Tennessee Flourishes in Win Over Arkansas

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

By Keeghan Krause

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It was senior night for No. 12 Tennessee, who claimed a 75-57 victory over Arkansas on Tuesday that was filled with ups and downs.

The Vols played complete against the Razorbacks as the defense was impressive and the offense was buzzing. Almost everything that you could want from a senior night game you got. Almost. A Zakai Zeigler injury will loom over the otherwise gleaming success that this game was.

The first half for this Volunteer team was a gritty, resilient one that gave us a picture of the two way powerhouse that this team can be. Forcing turnovers, bad shots, and just overall smothering Arkansas on defense. Offensively, working the ball inside, capitalizing on transition offense from that stellar defense, and spacing the floor to get shooters open were the keys. 

However, some heartbreaking news loomed over Tennessee despite the early success.

Starting point guard Zakai Zeigler exited the game early in the first half due to an apparent knee injury, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night. The full extent of this injury is yet to be disclosed, however, no matter how long Zeigler is out it will have a huge impact on this team going forward. 

Tennessee forced 10 turnovers and scored 9 points off of those turnovers, also they held Arkansas to 37.5% from the field. On the other end of the floor the Volunteers were able to shoot 43% from the field, most of those coming from their 24 points in the paint. Furthermore 12 of those points came from second chance buckets. This inside heavy offense is not the norm for the Vols but it worked great in this first half. Tennessee led 34-25 heading into halftime.

The second half was much of the same, dominant defense turned into opportunistic offense. The Volunteers were able to make a usually well oiled Arkansas offense look lost out there. Tennessee offensively flourished both on the fast break as well as in half court sets. If Key or Zeigler are able to return anytime soon, this offense could get dangerous down the stretch. 

In the game as a whole Tennessee shot 50% from the field compared to Arkansas 37%, and Arkansas shot 36% from three to Tennessee’s 25%. Tennessee committed just ten turnovers to Arkansas 16. Tennessee also out-rebounded the Razorbacks 35-32. 

The stars in this one were Olivier Nkamhoua with 16 points and 7 boards, and Santiago Vescovi with 14 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists, both of whom participated in the senior night festivities before the game. On the Arkansas side there were four players in double digits Black (13), Smith Jr (12), Davis (13), and Council IV (11).

All in all this senior night played out exactly the way the Volunteers wanted to, except for the devastating  Zeigler injury. We’ve learned just how important James and Phillips are. We’ve also learned that this team can overcome the adversity of the lack of a true point guard. However these things will be continuously tested as we head into March. 

Tennessee kicks off March, and concludes the regular season, against Auburn at 2:00 PM Saturday.