KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Zakai Zeigler scored 17 points and had four assists to lead No. 5 Tennessee past Norfolk State 87-50 on Tuesday night.

Dalton Knecht scored 15 and Tobe Awaka collected 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Volunteers (10-3) won their sixth straight game and 10th straight home game dating to last season. Tennessee connected on 12 3-pointers in the rout. Zeigler drilled a career high five 3-pointers and also had four steals.

“Zeigler caused havoc,” Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said of the 5-foot-9 Tennessee guard. “When you're that small, you have to cause havoc and be tough as nails. He was all that.”

Zeigler is also coming back from an ACL injury suffered at the end of last season.

“I've got to do something different on the floor,” he said. “I try to get (the other team) out of control. When I'm open, I've got the confidence to take the shot."

Zeigler continues to improve, Vols coach Rick Barnes said.

“Zakai's getting better and better,” Barnes said. “On defense, he's a difference maker. He can disrupt the other team.”

The Spartans (9-7) were led by Jamarii Thomas with 15 points and Christian Ings with 10. Norfolk State had just one assist in the game.

“They are a driving (offensive) team,” said Barnes. “They're trying to get fouled. You aren't going to have many assists like that.”

Each team had a field-goal drought of six minutes in the first half. Tennessee recovered from its frustration midway through the half and scored the last 18 points of the half to take a 43-18 lead at the break. Knecht led the way with 13 points.

Zeigler caused Norfolk State's problems at the end of the half, Jones said.

“(Zeigler) made a steal and it started an argument (between two Spartans),” Jones said. “We were fragmented a little bit. From that possession, we were fragmented.”


Norfolk State: The Spartans came into Tuesday night’s matchup as the only team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a winning record. Wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth, along with the experience of playing one of the best teams in the country, will give them a solid foundation on which to build in league play.

Tennessee: It took a while for the Vols to get someone other than Dalton Knecht to step up in terms of offensive production. Now, it’s time to get Knecht back on track as Southeastern Conference play begins Saturday. In the three games prior to the Norfolk State game, Knecht has 15 combined points. For the season he is averaging 15.7 points.


Norfolk State: The Spartans open MEAC play on the road Saturday against South Carolina State.

Tennessee: It will be a Top 25 matchup Saturday in Knoxville when No. 22 Ole Miss takes on the Vols in the SEC debut for both teams.


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