DAYTON, Ohio – Tennessee, which trailed for the first 37 minutes of the game, defeated Iowa, 78-65 in overtime in a First Four play-in game at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday and advanced to the NCAA’s Midwest Regional.
The No. 11-seeded Vols will take on No. 6 seed UMass on Friday at 2:45 p.m. That game will air on CBS.
Tennessee (22-12) has won six of its last seven games, with the lone loss coming to No. 1 overall seed Florida in the SEC tournament semifinals.
Josh Richardson was tremendous after a slow start – he was 0-of-5 in the first half – but regained his scoring touch to finish with 17 points.
Jordan McRae led the team with a team-high 20 points.
Jarnell Stokes posted his 20th double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes (20-13) were led by a pair of reserves that entered the game averaging a combined 9.6 points. Center Adam Woodbury scored a career-high with 16 points while Peter Jok added 10 points, his best game in three months.
Iowa's leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble (17.3 ppg) was limited to just seven points on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor.
After Marble sent the game to overtime, the Vols took over in overtime.
Stokes opened the scoring with a 3-point play to put Tennessee up 67-64. McRae's bucket put the Vols up by five with 3:55 left.
Tennessee took its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Antonio Barton with 3:03 left in the game that put the Vols up 59-57.
Iowa quickly answered as Marble converted a 3-point play nine second later. That put Iowa up 60-59.
Stokes gave the Vols back the lead at 61-60 on two free throws with 2:40 left in the game. Iowa came right back as Woodbury laid one home with 2:24 on the clock.
Maymon powered up with scored with 54 seconds left to but Tennessee up 63-62. He was fouled and missed the free throw, but the rebound went off Iowa and the Vols retained possession.
Stokes was fouled with 25.5 left in the game and proceeded to make the first of two free throws.
Marble sent the game to overtime with a jumper in the paint with 17.5 on the clock and tying the game at 64 all.
Down by as many as 12 in the first half and three at the half, the Vols tied the game with just over five minutes elapsed in the second half. Richardson tied the game at 37 on a 3-pointer with 14:37 left in the game.
Richardson had the play of the game as he drove baseline and slammed home a dunk with 10 minutes left in the game, pulling the Vols to within 47-44.
The Vols continued to come within a possession over the next four minutes. McRae's 3-pointer with 6:40 left cut the deficit to one point at 53-52.
Tennessee failed to convert the next two times it had the ball, while Iowa scored four points to regain a two possession lead at 57-52 with 4:33 on the clock.
Tennessee trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, but closed the gap at the half as the Hawkeyes led 29-26 at intermission. Iowa was hot from the field, making 52.5 from the floor, while Tennessee was just 10-of-26 (38.5).
The Vols held Iowa off the scoreboard for the final 3:42 of the half. McRae's putback as time expired finished a 7-0 run for Tennessee.
Iowa broke out of the gates scoring the game's first eight points as Tennessee missed its first seven shots from the floor. The Vols finally got on the scoreboard with 6:02 elapsed in the game on an Armani Moore runner.
The Hawkeyes took a 16-4 lead with 11:34 left in the first half on a 3-pointer by Josh Oglesby.
Iowa took advantage of tremendous play from its bench early on. 17 of the Hawkeyes' first 25 points came from their reserves as Iowa led 25-14 after a 3-pointer and long jumper by Peter Jok with 6:32 left in the first.
Looking ahead to Friday's opponent, Tennessee leads the all-time series with UMass, 3-0, including an 83-69 win over the Minutemen last season on Nov. 18, 2012 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Stokes scored a career-high 24 points in that game and added 12 rebounds.
Basabe 0-2 0-0 0, Marble 3-15 1-1 7, Gesell 0-4 0-0 0, White 1-5 5-6 7, Woodbury 8-11 0-0 16, Olaseni 1-1 1-2 3, Oglesby 2-5 0-0 5, Jok 4-5 0-0 10, Clemmons 1-1 0-0 2, McCabe 2-5 4-4 9, Uthoff 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 24-58 13-15 65.
Richardson 6-13 4-4 17, Barton 2-8 4-4 10, Stokes 5-7 8-11, 18, Maymon 3-4 3-4 9, McRae 6-15 6-7 20, Moore 2-3 0-0 4, Ndiaye 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Reese 0-2 0-0 0, Lopez 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 25-30 78.
Halftime – Iowa 29-26. End of Regulation – Tied 64.
3-Point Goals – Iowa 4-16 (Jok 2-3, McCabe 1-2, Oglesby 1-3, White 0-1, Gesell 0-1, Marble 0-6), Tennessee (Barton 2-6, McRae 2-6, Richardson 1-5, Moore 0-1, Thompson 0-1, Reese 0-2).
Fouled Out – McCabe.
Rebounds – Iowa 30 (Woodbury 8), Tennessee 37 (Stokes 13).
Assists – Iowa 14 (Marble 5), Tennessee 13 (McRae 3, Moore 3).
Total Fouls – Iowa 28, Tennessee 14.
Technical Foul – Stokes.
Attendance – 11,534.
THE MODERATOR: We'll be joined by Coach Martin, student athletes Jarnell Stokes, Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson. We'll start with an opening statement and then questions for the student athletes only.
COACH MARTIN: Tremendous effort by both teams. Proud of the way our guys fought all season, the way they competed as a team. They've grown as a team.
I'm just so happy for those guys, the way they played, battled. We've been through a lot, and they've shown it. And they've done a tremendous job as a unit, bonding, competing, playing together, having fun. And it's just fun to watch. I'm so proud of their growth as young men.
But, again, two teams that fought hard.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes only at this time.
Q. Jarnell and Jordan, certainly you guys wanted to win a tournament game for yourselves, but I would have to think you've been aware, some of the criticism that Cuonzo has faced this year. Does it mean anything to get a win for your coach?
Jarnell Stokes: Yeah, we tried to stay away from all the criticism that this team has been receiving throughout the year. If that's our motivation, then we're in it for the wrong reason. We're in it to win for Tennessee, keep things positive, and just looking forward to UMass right now.
Jordan McRae: Coach Martin does a great job keeping us as a family. So like Jarnell said, we don't let outside influences affect anything like that we're doing.
Q. Josh, talk a little bit about guarding Marble and taking him out of his rhythm. Did you feel you could pressure him as you did?
Josh Richardson: Devyn Marble is a great player. Watching film on him, I noticed that he likes to be real comfortable with the ball, and so I tried to just take him out full court, trying to get him uncomfortable and get him out of his rhythm. He did a good job down the stretch, making his shots and getting points. I was just trying to keep his points low.
Q. What was it like after all that fighting going on in the game to finally get the lead there, and what did that do for you guys from an uplifting standpoint?
Jordan McRae: We were fighting the whole game. We were just thinking of the lead. We didn't want to get too comfortable.
Q. When Cuonzo was hired, he talked so much about the defense and the toughness he wanted his program to play with. Is tonight the best embodiment of that or the closest you guys have been to what he wants, do you think?
Jordan McRae: I think we did a tremendous job toward the end of fighting back. Just like you said, we did a great job on defense. This is a team that scores 82 points a game, and for us to hold them like we did, it was a great job.
Q. Jordan, how big was that shot you had at the end of the first half to cap that 7 0 run?
Jordan McRae: It was a big shot for us. Like I said, we've been fighting to get back the whole time. I think Jeronne and Jarnell, they hit it out. I don't know which one of them, but just like I said, we've been fighting the whole game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach Martin.
Q. Follow up what I asked Jordan, looking back, what the team did tonight, played a lot of games, but is this what you envisioned all along from your program?
COACH MARTIN: Really the last seven games we played defense at a high level. And I think in my previous two years you look at the numbers, the numbers were good. I think we might have been second in the league each year as far as the defensive numbers, but it wasn't quite where I wanted it to be.
I think this year we were up and down with it. And the guys just made a commitment down the stretch of things we need to do to be successful as a team. We didn't change anything as a team. Their approach changed a little bit. They understand the importance, if you want to be successful, these are the things you have to do.
I think also playing against Florida at our place, the way they defend, guys, we can do these things. And the guys understood, embraced it, accepted it.
But I think like I said the last seven games we've been really good, the last five we're holding our opponents to 47 points a game. And tonight you're talking about a team that scores at a high level to hold them to 65 points in an overtime game. Just a tremendous effort.
Q. I know you were worried about Iowa's transition offense, and right away at the start get two to three baskets. Did you change anything or did the kids finally believe that's how Iowa tries to score?
COACH MARTIN: I think what happens in talking to the guys Josh, Jarnell, just the nerves of the game, NCAA Tournament game, one and done, so to speak. Once those guys settled down at the end of the first and into the second half, they start to play basketball.
But they're a very talented team. They get it out so quick and they get it up the court, not just the guards but the bigs do a great job of running. So we need five guys to corral that ball.
This time you can't go over it as much because you want fresh legs. Just talking about it, let's settle down, let's guard the ball. And in the second half Josh did a tremendous job really pressuring the ball, slowing them down, making Marble use his legs, forcing him to make plays off the bounce.
And I think once we forced those guys to start making individual plays, we feel like we had an advantage.
Q. You showed a little bit of emotion there in the last few minutes, kind of looked up at the administration, celebrating with the guys. Not something I think you usually do. What does this night mean, especially with maybe criticism you faced for the last few months?
COACH MARTIN: I don't deal with criticism. That's time and energy wasted. What was said? I don't know. Because I don't have the time and energy. Where I'm from, the way I was raised, I just can't waste time on it. I'm consumed with our players to be successful on and off the basketball court. All the seniors are graduating. Our guys have done a great job in the classroom. Winning ball games.
I don't have that kind of time or energy. I'm consumed with success.
Q. You have a chance to talk to Coach McCaffery dealing with his son?
COACH MARTIN: Briefly before the game. I guess I'm not sure something was said in the paper. He said I just want to thank you for the words you said. It was just an emotional day for not only him but his players. Because, again, as players you take on your coach's identity. Coach going through something, it's a family, tough thing to deal. And those guys came out, you saw the adrenaline and emotion that they played with in the first half.
I told the guys: We've got to lock in, tighten the screws because they'll come out with energy and passion.
But, again, first and foremost you're a father, and this is what we do for a living. So it's got to be very, very tough for him. Like I said, I said prayers, I prayed for him last night and even before the game.
Q. Coach, over the course of the season have had tough times when games came down to the wire. You feel like you broke through a wall, feel like luck was finally on your side? Or what made the difference than some of the other ones you played?
COACH MARTIN: I think more than anything just going through it. In order to get where you are trying to go, you have to go through some things, guys being in those games, in those situations.
But we're a better team than the last eight games that we've played. Much better team. The guys stepped up, made plays. We defend the way we defend because it was one of those deals we felt we can get stops, get a couple of shots to go, because the way we were playing defense, the way we feel about our defense: We're solid there, guys, let's just get a basket or get a shot to fall, loosen it up and make plays.
Q. Can you comment on the play of Josh, specifically the points in the first half, also guarding Devyn? What kind of game did he have?
COACH MARTIN: Defensively, as I said, the last five or six games, probably the last seven, he turned into an elite defender. Marble is going to be playing in the NBA no doubt with his size, his athleticism and skill level, handles the ball, 6'7", makes plays.
Josh just accepted the challenge. Not only that, but he picked him up full court and tried to wear his legs down to take his legs out from under him to force him to make one on one plays and allow our big guys to give us help, because forcing him to make one and one plays, now the shooters are not running off screens, catching and shooting. I thought they did a good job with that the first half.
Josh has really stepped up. Even on offense, he just had his mind made up I'm going to score and I'm going to make plays. When you have two of the better offensive rebounders in college basketball, it's hard to help up or to help off those guys. If our guards, if you can turn the corner and get in the lane, we can make something happen.
THE MODERATOR: We're being joined by the head coach of Iowa, Fran McCaffery, student athletes Adam Woodbury and Peter Jok. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Adam, I'm sure you know what Coach is going through. What are you guys thinking as players, his players, trying to support him, as you're trying to win this big game?
ADAM WOODBURY: We're a big family. And we were trying to rally around him, get the win for him and his family and came up just a little short tonight.
Q. Adam, you were able to get a lot of points inside tonight. What was it you were able to do to get open and get the points that you got?
ADAM WOODBURY: They got a great big man combo, tandem down there. And I was fortunate enough to get the shots to go early and kind of stayed through it the whole game.
My teammates really looked for me. I was very fortunate in that sense. And I was able to put it in the hole a couple times.
Peter, what was this like for you tonight to be in an NCAA Tournament game? You didn't seem to be afraid at all, how big was it to hit a couple of early shots and how much confidence did you get from that?
PETER JOK: It was big. Devyn was sick all week. So my mindset was come in, try to help out on offense. And I felt comfortable in the beginning. So I just kept shooting.
Q. For either player, just sort of ran out of gas there in overtime. Explain from your vantage point.
ADAM WOODBURY: I don't think we ran out of gas. I think we made some key mistakes down the stretch to hurt us. And they put the ball in the hoop.
I felt we played hard throughout the whole game. Started out really good, rebounding on both ends.
And they're a good team, very good, talented team, and just came up short tonight. I feel terrible for the seniors. Couldn't get them a win but we'll be ready next year.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open up the floor for questions for Coach McCaffery.
Q. How important was it to get off to a good start tonight after the last few games and get that energy going?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, I thought it was important on both ends. I think when you think of good start, you think, well, we got a lead, and we did. But our defense was very much a part of our ability to get that lead.
I thought our energy level, our rebounding, our transition, our execution, it was really good. Our execution was good all night.
We only had six turnovers. Three of them were offensive fouls. So we gave ourselves a chance.
But in the second half they got us on the glass, which is always your concern when you play this team, in particular, with how they rebound the ball.
Q. Fran, what is this like for you? How was your focus during the game?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Focus during the game was fine. It was a day that, needless to say, has been very difficult. You know, I got up at 5 a.m. and we had Patrick at the hospital at 6.
He's getting prepped for surgery on his neck to remove a tumor, and you're talking about potential malignancy and things of that nature and you're saying to yourself: Wow, it puts wins and losses in perspective.
Once he came out of surgery and he was in good shape, I talked with the physician. He was great. We felt really good. I got on a plane, and at that point my job was to focus on the game and to be there in every way that I could be for my guys.
So I don't think at any point in time I think we were locked in with our play sets when we ran them, our defensive game plan was good. We were changing defenses.
They're a hard team to guard, especially when they start making jumpers. Because now they've got you spread out a little bit more. McRae's a handful, but he's not the only one. And, of course, in the post they're as physical as strong a team as we've played. And that says a lot when you think of the league we play in.
So I just want to say this: I want to congratulate Tennessee on a great season, a great game. And Cuonzo has exhibited an unbelievable amount of class. I know him I don't know him that well, but the way he responded to my personal situation and then after the game to have the Tennessee players hug me and tell me that they're thinking about me, you know, most kids, they just want to run and jump on top of each other in the locker room. I was really impressed with those guys and the program that Cuonzo has built there.
Q. Fran, maybe comment on Peter and Adam's play, in terms of your outstanding scorers tonight, and neither of them have been in that position much during the year.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Starting with Peter, he's been coming. And I've wanted to give him a few more minutes as the season came down to the second part of the Big Ten season and obviously postseason play, and he's responded.
When you go from playing a lot to not playing, there's two ways to go. You can keep working. You can lock in and get better and force me to play you or you can finger point and blame and go in the other direction.
And he's a young man with great character. He worked, and he made me play him. And he kept producing. And obviously a key component of our program as we move forward.
With regard to Adam Woodbury, he's been great all year long. To see him do it offensively tonight with that level of comfortability, his ability to finish and his ability to create angles and recognize when he didn't have angles and get rid of it, and to offensive rebound the way he did and post defend the way he did, I mean, here's a guy that I think we all recognize had a chance to be special when he came to Iowa, and we're seeing that now.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)