UT forward Olivier Nkamhuoa must have eaten his Wheaties the morning before the Vols’ second-round NCAA tournament game against Duke. Or maybe at halftime he tore open a can of spinach and downed it like Popeye. After scoring four points in the first half, Nkamhuoa roared out for 23 in the second half, including 17 of the Vols’ last 19 points—13 of them on a 13-0 scoring run. His last four points came on a memorable putback slam and two free throws that made the final score of 65-52.
UT played intense, physical, smothering defense—just ask Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski, who went up high for a rebound with long-armed Jonas Aidoo and came away with a Rocky-type cut under his eye. “Just a basketball play,” assured the announcers. For the game Aidoo had eight points, five rebounds, and three big blocks.
Five minutes into the second half, Josiah-Jordan James made a key tie-up and followed up with an intercepted pass and scored on a jump shot at the other end. James had seven points and five rebounds for the game.
Santiago Vescovi hit four three-pointers and totaled 14 points, five assists, and five rebounds. One of his assists was an Alley-Oop pass midway through the first half that freshman Julian Phillips slammed to give the Vols a 13-10 lead. A few minutes later Phillips lofted an Alley-Oop of his own that Aidoo slammed to put the Vols up 22-21. Five minutes later, Phillips’ hard-nosed on-the-ball defense caused a Duke travel.
Midway through the second half, Phillips slammed a rebound of a Nkamhoua shot then seconds later drove hard down the lane to draw the foul. Phillips’ impressive play bodes well for the game on Thursday, March 23, against Florida Atlantic in Madison Square Garden.