Tennessee basketball stifles Georgia in 70-41 win before top-10 matchup with Texas

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Somewhere amid a flurry of Georgia turnovers and abysmal possessions Wednesday, Zakai Zeigler played a perfect defensive sequence.

Georgia’s Justice Hill crossed over on the Tennessee basketball guard. Zeigler stayed close to Hill. Hill pushed toward the lane. Zeigler guarded inches away, cleverly placed to defend the eventual shot. He contested the attempt precisely, Hill missed badly, and Tennessee forced a shot-clock violation.

It was a patented performance for No. 4 Tennessee, which held Georgia to multiple mind-bending field-goal droughts with its top-ranked defense. The Vols won 70-41 at Thompson-Boling Arena, cruising toward a marquee matchup with No. 10 Texas on Saturday.

Zeigler led Tennessee (17-3, 7-1 SEC) with 11 points and seven assists. Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James had seven rebounds each. Julian Phillips had six assists against Georgia (13-7, 3-4).

TEXAS:Tennessee basketball vs. Texas to host ESPN's 'College GameDay'

Blowouts are the brand

Tennessee has won 11 of its 20 games by at least 20 points, including back-to-back games with its 77-56 win at LSU and Wednesday's win.

UT has won four of its SEC games by at least 20 points. Georgia is the 10th opponent the Vols have held to 50 points or fewer.

Tennessee shut down Georgia for long stretches

Tennessee has hung its hat on defense this season and the first half was a familiar tale. The Vols held Georgia without a field goal for 7:34, building a 33-18 from its 19-17 margin at the start of the drought.

Georgia missed 10 straight field goals in the span and made two in the final 10:50 after making seven in the first 9:10.

UT held Georgia without a field goal for 7:45 in the second half. The Bulldogs missed nine straight shots and had eight turnovers in the stretch.

The Vols had everyone available

Tennessee had its full rotation available Wednesday. Vols coach Rick Barnes indicated UT was "not totally healthy" Monday.

The Vols have had a cyclical lineup throughout the season with players in and out. Recently, Uros Plavsic did not play at LSU because of an illness after Tyreke Key and Vescovi did not play at Mississippi State due to illness and injury, respectively.

Up next

Tennessee hosts Texas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN). ESPN's 'College GameDay' will be in Knoxville.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee basketball stifles Georgia in win before top-10 matchup with Texas