No. 4 Tennessee advances past No. 13 Louisiana in NCAA Tournament, 58-55

Grant Ramey03/16/23
Article written by:On3 imageGrant Ramey


Tyreke Key
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 16: Tyreke Key #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers drives against Greg Williams Jr. #13 of the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns during the first half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 16, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

ORLANDO — Tennessee is moving on in the NCAA Tournament after advancing past Louisiana with a 58-55 win late Thursday in the East Region at Amway Center.

Tennessee led by as many as 18 points in the second half, but Louisiana rallied to get the deficit down to three with 23.1 seconds left. Josiah-Jordan James hit one of two free throws with 19.1 seconds left and Julian Phillips added another with 7.4 to go to help the Vols hold on.

With the win, the fourth-seeded Tennessee advances to face No. 5 Duke on Saturday in the second round. Duke beat Oral Roberts 74-51 in the first round. The start time for Saturday’s game will be announced late Thursday night.

Tennessee (24-10) got 12 points from Tyreke Key and 11 more from Jahmai Mashack. Uros Plavsic started and scored nine points and had four rebounds and Olivier Nkamhoua had eight points and five boards. Santiago Vescovi scored only three points after dealing with early foul trouble. James finished with eight points.

Louisiana (26-8) was led by 16 points and five rebounds from Jordan Brown and Kobe Julien scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, helping the Ragin’ Cajuns make a run.

Vols led 30-19 at halftime after 11-0 run to end first half

Tennessee went on an 11-0 run to close the first half and paired it with a 12-2 run early in the second half, stretching what was a 30-19 lead at halftime to 18 on a Key three with 12 minutes left.

Louisiana scored the next 13 points, including three 3-pointers from Julien, to get the deficit down to five with 7:19 left, forcing a Tennessee timeout. The Vols were scoreless for more than five minutes during the Ragin’ Cajun run.

Jonas Aidoo finally snapped the scoreless streak on a layup with seven minutes left, getting the Tennessee lead back to seven. Mashack hit a jump shot then a pair of free throws with 4:57 left to make it a nine-point game.

Plavsic tipped in an inbound pass with one second left in the first half to cap the run, as Louisiana went scoreless over the final 4:43 of the first half. Nkamhoua hit a three and Mashack hit a pair of jumpers earlier in the run, sandwiched around a Key bucket.

Up Next: No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 5 Duke, Saturday, NCAA Tournament Second Round

Vescovi played only seven minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. Brown led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, but picked up two fouls of his own. 

Plavsic led Tennessee with seven points in the first half, ahead of six each from Mashack and Key. Nkamhoua scored five and James had three.

Louisiana was scoreless for 5:20 midway through the half, as Tennessee built a 19-13 lead. The Ragin’ Cajuns answered with an 8-0 run to tie the game, as the Vols went scoreless for 6:31. 

Tennessee shot 47.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line in the first half but committed 12 turnovers. Louisiana shot just 29.6 percent from the field and went 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. Brown made five of Louisiana’s eight field goals in the first half.