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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Earns Dominant Win Over Texas A&M

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball wasn’t at its best for the first 15 minutes of Saturday night’s matchup against Texas A&M. Then the Vols turned the burners on in a 86-51 victory.

Tennessee used a massive run around halftime to take control of the game and coasted to a home victory thanks to big performances from Jonas Aidoo and Zakai Zeigler.

Here’s three quick takeaways on the win that moves Tennessee into a tie for first place in the SEC.

Tennessee’s Defense Forces Texas A&M Into Bad Offense

Texas A&M is not a good three-point shooting team, and Tennessee did a stellar job of forcing the Aggies to shoot an abundance of three-pointers. In fact, 22 of Texas A&M’s 36 first half field goal attempts came from beyond the three-point line.

Unlike two weeks prior in College Station, Texas A&M struggled to hit three-pointers and made just five of those 22 first half attempts with three coming from Wade Taylor IV.

Texas A&M finished the game shooting just seven-of-34 from three-point range.

But the most successful part of Tennessee’s defense wasn’t just that they forced Texas A&M into an abundance of triples but that they kept them from getting to the free throw line successfully— one of the most effective parts of the Aggies’ offense. Texas A&M took just four free throws in the first half and 15 for the game.

The Vols also did a strong job of keeping Texas A&M off the glass. The Aggies still had some success on the offensive glass, grabbing 10 rebounds, but it was at a 16.7% offensive rebound percentage which was well below their nation’s best 43.4% rate entering the matchup.

Tennessee Takes Control In The Middle 10 Minutes

Tennessee and Texas A&M were knotted at 24 with 4:30 left in the first half. Tennessee’s offense was badly struggling, missing three open layups and starting just two-of-nine from three-point range.

The fact that the game was only tied given that fact was an early sign that Texas A&M was unlikely to pull out the win. Tennessee made sure in the ensuing 9:30 minutes around the halftime break.

The Vols finally got their offense going late in the first half. Josiah-Jordan James hit a midrange jumper, Jonas Aidoo scored twice at the basket and Dalton Knecht hit four free throws. The biggest play came as the first half clock expired with Santiago Vescovi drilling a corner triple to put the Vols up 10 at the break.

Tennessee came out just as hot in the second half. Aidoo hit a jump hook on the first possession of the second half. Zakai Zeigler ran a masterful secondary break to get Vescovi another open three and Knecht connected from deep a possession later.

After being tied with 4:30 to go in the first half, Tennessee ended the opening 20 minutes on a 13-3 run, started the second half on a 12-5 run and led by 17 early in the second half.

The game was all but over.

Jonas Aidoo And Zakai Zeigler At Their Best

There may be no player more important to Tennessee being at its best this season than junior power forward Jonas Aidoo.

And Aidoo was about as good as he could be against the Aggies on Saturday night. The 6-foot-11 forward totaled 18 points on nine-of-14 shooting from the field and added 14 rebounds and three blocks. Maybe just as importantly, he matched the physicality of one of the SEC’s most physical teams.

Junior point guard Zakai Zeigler struggled shooting the basketball, finishing the game three-of-10. He couldn’t have been any better otherwise.

Zeigler completely controlled the game, dishing out 14 assists while not recording a single turnover. He set the tone on the defensive end, recording four steals. He came incredibly close to recording a triple-double, adding nine points and nine rebounds to his final total.

The junior duo was dominant against Texas A&M on Saturday.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee basketball returns to Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center on Wednesday night where they’ll host Auburn. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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One Response

  1. After experiencing the loss at A&M…listening to the home team yell “OVER-RATED” towards the was very gratifying experiencing A&M get trounced by 35 points from an “OVER-RATED” team. GBO!!

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