KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A trio of Tennessee seniors scored in double figures Tuesday as the Vols routed Arkansas behind a strong shooting performance, 75-57, on Senior Night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
In what was its second consecutive wire-to-wire victory, Tennessee’s offense shot 50 percent from the field in the 18-point win, with senior Olivier Nkamhoua leading all scorers with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.
As a team, UT outpaced the Hogs in paint scoring, 42-18, and its defense limited Arkansas to just under 37 percent shooting from the floor.
Tennessee showed commendable poise after starting point guard and Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist Zakai Zeigler went down with a left knee injury three minutes into the game. The sophomore did not return, and the team did not have an exact diagnosis on his injury at night’s end.
Senior Santiago Vescovi registered 14 points on the night, connecting on 5-of-11 field-goal attempts and making 3-of-7 shots from 3-point range. He added six rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals in the all-around effort.
Senior Josiah-Jordan James tallied 11 points with three rebounds, three steals and one assist. Freshmen Julian Phillips and Tobe Awaka scored seven points apiece. Phillips added five rebounds and three assists, while Awaka grabbed eight boards.
Jahmai Mashack had a nose for the ball all night, tying a career-high with four steals, also scoring six points and dishing out a career-high-tying five assists.
Tennessee scored the game’s first seven points off a trio of field goals by Zeigler, Nkamhoua and Vescovi and a made free throw by Mashack. Nkamhoua reached double-figure scoring quickly, doing so on a tomahawk dunk at the 6:27 mark of the first half.
A transition triple by Vescovi off of his own steal gave Tennessee its first double-digit lead of the night at 32-22. An authoritative putback dunk by Awaka gave the Vols a nine-point lead entering halftime, 34-25. Tennessee out-rebounded Arkansas on the offensive glass in the first half, 8-1.
In the second half, Tennessee made six consecutive field goals to extend its lead from 51-39 to 68-46 over that stretch. The Vols took their first lead of at least 20 points at 66-46 and saw their lead grow to as many as 24 points at 72-48.
James scored each of his 11 points after halftime, shooting 3-for-5 in the second half. Collectively, the Vols shot 58 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
UP NEXT: Tennessee finishes its regular season Saturday on the road, taking on Auburn for the second time this season. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.
VOLS CAP ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HOME CAMPAIGN: With Tuesday’s win, Tennessee finished the 2022-23 slate with a 14-2 (.875) record inside Thompson-Boling Arena—the third straight season that the Vols have won at least 80 percent of their home games.
Tennessee is 108-22 (.831) inside Thompson-Boling Arena during the Rick Barnes era.
HOT START ON THE DEFENSIVE END: Tennessee recorded nine steals in first half alone on Tuesday—more than its full game total from 15 games this season. The Vols finished with 11 steals for the game, led by Jahmai Mashack’s four takeaways.
MASHACK STEPS UP: Due to Zakai Zeigler’s absence, Jahmai Mashack saw extended action at point guard—dishing out a career-high five assists along with six points and four steals on the defensive end.
Mashack played 24 minutes, continuing to build on his recent upswing in minutes—the sophomore is averaging 27.5 mpg over Tennessee’s last six games compared to 10.2 mpg in the first 11 SEC games.
TENNESSEE CLASSIC UNIFORMS MAKE RETURN: For the third time this season, the Vols sported their Tennessee Classic uniforms and improved to 3-0 while doing so.
The Big Orange also wore the Tennessee Classic uniforms for the win over No. 10 Texas on Jan. 28 and the win over No. 1 Alabama on Feb. 15.