~ from UTAD
NEW YORK — In a battle of top-five teams, No. 5 Tennessee dropped a heartbreaker to second-ranked Kansas in overtime, 87-81, in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game at the Barclays Center.
The Big Orange fought the whole game, but an 18-12 advantage in overtime pushed the Jayhawks to the win. Admiral Schofield, who scored nine in overtime, finished with a team-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds.
Grant Williams, who fouled out with 1:24 left in regulation, added 18 points, eight rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and two steals. Kansas’ Dedric Lawson won Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after leading the Jayhawks 24 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the championship.
Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone chipped in 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting along with six rebounds and five assists. Lamonte Turner and Kyle Alexanderwere the other Vols to score in double-digits, with 10 points each.
Williams and Bone both were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Vols (4-1) had a slow start on the offensive end of the floor during the first half, missing their first six shots and 15 of their first 20. On the other end of the floor, Kansas (5-0) began the game by knocking down six of its first nine attempts. Despite the disparity, UT never trailed by more than five during the frame.
At the 7:45 mark in the first half, Bone knocked down a jumper to snap a six-minute scoring drought for Tennessee and make it a 19-16 KU advantage. That would spark the Big Orange offense for the remainder of the period, shooting 8-of-13 from the floor. A Turner 3-pointer gave UT its first lead of the game with 3:51 left.
Bone, who had seven points and five rebounds in the frame, knocked down a three right before intermission to give Tennessee a 33-31 lead.
The second half was just as hectic as the first. The Vols led for the majority of the period but never pulled ahead by more than nine. After a 10-0 run by the Jayhawks to take a five-point lead, UT countered with an 8-0 flurry. The last five minutes would go back-and-forth between both teams.
With the game tied at 69-69 with 1:24 left, both teams’ defense stepped up and held the other without a basket, forcing overtime. Kansas had two looks at the basket during the final 30 seconds but missed both attempts, including one as time expired.
KU opened overtime on a 5-0 run. An offensive rebound by Schofield got the Vols on the board to end the run, but it wasn’t enough to halt Kansas’ offense. The Jayhawks hit four of their final six shots to put the game away.
Tennessee returns home to face Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on SEC Network.