NASSAU, The Bahamas — Tennessee men's basketball picked up a 71-45 win on Wednesday night against Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal in the Bahamas.
No. 22 UT was without guard/forward Josiah-Jordan James as he had knee soreness. He had a knee procedure in the offseason.
The Vols and Bulldogs struggled on offense in the first half.
Tennessee didn't start the half shooting well, although they picked it up as the half concluded. They had 10 turnovers in the half. UT got to the free-throw line quite a bit though, which helped them score.
Butler shot just under 32% in the first half and compiled bad shooting with 13 turnovers.
The Bulldogs led 23-18 with 3:44 to go in the first half. The Vols went on a 10-0 run to end the half, capped off by a three-pointer from Zakai Zeigler as the buzzer sounded. That gave Tennessee a 28-23 lead going into the half.
The Vols stretched that lead out to nine 32-23 in the second half after buckets from Tyreke Key and Uros Plavsic. Butler did not go away, they trimmed the lead to 36-34 after an alley-oop dunk finished off by Pierce Thomas.
Tennessee immediately responded with an explosion of points. The Vols went on a 17-1 run powered mostly by Santiago Vescovi. He didn't have a point until 13:01 left in the second half. He proceeded to score 11 points in a little under four minutes of gamer time with three made three-pointers.
The second was his 200th career made three-pointer. The Vols got up 53-35. Vescovi finished with 13 points.
The exclamation mark came with 4:35 left in the game, Olivier Nkamhoua threw down a big two-handed dunk to put Tennessee up 62-41.
Julian Phillips scored 11 points for the Vols. Zeigler added 10 points.
The Vols play USC in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals on Thanksgiving at 1:30 p.m.