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Zeigler, No. 4 Tennessee close huge week with win at No. 14 Alabama

Brandon Sumrall / Getty Images Sport / Getty

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Zakai Zeigler scored 18 points and made four 3-pointers as No. 4 Tennessee beat No. 14 Alabama 81-74 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the Southeastern Conference lead.

The Volunteers (23-6, 13-3 SEC) came into the game tied with the Crimson Tide (20-9, 12-4) atop the league standings and delivered their second straight big win heading into the final week of the regular season.

Tennessee, which beat No. 11 Auburn 92-84 on Wednesday, held the nation's No. 2 scoring team without a field goal for more than nine minutes down the stretch.

Josiah-Jordan James’ 3-pointer from the left corner gave Tennessee a 75-70 lead with two minutes left. Alabama finally snapped a 1-of-17 shooting stretch with Mark Sears’ layup at the 1:14 mark.

But Zeigler made four free throws and Jonas Aidoo added a pair over the final 29 seconds to seal the Volunteers' win. Aidoo overcame early foul trouble to score 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

James had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Tennessee won despite a subpar night from the SEC's leading scorer. Dalton Knecht, who tied his career high with 39 points against Auburn, had 13 points and was 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sears, who entered as the SEC's No. 2 scorer, had 22 points and six assists for Alabama. Aaron Estrada added 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Down virtually the entire first half, Alabama scored the final 12 points for a 41-39 lead. Estrada pushed the Tide ahead on a layup with 24 seconds left, and the Vols missed their final seven shots.

Alabama forward Grant Nelson fouled out with 6:43 left after scoring three points, nine below his average.


Tennessee: Has a brutal closing week against a pair of top-20 teams: South Carolina and Kentucky. But that's no tougher than the week the Vols just navigated with two second-half comebacks.

Alabama: G Latrell Wrightsell Jr. missed his fourth straight game with a head injury. ... Had its stretch of nine consecutive SEC games with 80-plus points snapped.


Tennessee visits No. 18 South Carolina on Wednesday and closes the regular season Saturday against No. 16 Kentucky.

Alabama finishes at Florida on Tuesday and against Arkansas on Saturday.


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