UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The 17th-ranked Tennessee basketball team controlled the game from start to finish Sunday and closed out the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off with a victory, taking down No. 18 North Carolina, 89-72.
Four Vols scored in double figures during the win, led by freshman Zakai Zeigler, who scored a career-high 18 on 7-for-10 shooting—including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. Zeigler also had five assists and did not commit a turnover in 28 minutes of action.
Junior Santiago Vescovi had a productive outing for the second consecutive game, scoring 17 points and grabbing a career-high nine rebounds. Freshman Kennedy Chandler had his third double-figure scoring output in four games as a Vol, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Super-senior John Fulkerson shot 6-for-7 from the field, scoring a season-high 13 points, dishing out a career-high six assists and tallying five rebounds.
As a team, Tennessee (3-1) shot a season-high 54.3 percent (38-for-70) from the field, including 65.6 percent during the second half (21-for-32).
After taking a seven-point lead into halftime, Tennessee came out hot offensively in the second half, hitting nine of its first 10 shots and building its lead to 15 points on an Olivier Nkamhoua jumper in the paint at the 14:30 mark.
From that point forward, North Carolina never drew closer than nine points, while Tennessee extended its lead to as many as 20 points.
Coming out of the gates playing solid on both ends of the floor, Tennessee held a 39-32 lead at the halftime break.
After the teams battled back and forth for the opening eight minutes of the game, the Vols used a 10-2 run to take a 23-16 lead and despite runs by North Carolina, did not trail for the remainder of the period or the rest of the game.
Tennessee used a balanced scoring attack early in the contest, as the Vols’ first 23 points came from eight different players. The Big Orange defense was also swarming during the opening 20 minutes, forcing nine UNC turnovers.
The Tar Heels cut Tennessee’s lead to two and three points on two separate occasions, but the Vols answered with runs of their own both times—eventually capping off the first half with a 6-2 run highlighted by two Fulkerson baskets.
UP NEXT: Tennessee heads back to Knoxville for a pair of home contests, starting with a matchup against Tennessee Tech on Friday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. on SEC Network+.
POWELL MAKES FIRST START AS A VOL: With Josiah-Jordan James out due to flu-like symptoms, sophomore transfer guard Justin Powell made his first start as a Vol on Sunday against North Carolina, scoring eight points in 22 minutes of action. Through four games this season, Powell is averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting 51.7 percent from the field.