The Tennessee Volunteers played their hearts out against the Ohio State Buckeyes and earned a trip to their first Elite 8 appearance in school history.

Throughout the entire game it was a hard fought battle, but in the end Tennessee wanted it more. All throughout the game Tennessee showed more poise and determination against the Buckeyes. They had more ball movement, more points in the paint, way more rebounds, and more alley-oops from half court and it all equaled up to more points at the end of the game.

Ohio State had three guys go the full 40 minutes of the game, and only used two bench players; three less than the 10 man rotation Bruce Pearl used with his Volunteers team. I was still impressed with how hard the Buckeyes played using so few players. As hard as they played, they just couldn’t get used to the constant rotation Tennessee threw at them.

Every time Ohio State would get a good tempo going on offense or defense, Tennessee would throw a different player into the mix, which gave just enough difference to throw off the Buckeyes game. Even with the rotation headache, Ohio State had a narrow lead for the majority of the game.

Ohio State unleashed their secret weapon in the second half, Evan Turner. One of the players who played the entire game, Turner finished with 31 points and 7 rebounds. All through the second half he seemed unstoppable. It didn’t matter who was guarding him, he always seemed to hit, and every time he did, every Vols fan got a little bit more worried.

Tennessee had a secret weapon of their own though...

Wayne Chism took over for the Vols in the second half finishing with 22 points and 11 boards. Call it superstition, but when Chism took off his headband early in the second half he transformed into a totally different player. Chism took the lead of his team and showed his teammates the way to the Elite 8.

Helping Chism take control of the game were big man Brian Williams and lefty JP Prince. Williams had 12 rebounds combining with Chism for more boards than the entire Buckeyes team. Not to mention he also hit the go ahead basket with 12 seconds to go in the second half. Prince finished with 6 assists and 14 points, including throwing down a dunk from a half court alley-oop that started Tennessee’s momentum boost early in the first half.

So what does all this mean? It means as amazing as Evan Turner is, he couldn’t beat Tennessee by himself, and even though the Buckeyes played great and showed a few scary moments to Tennessee, the Volunteers finished on top and are headed into their first Elite 8 appearance to face the winner of Northern Iowa and Michigan State on Monday.

1 comments

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