Highlights/Postgame/Stats/Story: Rough start in CT, #17 Vols lose to #5 Villanova, 71-53

Box Score (PDF) | Highlights | VIDEO: Barnes & Vescovi Postgame

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The 17th-ranked Tennessee basketball team struggled early offensively and never found its rhythm, falling 71-53 to No. 5 Villanova Saturday at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

Tennessee shot 19-for-57 (.333) from the field on Saturday. Santiago Vescovi was the lone Vol in double figures, tying his career high with 23 points.

Out of the gates, Villanova jumped out to a 17-5 lead, aided by Tennessee’s 2-for-12 shooting start. The Vols cut the Wildcats’ lead to eight at 19-11, but Villanova answered by ending the half on a 16-4 run to take a 35-15 lead into the halftime break.

Santiago Vescovi – Vols G / Credit: UT Athletics

Overall for the first half, Tennessee shot 5-for-22 (.227) from the field.

The Vols and Wildcats battled even in the second half, but Tennessee was never able to draw closer than 15 points.

Villanova was led by Jermaine Samuels, who logged 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Collin Gillespie and Brandon Slater also scored 14 in a balanced effort for the Wildcats.

UP NEXT: Tennessee is set to face 18th-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.

-UT Athletics