By PAT EATON-ROBB
AP Sports Writer
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Jermaine Samuels scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as No. 5 Villanova eased to a 71-53 win over No. 17 Tennessee on Saturday in the opening round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.
Collin Gillespie and Brandon Slater also scored 14 points and Justin Moore added 13 for the Wildcats (3-1), who had a 20-point lead at halftime.
Santiago Vescovi scored 23 points for Tennessee (2-1), which had opened the season with lopsided wins over Tennessee-Martin and East Tennessee. He was the only Volunteer to get to double figures.
Villanova scored the game’s first nine points, holding Tennessee without a basket for over six minutes. The Volunteers missed their first six shots, before Vescovi made a 3-pointer from the right wing.
A dunk from Samuels on a lob pass from Justin Moore capped a 14-0 first-half run that pushed the Villanova lead to 33-11. A break-away dunk by Moore just before the halftime buzzer sent the Wildcats into intermission with a 35-15 lead.
Vescovi tried to get the Vols back into the game by himself n the second half, scoring all eight points during a Tennessee run that cut a 22-point deficit to 17. But he picked up his fourth foul a few seconds later and the Wildcats’ lead was never challenged.
Tennessee: Highly touted freshman guard Kennedy Chandler scored all six of his points in the second half. Chandler averaged 18 points, five assists and three rebounds in the Vols wins over Tennessee-Martin and East Tennessee. He was just 1 of 9 from the floor on Saturday. …This was the Vols’ first away game of the season and their first regular-season, neutral-site game since 2019.
Villanova: The Wildcats are now 29-4 n November tournaments over the past decade. They will go for their eighth title over that span on Sunday. … By the end of the weekend, the Wildcats will have played three Top 25 games this season. They fell in overtime to No. 2 UCLA last Friday in Los Angeles, 86-77.
Villanova plays the winner of the second game Saturday between No. 6 Purdue and No. 18 North Carolina. Tennessee will play in the consolation game later Sunday afternoon.
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