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Long Islander Zakai Zeigler and Tennessee win SEC championship; poised for NCAA tourney

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Long Islander Zakai Zeigler and Tennessee crushed Texas A&M 65-50 to win the SEC Tournament championship Sunday in Tampa.

The freshman from Wyandanch played over 30 minutes and helped lead a tenacious defensive effort from Tennessee that secured the Vols its first SEC title since 1979. Recently named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, Zeigler contributed two steals and forced numerous other turnovers from Texas A&M.

Zeigler, who has averaged 8.9 points a game this season, settled for three against the Aggies, along with two rebounds and an assist. On Saturday, Zeigler played 21 minutes and scored 11 points in Tennessee’s 69-62 semifinal win over Kentucky on Saturday.

For No. 9 Tennessee (26-7), a national championship remains the goal. They are projected to be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournment.

“We know we still have more work to do,” Vols coach Rick Barnes said on the court after the win. “I just thank god … for having the chance to coach these young men.”

Barnes, who ranks 19th all-time for career coaching wins among NCAA Div. I coaches with 752 wins, earned his first conference tournament championship as a coach since he won with Providence in 1994.

Texas A&M’s 50 points was the team’s lowest output this season.

Check back with greaterlongisland.com for updates on Zakai Zeigler and Tennessee basketball.

Top photo: Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler (5) drives past Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV (4) during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball Southeastern Conference tournament championship game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)