Rushed Reactions: #11 Tennessee 86, #6 Massachusetts 67Posted by Brad Jenkins on March 21st, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways.
- This looked like a mismatch coming in, and it was. Maybe it wasn’t that way according to seed, but most basketball followers could see this one coming. It’s also a win in the “New vs. Old” computer systems battle. Coming into the game Ken Pomeroy had Tennessee ranked #9 and Massachusetts at #50, while the RPI had the Minuteman rated #21 and the Volunteers in a tie for #40. Clearly the NCAA Selection Committee put more stock in the RPI when it came to seeding these two squads. It also proves that playing in the First Four isn’t such a bad thing, despite the travel issues. With this victory, Tennessee becomes the fourth team in as many years to win at least one more NCAA Tournament game after playing in the First Four.
- Turnovers have been a problem all year for Massachusetts. Coming into the game, the Minutemen hoped that their turnover offense (#213 in the NCAA) would get a break matching up with a Tennessee defense that ranks even worse (#256) at forcing miscues. But that edge went to the Volunteers in a big way during the crucial first half of this one. Massachusetts gave the ball away 10 teams in the first 20 minutes, helping Tennessee build a huge edge in points-off-turnovers (+9). Despite the loss, senior Chaz Williams closed out his fine career by leading the Minutemen to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. He finished with 12 points and five assists, but committed five turnovers, including four of those in the pivotal first half.
- Tennessee has two real men in the post. With both starting big men listed at 6’8″, 260 pounds, junior Jarnell Stokes and senior Jeronne Maymon have had their way inside so far in this NCAA Tournament. Maymon followed up on his solid game in the First Four (nine points, seven rebounds) with an even better showing (11 and 11) against Massachusetts. Stokes has been awesome in both Tournament games. He had 18 points and 13 boards in Wednesday’s win over Iowa and followed that up with 26 and 14 today. In particular, he was dominant in the second half, indicating that he has come a long way with his conditioning, playing major minutes in the team’s fourth game in eight days. With Jordan McRae scoring well from the perimeter as well, Tennessee is a very balanced team right now.
Star of the Game. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee. In the second half alone, Stokes had 20 points and seven rebounds, shot 4-of-5 from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.
Quotable: “Their size and strength in the post. They [Stokes and Maymon] play off each other really well.” — Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg, discussing what impressed him most about Tennessee today.
What’s Next? The Volunteers move on to play surprising Mercer in the round of 32 on Sunday.