Tennessee Basketball point guard Zakai Zeigler has quietly been one of the SEC’s best this season, and the sophomore’s run to end the month of January has been nothing short of spectacular.
Entering Tennessee’s Top 10 tilt against Texas, Zeigler had scored 47 points across his previous three games, the most he’d ever had in a three game span as a Vol. After Zeigler’s 22-point performance against the Longhorns on Saturday, the New York native now has 69 points across the past four games, continuing the best stretch he’s ever had in orange and white.
What’s even more impressive is that Zeigler’s stretch has come against three SEC teams in Mississippi State, LSU and Georgia, and a Top-10 team in Texas.
In those past four games, Zeigler has also logged a pair of double doubles, one against Texas and one against LSU. Zeigler’s first career double double came against Mississippi State in Tennessee’s first game of January, so all three of Zeigler’s career double doubles have happened this month. Zeigler’s latest double-double, a 22-point, 10-assist night against Texas, is the first 20/10 double-double of Zeigler’s career.
To further put Zeigler’s stretch into perspective, VFL Kennedy Chandler never had a four-game run as good as Zeigler’s. Additionally, Chandler, who was a 2022 All-SEC Second Team selection, only had two double doubles while at Tennessee, with just one coming in league play. Zeigler has three this month and two in his past three games.
Going even further down the road, Tennessee’s point guard from the 2018-2019 team, Jordan Bone, never had a four-game stretch in league play as good as Zeigler’s.
More than just the scoring, Zeigler’s passing and ability to run the point guard position has been tremendous. Zeigler has recorded at least seven assists in all but two January contests, averaging just over eight assists per game this month.
Tennessee is 4-0 in Zeigler’s incredible late January run, and the Vols are undefeated this season when Zeigler gets at least 10 points and five assists.
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“What can you say about him?” Barnes said after Zeigler’s big night against Texas. “I mean, he’s got to be right there with the very best point guards in the country when you think about what he does night in and night out, consistently doing it. Learning the position as he goes through with it. Defensively, he does it. How many minutes did he play tonight? 37… What he’s learning how to do is make his teammates better, which is the sign of a point guard — Zakai becoming a point guard — understanding that’s his job. Find a way to make his teammates better on the offensive end. I think as he continues to do that, he’s going to make everybody better. And by doing that, we get better.”
Zeigler rose to prominence at Tennessee due to his defensive prowess, but the Long Island native’s offensive explosiveness is what is making him an elite point guard on Rocky Top.
Zeigler and the Vols will look for their 19th win of the season when they visit Florida on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.