Zakai Ziegler dropped 22 points — 14 of which came in the second half — and added 10 assists for his third double-double since SEC play started, and Olivier Nkamhoua finished with a career-high 27 points in Tennessee’s 82-71 win against Texas.
Tennessee’s offense kicked off the game by getting two offensive boards and ending up with an empty possession thanks to a turnover.
Texas took an early 2-0 lead on its first trip down the floor, and the Vols turned it over on their second possession that led to former Tennessee recruiting target Dillon Mitchell hitting one of his two free-throw attempts.
Josiah-Jordan James scored Tennessee’s first point on a straight, line drive to the hoop at the 17:19 mark, but Texas made a fast-break layup to give the Longhorns an early 5-2 lead.
Nkamhoua made it 5-4 with a layup with an assist from Zakai Ziegler with 16:40 remaining in the half.
By the under-16 media timeout, the Vols took their first lead of the game on a James’ middy jumper, 6-5, that also came off a Ziegler dish.
Uros Plavsic got fouled near the hoop, and did some trash talking, then walked up and air-balled the first FT and missed the second. Thankfully, the Vols got the board off the FT miss and James hit his first 3 of the game.
Texas answered with back-to-back 3s, giving them a 10-9 lead, but a Zeigler-to-Nkamhoua alley oop put the Vols up a point again at 11-10 with 13:53 left. Texas went down and took the back the lead with an emphatic dunk.
Nkamhoua made another layup around the 13-minute mark, and then UT turned a Longhorn turnover into two made Santi-made FTs. 15-12 Vols. Right before the under-12 media timeout, Tyreke Key collected a defensive rebound and then turned it over.
At the 9:52 mark, the Vols managed to not only make an entry pass but also convert the layup when Julian Phillips got the ball in the block and spun baseline for a layup. Then Santiago Vscovi made his first 3, Texas missed another shot and Tobe Awaka scored his first points of the game. James hit another jumper in the paint area, and just like that — the Vols are on a 9-0 run, and Texas hasn’t hit a shot in going on four minutes of game time. With 7:08 left until half, UT leads ut 26-17. James leads the was scoring with nine points on 4-5 shooting in just eight minutes of playing time.
Neither team scored for nearly three minutes, then the squads exchanged layups at the 4:30 and 4:12 mark. Texas added two FTs on its next possession, but then Nkamhoua answered with a put back on his own missed shot attempt, making it 30-21 Vols with 180-ish seconds left until halftime.
The Vols extended their lead to 10 when Ziegler went straight to the hoop, made the layup and the accompanying free throw. Less than a minute later, he hit his first 3 of the game, created a turnover on defense, got fouled and hit both free throws. Vols up 38-24 with 1:48 left.
From 1:48 on, Ziegler hit a fast-break layup, Olivier made two FTs and Texas’ SirJabari Rice hit two jump shots before the halftime clock explired. The Vols head into the lockerroom with a 40-28, 12-point lead.
The Vols forced just six Texas turnovers in the first 20 minutes and only scored four points off of them. That’s an abnormally low figure of points of TOs, something that Tennessee usually dominates.
Nkamhoua kicked off the second half with a post touch that turned into a turnaround, fade-away from about eight feet that dropped, giving him a game-high 16 points. Texas counted with a 3 on the other end. Olivier made two more buckets, but Texas answered in lockstep with buckets on each subsequent possession of its own.
Ziegler hit his second 3 of the game with 16:43 left, and then drilled another one on the Vols’ next possession.
By the under-16 timeout, Tennessee led 52-37, but had 12 second-half points to Texas’ nine. Phillips hit a layup after the break, again Texas answered, then Zakai hit another layup. The defense forced a turnover that led to a wide-open Santi 3, and seemingly out of nowhere, Texas hasn’t scored in more than two minutes, and the Vols are eight of their last nine from the field. A 7-0 Vols’ run pushed UT’s lead out to 61-39 with 12:28 remaining.
Santi hit a 3 after the under-14 TO, but then got whistled for a flagrant hook-and-hold, which kicked off a Texas run. Tennessee didn’t score for more than three-ish minutes, and the Longhorns cut the lead to 50-63 with an 11-2 run that spanned more than four minutes, which induced a 30-second timeout from Vols’ Head Coach Rick Barnes.
Olivier Nkmhoua stopped the bleeding with a hook shot in the lane, and the defense immediately forced a Texas turnover than Ziegler turned into a bucket at the rim.
Ziegler and Nkamhoua connected on another alley oop at the 6:55 mark, but Texas answered with five-straight points of its own, cutting UT’s lead back down to 69 (nice)-58.
Around the four-minute mark, James found Nkamhoua in the post after he sealed his man, and Nkamhoua dropped-stepped his way to his 25th and 26th points of the night. Vols up 71-58.
Josiah-Jordan made 1-2 from the FT line around the three-minute mark, but Texas went down and hit another jumper early in the shot clock. On the next possession, James hit another jumper, for his 14th point of the game.
With 2:17 left, Phillips missed a 3, but Santi came up with the ball under the hoop and converted the layup to make it 76-61 with two-ish minutes remaining in the game.
Tennessee iced the game with two made FTs late from each of Vescovi and Ziegler.
- Olivier and Ziegler led the way in scoring, but two other Vols scored in double figures: Vescovi with 12 on 3-7 from the field, including 2-5 from deep, and James with 14 on 5-11 shooting (1-4 from 3)
- Only three other Vols scored — Tyreke Key had one point, Julian Phillips had four points and Tobe Awaka had two points
- That leads into the next point... Tennessee got just three points from its bench tonight. That’s an aberration from what we’ve seen for most of this season
- Santi tied Olivier for the team-high with eight rebounds
- The Vols hit all three of their dunk attempts and made 14 of their 16 layups tries
- Vescovi led the team in +/- at +18
- Ziegler played 37 minutes, Vescovi played 35 and Santi played 33
- Zakai’s 22 wasn’t due to volume — it was an efficient night for him. He hit 7-10 from the field, 3-6 from deep and 5-5 from the FT line. His ten assists made for his third double double since SEC play started
- 71 points is the second-highest total a team has scored on this Tennessee defense this year, finishing just under the 75 Arizona put up during the Vols’ second loss of the year
- The Vols shot 55 percent from the field but just 31 percent from 3. Texas shot 44 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep (7-24).
- UT ended up with 19 assists on 30 made FGs for an assist-percentage mark of 63 — that’s four-ish percentage points short of its yearly 67 percent, which ranks it 5th nationally
- Uros Plavsic air-balled a free throw tonight, making it two-straight games he’s hit literally nothing on a shot from the charity stripe. He played just six minutes and missed all four of his FT shots. He did, however, snag three rebounds. So, like, yay for him.