No. 21 Tennessee men’s basketball smothers No. 3 Kansas to win Battle 4 Atlantis title

Julian Phillips dove chasing a loose ball Friday. Jonas Aidoo scrambled toward the play as the ball bounced out of bounds off Kansas.

Zakai Zeigler clapped. Santiago Vescovi cheered. Phillips bellowed.

Tennessee basketball led Kansas 62-48 with barely a minute to play and its defense was still going. Slap any verb you want on it: No. 21 Tennessee (5-1) smothered, shut down, stifled, stopped and smacked No. 3 Kansas (6-1) to claim the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 64-50 win.

Vescovi had a team-high 20 points for the Vols, who won three games in three days to win the holiday tournament. Zeigler had 14 points.

Senior guard Josiah-Jordan James did not play for the third straight game. He missed the tournament due to knee soreness.

The Vols shut down Kansas’ top two threats

Tennessee played another elite defensive game Friday, especially against Kansas’ top players.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson and guard Gradey Dick averaged 24.3 points and 16.8 points, respectively, entering Friday. The Vols took the Jayhawks’ top two threats out of the game with ferocious defense. Wilson and Dick combined for 21 points on 5-for-23 shooting.

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. Fouled out in 18 minutes. He had four turnovers and two points.

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Santiago Vescovi got rolling offensively

Vescovi didn’t make a 3-pointer until overtime against USC on Thursday. He made his first attempt Friday, then hit back-to-back 3-pointers later in the half. He hit another pair on consecutive possessions in the second half to extend Tennessee’s lead from 39-34 to 45-34.

Vescovi was shooting 29.7% on 3-pointers this season after shooting 40.3% last season.

Tennessee had a turnover problem to start

Tennessee had a season-high 16 turnovers in its 71-45 win against Butler on Wednesday. It topped that number in the first half Friday.

The Vols had 17 first-half turnovers led by Olivier Nkamhoua’s five. The Jayhawks scored 14 of their 25 first-half points off UT’s turnovers.

Tennessee limited the turnovers in the second half.

UT averaged 13.6 turnovers through six games.

MORE:Iowa State, Caleb Grill upset top-ranked North Carolina.

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Up next

Tennessee hosts McNeese State on Wednesday (7:15 p.M. ET, SEC Network).

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

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