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Tennessee falls to Florida Atlantic in the Sweet 16, 62-55

The Vols' season comes to an end with this loss in the NCAA Tournament.
Credit: AP
Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis (1) brings the ball up court as Tennessee guard Josiah-Jordan James (30) defends during the second half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament at Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK — Tennessee men's basketball lost to Florida Atlantic, 62-55, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night inside Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The Vols led 10-8 with 14:57 left in the first half. Tennessee then went on a 7-0 run in which FAU didn't score for over three minutes. Tyreke Key made a three-pointer and Josiah-Jordan James scored four points on the run. UT led 17-8.

The Vols stayed out in front around that margin for a lot of time in the first half, but the Owls cut the deficit to five after a three-pointer from Nick Boyd with 2:42 to go in the half. That made the score 27-22, which would be the score at halftime with UT leading.

Tennessee didn't make a field goal in the final 4:03 of the first half, allowing FAU to stay within striking distance.

The Vols did well defensively though. They held Florida Atlantic to 37.5% shooting overall and 21.4% from three-point range.

Uros Plavsic led the Vols with eight points in the first half. James scored seven.

To start the second half, FAU trimmed the lead to three when Johnell Davis scored on a layup. Santiago Vescovi immediately responded with a three-pointer to get UT back up by six points. FAU cut the lead to four and Vescovi made a three-pointer again to give Tennessee a 33-26 lead.

Boyd splashed home a three-pointer for FAU through and back down to four points the lead went. They got within three points again after another made three-pointer from Bryan Greenlee, the score 35-32 in favor of Tennessee.

With UT up 39-35, Michael Forrest drilled a three-pointer for FAU to cut the lead to one point. On the Owls' next possession, Forrest made another to give FAU a 41-39 lead. Forrest would score again on the next Florida Atlantic possession to make the score 43-39.

A little later, Alijah Martin made another deep ball for FAU and the Owls led 48-41 with 07:33  to go in the second half. Plavsic committed a flagrant foul after that and FAU extended the lead to 49-41 after making a free throw.

The Owls went up by double digits following a couple of offensive rebounds and a layup from Brandon Weatherspoon to make it 51-41 with 6:47 to go.

The Vols made a push to get back into the game. James made a three-pointer with 3:37 to go to get within 55-50. With 2:37 to go, Vescovi missed a three-pointer to get within one possession, the Owls went down on the other end and score an easy layup as Boyd scored to make it 57-50.

Florida Atlantic held on from there and put the game away at the free-throw line. Tennessee shot 33.3% from the field for the game.

The Vols season has come to an end. They have not reached the Elite 8 since 2010.

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