Lamonte Turner led the way with 19 points and eight assists off the bench as No. 3 Tennessee smothered the 14th-seeded Wright State Raiders, holding them to 32.8 percent shooting and a 4-for-21 mark from beyond the arc in a 73-47 win in first round South Region game.
The Volunteers also got 27 points and 21 boards, combined, from their bigs Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, as they will advance to take on the winner of this afternoon’s No. 6 Miami-No. 11 Loyola-Chicago matchup.
The Volunteers are not a team that has gotten much attention throughout the season. They entered 2017-18 picked 13th out of 14 SEC teams in the preseason poll and, despite winning a share of the SEC regular season title, have spent much of this season as an afterthought.
Hell, heading into the tournament, the public sentiment has been to pick whoever wins the 6-11 game in their pod to get to the Sweet 16.
That’s how it is going to be with this Tennessee team, and there’s not much you can do about it for a roster full of guys that aren’t destined for NBA superstardom.
But there is one thing that this group does better than just about anyone in the sport: They play their butts off. They are going to defend, they are going to be physical and they are going to let you know that you did not take them as seriously as you should have. Wright State felt that wrath on Thursday afternoon. Tennessee forced the Raiders into a six-minute stretch without scoring and 11 straight missed shots en route to a double-digit lead that the Vols never looked back from.
And whether Tennessee ends up playing the Ramblers or the Hurricanes in the next round, you can expect more of the same.