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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Gary Bedore

No. 3 Kansas falls to No. 22 Tennessee in Battle 4 Atlantis title game

After a pair of exciting, nailbiting wins over North Carolina State and Wisconsin at the 2022 Battle 4 Atlantis, the No. 3-ranked Kansas Jayhawks fell to No. 22 Tennessee, 64-50, in the event final on Friday night at the Atlantis resort’s Imperial Ballroom in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Guard Santiago Vescovi drilled five 3-pointers (in 14 tries) and scored 20 points while Zakai Zeigler (14 points ) hit three treys as the Vols (5-1) followed wins over Butler and USC with a victory over the cold-shooting Jayhawks (6-1). Kansas had reached the final after winning a pair of games by a combined seven points.

The Vols took advantage of Dajuan Harris’ foul problems.

Harris, Kansas’ junior point guard played just 18 minutes because of foul trouble. He had two points, two assists, four turnovers.

Also, backup point guard Bobby Pettiford was limited to three minutes. He appeared to be grabbing his quad or hamstring as he exited the game after his only appearance in the first half. He sat on the bench the final half.

Kansas’ Jalen Wilson was held in check for the first time all season. He scored 14 points on 3-of-15 shooting for the Jayhawks who hit 17 of 53 shots for 32% to Tennessee’s 22 of 53 for 42%. Tennessee won despite committing 24 turnovers to KU’s 16.

Joseph Yesufu came off the bench and scored 14 points (the most points he’s had in a game at KU) on 6-of-11 shooting, while Kevin McCullar and Gradey Dick had seven points apiece for KU, which had its 17-game win streak dating to last season come to an end.

The Jayhawks have won 10 in-season tourney titles in the 20-year Bill Self era. Last year the Jayhawks fell to Dayton in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational in Florida and settled for third place.

Tennessee committed 17, yes 17 first-half turnovers — KU had 10 — yet led 33-25 at halftime. The difference was shooting.

The Vols hit 7 of 13 3s in the half to KU’s 3 of 11. KU hit 8 of 28 shots for 28.6% in the entire half. Tennessee was 12 of 27 for 44.4%.

Vescovi had nine points and Olivier Nkamhoua seven in the half for Tennessee.

KU’s Wilson and Yesufu had seven points apiece in the half. Yesufu played 10 minutes in the half. It’s because Harris picked up his third foul with 6 minutes, 13 seconds left in the half.

KU hit one of its first nine shots and trailed 12-3 with 12:44 left in the first half. The Jayhawks committed eight turnovers the first 12 minutes.

The Jayhawks did slice the gap to 17-16 at 7:01 following 3-pointers by Yesufu and Wilson. However Harris picked up his third foul with 6:13 left in the half. Tennessee upped the lead to 26-18 at 4:11.

McCullar and Yesufu each scored baskets and KU sliced the deficit to 28-25 at 2:11. However the Vols outscored KU 5-0 to close the first half.

Harris picked up his fourth foul with 15:24 left and KU down 37-31. By the 10:23 mark it was 50-38 Tennessee. Harris fouled out at 9:00 with KU down 15. It was 56-38 Vols at 6:54.

KU will next meet Texas Southern at 7 p.m. Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

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