Good ole Rocky Top! # 12 Tennessee defeats Arkansas 75-57

On a joyous senior night in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Tennessee Volunteers welcomed the Razorbacks to Thompson Boiling Arena for a high-flying Wednesday night SEC matchup. Despite struggling in Southeastern Conference play, Tennessee came into the Arkansas game ranked 12th in the country with a weight on their back; the Volunteers got the best of Arkansas in a must-win SEC game.

In the first half, it was all Tennessee as the Volunteers dominated the Razorbacks. At the break, it was 34-25 in favor of the Volunteers as the Razorbacks struggled to contain the overly talented Tennessee Basketball team. Olivier Nkamhoua led the Volunteers in scoring ten points, and Santiago Vescovi had six of his own. However, the knee injury to Zakai Zeigler lingered over the conversation in the first half. When asked Marty Smith of ESPN, Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes stated it was indeed the knee, and they had no idea the severity of the injury or if Zeigler would play in the second half. As Tennessee took the floor for the second half, there was no Zeigler.

Tennessee guard Josiah-Jordan James (30) passes the ball around Texas forward Timmy Allen (0) during a game between Tennessee and Texas at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. Kns Ut Basketball Vs Texas

As the second half progressed, Arkansas would cut the Tennessee lead down to seven points right at the under-16 media timeout. From there, Tennessee did what Rick Barnes coached the team does best, they stayed the course and never let the Razorbacks gain any momentum. Tennessee kept its foot on the throat of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tennessee forced Arkansas to turn over the ball a lot on Tuesday night, creating scoring opportunities for the Volunteers on the other end of the court. Arkansas also struggled to defend the inbound plays tonight as Tennessee used their talent in the post to their advantage, burying the Razorbacks underneath an impossible mountain to overcome. Tennessee wanted the win more, and that was self with the way Tennessee dominated Arkansas from the opening tip.

Oliver Nkamhoua led the way for the Volunteers by scoring 16 points. Santiago Vescovi finished the night with 14 points and a lasting legacy on Rocky Top.

For Tennessee, the win over Arkansas is a massive deal with seeding implications for the SEC Tournament still in play. As it stands, Tennessee is likely to be the 4th seed in the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. With the fourth seed, Tennessee would secure a double-bye in the 2023 SEC Tournament and would have an opportunity to beat Alabama for the second time this season.

Arkansas will return home on Saturday as the Razorbacks play host to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Tennessee will finish the regular season on the road as they travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers.

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