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No. 5 Tennessee ends break with rout of Norfolk St.

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Zakai Zeigler scored 17 points and hit five of Tennessee’s 12 3-pointers Tuesday night as the No. 5 Volunteers returned from a lengthy holiday break to rout Norfolk State 87-50 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Dalton Knecht added 15, 13 of those in the first half, and Tobe Awaka came off the bench to chip in 10 points for the Volunteers (10-3). Twelve players scored for Tennessee, which moved the ball well, drawing 23 assists on 30 made buckets.

Jamarii Thomas scored 15 points for the Spartans (9-7) but also committed six of their 22 turnovers. Christian Ings added 10 points. Norfolk State couldn’t crack the Volunteers’ tough, physical defense, canning just 16 of 47 shots from the field (34 percent) and collecting only one assist.

Tennessee sank 45.5 percent from the field and earned a 37-30 advantage on the boards, with Awaka ripping down a game-high 11. The Volunteers came up with 14 steals, four from Zeigler, and committed just 11 turnovers.

The lead never dropped under 22 in the second half and stayed over 30 points for the last 9:56. Tennessee made more 3-pointers than the Spartans tried (nine).

Both teams were playing their first game in 12 days, but it was Tennessee that looked much sharper coming out of the gate. The Volunteers opened up a 10-2 lead less than 3 1/2 minutes into the game when Josiah-Jordan James splashed a 3-pointer.

Tennessee stretched the lead to 16-5 before going without a field goal for nearly six minutes. Norfolk State was able to get as close as 17-11 when Ings made two foul shots at the 8:41 mark, but the Spartans wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

Beginning with Santiago Vescovi’s 3-pointer on the Volunteers’ next possession, Tennessee outscored the Spartans 26-7 for the half’s remainder. A good chunk of that damage came from four 3-pointers, including a second one from Vescovi with five seconds left that made it 43-18 at the break.

–Field Level Media

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