AP Photo/Wade Payne
Only five undefeated teams remain in NCAA Division I men’s basketball after the No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers dispatched the visiting No. 6 Arizona Wildcats 77-73 on Wednesday in Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena.
John Fulkerson’s 24-point, 10-rebound double-double paced the Vols, who also got 15 points from Santiago Vescovi and 12 more via Josiah-Jordan James.
Fulkerson dominated after the second half’s under-four timeout, scoring six straight Vols points en route to seven total.
The super senior hit a short jumper to give Tennessee a 69-67 lead before adding a pair of free throws for a four-point advantage following an Arizona turnover.
Azuolas Tubelis then cut the Tennessee lead to 71-69 with a two-pointer, but Fulkerson responded with a putback layup for a 73-69 edge with 56 seconds remaining.
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Tubelis made two more layups in the final minutes, but the Vols iced the game with four made free throws around those shots for the win.
Bennedict Mathurin scored a game-high 28 points alongside eight rebounds and five assists for Arizona, which also got 11 points from Kerr Kriisa.
Tennessee looked like it was going to run away with this game in the first half after opening up a 16-2 first-half lead en route to a 34-21 halftime advantage.
However, Arizona chipped away at the Tennessee lead thanks to 14 second-half points from Mathurin, who finished the game 8-of-16 shooting and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
Ultimately, Arizona fell largely because of 17 turnovers and foul trouble that affected the entire starting lineup.
Mathurin, Kriisa and Christian Koloko all fouled out, while Tubelis and Dalen Terry each had four. Tennessee ended up going 18-of-27 from the line, while Arizona was 12-of-18.
The Wildcats fell to 11-1 with the defeat. Baylor, Iowa State, USC, LSU and Colorado State are left among the unbeaten following Arizona’s loss.
Tennessee improved to 9-2.