Josiah-Jordan James, Zakai Zeigler lead Tennessee to win over Kentucky

Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler each scored 26 points, including 17 by James after halftime, and No. 5 Tennessee topped No. 10 Kentucky 103-92 on Saturday night.

Zeigler made all five of his field goal attempts for 13 points before halftime, including three from long range, helping the Volunteers (16-5, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) lead throughout.

James followed his lead in the second half with a pair of 3s sandwiched around another by Santiago Vescovi (11 points) for a 57-47 advantage that grew to 16 with 9:22 remaining.

Rob Dillingham had a career-high 35 points with six 3-pointers off the bench before fouling out late for Kentucky (15-5, 5-4), which dropped its second in a row and third in four games. Antonio Reeves had 21 and Reed Sheppard 16 in his second consecutive start at point guard in place of injured D.J. Wagner (ankle).

Sheppard twice got the Wildcats within seven late in the game, but James and Zeigler answered with jumpers as Tennessee won the showdown of top-10 teams. SEC scoring leader Dalton Knecht added 16 points as the Vols rebounded from Tuesday’s home loss to South Carolina.

Play was stopped for 10 minutes in the second half as officials decided to discipline after the Vols’ Tobe Awaka and the Wildcats’ Aaron Bradshaw exchanged shoves. Both received dead ball contact technical fouls along with Tennessee’s Jordan Gainey and Dillingham.

Tennessee redeemed itself by beating Kentucky and will likely stay in the top 10. The Wildcats’ first losing streak this season figures to drop them a few spots.

The Vols were impressive on both ends, establishing offense with strong perimeter shooting that answered almost every Kentucky challenge and going strong to the basket. They shot 49% and came away with their second triple-digit performance this season.

The Wildcats played catchup from the start, and not just on the scoreboard. They were a step behind defensively and struggled again on the boards. Dillingham’s shooting kept them within reach but they needed more, especially in the paint.

Tennessee hosts LSU on Wednesday night. Kentucky visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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