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How Tennessee survived the biggest collapse in NCAA tournament history to make the Sweet 16

Tennessee almost blew a 25-point lead against Iowa, but the Vols made big plays late to advance in March Madness.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round: University of Iowa vs University of Tennessee Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee led Iowa by 25 points late in the first half of their round of 32 matchup in the NCAA tournament. The Vols looked ready to walk into the Sweet 16, but Iowa wasn’t prepared to roll over just yet.

What followed next was the biggest comeback bid in tournament history: Iowa consistently forced Tennessee into turnovers, got Vols star Admiral Schofield in foul trouble, and erased the lead to force overtime.

Somehow, Tennessee still came away with the victory, winning 83-77 to eliminate the Hawkeyes and advance to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014.

Iowa made its living at the foul line, hitting 24-of-32 attempts from the free throw line, but missing some key ones late. Tennessee turned the ball over 17 times (to 12 for Iowa), but made enough plays in overtime to win the game.

A year after losing to Loyola-Chicago on a buzzer-beater in the round of 32, the Vols survived disaster to keep their Final Four hopes alive. This is how it happened.

Jordan Bone hit a clutch three-pointer to build a lead in OT

This might have been the biggest shot of the game. With Tennessee leading by two with 3:40 left in overtime, the Iowa defense clamped down on the Vols as the shot clock was expiring. Grant Williams, with nowhere to go, kicked out to junior guard Jordan Bone, who hit a deep three that broke the game open.

The Vols hit 8-of-20 attempts from three-point range. None were more clutch than that shot by Bone, who finished with 14 points in the win.

Grant Williams took over in OT

We ranked Williams as the No. 4 player in the NCAA tournament coming into March Madness. He proved he’s one of the best players in the sport by taking over in overtime to secure the win for Tennessee.

Williams’ scoring iced the game, first with a pull-up jumper:

Then with a tough finish inside off a spin move:

When Iowa needed a bucket late, it was Williams who forced a steal:

Williams ended with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks. What a performance by the junior.

Tennessee keeps dancing

Despite co-star Admiral Schofield only playing seven minutes in the second half of regulation due to foul trouble, the Vols made enough plays late to fend off the collapse. Now they’re advancing to the Sweet 16, where they’ll face Purdue.

Tennessee has been one of the best teams in the country all year. On the brink of disaster, the Vols powered through to keep dancing.