Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler returned to the court on Monday in Knoxville for the first time since tearing his ACL on the final day of February earlier this year.
The junior guard checked in for the first time during the first half of Tennessee’s season opening game against Tennessee Tech to a massive ovation from the fans in attendance.
The Food City Center crowd showered Zeigler in love and he showed it right back.
For the first time since tearing his ACL in February…
Enter: Zakai Zeigler pic.twitter.com/MGJo5UEDnp
— Ric Butler (@Ric_Butler) November 6, 2023
Zeigler’s recovery throughout the SEC and NCAA tournaments, along with his work over the offseason, has been well documented. The Long Island native has been working tirelessly throughout the offseason with Tennessee’s trainers and coaches to be ready for the season.
Zeigler is expected to play “limited minutes” in the Vols’ game against the Golden Eagles on Monday, which is pretty much exactly what has transpired throughout the first half of play.
“We haven’t yet really got to put the whole team together,” Barnes said on The Nation Sunday night. “We were hoping tomorrow (Monday) will be the first time, and certainly it will be limited minutes for Zakai. But Jordan Gainey today wasn’t feeling well, missed practice.”
The Vols are currently leading Tennessee Tech by a score of 41-12 at halftime. While Zeigler does not have any points yet, the junior guard has racked up one rebound and three assists in six minutes on the floor, plus a heads-up steal.
WE SEE YOU Z
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) November 7, 2023
Jordan Gainey, on the other hand, provided Tennessee a spark in the first half when the scoring was a little slow out of the gates. The transfer from USC Upstate has seven points, one rebound, and one assists after seven minutes of action during the first half.
Tennessee defeated Tennessee Tech by a score of 80-42 on Monday night in Knoxville.
Zeigler, who returned from injury during the first half of play, totaled just over 12 minutes of on-court action. The junior guard didn’t have the biggest night on the box score but influenced the game with his pace of play and experience throughout. Zeigler ended with three points, five assists, and two rebounds in his first game back since tearing his ACL back in February.
Listen to Rick Barnes speak out Zeigler’s return below: