On a day when the two other 6-seeds succumbed to their lower-seeded opponents, Tennessee held on against a pesky San Diego State team to advance against surprising 14-seed Ohio. How did the Vols manage to survive on a day when so many other top seeds found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard? SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk explains that it all came down to guard play:
Hats off to San Diego State. We thought we had an even matchup on our hands, and we were right. If that team is a year away, in a year they're going to be very good. If you like balance, both teams had 10 assists and 10 turnovers, and SDSU won the rebounding battle 30-29. But tonight, the more experienced Vols made the plays in the final minute, Goins did enough good to negate his bad decision, and Tennessee plays on.
We thought the guards would have to lead us, and they did: Melvin Goins was the player of the game, J.P. Prince wasn't far behind, and Bobby Maze was also very good: 41 points combined from that group. Scotty Hopson wasn't perfect, but both of his threes were huge. Cameron Tatum, who I thought would be one of our most important players, didn't score...but the Vols still got 49 of their 62 points from that guard group.