Santiago Vescovi hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:45 left in overtime and No. 22 Tennessee held on for a 73-66 win over Southern California on Thursday in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Vescovi’s lone made 3-pointer in eight attempts gave the Volunteers a 69-66 lead. It was followed by two Trojans turnovers before Zakai Zeigler hit two free throws to give Tennessee a five-point lead with 23 seconds left.
Tennessee (4-1) advanced to the title game Friday night against No. 3 Kansas, which beat Wisconsin 69-68 in overtime in the other semifinal. The Trojans (4-2) will face the Badgers in the third-place game Friday afternoon.
Julian Phillips scored a game-high 25 points, sinking 10 of 12 free throws and adding eight rebounds for Tennessee. Olivier Nkamhoua added 12 points and six rebounds, while Vescovi had seven points and five assists.
The Trojans were led by Boogie Ellis, who had 21 points, four assists and three rebounds. Tre White had 11 points and four rebounds as the only other USC player to finish in double figures.
Trailing 62-58, Phillips hit a clutch jumper with 3:08 left before Nkamhoua’s layup tied the game with 1:01 to go.
After USC’s Drew Peterson missed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 34 seconds remaining, Vescovi missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
Tennessee shot 24 of 64 (37.5 percent) from the field, including 3 of 18 from beyond the arc (16.7 percent), in addition to scoring 25 points off the Trojans’ 19 turnovers.
The Trojans went 27 for 60 (45 percent) from the field, including 5 of 15 from 3-point range.
Ellis scored 15 first-half points and Johnson added nine to carry the Trojans in the first half, which ended with Tennessee leading 37-34.
Tennessee was led by Phillips’ 13 points, while Nkamhoua added eight in the first 20 minutes.