Courtesy / UT Athletics


Courtesy / UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee men’s basketball team turned in a resounding 88-53 victory Saturday night at a sold-out Food City Center to complete a season sweep of its in-state foe, Vanderbilt, for the sixth time in the past seven campaigns.

No. 8/9 Tennessee (19-6, 9-3 SEC) never trailed the Commodores and led by as many as 41 points, including by 31 at halftime. All five starters scored between 11 and 14 points for the victors, with none playing even 25 minutes in the team’s second win this week by 29-plus.

The Volunteers stormed out to a 13-3 edge through four minutes, as they made their first five field goals and scored 10 straight points in just 1:57. Tennessee soon used another 11-0 surge in 2:58 to spark a 20-1 extended run over 7:19, taking full control of contest by claiming a 35-8 edge with 6:38 on the ticker.

At that time, the Volunteers were 14-of-25 from the floor and 5-of-10 on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt (7-18, 2-10 SEC) started just 3-of-17, including 1-of-9 from deep, and went over eight minutes without a made field goal.

Tennessee stretched its advantage all the way to 51-20 at the break, as fifth-year guard Santiago Vescovi, who surpassed 1,500 collegiate points in the triumph, hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Volunteers’ 31-point halftime margin marked their largest SEC play since Jan. 6, 1999, and their top total in any contest since Nov. 14, 2017. In addition, it matched the seventh-largest halftime edge for any SEC team in league action in at least the last 28 seasons (1996-2024).

The onslaught by the home team continued in the second half, as the Volunteers upped their edge to 40 points, 70-30, with 12:12 to go. The lead twice went up to 41, the latter occasion at 73-32 with 10:42 to play, shortly after which Vanderbilt went on a 10-0 run in 1:43 to get it down to 31 with 8:21 left.

The Commodores, though, never got their deficit below 30 in the second half, as Tennessee soon went on a 7-0 run in just 69 seconds to go back up by 38, 86-48, with 4:18 to go. The Volunteers ultimately claimed their fifth 35-point decision in SEC play in the last 24 seasons (2000-24).

Junior guard Zakai Zeigler recorded a co-team-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a 4-of-5 clip from long range, to go along with a co-game-best five assists. Fifth-year guard Dalton Knecht tied Zeigler in both the points and assists column, logging 14 and five, respectively, with the latter one shy of his career high.

Fifth-year guard Josiah-Jordan James put up 13 points, seven rebounds and a game-high three steals, finishing 5-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-5 on 3-pointers. Vescovi totaled 12 points on a 4-of-5 long-range clip and he matched both Zeigler and Knecht with a season-high-tying five assists. It marked the first time in exactly three years three Volunteers had five assists in a league game.

Junior forward Jonas Aidoo compiled 11 points and a game-leading eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Tobe Awaka had nine points and freshman guard Cameron Carr scored a career-high eight.

For the second game in a row, Tennessee allowed only one double-digit scorer, with sophomore forward Ven-Allen Lubin leading the Commodores with 10 points. No one else had even nine in the setback.

The Volunteers ended the night 33-of-69 (47.8 percent) from the floor and 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) beyond the arc, good for its most makes in the latter category since Nov. 7, 2022. At the other end, they limited Vanderbilt to 18-of-54 (33.3 percent) and 7-of-25 (28.0 percent) respective clips.

In addition, Tennessee registered a 33-8 edge in point off turnovers, a 25-9 margin in fast-break points and a 30-16 cushion in paint points. Furthermore, it amassed a season-best 28 assists and just seven turnovers, while allowing eight assists and forcing 19 giveaways.

Tennessee now heads to Columbia, Mo., where it takes on Missouri, live on SEC Network, Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET at Mizzou Arena.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.  

• Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes now owns 798 victories in his career, seven behind Rick Byrd for No. 14 on the all-time wins list (min. 10 years at a Division I school).
• The Volunteers are now 131-76 all-time against Vanderbilt, good for 31 more victories than they have against any other opponent (Georgia).
• Tennessee moved to 13-1 in its last 14 outings versus the Commodores, dating back to Jan. 9, 2018, with the lone setback a one-point road defeat on a buzzer-beater.
• Saturday marked the 12th time in the last 14 series meetings the Volunteers were ranked in the AP Poll and the Commodores were not, with Tennessee 11-1 in those matchups.
• Tennessee extended its home winning streak against Vanderbilt to seven in a row, going back to Jan. 23, 2018, and now possesses a 77-20 all-time home mark in the series.
• Since the 2017-18 season, Tennessee has swept the season series with Vanderbilt in six of seven opportunities.
• The 35-point win tied for Tennessee’s second-largest ever against Vanderbilt, trailing a 38-point decision, 76-38, on March 1, 2014, and matching a 56-21 result on Feb. 22, 1947.
• Saturday marked the fifth time in series history, regardless of victor, a team won by 35-plus points, with Tennessee owning three of those decisions.
• The Volunteers are now 71-22 (.763) across 93 outings as an AP top-10 team in Barnes’ nine-year tenure, all in the past seven seasons.
• Tennessee moved to 31-6 (.838) against in-state competition under Barnes, including 14-1 (.933) in the last 15 such games.
• Over the last seven seasons (2017-24), Tennessee is now 23-7 (.767) in the second leg of regular season home-and-home matchups.
• Tennessee now has five wins by 35-plus points in SEC play in the last 24 years (2000-24), with three of them in the last two seasons and two of them against Vanderbilt.
• After defeating Arkansas by 29 points and Vanderbilt by 35 points, Tennessee has now won back-to-back SEC games by 64-plus points for the fifth time in the last 48 seasons (1966-2024), joining spans in 2022-23 (Jan. 3/7), 2018-19 (Jan. 5/8), 2013-14 (March 1/5) and 1998-99 (Jan. 6/9).
• Over the last seven seasons (2017-24), there are just four occurrences of an SEC team winning back-to-back league games by a combined total of 64-plus points, with Tennessee logging three of them and Alabama (Jan. 31 and Feb. 4, 2023) owning the other.
• The Volunteers’ 28 assists marked their top total since registering 29 on Feb. 25, 2023, versus South Carolina, with that also the last time they had a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio (29 and four, respectively).
• Tennessee last had three players with five assists in a game on Dec. 21, 2022, when Vescovi, Tyreke Key and Olivier Nkamhoua each had that number versus Austin Peay.
• The last time three Volunteers notched five assists in an SEC contest was on Feb. 17, 2021, when Vescovi, Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer all had that exact figure against South Carolina.
• The 41-point lead marked the largest advantage by Tennessee in a game this season, surpassing the 40-point edge it held in the season opener against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 6, 2023.
• The Volunteers last made 14 shots from 3-point range in a game on Nov. 7, 2022, when they went 14-of-44 versus Tennessee Tech.
• Tennessee has allowed just two total players in its last two games to eclipse eight points: Arkansas’ Tramon Mark had 14 Wednesday and Lubin had 10 Saturday.
• The Volunteers set new season bests in points off turnovers (33), points-off-turnovers margin (plus-27), fast-break points (25) and fast-break-points margin (plus-16).
• After making its third field goal with 14:25 on the first-half clock, Vanderbilt did not hit another until it showed 6:22, as it missed nine consecutive attempts.
• The only largest halftime lead for Tennessee in SEC play in at least the last 28 seasons (1996-2024) was a 32-point margin, 50-18, against LSU on Jan. 6, 1999.
• Tennessee’s 31-point halftime cushion marked the ninth time in at least the last 28 seasons (1996-2024) and SEC team led by that many points at the break, with only six teams posting a higher margin.
• The last time Tennessee led by at least 31 points at halftime was Nov. 14, 2017, when it held a 39-point edge, 52-13, against High Point.
• Saturday marked the 12th time in at least the last 28 seasons (1996-2024) the Volunteers led by 30-plus at halftime in any game and the ninth time holding an advantage of over 30 at the break.
• Tennessee became the seventh Division I team this season—none of the other six are in a Power Six league—to lead a conference game by 30-plus points at halftime, including the fifth hold an edge of at least 31.
• The Volunteers shot 20-of-38 (52.6 percent) in the first half, good for their most makes in a frame this season after previously reaching 19 on three occasions.
• Tennessee’s 51-point first half marked its eighth time logging 50-plus in a session in 2023-24, eclipsing its entire total of seven from the prior two seasons (2021-23) combined.
• Freshman forward J.P. Estrella missed his second consecutive game due to a left leg injury and remains day-to-day moving forward.
• Vescovi, on a 3-pointer at the 16:47 mark of the first half became the 19th player in Tennessee history to reach 1,500 points and now possesses 1,509 in his career.
• Vescovi also passed Cameron Tatum (2008-12) for sole possession of third place in program history with his 139th start.
• James passed Tyler Smith (2007-10) for the No. 15 spot on the program’s all-time offensive rebounding list, now with 181.
• Zeigler passed Fred Jenkins (1983-87) for sole possession of the No. 10 spot on Tennessee’s all-time assists leaderboard, now with 393.
• Carr, who notched his first collegiate steal, went 2-of-4 from 3-point range to double his season total in makes from beyond the arc and also scored five more points than his prior best (three).
• Knecht is the 13th SEC player in the last 12 years (2012-24) to record 14-plus points in 11 straight league games in a single season and the only Volunteer to do so in at least the last 19 campaigns (2005-24).
• Freshman forward Cade Phillips tied his career high with three rebounds and logged multiple assists for the first time.
• Senior forward Colin Coyne recorded the second rebound of his Tennessee career, while redshirt sophomore guard Grant Hurst pulled down his first.

Courtesy / UT Athletics

Country News


  • Forecast
  • Currents
  • Planner