Vols' upset bid falls short at No. 3 Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (UT Sports) — Despite a career-high 24 points from junior Yves Pons and a third double-double in five games from junior John Fulkerson, solid late free-throw shooting led third-ranked Kansas past Tennessee, 74-68, Saturday at historic Allen Fieldhouse.

The matchup was part of the 2020 Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Vols fell to 12-7 on the year, while Kansas improved its record to 16-3.

Pons's 24 points were the most points scored by a Vol in UT's all-time series with Kansas. He finished the afternoon 8-of-14 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Fulkerson's 12 rebounds were both a career-high and the most-ever by a Tennessee player against Kansas. He added 15 points to his ledger to finish with a double-double.

Vols senior Jordan Bowden also had an effective evening for the Vols, scoring 19 points—all after halftime—to lead UT's second-half charge.

Freshman Santiago Vescovi added nine points, five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers.

A slow start for both squads through the opening 10 minutes saw the Jayhawks build an early 11-9 advantage despite the teams combining for a 36-percent shooting mark from the field (9-of-25).

Over the next two minutes, the Vols broke open a 12-2 run, knocking down four consecutive field goals—spearheaded by two 3-point baskets from Pons—to take a 20-13 lead with 8:02 remaining in the opening half.

The Jayhawks responded, outscoring UT 13-6 over the next four minutes to knot the score at 26-26.

In the closing minutes of the opening frame, Kansas established its largest lead of the afternoon, holding a 37-30 advantage as the teams headed into the locker room.

Out of the break, an evenly matched start to the second half saw Kansas hold on to its seven-point advantage as both squads went bucket-for-bucket to increase the score line to 49-42, in favor of the Jayhawks at the under-16 media timeout.

As the second half wore on, the Vols held steady against the Kansas attack, knocking their deficit to just six points as the Jayhawks led 62-56 with less than eight minutes remaining.

In the game's final minutes, the Vols fought incredibly hard, knocking KU's lead to as few as three points. However, solid free-throw shooting from Kansas cemented the outcome.

Absolutely Not: Yves Pons finished the contest with three blocks, marking his 19th consecutive game with at least one block and his 12th-game of the season with at least three.

Fulky Flow: John Fulkerson's 15 points and 12 rebounds marked his third double-double in five games. Fulkerson is averaging 8.8 rebounds over the last five contests for the Vols.

Up Next: Tennessee returns home to take on Texas A&M inside Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.