Tennessee 70, Auburn 79
If the goal Saturday was to find out what might work in replacing Zakai Zeigler, at least Tennessee might've found out what not to do. But in reality, a road game against a team looking to avenge an earlier-season loss and a team trying to make a statement for the NCAA committee was never going to be the place to figure out next steps in preparing for March Madness.
Zeigler was scoring 10 points/game for the Vols. That's probably the easiest piece of the puzzle to replace. However, ZZ was also the SEC leader in assists before his injury. It is going to be a little trickier to replace that particular element. If you're relying on Santiago Vescovi to set others up to score, then you're potentially taking away his point production. Jahmai Mashack hasn't shown the ability to create much offensively. And BJ Edwards didn't get any minutes at Auburn--not too surprising considering the environment.
Speaking of Mashack, while he tends to do well when asked to defend players similar to his size, he got absolutely cooked by Auburn's Wendell Green. Compare the box score with the last time UT faced Auburn and Green was guarded by ZZ.
The next iteration of Tennessee's post-Zakai lineup will be on display Thursday in the SEC Tournament against either Ole Miss or South Carolina.