Tennessee starting point guard Zakai Zeigler has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, the school announced Wednesday.
Zeigler left Tuesday's game against Arkansas after landing awkwardly in the first half. There was a collective silence within Thompson-Boling Arena as Zeigler was helped to the locker room. He was immediately ruled out for the game.
"The Tennessee basketball family joins all of Vol Nation in lifting up Zakai with love and support," the school said in a statement posted to social media. "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."
one thing we know for sure- there is no keeping Zakai Zeigler down— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) March 1, 2023
praying for a speedy recovery, Z 🧡 pic.twitter.com/6SB3hujSje
Zeigler, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Long Island, has started the past 13 games for Tennessee. He was averaging 10.7 points, 5.4 assists and 2.0 steals, and was named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
"It's going to make other guys do some things that they haven't done a lot of," coach Rick Barnes told ESPN at halftime of Tuesday's game. "But we've gone through so much adversity the last couple of weeks with injuries, and we think whoever's got to go do something is going to do it and we'll find a way to get through it."
Tennessee, 22-8 overall and 11-6 in the SEC, has dealt with several injuries over the course of this season. Josiah-Jordan James has missed 12 games, while fellow starters Julian Phillips and Santiago Vescovi have missed four and three games, respectively. Tyreke Key also missed the past two games with a right ankle injury.
Without Zeigler, much of the ballhandling responsibilities will fall to Vescovi and sophomore Jahmai Mashack.
Mashack played sparingly for most of the SEC season, but was thrust into the starting lineup for the past five games because of injuries. Over that span, he's averaging 7.8 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals. He had five assists and four steals in the win over Arkansas.
The 12th-ranked Volunteers close out the regular season at Auburn on Saturday.