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What Rick Barnes Said About Late Game Lineup, Final Play

UCLA Gets Statement Win Over Arizona

Tennessee nearly erased 34 minutes of poor offensive play with six strong minutes Saturday night at Texas.

After making 12 shots in the game’s first 34:30 and four shots in the second halves first 14:30, Tennessee’s offense came alive, making seven shots to go on a 16-0 run and knot the Longhorns up with just over a minute to play.

The Vols even had the ball with the game tied, but eventually the Longhorns took a 51-50 lead with six seconds to go.

With the ball under its own basket, Tennessee took a timeout to draw up the final play. 

Zakai Zeigler passed it in to Olivier Nkamhoua at the top of its own three-point line, Nkamhoua got the ball back to the point guard as he past him. The freshman guard dribbled inside the three-point line, finding Josiah Jordan James on the right wing for a game winning three-pointer that missed just left.


“We executed our out of bounds play,” Barnes said. “We were planning on bringing it to halfcourt because we did not think they would let us run by them like we did. I told Zakai when it comes in, if you got it, you go. If I don’t think you got it, you don’t worry about a timeout— I’ll call it. We couldn’t have asked for a better look. Zakai and the force we played with at the end. His force — all those guys out there at the end — did a terrific job.”

With three Longhorn players packing the paint, Zeigler undoubtedly made the right decision passing the ball off. One could argue that he should’ve driven deeper to get Santiago Vescovi an open triple in the corner.

However, Vescovi was zero-of-five from three-point range and James was previously three-of-six from deep with eight points in the 19-3 run to end the game.

Barnes drew up a play that got his freshman point guard space and Zeigler made the right decision, getting a wide open three-pointer to win the game. It’s illogical to complain about that look.

“I’ve seen shots like that one fall at the end against us,” Barnes said of his years at Texas with a laugh. “I was hoping that one would go in.”

The other controversy surrounding the final play was Tennessee’s lineup. The Vols’ rode with Zeigler, James, Vescovi, Nkamhoua and Victor Bailey Jr. 

Barnes’ lineup kept point guard Kennedy Chandler on the bench as the Vols’ kept the lineup that made the miraculous run in.

“We even thought about it at the end but it was just the fact that that group that was playing, they actually wanted to stay like that,” Barnes said. “I asked them when they were coming over if anyone needed a blow and they all said ‘no, coach let us go. Let us keep riding this.’ Sometimes you have to listen to them. They felt good about it and he (Zeigler) is a tough guy. He, a couple times early in the game went in, but he’s not going to stop going. He’s a force, but those guys were in a rhythm and a groove and that’s why we just stayed with them, and they wanted to.”

Tennessee is looking to bounce back from the narrow loss when they host another Texas team to Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night. Tip-off between the Vols and Texas A&M is set for 7 p.m. ET.

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