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No. 22 Tennessee looks for better start vs. Texas A&M

No. 22 Tennessee will be trying to get out of the blocks quickly Tuesday night when it faces Texas A&M in a Southeastern Conference game between teams looking for a bounce-back victory in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Volunteers (14-6, 5-3 SEC) are coming off a 52-51 loss at Texas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, as Texas A&M (15-6, 4-4) absorbed a 74-63 SEC setback to visiting South Carolina (13-7, 4-4).

Tennessee trailed by 17 points at 49-32 with 7:56 against Texas to play but clawed back to tie the game at 51-all on Victor Bailey Jr.'s layup with 1:28 left. After the Longhorns regained the lead with a free throw with 6.2 seconds remaining, Tennessee called timeout and set up a final play for Josiah-Jordan James, but his 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.

Zakai Zeigler had 12 points and James scored 11 for Tennessee, which had a three-game winning streak ended.

"I really thought we got back on our heels," Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. "But I'm happy with the way we fought to the end and gave ourselves a chance to win the basketball game. But with that said, from our vantage point, we've got to get more consistent.

"At halftime, I kept saying, we need to play with the kind of force offensively that we need to. We have to be able to bring that for more than five minutes a night."

The Volunteers are led by Santiago Vescovi, who averages a team-high 14.0 points, but he had an off-night against the Longhorns, with three points on 1-of-8 shooting.

Kennedy Chandler averages 13.2 points to go with team-highs in assists (4.7) and steals (2.3), but he was held to eight points and no assists against Texas. Olivier Nkamhoua leads the Vols with 5.6 rebounds to go along with 8.4 points a game.

Texas A&M was outscored 47-32 in the second half against South Carolina to drop its fourth straight game. Henry Coleman III had a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, with Andre Gordon and Quenton Jackson chipping in 14 and 12 points for the Aggies.

For Texas A&M to remain in contention for the SEC regular-season title, the Aggies must play better offensively after struggling from everywhere on the court against the Gamecocks.

The Aggies shot 34.4 percent (22 of 64) from the field, 20% percent (5 of 25) from 3-point range and 60.9 percent (14 of 23) from the free-throw line.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that we got rattled," Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. "We didn't shoot a high percentage, But I wouldn't necessarily say they were shots we didn't want to shoot."

Jackson averages a team-high 12.9 points, while Coleman leads the Aggies with 5.9 rebounds per game to go with 10.8 points. Marcus Williams and Tyrece Radford average 9.4 and 9.3 points.

"I think guys are putting up shots every day," Coleman said. "Shooters keep shooting. I think they will fall, hopefully. We've just got to keep shooting the ball. I have full confidence in all the guys shooting the ball every time they put one up. We'll get it back."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 31, 2022

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