Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee Volunteers, SEC Basketball

The Tennessee Volunteers pulled away late in the first half and didn’t look back against Texas.


The Tennessee Volunteers defeated Texas, 82-71, to aid the SEC in the last version of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. 

Tennessee was led by the duo of Olivier Nkamhoua and Zakai Zeigler, with Nkamhoua putting up a very efficient 12-of-15 effort from the floor and 27 points. Zeigler produced a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists. 

Texas got a solid performance from Sir’Jabari Rice, shooting 8-for-15 from the floor and scoring 21 points, but no other Longhorn scored more than 11. 

This is yet another Quadrant One win for Tennessee, who already beat Kansas, and it’s a missed opportunity for Texas to build momentum with a big road win. 

Takeaway #1: Glass cleaners set the tone

Tennessee was the more physical team on Saturday, and it showed in the box score. The Volunteers out-rebounded Texas by a margin of 38-24, with two more offensive rebounds and a dozen more defensive rebounds. 

As well as leading in points for the Vols, Nkamhoua led the team in rebounds with 8, a game high. 

This led to Tennessee getting to the line 23 times, of which they converted 16, compared to Texas’s 12-of-17 mark from the charity stripe. 

Takeaway #2: Zeigler zigs and zags to a double-double

The 5-9 point guard was the second star of the night for the Vols, shooting 70% from the field and dishing out 10 assists for a 22-10 performance. 

Whenever the guard was on the floor, Rick Barnes’ squad was able to space the floor to perfection and allow open looks from their best shooters, Zeigler himself included.

Averaging just under 5 assists per game heading into the contest, Zeigler’s performance was very encouraging for a Tennessee squad wanting to make some noise in March after two straight disappointing showings in the Big Dance the past two years. If the lead guard can play at this caliber against a quality ranked team, there’s no reason to think the Volunteers can’t create solid offensive gameplans to go along with their stellar defense once the tournament rolls around. 

Takeaway #3: Carr troubles for Texas

Marcus Carr didn’t have his best game today, and no one’s going to go 100% from the field every night, but he certainly didn’t pick a great night to go cold. 

Despite a 3-for-6 mark from inside the arc, Carr shot six threes and made just one, to go along with 4 personal fouls. 

He improved in the second half, but his first half performance contributed to a hole that Texas was never able to claw out of. Picking up his first foul just 12 seconds into the game, he remained scoreless at half on 0-of-3 shooting while picking up two fouls and committing a turnover.

At halftime, the Longhorns were down 40-28, and when Texas faced their largest deficit down 22 points with 13 minutes left, Carr had picked up his third foul already. 

Carr and Tyrese Hunter, the two starting guards, combined for just 18 points, after the two came in averaging 27.9 PPG as a duo. In an 11-point game, that makes a difference. 

Next game for the Tennessee Volunteers: @ Florida (Feb. 1 – 7 p.m.)

Next game for the Texas Longhorns: #17 Baylor (Jan. 30 – 9 p.m.)

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