Advertisement

Zakai Zeigler suffers season-ending ACL injury for Tennessee basketball

Zakai Zeigler suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee Tuesday in Tennessee basketball's win against Arkansas, UT announced Wednesday.

"The Tennessee basketball family joins all of Vol Nation in lifting up Zakai with love and support," UT said in a school release. "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."

MARCH MADNESS: Where Tennessee basketball appears in NCAA Tournament bracketology

Zeigler averaged 10.7 points and 5.4 assists in 28.7 minutes per game during a sensational sophomore season. He rapidly developed into a top point guard in SEC play and had five double-doubles this season, including a 13-point, 11-assist effort against South Carolina on Saturday.

The Vols guard went down in the opening minutes with a non-contact injury after driving down the baseline. He had to be helped off the court.

"I don’t think there’s anybody in the nation that can replace Zakai and what he brings to the table outside of just assists, shooting," guard Jahmai Mashack said.

Zeigler, who has played at an elite level for much of the past two months, was injured at the 17:06 mark Tuesday. The sophomore drove down the baseline looking for a pass to make but tumbled to the court after stepping out of bounds. He immediately grabbed toward his knee and was in visible pain as Thompson-Boling Arena fell silent.

He had to be helped off the court after UT trainer Chad Newman and strength coach Garrett Medenwald evaluated him. He could not put any weight on his left leg.

The sophomore scored the opening points against Arkansas, then threw a perfect alley-oop to Olivier Nkamhoua for UT's second field goal. He turned over the ball on the possession in which he was injured.

Zeigler burst onto the scene as a freshman, earning All-Freshman and All-Defensive team honors. He averaged 8.8 points and shot 35.2% on 3-pointers last season.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Zakai Zeigler suffers season-ending knee injury for Tennessee basketball