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Vols Survive Burns, Advance To Play Hawkeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Tennessee Volunteers began the NCAA Tournament firing on all cylinders, until second half adjustments from the Colgate Raiders evened out the game to a back and forth affair late in the second half. With the help of Tennessee’s ability to adjust to Colgate’s zone defense, Admiral Schofield’s late game heroics, and Jordan Bowden and John Fulkerson’s hustle off the bench and onto the court, the Vols not only survived, but advanced to the second round.

After taking advantage of multiple mismatches in the first half, the Vols ran into the locker room leading 42-30. Colgate would make a few adjustments during halftime, one of them being a switch to zone defense. The defensive change to the 3-2 zone seemed to make things uncomfortable for Tennessee according to Lamonte Turner, as the team managed only six points in the first eight minutes of the second half.

The Vols then made the necessary fixes to counter Colgate’s defense, scoring 27 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. The pivitol point to close the game though was when Schofield shook off the rust of the first 36 minutes and buried three critical three pointers in the final four minutes, with the last shot putting the nail in the Colgate’s season to extend Tennessee’s lead to nine points with 40 seconds remaining.

“With Admiral, he’s been in many games this year where he’s knocked down tough shots, big-time shots in critical moments,” said Jordan Bone. “And he did that today.”

Small adjustments were the key to Schofield bouncing back from an off-day shooting the ball, as prior to his multiple late 3-pointers, he was 3-of-11 shooting the ball from the field, missing all four attempts from behind the arc. But after realizing he was shooting the ball too fast and his hand placement was slightly different than it should be, Schofield was locked in.

“I’m not afraid to make or miss,” Schofield said. “I’m not afraid to be the guy that wins the game or the guy that loses the game on a shot like that. It was just that confidence because of the hard work I’ve put in.”

For Colgate, it wasn’t just the defensive change that allowed them to have a roaring comeback in the second half, it was also lights out perimeter shooting. The Raiders shot 51.7 percent from deep, and were led by sophomore guard Jordan Burns. All game, the Vols never could find an answer for when Burns had the ball and while looking to switch onto a more favorable matchup, which he often did. Burns ended a sensational day making eight of his 13 3-point attempts, finishing with a game-high 32 points.

“[Burns] was hitting tough shots,” said Bowden. “We tried to limit his touches down to the end. And we had good defense on him- Lamonte Turner was playing good, tight defense on him. He was just hitting tough shots.”

Tough shots, indeed. Throughout the game, Colgate was firing off three pointers from all over the court, despite solid defense from Tennessee. Out of their 15 3-pointers made, nine of them came in the second half when the so-called “Cinderella Team” needed them most.

“I want to say that [Colgate] was a really good team,” Bone said. “They fought super hard. And we couldn’t appreciate that honestly any more.”

While Tennessee starters did their part as they usually do, it was the bench today that made a massive difference for the Vols. Bowden had 14 points and Fulkerson had four, but it was more than the baskets that made them stand out. As Kyle Alexander alluded to following the game, Bowden and Fulkerson were able to provide the spark the Vols needed, both on and off the final score sheet.

The No. 2 seed Vols will now look ahead to the No. 10 seed Iowa, as their second round showdown will take place this Sunday after the Hawkeyes upset win over Cincinnati. After coming off of a game against a Colgate team that was electric from the behind the arc, Tennessee will have to square up against another good three point shooting team, as Iowa finished 50 percent from deep during their win against the Bearcats earlier today. But with that in mind, Schofield puts it best: Its all about surviving and advancing.

If Tennessee wants to advance past Iowa to the Sweet 16, they will have to win a battle that they have been fighting all year, defending the perimeter shot. But as we have seen all season long, when this team wants to overcome obstacles for their teammates, coaches, and fans, they do just that. As they say- One Fly, We ALL Fly… right?

Written by Ric Butler in conjunction with Trey Wallace

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