KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — First-year guard Zakai Zeigler, whose family was left homeless following a fire in New York last weekend, made two key free throws in the final seconds to help No. 13 Tennessee hold off No. 14 Arkansas 78-74 on Saturday.
The Volunteers (23-7, 14-4 Southeastern Conference), who led by 24 points in the first half, finished the second seed in the SEC tournament.
Zeigler finished with 13 points. His faulty shot 14 seconds from the end made it 77-74. After Arkansas’ JD Notae had an open 3-point rim with 10 seconds left, Zeigler made a free throw to clinch it.
Several members of Zeigler’s family lived in an apartment that was destroyed by the fire. The university launched a GoFundMe project for the family and raised over $350,000.
Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi each scored 15 points and Josiah-Jordan James added 12 for Tennessee.
Notae scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half for the Razorbacks (24-7, 13-5). Stanley Ummude and Chris Lykes both had 15.
Trailing by 21 at halftime, Arkansas rallied and finally hit double digits when Notae’s 3-pointer with about 4 minutes left to play made it 73-65.
Ummude followed with a 3-pointer and Notae’s pair of free throws with 2:05 remaining made it 73-70.
With 56 seconds left, Notae made two more foul shots to bring the Razorbacks back to 74-72. Vescovi and Notae each made a pair of free throws to keep it close.
Tennessee scored more points in the first half (50) than a few weeks ago in a 58-48 loss to Arkansas. The Volunteers’ biggest lead was 44-20.
Arkansas: After starting 0-3 in the SEC, the Razorbacks were far from a contender. Now, with a double-bye in next week’s SEC tournament already locked in, Arkansas has proven itself legit. … Officials had three video reviews in the final two minutes of the game.
Tennessee: Zeigler entered the game having made 55 of 61 free throws (.902) in SEC games to lead the league. He went 3 for 6 in that game. … Arkansas was the 10th Top 25 team the Vols have faced this season.
Arkansas and Tennessee will next play in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Tampa, Florida.
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