RALEIGH, N.C. — The Tennessee men’s basketball team is back in the Sweet 16.
No. 11 seed UT beat No. 14 seed Mercer 83-63 at PNC Arena on Sunday. The Vols (24-12) punched their ticket to Indianapolis while ending the Cinderella story of the Bears (27-9), the lowest-seeded team left in the tournament.
UT will play No. 2 seed Michigan (27-8) on Friday.
Josh Richardson continued his NCAA tournament surge, scoring a career-high 26 points on nine of 13 shooting.
Jarnell Stokes claimed his 22nd double-double of the season and tied former UT great Bernard King for most double-doubles in one season by a Vol. He scored 17 points and pulled down 18 rebounds, the spearhead of a UT rebounding effort that finished with a 41-19 advantage.
Antonio Barton scored 18 points. Jordan McRae added 14.
UT led 42-27 at halftime, and the Bears never got closer than 11 in the second. The win avenged UT’s 75-67 loss to Mercer in the first round of last year’s NIT tournament.
UT now has 24 wins, a total reached only five previous times in school history.
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin will receive no less than a $75,000 bonus for the Vols’ NCAA tournament run. He earned a $50,000 bonus for making the tournament. That bonus climbs to $75,000 now that UT is in the Sweet 16.
This is the seventh time in UT’s history it has made the field of 16 teams, and the fourth time in the last eight years. The Vols’ best finish was an Elite 8 appearance in 2010.