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Zakai Zeigler says Tennessee is 'looking forward' to Texas rematch

IMG_0985by:Griffin McVeigh01/26/23

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Many are calling Saturday’s Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup between Tennessee and Texas the ‘Rick Barnes Bowl.’ The Vols headman has been in charge of both programs and after returning to Austin a year ago, will welcome the Longhorns to Knoxville this weekend. One of, if not the best matchups of the event, tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. CT.

Everyone on Rocky Top is ready for the game but arguably not as much as Zakai Zeigler. The guard said he’s “looking forward” to getting another shot at Texas. This came immediately after getting a win against Georgia on Wednesday night — you know this one has been circled on the calendar.

“I remember us losing that one,” Zeigler said. “That’s how I’ll put it. It’s going to be a pretty good matchup and we’re looking forward to it.”

Zeigler was a bright spot for Tennessee in the loss a season ago, finishing as the team’s leading scorer with 12 points. He made four of nine shots from the field and added three rebounds. An overall struggle for Barnes’ squad but Zeigler was one who came ready to play.

He remembers the feeling of losing to Texas as well. The two programs do not meet up too often but the Big 12 and SEC have decided a rematch was in order. Zeiger is going to make sure to have last year’s result at the front of his mind heading into Saturday evening’s tip-off.

“I wouldn’t even say that,” Zeigler said when he was asked if he’s excited about the game being at home. “I just know the last time we matched up that they beat us. And we remember that feeling. We’re not going to have that feeling on Saturday.”

Zakai Zeigler discusses Tennessee’s defense

When No. 4 Tennessee gets rolling, it can feel like an avalanche on their opposition. The Volunteer’s defense is already top-notch, but, when you add in some offensive success? They become a massive load to handle. After Georgia was the latest team to find this out for themselves, sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler agreed that these performances only make him and his teammates more confident.

During postgame after defeating the Bulldogs 70-41, Zeigler spoke about Tennessee’s ability to be able to put it on teams in this way. He said building a lead on the back of their defense gives them the confidence to keep their run going, specifically by giving them more spirit on the offensive end.

“Honestly, I feel like that’s the whole point,” Zeigler said. “When we see a team get down, it just boosts our confidence on (defense). Then that makes us get even more confident on the offensive end.”