Vols star Santiago was fired after a heated argument between “… This Shocked Us!

In recent memory, Santiago Vescovi’s debut at Tennessee stands out among the others.

The Uruguayan native enrolled at Knoxville as a midyear student on December 28, 2019, and on January 3, 2020, he was officially cleared to play. In his first game against LSU, Vescovi made six three-pointers, the most for a debut ever. Despite having just had a few practices, he went on to score a game-high 18 points.

Against LSU, that effort started a run of excellent play. After Saturday night’s 64-50 victory over No. 13 LSU by No. 24 Tennessee, Vescovi’s average against Will Wade’s Tigers is now 15.3.

“I really don’t know,” Vescovi said with a smirk on his face following the win when asked if he could pinpoint why some of his best games have come against LSU. “Tonight, the whole team had a great game. The environment was really good.”

Vescovi has always been one to deflect the attention from himself. Yet the numbers speak for themselves.

In his four career games against the Tigers, Vescovi is shooting 45% from the field and 49% from three on 17-of-35 shooting. He’s also averaging five rebounds per game, 3.5 assists and a steal.

Saturday night was no different. With revenge on the mind of the Vols exactly two weeks after they were embarrassed in Baton Rouge, Vescovi sparked them with 12 first half points on 4-of-7 shooting from three.

“Santi’s brought it every night,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Has he had one or two off nights? Maybe, but with his effort and defense, he plays like he’s 6’7”. He’s highly competitive. That’s one guy that you know is going to bring it every night.”

Vescovi went on to finish with a team-high 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal in 38 minutes. His plus-minus of +21 was the best on the team as Tennessee led wire-to-wire and 39:33 of the 40 minutes.

Tennessee started the game on a 14-0 run. It started with a Vescovi three on the first possession of the game and ended with a Vescovi three.

“We’re making a big emphasis on the defensive end, trying to help each other and I think that showed up tonight,” Vescovi said. “In that start we were making shots and I think that helped us throughout the whole night, just by playing a little more loose.”

After being embarrassed last Saturday by Kentucky in Lexington, Tennessee’s win over LSU capped a much-needed undefeated week. The Vols beat Vanderbilt 68-60 in Nashville on Wednesday before returning home to face the Tigers.

It doesn’t get any easier for UT moving forward. The Vols are back in action on Wednesday night against rival Florida (12-6, 3-3 SEC) before traveling to Texas on Saturday to take on the 23rd-ranked Longhorns (14-5) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

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