No. 22 Tennessee knocks off No. 3 Kansas to win tourney

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Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points with six rebounds and Zakai Zeigler added 14 points as No. 22 Tennessee went wire-to-wire Friday to win the title of the Battle 4 Atlantis event with a 64-50 victory over No. 3 Kansas at Paradise Island, Bahamas.

The Volunteers’ defense made its presence felt, holding the Jayhawks to 32.1 percent shooting from the field, while forcing 16 turnovers.

Tyreke Key scored 10 points for Tennessee (5-1), which outrebounded Kansas 45-27. It was the Volunteers’ third victory over the Jayhawks in seven all-time meetings, but their second consecutive after also winning two seasons ago when both teams also were ranked.

Jalen Wilson and Joseph Yesufu each scored 14 points for the defending national champion Jayhawks (6-1), who not only lost for the first time this season, they saw their 17-game winning streak come to an end. Kansas’ Bobby Pettiford played just three minutes because of an injury.

Both teams needed overtime while winning their semifinal games Thursday, with Tennessee appearing to be the fresher team in the early going.

The Volunteers opened the game with a 7-0 run and were on top the duration of the first half despite committing 17 turnovers. Tennessee led by as many as nine points in the first half and took a 33-25 into the break with the aid of 53.8 percent shooting (7 of 13) from 3-point range.

After going 1 of 8 from 3-point range in Thursday’s semifinal victory over Southern California, Vescovi was 3 of 4 from deep in the first half and had nine points. He ended 5 of 14 from deep in the game.

Kansas pulled within 37-34 with 14:28 remaining after a 3-pointer from Yesufu, but would get no closer. Tennessee took its first double-digit lead at 48-38 with 10:47 remaining after a free throw from Zeigler.

The Volunteers took control with an 11-0 run midway through the second half, while opening their largest advantage at 56-38. That run came as Tennessee’s defense held Kansas without a point for a 4:11 stretch.

–Field Level Media

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