Tennessee bounced back from its first loss of the 2021 season, beating No. 18 North Carolina 89-72 in the third place game at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
After a poor offensive performance against Villanova, Tennessee bounced back with a strong performance, scoring 89 points on 54% shooting from the field and 45% from three-point range.
Freshmen point guard Zakai Zeigler was the Vols’ MVP scoring a team high 18 points on seven-of-10 shooting from the field and three-of-four from three-point range.
Zeigler and fellow freshman Kennedy Chandler combined for 32 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists and just two turnovers in 61 combined minutes.
“It’s great,” Zeigler said of playing with Kennedy Chandler. “If I can’t bring it up, he can. If he can’t bring it up, I can. We’re both quick, lightning fast so I like playing up tempo and I’m pretty sure he does. It’s great. I’ve never played with anyone like that. Only, maybe one or two other players in my entire life. It’s great. I love it.”
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John Fulkerson also gave Tennessee his best performance of the season, doing a little bit of everything in the win. The super senior scored 13 points while missing only one shot. Fulkerson added five rebounds and six assists.
“We feel like he’s anticipating contact and trying to overdo it in there,” Barnes said of Fulkerson. “Just go do his quick game that he has. We really wanted to play through our post as much as we can in dead ball situations … Fulky really did a good job in terms of keeping it simple for the most part. We obviously like to get him running to the basket some which there at the end you saw where he was out there and Kennedy were playing those two man games. He’s really effective there.”
Barnes also discussed how the Vols’ bounced back after the Villanova loss, Vescovi’s great weekend and the complete team performance.