Slow start dooms Vols against Villanova

A sluggish offensive start proved too much for Tennessee’s men’s basketball team to overcome Saturday afternoon against a top-10 opponent.

The No. 17 Volunteers were held scoreless for more than six minutes at the start of their game against No. 5 Villanova in the Cheez-it Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The Wildcats, conversely, started fast and cruised to a 71-53 victory over the Vols.

Tennessee (2-1) found itself behind, 9-0, before Santiago Vescovi hit a 3-point shot with 13 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first half.

Villanova (3-1) forced UT into 18 turnovers in the contest and surrendered just 15 first-half points to the Vols.

Vescovi matched a career high with 23 points but was the only Vols’ player to post double figures in the scoring column.

Freshman Zakai Zeigler scored seven points off the bench for the Volunteers, who will play the loser of the North Carolina-Purdue game Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EST and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Kennedy Chandler scored six points and Justin Powell finished with five for Tennessee.

Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater each had 14 points for the Wildcats and Justin Moore finished with 13.