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No. 5 Tennessee thrashes No. 22 Ole Miss to start SEC play, 90-64

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey01/06/24


No. 5 Tennessee passed its first Southeastern Conference of the test with flying colors Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. No. 22 Ole Miss, meanwhile, failed its first real test of the season.

The Vols ended the first half by making their final four 3-point attempts after an ice-cold start and the blitz continued in the second half in a 90-64 win in the SEC opener in Knoxville.

Tennessee (11-3, 1-0 SEC) got 24 points and 10 rebounds from Jonas Aidoo, his third double-double of the season, and Zakai Zeigler had a double-double of his own with 13 points and 10 assists. Jahmai Mashack scored 10 points off the bench.

Tobe Awaka had nine points, Josiah-Jordan James scored eight points and had eight rebounds. Santiago Vescovi scored 11 and Dalton Knecht had eight points while dealing with foul trouble in the second half.

Ole Miss (13-1, 0-1), which entered the game as one of only two undefeated teams left in the country, got 22 points from Jaemyn Brakefield. Jaylen Murray scored 11 while Allen Flanigan had 10.

Tennessee made its first two threes of the second half, stretching the streak to six straight made, and quickly built the lead to 17 points with 17:10 left.

The Vols had Ole Miss doubled in the second half, 32-16, by the time Chris Beard called a timeout at the 9:56 mark, after Tennessee had extended the lead to 25.

Vols made last four 3-pointers in first half, after starting 1-for-12

Mashack hit a corner three to beat the halftime horn and give Tennessee a 40-31 lead at the break. Mashack made threes on each of the last two possessions in the first half and the Vols as a team made their last four attempts as a team, after starting 1-for-12 from the 3-point line.

Aidoo led Tennessee with 12 points in the first half, going 5-for-8 from the field, ahead of six points from Mashack and five each from Vescovi and Zeigler. 

The Vols used a 12-0 run — Ole Miss was scoreless for five minutes, 14 seconds — to build a 12-point lead early midway through the half but the Rebels answered with a 9-0 run of their own to get back within one possession.

Tennessee shot 45.7% from the field in the first half and ended up shooting 31.3% from the 3-point line after finishing 4-for-4. Ole Miss shots 41.4% from the field and 30.0% from the 3-point line. 

Jaylen Murray had 11 points and eight rebounds and Jaemyn Brakefied had 10 points as the two combined to go 7-for-11 from the floor to lead Ole Miss in the first half. 

Up Next: No. 5 Tennessee at Mississippi State, Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network

After opening SEC play at home against Ole Miss, the Vols go on the road for back-to-back games away from home next week. First is a trip to Mississippi State on Thursday for a 7 p.m. ET SEC Network game at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. Tennessee then goes to Georgia on Saturday in a Noon ET start on ESPN2 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.

Tennessee then has three of four games at home, starting with Florida on January 16 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Alabama at home is next on January 20 (Noon or 2 p.m. ET on ESPN or ESPN 2), then at Vanderbilt on January 27 (6 p.m. ET, SEC Network) and home against South Carolina on January 30 (6:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network) to round out the January schedule.

Tennessee climbed to No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday, the team’s highest ranking of the season so far. The Vols entered Saturday ranked No. 6 in the NET and No. 8 in the ratings.

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