The Tennessee Volunteers leave Indianapolis earlier than anticipated after suffering a 70-56 loss at the hands of a white-hot Oregon State basketball team.

The Vols’ loss was a summation of the up-and-down year the team endured. Inconsistent shooting, clunky offensive play, and futile production out of the post position ultimately led to Tennessee being forced to exit stage left from the Big Dance.

This was Oregon State’s ballgame for the duration of the contest. The Beavers snatched the lead 20 seconds into the game and would never relinquish control.

Tennessee fielded a shorthanded squad due to John Fulkerson’s absence after taking a vicious elbow in the SEC Tournament which ultimately rendered him unable to compete. The loss proved to be too much for the Vols to overcome.

Oregon State took advantage of Tennessee’s vulnerabilities down low by the way of their seven-footer Roman Silva. Silva exploded for 16 points on a perfect 8-8 from the floor to lead the Beavers in scoring. Sharpshooting guard Jarod Lucas poured in 14 points while cashing in on four-of-nine attempts from beyond the arc.

The Vols came out of the gates sluggish and sloppy, leading to their lowest scoring half of the season with a 33-19 halftime deficit. Tennessee shot an anemic 8-of-31 (25.8%) from the floor in the opening minutes including 2-of-13 from the three-point line.

The Vols were scratching and clawing to find a rhythm on offense, but it was clear the Beavers had done their homework. Jaden Springer (12 points), Keon Johnson (14 points), and Santiago Vescovi (11 points) did all they could to keep this game within reach.

With their senior leader Fulkerson unable to go, the Vols needed a big day out of their other senior Yves Pons. However, Pons (four points) delivered one of his worst performances of the season. The senior was dealing with foul trouble throughout the game after a couple of reckless player control fouls where Pons failed to set his feet on screens.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes, now 24-25 in the NCAA Tournament, is headed back to Knoxville after yet another premature exit from the Big Dance. There is an ugly narrative surrounding the 68-year old coach that he can’t get it done in March.

Barnes falls to 3-3 in the NCAA Tournament as head coach of the Vols, but it is his troubling history on college basketball’s biggest stage that is cause for concern for the Big Orange going forward.


Featured image courtesy of Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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