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Tennessee 86, UMass 67: Vols Cruise in NCAA Tournament

Tennessee had an effortless start to the main bracket.

The 11-seeded Tennessee Volunteers made winning in the NCAA Tournament look easy as it hammered 6-seed UMass 86-67. It comes two days after UT needed overtime to down fellow 11-seed Iowa in the First Four.

The Minutemen got their one and only lead of the game at 2-0 just over a minute into it. Tennessee responded with an 8-0 charge that put the contest in their favor for good. The Vols got a lot of points near the hoop throughout the first half as they built their lead, and that margin ended up 41-22 at the half. The only question was whether they'd have some kind of epic meltdown in the second to give it away like fellow First Four winner NC State did yesterday, but it wasn't to be. The teams played to a tie in the second, leaving the Vols with a 19-point win.

The Vols' big two players led the way as to be expected. Jarnell Stokes had a monster day with 26 points and 14 boards, while Jordan McRae poured in 21. Tennessee had a dismal day from deep, nailing just two of their 14 triple shots, but they made up for it with 24 points from the charity stripe. Maxie Esho and and Chaz Williams each had a dozen points for UMass, which couldn't keep up with the Vols' overall 53.6% shooting from the field.

Tennessee moves on to face 14-seed Mercer, which upset Duke just minutes away from their home campus. Don't use ink to put the Vols into the Sweet 16 though, as Mercer defeated UT in last year's NIT.