Zakai Zeigler's big second half lifts No. 22 Tennessee over South Carolina
Field Level Media
Feb 5, 2022
Zakai Zeigler matched his career high with 18 points -- all in the second half -- and helped No. 22 Tennessee turn a tight game with South Carolina into an 81-57 blowout Saturday afternoon in Columbia, S.C.
With Tennessee (16-6, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) holding a 40-37 lead five minutes into the second half, Zeigler tallied his squad's next 10 points in a 2 1/2-minute span for a 50-39 lead.
His 15 points in a 24-4 run lifted the Volunteers to their 50th win in 78 meetings with South Carolina (13-9, 4-6) and even their mark at 17-17 in Columbia.
Tennessee won for the eighth time in nine games against the Gamecocks and collected its fifth consecutive SEC victory.
A native of nearby Charleston, Josiah-Jordan James returned to his home state with a career-high 20 points and added six rebounds and three blocks.
Santiago Vescovi scored 13 points, and Kennedy Chandler produced 11 points and matched a career best with 10 assists.
The Vols shot 51.9 percent from beyond the arc (14 of 27), posted 10 steals and blocked six shots.
Leading shot-blocker Olivier Nkamhoua left the game early in the second half with a leg injury.
In his sixth season, Tennessee big man John Fulkerson (eight points) tied an SEC record for all-time games played with 152, matching the mark set by Kentucky's Darius Miller from 2008-12.
Devin Carter and Erik Stevenson each netted 13 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 31.5 percent (17 of 54) and committed 13 turnovers.
Despite South Carolina ranking third in the SEC in opposing field-goal percentage (40.1 percent), the Vols held a hot hand early, particularly from long range. They went 4 of 5 from distance, including a pair from James, for a 12-7 lead.
But in a fast-paced first half, Carter kept the Gamecocks in it, 19-17, with five points, helping to offset Tennessee's 5-for-9 3-point showing in the first 11 minutes.
Jermaine Couisnard's running layup put the home side ahead 24-23 with 5:43 left, but a 7-1 run to end the half gave the Vols a slight 33-29 edge.
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