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Ohio vs Tennessee - NCAA Tournament Recap
#14 Ohio 68 vs. #6 Tennessee 83
Ohio’s play was not sweet enough for the final sixteen. Tennessee imposed a fast tempo and outran the Bobcats in an 83-68 second round victory.
After carrying Ohio in the two prior victories, D.J. Cooper and Armon Bassett were held in check by Tennessee’s long defenders and on the ball pressure. After monster outputs in the MAC Championship game and first round of the NCAA Tournament, the two combined for 23 points on 7 of 23 shooting this time.
Ohio needed its guards to outproduce Tennessee’s and they did not. J.P. Prince led the charge with 18 points and Scotty Hopson put up 17 more for the Vols. The size and speed of Tennessee’s guards were too much for the Bobcats to contain on both sides of the ball.
Tennessee also controlled the paint. The Vols outscored Ohio 58-12 in paint points. There were much too many open, uncontested looks for Tennessee inside. Easy layups and alley-oops victimized the Bobcats, who by the end of the game just looked gassed.
Tommy Freeman gave a valiant effort for Ohio. He was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points and he kept the Bobcats in the game with his 6 of 11 three-point shooting. Freeman drew Ohio the closest it would get in the second half when he nailed a three to cut the Tennessee lead to just 50-45. But Tennessee’s athleticism was too much for the Ohio defense to contain, as they would answer back time and time again on the offensive side.
Ohio’s shooting dropped from a skyrocket high 57% against Georgetown to 37.9%, under its season average, against the stingy Tennessee defense.
Though the run is now over for the MAC Tournament champions, there is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the Bobcats far exceeded expectations. They were picked to finish last in the MAC East. They were left for dead at 0-4 in conference play, then 5-8. Not many thought they could win the MAC Tournament, let alone an NCAA Tournament game against Georgetown, a 3-seed from the Big East. This Bobcats team and its fans have a lot to be proud of.
They also have a lot to look forward to. Coach John Groce has laid a strong foundation in Athens. With Kenneth Van Kempen the lone departing senior, Ohio will have most of its core back. Armon Bassett, Tommy Freeman and DeVaughn Washington will get one more shot as seniors. The talented freshmen will be back with a year of invaluable experience under their belts. And Stephen Coleman will return after a season-long injury. A team that struggled with depth this season should have no worries there going into 2010-11. Add on another strong recruiting class and one should not expect Ohio to be a preseason MAC East cellar pick.
Getting to the NCAA tournament was remarkable. Defeating Georgetown in the opening round, still hard to believe. The loss to Tennessee cannot put a damper on that. Ohio fans will not forget where they were when the Bobcats beat Georgetown; they also won’t forget these magical two weeks of basketball.
By Connor Kiesel