coaches for both teams wore Hawaiian shirts and players warmed up with Maui Strong shirts over their jerseys.

Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo was yelling at officials as if it was a real game for the Spartans and Volunteers coach Rick Barnes was fired up at times, too.

When Tennessee guard Jahmai Mashack drew a fifth foul and didn’t exit the game, fans screamed at officials to take him out of the game. They booed when the public-address announcer informed him no one would foul out.

Gainey made his first five shots, including four beyond the 3-point line, and the Vols led by 18 midway through the first half. Walker and Hall combined for 16 points in the first half to help Michigan State cut its deficit to 40-37 at halftime.

The Vols made enough shots, stops and free throws to hold on for what was a win-win situation for both teams as they prepare for a season with high expectations.

Tennessee is a part of this year’s Maui Invitational, opening with Syracuse on Nov. 20 in Honolulu, where the tournament was moved due to the the wildfires that devastated Lahaina. The field also includes Kansas, No. 3 Purdue and No. 11 Gonzaga.

The Maui Invitational has launched an online auction with all proceeds going directly to relief and recovery efforts after the fires that killed at least 115 people on the island in August. The Hoops for ’Ohana auction is being held in partnership with the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.


Tennessee: Plays Lenoir-Rhyne on Tuesday at home.

Michigan State: Hosts James Madison on Nov. 6 in the first of two expected tune-ups before playing No. 2 Duke on Nov. 14 in Chicago.


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