NCAA Second Round Recap - Tennessee vs Ohio
(6) Tennessee 83, (14) Ohio 68
An 18-2 scoring run in the latter stages of the first half put Tennessee in control and the third-seeded Volunteers cruised to a 83-68 win over Ohio at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
Guard J. P. Prince led a balanced Tennessee scoring attack with 18 points while guard Scotty Hopson scored 17. Wayne Chism and Brian Williams each pulled down 12 rebounds to give the Volunteers a 39-28 margin on the boards.
The Vols led 38-27 at the half and were able to repel a few mild Bobcat threats to come away with the win. Ohio (22-15) pulled off a stunning upset of third-seeded Georgetown on Thursday but that magic eluded the Bobcats on Saturday. They shot 58 % from the field while beating the Hoyas, but they were able to hit only 38 % of their shots against Tennessee. Junior guard Armon Bassett put up 32 points on Thursday but never got untracked on Saturday, posting just 7 points on 2 of 10 shooting while committing 7 turnovers.
Tommy Freeman led Ohio (and all scorers) with 23 points. He provided some hope for the Bobcats midway through the second half. A driving basket and a free throw cut the Vols' lead to six at 48-42 and after a Tennessee basket, Freeman drained a three-pointer to make it 50-45. But that was a close as the Bobcats would get. Tennessee's Steven Pearl - yes, the son of UT coach Bruce Pearl - hit a free throw and Hopson then hit a jumper to spark a 7-0 run that restored the 6 seed's lead to double digits. Tennessee wasn’t challenged again and led by as much as 20 points later in the half.
The first half of action was fast-paced if not always fundamentally sound. The game was tied at 10 after about four minutes of play and the Bobcats were playing right along with the quicker, more athletic Vols. D. J. Cooper provided a spark for Ohio when he forced a turnover with a five-second closely guarded violation (a result of his in-your-face on-ball pressure) and then, a couple of possessions later, he drained a three-pointer to put Ohio up, 16-15. That proved to be the high-water mark for the Bobcats the rest of the half.
Soon after that Tennessee embarked on an 18-2 run that put the Vols in control. Cameron Tatum provided the highlight moment of that nine-minute burst as he hit a desperation rainbow 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make the score 29-20.
The Tennessee lead got as high as 13 points. Ohio's Freeman hit a pair of three pointers in the late going to cut into the Volunteers’ lead and keep some hope alive, but only some hope. Whenever the Mid-American Conference champions made any kind of move, the opponent from Knoxville, Tenn., was able to parry each thrust and regain competitive leverage.
The Vols demonstrated balanced and blended scoring at intermission: No Vol scored in double figures, but several players scored small clusters of points, with Chisms 9-point total leading the way for the Vols. With 14 points the Bobcats’ Freeman was the only player on either team in double figures in scoring through the first 20 minutes.
The teams’ respective shooting percentages told the tale of the half. They both attempted the same number of field goals, 26, but Ohio hit only 9 (35 %), while Tennessee nailed 15 (58 %) of its attempts.
The upcoming challenge for Tennessee: The Sweet 16 in St. Louis vs. the winner of Sunday’s Georgia Tech-Ohio State game.
By Rich Tandler
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