Zeigler’s 18 lead No. 22 Vols to 81-57 win over Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Zakai Zeigler tied his career high with 18 points – all coming in the second half – including back-to-back 3-pointers to break open a tight game as No. 22 Tennessee pulled away from South Carolina for its fifth straight Southeastern Conference victory, 81-57, on Saturday.

Josiah-Jordan James finished with a career-high 20 points for the Vols (16-6, 7-3 SEC), who were up just 40-37 early in the second half when Zeigler got things going.

The freshman from Long Island, New York, connected on two 3-pointers 11 seconds apart to extend the lead. When Zeigler made a pair of foul shots two minutes later, the Vols were up 50-39 and would not be caught by South Carolina (13-9, 4-6).

Zeigler matched his best showing set against North Carolina earlier this season. James surpassed his previous best of 18 set against Georgia last season.

Vols starting forward Olivier Nkamhoua, tied with James coming in as the team’s top rebounder, left with an injury in the second half after getting seven points and five boards. He went to the locker room before returning with his left ankle taped.

Tennessee had won seven of the past eight over South Carolina, the last two including earlier this season, by 20 points. And the Vols certainly looked ready to pile up the points as they made four 3-pointers, two by James, in the first four minutes to go up 12-7.

But South Carolina, third in field goal percentage defense in the SEC, turned up the pressure to keep things tight the rest of the half.

Chico Carter’s inside basket gave the Gamecocks a 28-26 lead with less than five minutes left in the half. But the Vols went on a 7-2 run to close the half, a surge started by Kennedy Chandler’s uncontested dunk and closed with his foul shot for a 33-29 lead at the break.

Tennessee, third in the SEC in three-point shooting percent, made four of its first five shots from behind the arc before cooling off and going two of its last seven the final 15 minutes. The Vols ended with 14 3-pointers, the fifth time in the past seven games they’ve hit double-digit threes.

Devin Carter and Erik Stevenson had 13 points each to lead South Carolina.

> South Carolina shot a season-low 31.5 percent from the field (17-for-54).
> The Vols’ 14 3s are the most given up by the Gamecocks this season. Carolina came into the game allowing just 31.1 percent from deep (80th nationally). Tennessee was 14-of-27 today (51.9 percent).
> The Gamecocks had 13 turnovers which the Vols turned into 17 points – most coming in a short spurt in the second half that broke the game open.

Erik Stevenson recorded his team-best 13th game (49th career) in double-figures Saturday. He was 3-of-4 from deep and 4-for-4 at the free throw line.
Devin Carter also had 13 points to go alongside five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The Miami, Fla., native now has eight double-figure outings in his freshman season (three in SEC play).

> South Carolina host No. 5/7 Kentucky (17-4, 6-2 SEC) in a Super Tuesday matchup on ESPN at 7 p.m. (ET). Karl Ravech (pxp), Jimmy Dykes (analyst) and Marty Smith (sideline reporter) will be on the call for the nationally televised broadcast against the Wildcats.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks