Tucson, AZ – Sixth-ranked Tennessee battled from start to finish in a hostile road environment but came up short Saturday night at No. 9 Arizona, 75-70.
The Vols (9-2) trailed by as many as 10 points late in the second half but fought back to cut Arizona’s lead all the way down to just one point.
Sophomore Zakai Zeigler led the Vols with a career-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting a career-high-tying six rebounds. Senior Olivier Nkamhoua was the other Vol in double figures, scoring 16 points while also notching five assists and four rebounds.
After a tied halftime score, Arizona (10-1) opened the second half on an 8-2 run and controlled the lead for the entirety of the final period.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 10 points following a quick 7-0 run, capped off by a three in transition from Courtney Ramey with 7:22 remaining that gave Arizona its largest lead of the night at 61-51.
Tennessee, however, immediately responded, rattling off a 12-3 run—powered by back-to-back threes from Zeigler and Tyreke Key—to cut the deficit to just one point. The Vols had two offensive possessions late while trailing by one point, but were unable to claim the lead.
Arizona capitalized on Tennessee’s missed opportunities to take the lead with a Pelle Larsson and-one layup. Larsson’s bucket extended the Wildcats’ advantage to 69-65 with 2:30 remaining, and after a missed three by the Vols, Arizona made it 71-65 with 1:54 remaining on its next possession.
Tennessee and Arizona went into the halftime break tied at 35 after a first half that saw the two teams trade blows the duration of the period.
After an opening 10 minutes that saw neither team lead by more than four points, the UT Vols pulled in front by as many as seven in the first half—last at 29-22 with 6:52 remaining on a Key fadeaway jumper in the paint. The Wildcats answered that deficit with a 7-0 run to tie the game, and the two squads played even for the rest of the opening stanza.
The Tennessee Vols shot 57.9 percent (11-for-19) from the field during the opening 12 minutes of the game, but ended the half at 44.1 percent after making just four of its final 15 shot attempts of the half. Tennessee limited Arizona to 40.7 percent shooting in the first half—more than 13 percent lower than their nation-leading mark of 54.7 percent.
Arizona was 11-for-12 at the free-throw line during the first half, while Tennessee did not attempt a free throw.
With a nine-point outing Saturday, senior guard Santiago Vescovi reached the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 54th Vol in program history to do so. Six of the 54 Vols to eclipse 1,000 points have reached the mark during the Rick Barnes era (Jordan Bowden, Robert Hubbs III, John Fulkerson, Admiral Schofield, Lamonte Turner, Vescovi, Grant Williams).
Next Up For UT Men’s Basketball
The Tennessee Vols basketball team returns to Knoxville for one final home non-conference contest before the holiday break and the beginning of SEC play—taking on in-state foe Austin Peay State University (APSU) on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 5:00pm CT on SEC Network+.