Even if Tennessee's Bruce Pearl was a circus ringmaster wearing an orange coat for P.T.Barnum, the game Friday night in St. Louis couldn't have been more exciting and stupendous.
Tennessee vs. Ohio State lived up to its advance pub -- and then some.
For Vols fans, it's a "where were you when" moment. For Buckeye fans, it's a dejected, deflected ball pain leaving them crying foul.
Whatever happens for the Vols against Michigan State, this has turned out to be most remarkable season on Tennessee basketball; a season of hope, upsets, and magic chemistry, but also a season of adversity, embarrassment and pain.
Those electric highs and lows seem to have toughened the mettle of a team that, thus far, has refused to go home beaten in the tournament we call March Madness.
Here is what sports writers are saying on the morning after Tennessee 76-73 win:
Tennessee Fells Another Favorite | New York Times J.P. Prince said the Tennessee players were told about remarks by Ohio State Coach Thad Matta that the Volunteers probably wished they could play in the Buckeyes’ thin lineup because the players would never come out of the game. Prince said the Volunteers preferred to share responsibility, and the Buckeyes’ lack of depth made them too tired to finish strong.
Dennis Dodd: In the battle of Tennessee vs. Turner, the Vols take the cake - NCAA Division I Mens Basketball - CBSSports.com: It's a good thing when Evan Turner takes over a game. Always. Every time. Except Friday.
Andy Glockner: Tennessee's big men bump off Buckeyes - Andy Glockner - SI.com: The Vols' post tandem of Wayne Chism and Williams was the key to this victory. They combined for 31 points and 23 boards, including nine on the offensive glass.
nky.Com | Kentucky Enquirer | The Big Bluegrass Blog So the SEC is down, huh? Could have fooled the Elite 8: Just a reminder, here - SEC teams in the Elite 8: TWO. Big East teams in the Elite 8: ONE. Yikes. MAJOR choke-job in the NCAAs. - I'm looking at you Georgetown and Villanova and Louisville and Syracuse and well - you know who you are.
Eamonn Brennan: Friday's early games continue the madness - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN: It a remarkable win for Tennessee, given how poorly Tennessee started the game. Ohio State opened a 13-6 lead in the opening minutes. Tennessee looked overmatched. But if there's one thing we should know by now about these Tennessee Volunteers: They're down, but they're never out.
TNJN - Chism wills Vols to first ever Elite Eight: And talking to Bill Raftery after the game on national television, Chism could have been cocky and gloated in the moment. Instead, he kept things classy and calm, making it apparent that even this isn't satisfying enough of an accomplishment to put things in cruise control the rest of the way.
Tennessee reaches a new level - Los Angeles Times: Reporting from St. Louis - Tennessee players walked onto the court at the Edward Jones Dome to chants by Ohio State fans reminding them of 2007, when the Buckeyes bounced them from the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. They left it to cheers from Volunteers fans, thrilled that Tennessee finally rewrote its history.
Bob Ryan: Tennessee closes out Ohio St. - The Boston Globe: Who needs jump shots? That would seem to be the appropriate question after watching Tennessee advance to the Elite Eight with a 76-73 victory over Ohio State, a game in which the Volunteers scored 37 points in the second half while making one outside shot.
J.P. Prince vaults Vols past Ohio State - STLtoday.com: "I'll remember this the rest of my life,'' Tennessee guard Bobby Maze said. "J.P. pulled me to the side and said, 'I'm not going to take another shot. I'm tired and going to save my energy and play the best defense I've ever played.' That's exactly what he did.''
Evan Turner was not enough for Buckeyes - STLtoday.com: We'll live with the best player in the country having the ball in his hands with 12 seconds left," Ohio State guard Jon Diebler said. "I don't know who wouldn't want the ball in his hands."
J.P. Prince made the play for Vols - STLtoday.com: When the last-second shot left his hand - awkward and rushed and with just the proper pinch of "Ohhh my gawd!!! Look at the clock!!!" desperation - Ohio State's national player of the year Evan Turner thought he did everything he could to hurl that basketball towards the hoop and become CBS's next made-for-TV miracle worker in an NCAA Tournament already chocked full of crazy, buzzer-beating heroes. "I definitely liked the look I got," Turner would say.
Out of the dance | BuckeyeXtra: "The fatigue issue - the people that probably say that are overweight and eat bad food," coach Thad Matta said. "These guys are conditioned to roll." But the Buckeyes' season rolled to an end against Tennessee last night, and Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl said he thought "fatigue was a factor."
Buckeyes' basketball season finally out of magic | BuckeyeXtra: "To get to the Sweet 16 is an accomplishment," junior Jon Diebler said. "But we're still very disappointed. We think we could have gone farther. Tennessee just played better."
Bob Hunter commentary: Turner deserved better sendoff -- if he leaves | BuckeyeXtra: The shot was supposed to go to Jon Diebler. Fate made sure it went to Evan Turner, as it almost always does. Fate was heartless. As Turner led the Buckeyes off the floor with a 76-73 loss that ended their season, it seemed like a can of red paint had been spattered on the Mona Lisa.
Mike Loprest: Could this be Tennessee's year? | tennessean.com: The Volunteers played and coached with the desperation of someone trying to erase old history. Any missed shot was chased as if a sin. Notice the 20 offensive rebounds, which led to the staggering 50-22 scoring advantage in the paint.
Tennessee's J.P. Prince defends final play against Ohio State as just a 'clean block' | tennessean.com: Bottom line: No official blew his whistle as Prince blocked Turner's 3-point attempt in the closing seconds as Tennessee made off with a 76-73 victory over Ohio State in the Midwest Regional semifinals Friday night.
David Climer: Vols have earned Elite status | tennessean.com: Suddenly, this is no longer a football school. And now it's not just the Lady Vols who hold up UT's basketball honor.
A night to remember | When You're Strange | GoVolsXtra.com: Key stat: Ohio State was guilty of only 11 turnovers, but three of them came in the final five possessions. As great as he was, Turner had a game-high six turnovers. That was part of Bruce Pearl's scouting report. The Vols knew to get into Turner and see if he would turn it over.
Vols shake New Year's Day hangover | Ask Griff | GoVolsXtra.com: For the first time after a major Tennessee basketball victory this year, there weren't any questions about what happened on New Year's Day.
Strange: Vols still standing GoVolsXtra: There were plenty of heroes to share a break-through moment, to nudge a program to a level it had never achieved before.
Wiedmer: Tennessee makes history as a team | Chattanooga Times Free Press: Bobby Maze should have felt the most pressure of his college basketball career. The Tennessee senior point guard stood on the foul line with 12.9 seconds to play in Friday night's Midwest Regional semifinal game against Ohio State, the Volunteers ahead by a slender point.
Defense puts UT in Elite Eight | Chattanooga Times Free Press: The Vols trailing Ohio State by six early in the second half of Friday night's Midwest Regional semifinal, Wayne Chism scored six straight UT points, pulled down three rebounds and disrupted at least one Buckeye shot in a span of two minutes. Then he jumped high in the air, pumped his arms and screamed, "Let's go! Let's GO!"
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