Tennessee topples Virginia to reach Sweet 16
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) – Chris Lofton scored 20 points and made six key
free throws in the final minute as Tennessee edged Virginia, 77-74, in the
second round of the NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena.
JaJuan Smith added 16 points for the fifth-seeded Volunteers (24-10), who were
coming off a 121-86 rout of Long Beach State in the first round. The Vols will
now move on to face South Region top seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 on
Thursday in San Antonio.
Wayne Chism chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds for Tennessee, while
Ryan Childress finished with 10 points and eight boards.
“I have seen what was bad turn good and now, get even better,” Chism said
after the win. “We just want to make a good name for Tennessee basketball and
do whatever we can for the program.”
J.R. Reynolds dropped in 26 points for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers (21-11),
who were coming off an easy 84-57 win over Albany in the first round. Sean
Singletary had 19 points and six rebounds, while Adrian Joseph tallied 10
“Virginia played a terrific ball game,” Vols coach Bruce Pearl said. “They
were as good as advertised, and they were an extremely, extremely difficult
After a back and forth first half, Virginia entered the final frame with a
precarious three-point advantage, but Tennessee quickly regained control with
a 14-4 run. Duke Crews’ put-back slam capped the flurry and gave Tennessee a
49-42 edge with 14:33 left.
The Volunteers continued to hold the Cavs at arm’s length over the next
several minutes but Virginia refused to go away. Joseph’s lay-in with under
seven minutes to go made it a one-possession game, 61-59.
Smith stemmed the Cavs’ momentum by draining a desperation three off the glass
to make it 64-59 with about 5 1/2 minutes left.
Defense took over from there as both teams remained scoreless until Joseph
drained a three from the left wing to make it a two-point game, 64-62, with
2:50 on the clock.
Nineteen seconds later, Smith answered with a three of his own from the right
corner. Then, after a Singletary turnover, Smith hit 1-of-2 from the charity
stripe to give Tennessee some breathing room, 68-62, with 2:15 left.
It became a free throw shooting contest from there. Singletary drained a pair
with 21.4 seconds left to make it 71-69 game but Lofton answered with a pair
of his own less than three seconds later to make it a two-possession game
Singletary quickly got down the floor and pulled up for a three with 11.9
ticks showing to tighten things, 71-70.
Forced to foul yet again, the Cavs sent Lofton to the line with 10.2 seconds
left. The sharp-shooting guard calmly deposited both of his chances and the
Vols led 75-72.
Tennessee played tight defense on Singletary as he dribbled up the floor and
the whistles blew yet again after a bump with 6.3 ticks left. The Virginia
guard connected on both chances.
The parade to the line continued and Lofton drained another two to make it
77-74 with 5.9 seconds remaining.
“I was surprised to get open as I did,” said Lofton. “I just kept on coming
back and forth and trying to get a clear path so guys could throw the ball to
Singletary motored up the floor for the Cavs and pulled up for a three with a
chance to deadlock things. But his shot caromed off the front of the rim and
“I thought it was good,” Singletary said. “I got a head of steam and a good
pick from Jason Cain and pulled it up deep and I felt as though I got good
elevation in my shot and good rotation, but it went in and out so I missed
The Vols came out of the gate red hot from long range. Tennessee connected on
five of its first seven from beyond the arc and led 17-10 with less than five
minutes gone in the game. Lofton and Chism both knocked in two threes to
highlight the burst.
The Cavs survived the opening salvo, however, and quickly got back in the
game. Soloman Tat’s lay-in, with 8:17 left in the half, put Virginia on top,
The Cavs continued to apply the pressure from there. Reynolds buried a pair of
threes as Virginia extended its lead to 11, 36-25, with 4 1/2 minutes left in
Tennessee responded and closed the half strongly. The Vols held the Cavaliers
without a field goal in the final five minutes of the stanza and crept within
three, 38-35, at the break.
This is the first time since 2000 that Tennessee has made the Sweet 16…The
Vols are now 11-15 all-time in the tourney. They are now 3-5 all-time in the
second round…Virginia fell to 22-16 in NCAA play…The Cavs still lead the
all-time series with Tennessee 7-4.