First Round Preview: #13 Chattanooga Vs. #4 Illinois
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Santiago Vescovi didn’t make a shot in the first 14 minutes of Tennessee’s Round of 64 blowout win over Longwood.
Kennedy Chandler got a steal, ran the court found Vescovi open on the left wing. Bullseye.
“For me, Coach always tells me push the ball,” Chandler said of the play. “I saw the paint was pretty packed and I’m always looking for my shooter on the wing, either Josiah or Santi. Santi always runs the court very well. I saw him in the wing. He’s a great shooter, and he knocked it down. That’s the thing in practice we know run the court everyone and sprint down the court get ready to shoot the ball and me kick it out to them.”
“All my teammates do a great job for decision-making with the ball every single time,” Vescovi said. “They are going to find the open guy every single time in. That case, K.C. did it and he found me. I think it always feels good when you see the first one going in, just kind of getting a rhythm.
Once the Uruguayan sharpshooter got one to fall, the flood gates busted open. Vescovi’s first triple went with 5:48 left in the first half. His second one went down 38 seconds later, his third went down with 3:53 left in the half and his fourth — and final — triple of the first half came with 3:53 left in the half.
Vescovi’s trio of long balls matched Josiah-Jordan James’ trio of long balls in the first half’s final minutes. That pushed Tennessee to a 25-point halftime lead and the Vols never looked in the NCAA Tournament opening win.
The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter picked up where he left off in the second half. Vescovi nailed Tennessee’s first three-pointer of the second half and kept it rolling making both of his three-point attempts.
Vescovi’s six made three-pointers (six-of-eight) shooting tied Chris Lofton’s record for most three-pointers made in a Tennessee NCAA Tournament game.
“I think definitely my teammates, they are the one that is got me going,” Vescovi said. “They always find me in the right spot at the right time. I think I couldn’t have been able to get all those shots if it wasn’t for them, try and get the offense from me and the right time and the right spot. So I think it all started on defense when we started to lock a little more, play more aggressive and on offense, we were trying to get the right shot every time, so I wasn’t really worried about myself. But then the shots came so I had to take them.”
Lofton made six triples in a pair of NCAA Tournament games: the Vols’ 2006 loss to Wichita State and their 2007 Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State.
Vescovi’s strong shooting day wasn’t the only record Tennessee broke in its, 88-56, win over Longwood.
The Vols shared the ball excellently against the Big South Champions, recording 29 assists on 33 made baskets. The 29 assists are the most ever from Tennessee and an NCAA Tournament game.
The Big Orange posted a lethal 1.375 points per possession in the win.
Tennessee will face off with No. 11 seed Michigan in the Round of 32 Saturday. The game time is yet to be announced.