Vols Win Big On Senior Night Despite Zeigler Injury

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Photo via Vol_Hoops on Twitter

FINAL:

Tennessee – 75

Arkansas – 57

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It was senior night in Knoxville and Tennessee was set to honor a group of seniors that it feels like have been around in Knoxville for 10+ years. Depending on how usage of the COVID eligibility year goes in this senior class, it could be the last night for Santiago Vescovi, Uros Plavsic, Olivier Nkamhoua, Josiah-Jordan James, Tyreke Key, and Kent Gilbert.

Tennessee established a quick 4-0 lead over the Hogs, and then disaster struck. What should’ve been a happy celebration of a group of seniors the fans had come to know and love was overshadowed by another fan favorite, and star point guard, Zakai Zeigler going down with a scary non-contact leg injury.

If anyone could handle the adversity and come back stronger it would be the second year, tough-as-nails point guard, but it is tough to see someone go down with that type of injury. From a team perspective, if Zeigler is going to be out long-term, it could be detrimental. The Vols are going to need players in other positions to step up in a big way.

Tennessee was able to refocus as they grew the lead to 7-0 and were able to maintain control for the rest/majority of the half. Tennessee’s bigs were doing work down low as the Vols scored most of their points in the paint with 24, and won the rebounding battle 22-14. After withstanding a couple of pushes from the Razorbacks, Tennessee was able to take a 25-34 lead into the locker room, tying their largest lead of the night.

By the 18-minute mark of the second half, a Vescovi three-ball extended the largest lead of the night to 12 with a 39-27 lead. At 11:45 Josiah-Jordan James extended the largest lead to 15 as the Vols stayed in control with a 39-54 lead. Tennessee’s defense was playing its usual brand of hard-nosed basketball, but an abundance of whistles were slowing the game down and making it hard for either team to find a true rhythm. Vescovi was having a fantastic game with his family in attendance. A 14-0 run from Tennessee pushed their lead out to 24 with three minutes left on senior night. Triple J hit a deep three to nail his final shot in TBA as he and the rest of the seniors got standing ovation as the clock hit 0:00. Tennessee got a huge late season SEC win with a final score of 75-57, but was overshadowed by the uncertainty of Zakai Zeigler’s immediate future.

This is what Tennessee Head Coach, Rick Barnes, had to say post-game via Ben McKee of Govols247 on Twitter:

Tennessee’s next game is the last of the regular season and against Auburn in Neville Arena at 1:00 on Saturday.

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