Olivier Nkamhoua poured in a career-high 27 points and Zakai Zeigler added 22 points and 10 assists as No. 4 Tennessee did just about everything right in an 82-71 win over No. 10 Texas on Saturday in a Big 12-SEC Challenge game in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Volunteers (18-3) built a 12-point lead at halftime that they expanded to 22 with torrid shooting over the first six minutes of the second half.
Texas drew to within 69-58 after a jumper by Marcus Carr with 6:06 remaining before a dunk by Nkamhoua at the 4:08 mark and a free throw by Josiah-Jordan James 41 seconds later pushed Tennessee’s lead back to 14 points — too much for the Longhorns to overcome.
James hit for 14 points while Santiago Vescovi tallied 12 for Tennessee, which has won four straight games.
Sir’Jabari Rice led Texas (17-4) with 21 points, with Carr and Brock Cunningham adding 11 apiece for the Longhorns, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. The Longhorns’ starters scored just seven points in the first half, with Carr and Timmy Allen — their two leading scorers on the season — held scoreless.
The game was knotted at 17 with 10:44 to play in the half. The Volunteers then reeled off an 11-2 run culminating with Nkamhoua’s layup with 4:12 remaining that gave Tennessee a 28-19 advantage. That lead expanded to as many as 14 points after a pair of free throws by Zeigler with 1:48 left before the Volunteers settled for a 40-28 advantage at the break.
It was the fourth straight game that Tennessee has limited its opponent to 28 points or less in the first half.
Nkamhoua’s 14 points before halftime led all scorers while Rice’s 11 paced Texas. The Longhorns’ bench players outscored Tennessee’s reserves 21-2 over the first 20 minutes of play to help Texas stay close.
Any thought of a Longhorns comeback was all but squashed when Tennessee made nine of its first 10 shots over the initial six minutes of the second half while boosting its lead to 61-39.
–Field Level Media