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Tennessee advances to second round of NCAA Tournament with 58-55 win over Louisiana

The Vols will play Duke next in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Credit: AP
Tennessee forward Uros Plavsic (33) goes up to shoot in front of Louisiana forward Jordan Brown (21) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Tennessee men's basketball advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 58-55 win over Louisiana on Thursday night in Orlando, Florida.

The fourth-seeded Vols jumped out to a 10-4 lead as Uros Plavsic, who started at center instead of Jonas Aidoo, scored five points in that stretch. The 13th-seeded Ragin' Cajuns responded with a 7-0 run to take an 11-10 lead.

UT quickly responded with a 9-0 run of their own. Tyreke Key scored four points on that run and Santiago Vescovi banked in a three-pointer and Mashack scored on a layup off a steal to give Tennessee a 19-11 lead.

Louisiana then went on an 8-0 to tie the game up. Their leading scorer Jordan Brown had six of those eight points in that run to tie it at 19-19.

Tennessee had a response again. They closed out the half on an 11-0 run to take a 30-19 halftime lead capped off with a Uros Plavsic layup right before the buzzer sounded.

Plavsic led the team with seven points at halftime. Key and Mashack each had six points.

Louisiana scored 12 of their 19 points off of turnovers in the first half. Tennessee had 12 turnovers in the half, which was the only blemish. UT held Louisiana to 29.6% shooting in the first half. Brown scored 12 of Louisiana's first-half points.

UT got up by double-digits after Olivier Nkamhoua made a free throw to put them up 31-21. Nkamhoua also had a highlight putback dunk later in the half to get the Vols up 45-27.

Tennessee led 48-30 with 12 minutes to go. Louisiana went on a 13-0 run over the next four and a half minutes to cut the deficit to five as UT led 48-43. 

Tennessee then held Louisiana on a nearly four-minute scoring drought and took a 54-45 lead. Jalen Dalcourt scored on a three-pointer with 2:37 to cut the lead to 54-48.

Kobe Julien made two free throws with 23 seconds to go to make the score 56-53 with Tennessee still holding on to a lead.

Josiah-Jordan James made a free throw to give the Vols a 57-53 and then UT forced a miss on Louisiana's next possession. They held on from there for the win.

Key finished with 12 points to lead the team. Mashack finished with 11 points. Tennessee shot 45.7% from the field. They held Louisiana's Brown to just four points in the second half as he finished with 16 to lead the Ragin' Cajuns.

The Vols cut their turnovers in half in the second half with six.

Tennessee will play five-seed Duke next in the round of the 32 on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS.  The Blue Devils beat 12th-seeded Oral Roberts 74-51 on Thursday.

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