No.4 Tennessee got payback, dispatching No.10 Texas 82-71 on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd of more than 20,000 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The two teams also met last year as part of the challenge, with Texas squeaking out a 52-51 win in Austin.
Olivier Nkamhoua scored a career-high 27 points and added seven rebounds, while Zakai Zeigler had 22 points and 10 assists to lead Tennessee, which held Texas scoreless for more than six minutes in the first half.
The Volunteers reeled off nine straight points during the Longhorn’s scoring drought, turning a tie game into a 26-17 lead on the way to a 40-28 lead at halftime.
The lead grew as large as 22 for the Volunteers after a Santiago Vescovi three-pointer with 13:50 left.
Texas kept fighting, however, going on an 11-2 run as Tennessee went nearly four minutes without a field goal, cutting the margin to 13 points at the 9:55 mark.
But the Volunteers answered with a Nkamhoua layup and then a Zeigler scoop off the glass to get the lead back to 17 with 8:15 left. The Longhorns would not get their deficit narrower than 11 points the rest of the way.
WHAT TO KNOW
— Overall, Tennessee (18-3) shot 55.6% from the field and dominated Texas (17-4) inside, winning the rebounding battle 38-23.
— Josiah-Jordan James had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Vols, while Vescovi scored 12 points and had a team-high eight rebounds.
— The Longhorns were led by 21 points from Sir’Jabari Rice off the bench and 11 from Marcus Carr and Brock Cunningham.
— Carr, Texas’ leading scorer, did not get his first points until early in the second half, as two early fouls impacted his production.
— Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was the Longhorns’ coach from 1998-2015, becoming the all-time winningest coach (402) in Texas men’s basketball history.
— Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry was an assistant at Texas under Barnes for nine seasons.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Texas was 2 of 10 (20%) shooting from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes and finished 7 of 24 (29.4%) from long-range.
— The Longhorns second-leading scorer, forward Timmy Allen, joined Carr in failing to make an impact. Allen went scoreless in the first half and finished with six points on 3 of 6 shooting.
— While Texas will likely fall from its No.10 ranking in this week’s AP poll, Tennessee will probably garner some first-place votes, with No.2 Alabama losing in a stunning 93-69 rout to Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. The Big 12 won seven of the 10 matchups in the challenge.
— Terry on the Longhorns being outrebounded: “They really pounded us on the glass, we don’t get out-toughed too often. We got out-toughed tonight.”
— Terry on the Volunteers’ defense: “(Tennessee) played us really hard. They protected the paint and didn’t give us a lot of good looks.”
— Texas returns to conference play to host No.17 Baylor on Monday night. The Bears defeated Arkansas 67-64 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.