PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Tennessee shattered one glass slipper and slipped into another Saturday afternoon in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The sixth-seeded Vols eliminated Cinderella 14th-seed Ohio 83-68 in the Dunkin' Donuts Center to advance to their third Sweet 16 in the past four years.
UT (27-8) will play the winner of today's Georgia Tech-Ohio State game on Friday night in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis with an opportunity to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
"Our top five guys aren't necessarily going to win in this tournament, but our 10 can,'' said UT coach Bruce Pearl, whose bench held a 28-0 advantage over the Bobcats (22-15). "This is a team with many dimensions, and when we defend and rebound we've got a chance to win.''
The defense started and ended with the No. 15-ranked Vols focused on shutting down Ohio's talented backcourt of D.J. Cooper (16 points on 5-of-15 shooting and five turnovers) and Armon Bassett (seven points, 2-of-10 shooting, seven turnovers).
UT utilized its "Ice" defense to prevent Ohio's guards from reaching the ball screen.
"The plan from the jump was to stop those guards,'' UT junior center Brian Williams said, "and then dominate underneath and on the boards.''
The Vols out-scored the Bobcats 58-12 in the paint with Bobby Maze dishing out nine assists and held a 41-33 rebounding advantage.
J.P. Prince led the Vols with 18 points and Scotty Hopson added 17. Wayne Chism scored nine points and had 12 rebounds and Williams scored eight with 12 rebounds.
"J.P. Prince was the best player in this regional,'' Pearl said. "He played as well as any player in the tournament this weekend.''
It took the best Prince had to offer and more for the Vols to turn back Ohio, which had won six straight, including Thursday's 97-83 first-round upset over third-seeded Georgetown.
The lead changed hands seven times Saturday before Chism scored on a three-point play at the 11:52 mark to put Tennessee up 19-18 and trigger a 10-0 run capped by a Hopson finger-roll at the 8:04 mark.
The Vols rode the momentum into intermission, taking a 38-27 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Bobcats rallied with an 8-2 run that Tommy Freeman (23 points) capped with a 3-pointer that pulled Ohio to 45-40 with 12:57 remaining.
Pearl had substituted frequently throughout the game to keep UT fresh and said he wasn't overly concerned at that point.
"I didn't feel we lost control,'' Pearl said. "It didn't get to the point where I was too terribly concerned that we were going to blow it.''
The Bobcats were within six points, 55-49, with 10:17 left when DeVaughn Washington scored inside for two of his 16 points.
The drama quickly faded: Steven Pearl scored on a drive on the ensuing possession, then blocked a shot leading to a Hopson dunk.
Prince took over from there, scoring on a three-point play and another drive to the basket to make it 64-49 and cap the 9-0 run with 7:03 left.
Ohio failed to chop the lead into single digits the rest of the game.
"I don't know if this is the year,'' Prince said. "We've got more games to play, and we know every one can be our last.''