Offensive prowess leads #22 Vols past Texas A&M
Published 1:23 am Wednesday, February 2, 2022
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CONTRIBUTED BY UT ATHLETICS
KNOXVILLE – Shooting 57 percent in the second half and boasting five players who scored in double figures, the No. 22 Tennessee men’s basketball team defeated Texas A&M, 90-80, Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee (15-6, 6-4 SEC) was in rhythm all night shooting the basketball, making 29-of-57 (.509) from the floor and 11-of-26 (.423) from 3-point range.
The second half was especially successful, as the Volunteers were 15-of-26 (.577) from the field, sinking 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.The offense was marked by balance, as five Vols scored in double figures.
Kennedy Chandler led the Vols in scoring with 16 points. He also dished out seven assists and had three steals. Olivier Nkamhoua tallied 15 points and swatted away three shots, while Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler each posted 14 points.
Santiago Vescovi finished with 13 points while shooting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. James’ had an all-around big night as his 15 points were the most he has scored this season.
He grabbed eight rebounds, leading the team in boards for the seventh time this season and 20th time in his career. James picked up five steals, tying a career-high, and setting a career-best in an SEC game. He also sank a season-high five free throws.
The Vols never trailed in the contest and scored 90 points in a conference game for the first time in an SEC game this season.
Texas A&M (15-7, 4-5 SEC) was led by freshman Wade Taylor IV, who scored 19 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers and drained seven free throws.
The Volunteer offense was in a groove right from the tip, scoring its most points first-half points in an SEC game this season with 43. James came out firing, draining eight of Tennessee’s first 12 points.
Nkamhoua led a balanced offensive attack with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor, he also pulled down four rebounds in the frame.
Chandler was a force distributing the ball, dishing out five assists in the first 20 minutes. Tennessee had to fend off a speedy Aggies comeback, as the visitors shot 10-of-18 from the floor in the first 14 minutes of the second half.
The Big Orange halted the Texas A&M momentum in a big way, going on a 12-0 run, courtesy of a pair of treys from Justin Powell and two steals that Tennessee turned into four points.
The Vols never looked back, holding A&M at an arms length for the remainder of the game and never letting the lead get smaller than seven points.
Tennessee travels to the Palmetto State to take on South Carolina, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Colonial Life Arena. The Vols return to Rocky Top on Feb. 12 to face Vanderbilt. Tickets are on sale now at AllVols.com.
JAMES DIALING IT UP:
Junior guard Josiah-Jordan James has stepped up his play spanning UT’s last six games. Since Tennessee’s game against South Carolina on Jan. 11, James is averaging 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent (12-for-30) from 3-point range. In the middle of that stretch was Tennessee’s win at Vanderbilt, which James started but left after just four minutes due to injury and did not return.
ZEIGLER ON A TEAR:
Freshman guard Zakai Zeigler is averaging 10.6 points per game over the course of his last five games and has scored in double figures six times since the start of SEC play.
NKAMHOUA SEC HIGH:
Olivier Nkamhoua’s 15-point effort tied the highest scoring output of his career in an SEC game, matching his previous high of 15 points at Alabama on Dec. 29.
PROTECTING HOME COURT:
With Tuesday’s win, Tennessee improved to 12-0 at home this season. Dating to last season, the Vols have won 13 straight inside Thompson-Boling Arena.