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AP photo by Jessica Hill / Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler celebrates after making a 3-pointer against North Carolina during the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.

Turns out Tennessee has quite the freshman point guard and quite the freshman backup point guard, too.

The heralded Kennedy Chandler and the not-as-heralded Zakai Zeigler helped the No. 17 Volunteers bounce back in a big way Sunday afternoon, combining for 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting in an 89-72 thrashing of No. 18 North Carolina in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut.

In Sunday's title contest, No. 6 Purdue topped No. 5 Villanova 80-74.

Chandler played 32 minutes and Zeigler 27, so the two often were on the floor together and combined on 13 assists to just two turnovers.

"It was great," Zeigler said. "I can bring it up, or he can. We're both quick and lightning fast. I like playing up-tempo, and I'm pretty sure he does. I've never played with somebody like that."

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Tennessee men vs. North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2021

While the 6-foot, 171-pound Chandler came to Knoxville with five-star recruit status, the 5-9, 167-pound Zeigler was a three-star signee from Long Island, New York, who didn't commit and enroll until late August.

"Zakai has earned his right on the court," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "He has. He's a smart player who is adjusting to college basketball. He's four games in, and two of them have been against two outstanding basketball teams. He's a very confident player.

"From the time he walked on campus, within a week, with the strides he made so early, we knew we could count on him."

Tennessee (3-1) assumed control Sunday with a three-guard lineup featuring Chandler, Zeigler and junior Santiago Vescovi, who followed up his 23-point performance in Saturday's 71-53 loss to Villanova with 17 more. North Carolina (3-2) scored first in the second half to pull within 39-34, but a Vescovi 3-pointer and a pair of John Fulkerson layups built the advantage to 46-34, and the Vols were never threatened.

Fulkerson finished with 13 points.

The Vols, who were without junior guard Josiah-Jordan James due to flu-like symptoms, next play Friday afternoon against visiting Tennessee Tech.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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