PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – No. 22 Tennessee led from start to finish and captured the Battle 4 Atlantis title Friday, taking down No. 3 Kansas, 64-50.
The win marks the Vols’ fifth straight win over an AP top-10 team and fourth over a top-five team. It also snapped a 17-game win streak dating to last season for the defending national champion Jayhawks and gave Tennessee its first holiday tournament title since 2010.
Santiago Vescovi, who was named Tournament MVP, scored a game-high 20 points with six made 3-pointers. Zakai Zeigler added 14 with three made 3-pointers, while Tyreke Key was Tennessee’s third double-figure scorer with 10 points.
Defensively, Tennessee held Kansas’ duo of Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick, who entered Friday’s game averaging a combined 41.1 points per game—to just 21 points on 5-for-23 (.217) shooting.
Tennessee held Kansas to 32 percent shooting as a team.
After Tennessee led by eight points at halftime, the Vols and Jayhawks played back-and-forth for the opening eight minutes of the second half before an 11-0 Tennessee run—with eight of the 11 points scored by Zeigler—put the Vols in control and in front by 18.
Kansas briefly threatened with a quick 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 11, but a three from Zeigler put the game back in Tennessee’s hands with 4:42 remaining. The Jayhawks did not draw closer than 13 the rest of the way.
In the opening minutes of the game, Tennessee stormed out of the gates and controlled the contest for the vast majority of the first half, taking a 33-25 lead into the halftime break.
The Vols raced out to a 12-3 lead over the course of the first seven minutes of the game, with a different player scoring each of their five baskets during that stretch. Defensively, Tennessee held Kansas to just 1-for-8 shooting from the floor during its opening run.
Kansas climbed back into the game during a few first-half spurts, narrowing the lead to as little as one point after back-to-back 3-pointers from Joseph Yesufu and Jalen Wilson at the 7:03 mark.
Tennessee quickly responded to that threat with back-to-back threes from Key and Vescovi to quiet the majority-Kansas crowd.
The Jayhawks again cut into the Tennessee lead with just more than two minutes left in the opening period, to which the Vols responded with five straight points to end the half—including a 3-pointer from Nkamhoua in the closing seconds.
Tennessee shot 44 percent (12-for-27) from the field during the first half compared to Kansas’ 29 percent (8-for-28).
UP NEXT: Tennessee returns to Knoxville for a three-game homestand, beginning with a meeting with McNeese State on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. ET on SEC Network. Tickets are available at AllVols.com.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Santiago Vescovi was named Tournament MVP and a member of the All-Tournament team, while Julian Phillips also earned a spot on the five-man All-Tournament team.
Vescovi averaged 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the tournament, while Phillips averaged 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
2022 Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament Team
Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee
Julian Phillips, Tennessee
Jalen Wilson, Kansas
Boogie Ellis, USC
Tyler Wahl, Wisconsin
Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee
VOLS CAPTURE A HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT TITLE: Tennessee’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship marks its first holiday tournament title since November 2010, when Scotty Hopson and current 76ers star Tobias Harris fueled the Vols to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship, defeating VCU and No. 7 Villanova at Madison Square Garden.
ANOTHER TOP-FIVE TAKEDOWN: Including last month’s exhibition win over No. 2 Gonzaga, Tennessee has now won five straight games over AP top-five opponents.
The Vols defeated No. 4 Kentucky, No. 3 Auburn and No. 5 Kentucky (SEC Tournament) last season before taking down No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Kansas in the past month.
Tennessee has now logged nine AP top-five wins in total during the Barnes era.