🏀 No. 3 Kansas Falls 64-50 to No. 22 Tennessee in Title Game
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points while No. 22 Tennessee defeated third-ranked Kansas to beat the reigning national champions 64-50 in Friday night’s championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Vescovi hit five 3-pointers to drive the offense for the Volunteers (5-1), who dominated the glass, overcame their own turnover troubles and made the Jayhawks work for clean looks. The win led to a title and Vescovi being picked as the tournament’s most valuable player.
Jalen Wilson and Joseph Yesefu each scored 14 points to lead the Jayhawks (6-1), who shot 28.6% in the first half and never warmed up. They made 5 of 21 3-pointers in what was an all-around rough night, from losing starting guard Dajuan Harris to fouls with 9 minutes left to failing to keep the Vols off the glass (45-27). Wilson was named to the All-Tournament Team.
“We played a team tonight that was older and more mature and obviously played stronger and tougher,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We didn’t handle the situation near as well as what I would hope a poised team would.”
The Vols held the Jayhawks to 32.1% shooting, bothering them with size and length around the rim. And they showed the toughness to take the ball right at the Jayhawks with 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler leading the way.
Zeigler had 14 points, including a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock at the 7-minute mark to push Tennessee’s lead to 56-38. He followed with another big one from the right wing with 4:42 left after Kansas had closed within 11.
Tennessee: The Volunteers opened the tournament with a win over Butler, then grinded through an overtime win against Southern California in Thursday’s semifinals behind a big game from first-year forward Julian Phillips. But things were somehow easier on Friday, with Tennessee playing in front the entire way en route to its first title in three tries at the Atlantis resort.
Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have an easy first two days in the Bahamas. First came a battle to the final minutes with North Carolina State. Then came Thursday’s overtime win against Wisconsin on Bobby Pettiford Jr.’s last-second putback. But they never looked in any type of offensive flow this time, ending a 17-game winning streak dating to last year’s run to coach Bill Self’s second NCAA title.
“I feel like if we were able to get them out of place and not just have them standing there, waiting to contest a layup, that could’ve gave us some better chances at finishing at the rim,” Wilson said.
Tennessee: The Volunteers return home to host McNeese State on Wednesday.
Kansas: The Jayhawks host Texas Southern on Monday.