ARIZONA BASKETBALL

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats suffer 1st defeat in road loss to No. 19 Tennessee

Dec 22, 2021, 8:02 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm
Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) drives against Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (3) during an NCAA...

Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) drives against Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (3) during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — John Fulkerson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 19 Tennessee overpowered No. 6 Arizona early and held on for a 77-73 win Wednesday night, giving the Wildcats their first loss.

Santiago Vescovi had 15 points, Josiah-Jordan James added 12 and Justin Powell scored 11 for the Volunteers (9-2).

Bennedict Mathurin had 14 of his 28 points in the first half. He was the only Arizona (11-1) starter to score in the first 20 minutes as Tennessee took a 34-21 lead. Kerr Kriisa scored 11 points for Arizona.

Tennessee hit seven of its first 11 shots and opened with a 16-2 advantage in the first five minutes. It took the Wildcats until the first four minutes of the second half to get back in the game. Arizona hit 7 of 9 shots to start the second half to cut the Vols’ lead to 44-40.

Christian Koloko’s layup tied it at 62-62 with about five minutes left. With the game tied at 67-67, Fulkerson had a layup and two free throws to stretch the Tennessee lead to four.

With the Vols up 71-69, Fulkerson grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled, putting Tennessee up by four.

BIG PICTURE

Respect was a big part of what the Wildcats were seeking in their pre-Pac-12 campaign. Wins over Michigan and Illinois gave some credibility.

The trip to Tennessee was supposed to be another confidence builder heading into the heart of the schedule. Arizona came into the Tennessee game No. 1 in the country in scoring (91 points per game), scoring margin (+28.2) and assists per game (21.8).

UP NEXT

Arizona’s trip to Knoxville was the start of the meat grinder portion of their schedule.

After a break for Christmas, they Wildcats to action Dec. 30 in Los Angeles for an early Pac-12 showdown with No. 5 UCLA.

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