Tennessee basketball defeated Arkansas last night in a big SEC matchup… but at what cost?
Just a few minutes into the game, point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a leg injury while running under the basket. Zeigler has been one of the Volunteers’ best players all year and was truly a matchup nightmare for all teams facing Tennessee.
It was a non-contact injury and silenced Thompson-Boling Arena, which I didn’t think was possible. One of the rowdiest arenas in all of College basketball could hear a pin drop at that moment.
Fellow sophomore Tennessee basketball guard, Jahmai Mashack, had this to say following the injury of Zakai:
"“Nobody can replace Zakai. Nobody in the country can replace Zakai. Not just his assists and his scoring, but his energy, his personality. There’s nobody else like him.”"
The presence of Zeigler on the court is what keeps this team moving. The love that all of the players, fans, and coaches have for Zakai is a bond that pains us to have him injured.
Tennessee Basketball released a statement earlier today saying:
"“Point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Tuesday night’s win over Arkansas. The injury ends the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist’s season… The Tennessee basketball family joins all of Vol Nation in lifting up Zakai with love and support that encourages him to see past the pain and disappointment of this temporary circumstance… We know, beyond all doubt, that Zakai will use this challenge to author an inspiring comeback story. He’ll have our boundless backing every step of the way.”"
Not only Tennessee basketball fans, but this love extends to everyone across the whole city of Knoxville, and every Tennessee athletic program.
Tennessee baseball head coach, Tony Vitello, had this to say about Zeigler’s injury:
"“Our hearts are sunk over here. Different sport, but that guy embodies everything we want our players and our program to be. Love that guy.”"