Phillips helps no. 22 Volunteers pass Trojans in OT

9 hours ago
Tennessee Athletics

Photo: Tennessee Athletics

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – No. No. 22 Tennessee came out on top in Thursday’s back-and-forth battle in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, outlasting USC in overtime, 73-66.

Tennessee and USC went back and forth for the first three minutes of overtime, with Trojan Boogie Ellis tying the score at 66 with 2:09 left in OT.

On the next trip down the court, Santiago Vescovi hit a 3-pointer from the wing as the shot clock wound down to put the Vols up 69-66.

From there, Tennessee forced three USC turnovers and Zakai Zeigler was 4 for 4 at the line to seal the victory.

Freshman Julian Phillips led the Vols offensively throughout the game, finishing with a career-high 25 points and 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also pulled down eight rebounds and was 10-for-12 on free throws.

Olivier Nkamhoua also scored in double figures for the Vols with 12 points and six rebounds on 5-for-8 shooting.

With Tennessee trailing 62-60 with just over a minute to play, Phillips found Nkamhoua in the box for a contested layup that tied the game.

On the ensuing possession, the Vols forced a USC 3-pointer and Phillips grabbed the rebound with 34 seconds left. Tennessee had a shot to win the game in the final seconds, but Vescovi’s 3-pointer missed.

After Tennessee took a three-point halftime lead, USC threatened to pull away in the second half, outscoring the Vols 11-4 in the first five minutes of the quarter to take a four-point lead at 45-41.

As he did many times in the game, Phillips had an answer for the Vols to get to the rim and a layup that started a 10-0 Tennessee run and put the Vols back in control.

After USC ended Tennessee’s run with a jumper by Kijani Wright, the teams played the remainder of regulation in an eight-point window — with neither team leading by more than four points.

Tennessee led for most of the first half and took a 37-34 halftime lead.

The Vols extended their lead to as many as eight points with 1:13 left in the opening minutes when Mashack stole a USC inbound pass, took the ball the length of the floor and threw down and one snap to put Tennessee ahead, 37-29.

However, USC responded and scored the final five points of the half – including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Boogie Ellis to bring the Trojans within three points.

After a slow offensive start in the Bahamas opener against Butler on Wednesday, Tennessee was much quicker out of the gates on Thursday, shooting 42 percent from the field in the first half.

Phillips, who scored a career-high 11 points against Butler on Wednesday, tied a career high in the first quarter alone with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

UP NEXT

With the win, Tennessee advances to Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game against No. 3 Kansas, which defeated Wisconsin on Thursday in overtime, 69-68. Tip-off is scheduled for approximately 7:30 PM ET on ESPN.

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