Vols cruise by Longwood advancing to Round of 32

Published 1:33 am Friday, March 18, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS – Using hot shooting from start to finish, No. 3 seed Tennessee cruised by No. 14 seed Longwood Thursday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, 88-56, to advance to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.

Tennessee shot a season-high 60 percent from the field on Thursday (33-for-55), including 58 percent on 3-pointers (14-for-24). The performance set a program record for field-goal percentage in an NCAA Tournament game.

Santiago Vescovi was one of five double-figure scorers for Tennessee, pouring in a team-high 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Vescovi also had a team-high seven assists and a team-high-tying four steals.

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Vescovi’s six made 3-pointers tied for the most ever by a Vol in an NCAA Tournament game. Vescovi also set the Tennessee program record for best 3-point percentage in an NCAA Tournament game (.750).

Josiah-Jordan James scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting—including 15 in the first half—and grabbed nine rebounds. John Fulkerson had his highest scoring total since December with 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting, scoring 11 of Tennessee’s first 17 points Thursday.

Kennedy Chandler had an impactful all-around performance with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Zakai Zeigler scored 10 points and had six assists.

After Longwood kept pace in the opening minutes, Tennessee took control of the game. Holding just a one-point lead at 16-15 nearly nine minutes into the game, the Vols strung together a quick 13-2 run to take control—building a lead that would never be less than 10 for the remainder of the game.

The Vols further extended their lead to close the half—finishing on a 13-0 run in the final 3:13. Between Vescovi and James, the Vols made seven 3-pointers in the final 5:48 of the half on just eight attempts.

Tennessee took a 54-29 lead into halftime, setting a season-high for first-half scoring. The Vols shot 67 percent from the field (20-for-30) before the break. Tennessee had 18 assists on those 20 made field goals in the first half.

Defensively, the Vols forced 12 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and committed just two themselves. Three Vols scored in double figures during the first half—James with 15, Fulkerson with 13 and Vescovi with 12.

That trio was a combined 15-for-20 shooting in the opening period.

Tennessee advances to face No. 11 seed Michigan on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, who defeated No. 6 seed Colorado State on Thursday. Tipoff time and TV network will be announced late Thursday night.

Thursday marked Tennessee’s 27th win of the season, which stands as the fourth-most wins in a single-season in program history. Tennessee has won 27 or more games four times in program history. Two of those four seasons have come under the direction of seventh-year head coach Rick Barnes.

With six made 3-pointers during Thursday’s win, Santiago Vescovi moved into fourth place on Tennessee’s all-time single-season made 3-pointers list. Vescovi has 101 made threes in 34 games this season.

With four steals Thursday, Kennedy Chandler brought his season total to 72—moving him into sole possession of third place on Tennessee’s all-time single-season steals list. The program record for steals in a season is 78.