Admiral Schofield is no stranger to big moments, and that trend continued on Sunday.
Facing top-ranked Gonzaga in the inaugural Jerry Coangelo Classic in Phoenix, Arizona, Schofield put on a career performance against the Bulldogs.
Logging 30 points and six rebounds, including the game-winning 3-pointer, the Zion, Illinois native propelled Tennessee to stunning 76-73 comeback victory. The win marks the Vols’ first triumph over the No. 1 team in the nation since 2010 and the first overall for head coach Rick Barnes.
Grant Williams nearly had a triple double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out late. Jordan Bowden added 11 points off the bench for Tennessee.
Looking to put the memory of Nov. 23rd’s loss to Kansas behind them, the Vols took off from the starting line with some swagger. Jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead that grew to as much as nine, Tennessee opened up hitting on six of its first nine field goal attempts.
It would take the Bulldogs less than six minutes to pull within one, as Rui Hachimura recorded seven points during that span.
Trading blows for a majority of the first half, the Vols would head to the intermission with a one-point lead, despite falling behind by six at one point.
Mirroring Tennessee’s first half start, Mark Few’s team jumped out to a quick seven-point lead just four minutes into the second period.
While the Bulldogs were leading, Schofield was quietly just getting started.
Recording only five points in the first half, the senior forward tallied 25 over the course of the final 20 minutes to bring Tennessee back from nearly double-digit deficits. Rallying twice in the final ten-minutes behind Schofield and a solid second half from Bowden, the Vols found themselves at a 68-all stand-still with 3:18 to play.
Facing nearly identical challenges as three weeks ago, Tennessee had preached growth in the days following its loss to the Jayhawks.
This time around, their fortunes would be quite different.
Staring down the clock with just over 23 seconds remaining in regulation, Schofield launched an open three from the top of the key with a defender closing in on him. From 26-feet away from the basket, his shot was pure as the Vols pulled ahead by three with 22 seconds to play.
While Kyle Alexander would go on to miss the first of a 1-and-1, Tennessee’s defense forced Hachimura into a contested three that hit backboard as time expired.
Strutting into the crowd following the final buzzer, Schofield’s emotions flowed out of him as the Vols continued to celebrate and dog-pile around him.
With just four non-conference games remaining, Tennessee now finds itself in prime position to continue to surge up the rankings.