Schofield’s 3 lifts No. 7 Tennessee over No. 1 Gonzaga 76-73
PHOENIX (AP) — Tennessee lost the reigning SEC player of the year down the stretch against the nation’s top-ranked team.
The Vols still had the Admiral to lead them.
Admiral Schofield hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left and scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half, helping No. 7 Tennessee knock off top-ranked Gonzaga 76-73 in the Colangelo Classic on Sunday.
“Our team really executed in the second half,” Schofield said. “A lot of good looks for a lot of guys and anyone could have knocked down those shots, we have so many talented people on this team.”
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.”
Gonzaga (9-1) had two shots at a tying 3-pointer, but Zach Norvell Jr. and Hachimura missed.
Hachimura and Brandon Clarke had 21 points each for the Bulldogs.
“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.
Gonzaga built a quick seven-point lead in the second half, let Tennessee claw back, then went up 58-50 on a pair of Norvell 3-pointers as he traded baskets and trash talk with Schofield.
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.”
Tennessee looked every bit a Final Four contender, knocking off the nation’s No. 1 team with its best player on the bench the final 2:30.
Gonzaga had passed all its previous tests, but not having Tillie hurt the Zags against the talented Vols.
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.”
BARNES BEATS A NO. 1
Barnes got something he never had during his 31-year coaching career: A win over a No. 1 team.
Barnes had never beaten a top-ranked team during stops at George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas and Tennessee.
Barnes was unaware of the stat. His players were.
“We wanted to get him that win over a No. 1 team,” Schofield said.
Tennessee plays at Memphis on Saturday.
Gonzaga plays at No. 14 North Carolina on Saturday.