Tennessee ousts Iowa in First Four, advances to round of 64

Mar 19, 11:57 PM

Iowa and Tennessee produced the NCAA Tournament's first overtime, resulting in the Big Dance's first sign of true madness. Iowa failed to capitalize on an extremely slow start by Tennessee, allowing the Volunteers to force the extra frame and record a 78-65 win. 

The Volunteers were led by Jarnell Stokes, Antonio Barton, Jordan McRae, and Josh Richardson, as the four starters combined for 65 points and 26 rebounds, guiding Tennessee to its first NCAA Tournament win in four years.

The Hawkeyes struggled offensively towards the end of regulation, especially in overtime. Iowa recorded one point in the extra frame, going 0-for-8 from the field, allowing Tennessee to build a significant lead. 

Adam Woodbury led Iowa with a team-high 16 points, as the Hawkeyes bench outscored the starters 35-30. 

With the win, Tennessee is scheduled to play No. 6 Massachusetts on Friday. 

Mar 20, 8:22 AM

Jarnell Stokes leads Tennessee to OT victory over Iowa in First Four

Mar 20, 8:22 AM

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS 78, IOWA HAWKEYES 65

As has been an unfortunately recurring theme for them this season, Iowa let this one slip away a little. They were all over the Volunteers in the first half, cycling through their 37 rotation guys--seriously, nobody on this team had more than five points at halftime, and they were still winning--at such a rate that Tennessee was probably too confused and overwhelmed to run any kind of coherent offense. 

But the Vols got stronger as the game got on, overpowering the Hawkeyes' frontlines and hitting just enough outside shots to cement their comeback. Iowa forward Roy Devyn Marble hit a tough fadeaway to send the game to overtime, but Tennessee owned the OT period, outscoring the Hawkeyes 14-1 for the comfortable victory. 

MVP

Double-double machine and Vols regular-season MVP Jarnell Stokes started slow--the Hawkeyes seemed to make it a priority to keep him from getting any good looks in single coverage down low--but his numbers slowly-but-surely crept up into that double-double territory, and by the end of OT, he had a typically Stokesian line of 19 and 13. 

He might not be able to put up numbers that effortless at the next level, but if you were choosing between Julius Randle and Jarnell Stokes for one game this tournament, I think you'd feel a lot safer with the latter right now. 

Defining Moment

It could've been that Marble game-tying jumper, prompting a golf clap-worthy "NOW THOSE ARE BIG MARBLES BY DEVYN MARBLE!" call from Reggie Miller. But since the Vols pulled away in overtime, we'll go with the and-one layup Stokes scored at the beginning of the period--which, turns out, gave Tennessee all the scoring they would need to separate from a worn-down Iowa in this one. 

Heroic in Defeat

Big night from Adam Woodbury, fringiest of NBA prospects, with a career-high 16 points (8-11 shooting) and eight rebounds, scoring fluidly in the post and looking like a candidate to be this year's Mitch McGary had he managed to move on and play a couple more games this year. 

Instead, well, there's always next year. 

Survive and Advance

I wouldn't exactly think UMass were sitting at home watching this one and biting their fingernails--Tennessee is a pretty good team, but neither squad were so impressive as to make it seem unbelievable they were relegated to the Last Four In. 

The Minutemen will have their work cut out for them keeping Stokes and Jeronne Maymon off the boards, but it's Tennessee who have the real challenge matchup, as they need to figure out how to contain Massachusetts speed demon Chaz Williams, keeping him out of the lane and from breaking down the defense and making plays for teammates. 

I'd stick with UMass here. 

Wait Till Next Year

Leading scorer Marble, who went just 3-15 in this one despite the game-tying basket in the 4th, is gone, as is primary interior defender Melsahn Basabe, but the Hawkeyes play so many guys that four or five of them can just absorb the minutes of each without it seeming like a huge transition. 

The bigger questions now probably will be asked of head coach Fran McCaffery, who in four years in Iowa has yet to post a plus-.500 conference record or a Field of 64 NCAA appearance. At least McCaffery's son Patrick's operation to remove thyroid tumor early today seems to have gone smoothly, and if Fran had to go 1-for-2 today, he'd surely prefer that be the 1. 

Crucial Miscellany

You notice that Jarnell Stokes actually looks a lot like Carmelo Anthony? The white-and-orange unis probably have something to do with it, but the headband, the can't-quite-grow-a-moustache, the sorta pudgy muscliness ... even the voices weren't totally dissimilar. 

Somebody should ask Stokes what he thinks of Mike Woodson's chances of keeping his coaching job for next year before Tennessee-UMass. 

Tangentially Related YouTube Clip:

Close enough.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Gregory Shamus