Vols Take Down Butler - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Carrie Anderson

Vols Take Down Butler

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Tennessee Volunteers scrapped,

pounded and grabbed.

They also survived. No coincidence in that.

The second-seeded Vols mostly ditched the glamorous 3-pointer

and got physical in Sunday's second-round, moving on with a 76-71

overtime victory over Butler.

Tennessee (31-4) got a little assist from Lady Vols coach Pat

Summitt, who called her men's counterpart a few hours before the

game.

"She said, 'Just tell those guys to rebound the basketball,"'

Bruce Pearl said of the colleague, whose seven national titles make

her something of an expert.

JaJuan Smith hit four straight free throws in the final 13.6

seconds of overtime and the Vols barely won a game they at times

threatened to turn into an East Regional rout.

The earliest game to feature two 30-win teams definitely lived

up to the distinction.

The Vols, who struggled at times against American in the first

round, will play Louisville on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.

Tennessee scored 38 points in the paint, had five players with

multiple fouls by halftime and made only two 3s in the final 40

minutes against the Bulldogs (30-4).

"Fatigue was a factor for them at some point, because of the

way we guarded them," Pearl said. "We really played great defense

tonight and did what we needed to do on the boards."

The approach paid off at the end.

The Vols scored six straight points inside after the Bulldogs

took their first lead in the final 2 minutes of OT, including

benched guard Ramar Smith's basket with 27 seconds left to make it

72-68.

Butler still wouldn't go away. Pete Campbell followed a missed

shot to make it 72-70 with 16 seconds left. JaJaun Smith then made

both free throws.

Julian Betko rebounded a missed 3-pointer by A.J. Graves and was

fouled with 4.9 seconds left for Butler. He made 1-of-2 from the

line, and JaJuan Smith grabbed the rebound before icing the game

with foul shots at the other end.

The Bulldogs, who got a low seed considering their No. 11

national ranking, didn't have their minds changed. Coach Brad

Stevens remains convinced his team is "Final Four-caliber," and

his players agree.

"Why wouldn't we? We play our style of basketball," said Mike

Green, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists before

fouling out late in overtime. "It's been very effective."

So has Tennessee's more fast-and-loose style.

JaJuan Smith sported the motivating message "No. 1 seed" on

his sneakers for a second straight game for a Vols team that felt

they were worthy. Tennessee survived the tournament's opening

weekend for the second straight year and avoided another 2-seed

flop. The Vols had fallen in the second round as a No. 2 seed in

2006, the only other time they were seeded as high.

Wayne Chism led foul-plagued Tennessee with 16 points, while

Tyler Smith added 15 and eight rebounds and JaJuan Smith had 11.

The Vols led by 13 in the first half and 10 early in the second,

but Butler kept coming back.

The Bulldogs, who couldn't catch up to Tennessee for the first

37-plus minutes, took their first lead on Graves' short jumper in

the paint to make it 68-66 with 1:46 left in overtime. Ramar Smith

and Chism both scored inside to retake the lead inside the final

minute.

Tyler Smith blocked Graves from behind and Chism won the

scramble for the loose ball and called timeout with 33 seconds

left. Smith was thankful the referees didn't call goaltending.

"I was so happy they gave it to me," he said. "I don't know

if I caught it on the way up or the way down."

Ramar Smith then scored, coming up with a big play after losing

his starting job to J.P. Prince, an Arizona transfer who made his

first start for Tennessee.

"I came in and backed my teammates up," Ramar Smith said. "I

came out and played my heart out for my teammates."

Prince had nine points, seven rebounds, five assists - and six

of the Vols' 20 turnovers.

Graves led Butler with 21 points on just 6-of-18 shooting. Pete

Campbell, who made eight 3s in the first round, added 12 points and

Willie Veasley had 11.

Regulation ended in anticlimactic fashion.

Veasley pushed the ball back in the basket off a missed shot to

make it 63-all with 37 seconds left, then Tennessee pushed it

across midcourt and called timeout.

Prince was called for traveling against defender Drew Streicher

with 4 seconds left, and Green caught the inbounds pass on the run

but couldn't get off a decent shot.

The Vols tried to set the tone early, sinking three 3-pointers

and forcing five turnovers in the first five minutes on their way

to a 21-8 lead.

"We sent a message right off the bat that we were going to

represent the SEC," Pearl said. "I thought we showed a tremendous

determination to advance."

Butler, winner of 59 games the past two seasons, hardly

panicked. After all they rallied to beat Tennessee in the regular

season last year after trailing, coincidentally, 21-8.

"I'll tell you this about our team: We haven't been out of a

game in a long time," Stevens said. "When you think about what

this team has accomplished in the last two years, it's absolutely

incredible."

Powered by Frankly