Santiago Vescovi out of starting lineup for second straight game for Tennessee, did take part in warm-ups

Santiago Vescovi missed his first game of the year on Friday night in the Sweet 16 with the flu, but he could play a role off the bench on Sunday with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi (25)
Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi (25) / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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The Tennessee Volunteers have been a much improved offensive unit this season, and while most of that credit goes to Dalton Knecht, senior guard Santiago Vescovi has played a key role on that end for Rick Barnes’s team. However, Tennessee was without its starting shooting guard on Friday in its 82-75 win over Creighton and could be without him again on Sunday in the Elite Eight against No. 1-seeded Purdue. 

Vescovi has been in Detroit for the Midwest Regional but has been sick with the flu. Vescovi was stuck in bed on Friday night and the veteran leader is out of the starting lineup for the second-straight game after starting 34 of 34 games throughout the year. 

On Saturday, Vescovi was asked about his experience in quarantine away from the team as it tries to make a run to the first Final Four in Tennessee history. “Throughout the whole day like it was a nightmare to be honest for me. Like of course I wanted to play but on top of that I just had to deal with not feeling well. I had a fever, body aches. I was freezing all the time.”

Friday night was the first time that Tennessee had to play with a different starting five all season, a charmed year from a health perspective. Jahmai Mashack replaced Vescovi and played 25 minutes, scoring just four points, but adding two steals and two blocks, one of Creighton’s 7-foot-4 Ryan Kalkbrenner. 

Mashack could be tasked with helping out on Zach Edey defensive Sunday, and his defensive presence could be a positive in the starting lineup, but Vescovi’s offense will be missed. It was a down-year for Vescovi, only averaging 6.5 points after scoring 12.5 per game a season ago, but his ball-handling and shooting is still vital to Rick Barnes’s team. 

Vescovi took part in warmups ahead of the matchup with Purdue which is a good sign for his availability.

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