NEW YORK — Zakai Zeigler scored 12 points, including a key 3 late in the second half as No. 7 Tennessee held off No. 13 Maryland 56-53 Sunday in a Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational matchup.
Tennessee (9-1) led by as many as 18 points in the first half before Maryland pulled within two points in the final minutes. The Volunteers shot 28.8% overall (19 of 66) but hit four of 11 3-pointers in the second half.
“If you’re making shots, it all looks pretty,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “But can you win when it’s ugly? And I thought that second half was certainly ugly for us, but we found a way to win the game.”
Tyreke Key scored nine points and Julian Phillips had six points and 10 rebounds for the Volunteers, who again clamped down on defense. Tennessee began the game allowing just 51.2 points per game, third fewest in the nation, while limiting opponents to 21.6% shooting from 3-point land, the lowest figure in Division I.
Jahmir Young scored 18 points while Hakim Hart and Donta Scott had nine apiece for Maryland (8-2), which has lost two straight. The Terrapins were 2 of 24 from beyond the arc, including 0 for 8 in the second half.
“They hit three big 3s in the second half and we go 0 for 8 even though we had some open looks,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. “We have to win that battle.”
Tennessee shot 11 of 39 (28.2%) in the first half, but led 34-17 as the Terrapins made only 3 of 24 (12.5%), missing 20 of their final 21 shots before the break.
Down by 16 in the second half, Maryland unveiled a full-court press and forced three turnovers during a 12-0 run.
“We were trying to go with it the whole game – it’s just when you only make three field goals in the first half, it’s kind of hard to press, kind of have to make baskets to press,” Willard said.
A 3-pointer by Key ended the burst, but the Terrapins scored the next five points and pulled within 48-46 on a pair of free throws by Ian Martinez. Maryland got within two again at 51-49 when Martinez hit one of two free throws, after which Ziegler hit his 3-pointer with 3:05 left.
Hart had a layup for Maryland, which then forced Tennessee into a shot clock violation. The teams combined to miss their next five shots before Hart scored a second-chance layup with 24 seconds left to cut the deficit to 55-53.
The teams traded empty trips, with Young missing a potential game-tying floater. Key made one of two foul shots with seven seconds left and Young missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“In the second half, we knew that they were going to come out fighting,” Zeigler said. “They knew what they had to do and they upped their pressure.”
Tennessee: guard Santiago Vescovi had seven points and seven rebounds in his return after missing two games with a shoulder injury. … Center Jonas Aidoo was out with an illness. Freshman Tobe Awaka helped fill in and set career highs with eight rebounds in 17 minutes. … The 17-point first half by Maryland marked the fourth time this season the Vols allowed fewer than 20 points in a half.
Maryland: It was the second straight subpar shooting game for the Terrapins, who shot 49.3% from the field during their 8-0 start but have shot just 35.5% in the last two games. … The 18-point deficit was the biggest of the season for the Terps.
Tennessee: Visiting Arizona next Saturday for the first time since 1998.
Maryland: Hosting No. 14 UCLA on Wednesday night – the Terrapins’ third game against a ranked opponent this month.
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