By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Santiago Vescovi scored all 13 of his points after halftime and sparked the clinching run that helped No. 22 Tennessee beat Butler 71-45 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Vescovi hit three 3-pointers during a 17-1 run that blew the game open for the Volunteers (3-1), who shot 53% after halftime. Tennessee led 28-23 at the break, then responded when Butler got within a basket with the big run that pushed the Vols to an 18-point lead midway through the second half.
Julian Phillips added 11 points for Tennessee, which had to go without leading scorer Josiah-Jordan James (13.7) due to soreness in his left knee. He had an offseason procedure on that same joint.
Jayden Taylor scored 18 points with four 3s to lead the Bulldogs (3-2), who shot just 31.9%. That also included a pair of costly droughts, first by going the last 5:05 of the first half without a field goal and then the seven second-half minutes as Tennessee made its move.
Leading just 36-34, Phillips got the run started with a driving basket, then Vescovi followed with a 3 from the left wing off an inbounds pass.
That got Vescovi going. He followed with another 3 from the right corner off a kickout feed from Zakai Zeigler, then hit a third from the right wing off another feed from Zeigler.
By the time Vescovi jumped Eric Hunter Jr.’s pass and scored on a runout, Tennessee led 53-35 with 9:15 left.