Gonzaga falls in Phoenix to No. 7/7 Tennessee, 76-73
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The No. 1/1 Gonzaga men’s basketball team lost its first game of the season, 76-73, to No. 7/7 Tennessee in the first Jerry Colangelo Classic Sunday.
Admiral Schofield hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left and scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half.
Tennessee (7-1) jumped on Gonzaga early and fought back from a nine-point, second-half deficit.
Reigning SEC player of the year Grant Williams fouled out with 2:30 left, but the Vols went up two when Schofield banked in a 3-pointer with 80 seconds left.
After Rui Hachimura tied it with two free throws, Schofield hit a long 3 and Tennessee held on for its first win over a No. 1 team — fifth overall — since beating Kansas in 2010.
“We knew it would have a March kind of feel to it,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who moved into a tie with Gary Williams for 25th in Division I with 668 victories. “When you play against a No. 1 team, you’re going to play 40 minutes and we probably did that better today that we had any other game this season.”
Hachimura and Brandon Clarke had 21 points each for the Bulldogs (9-1).
“It was heck of a basketball game,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We just ended up on the short end. They made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
The Zags passed every previous test despite playing without injured forward Kevin Tillie.
Gonzaga blew out Texas A&M in Spokane, then knocked off Illinois, Arizona and then-top-ranked Duke to win the Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs beat Washington in their last game on Hachimura’s last-second jumper.
Tennessee, a popular preseason Final Four pick, took No. 2 Kansas to overtime before losing and beat Louisville by 11 in its closest win of the season.
Hachimura had no trouble against one of the nation’s best defensive frontcourts, effectively using his mid-range jumper to score 14 points by halftime.
Williams had 12 and the Vols led 34-33 after Jordan Bowden hit a last-second jumper.
Schofield brought the Vols back, tying it at 68 with a 3-pointer from the wing with just over three minutes left. He kept pouring in big shots, leading the Vols to a win over the nation’s top-ranked team and, most likely, a climb in the AP Top 25.
“That’s easily the most physical team we’ve played so far,” Few said. “We did fairly well.”
CLARKE’S BIG BLOCK
Clarke had one of the best blocked shots of the early college basketball season early in the second half, swatting Yves Pons’ two-handed dunk attempt like a volleyball spike. The block drew a roar from the crowd and oohs and aahs even on the replay.
“Blocking shots and dunking are definitely the most fun things for me on the basketball court,” said Clarke, who grew up in Phoenix. “It’s always fun to jump at another player who’s super bouncy.”
Tennessee plays at Memphis on Saturday.
Gonzaga plays at No. 14 North Carolina on Saturday.
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