The No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers remained undefeated at home this
year by withstanding a comeback down the stretch, holding on to
beat the No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks behind strong performances
Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi, 78-74. Arkansas swingman JD
Notae led all players with 20 points.
The Volunteers (23-7, 14-4 SEC) place No. 8 nationally in the
NET Rankings and have the third-best Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
in the country. Led in scoring by their two guards, Chandler and
Vescovi, they already have wins against two potential No. 1 seeds
in March Madness (Arizona, Auburn), and will be a force to be
reckoned with in the SEC Tournament.
The Razorbacks (24-7, 13-5 SEC) are arguably the hottest team in
America. Now No. 19 in Adjusted Efficiency, they entered this one
having won five in a row and 14 of their last 15. Notae has had a
tremendous season, averaging 18.8 points per game, while Jaylin
Williams is setting himself up to be a breakout star next
Tennessee took control of this one early, jumping out to a 13-5
lead in the first three minutes. Williams got into foul trouble
which sent him to the bench and the Vols capitalized. They would
stretch the lead to 33-15 and take a 50-29 lead into the break.
At the half, Chandler was 4 of 4 from beyond the arc for 12
points, which led all players. Vescovi had 10 points and 2 assists,
while Zakai Ziegler posted 9 points off the bench. Stanley Umude
led Arkansas in scoring with 8 points, and Notae and Chris Lykes
each had 5 points. Williams was scoreless in the first.
Arkansas started the second half with 3 turnovers on 3
possessions, as well as Williams picking up a critical third foul.
He would, however, score his first points of the game soon after.
Lykes hit a tough, pull-up jumper at 16:08; then, Notae had a steal
and finish at 15:58 which cut the deficit to 52-39. The 10-0 run
changed the air in the arena from excited to a bit more
Lykes hit a big shot at 5:05, making the score 71-60 and keeping
pressure on the Vols. Notae then hit a logo-three to make it 73-65.
Umude hit a corner triple to make it 73-68, and it was a whole new
Down 74-70, the Hogs got the ball back with 57.8 seconds
remaining. A turnover at the 27-second mark by Notae gave the ball
back to Tennessee, and Vescovi knocked down a pair of free throws
to make the lead 76-72. With 14 seconds remaining, Arkansas trailed
by three and had a final opportunity, but Notae couldn’t connect on
The Volunteers hung on to win.
Vescovi and Chandler scored 15 points each for Tennessee.
Ziegler ended with 13 points off the bench, while Josiah-Jordan
James had a strong game with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3
Umude and Lykes each had 15 points for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas currently projects as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA
Tennessee projects to be a No. 3 seed.
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