The Massachusetts Minutemen didn't dance for long as they were manhandled by the Tennessee Volunteers in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, losing 86-67. UMass finishes the season with a very respectable record of 24-9, while Tennessee improves to 23-12 and will advance to play #14 Mercer in the round of 32 on Sunday.
Derrick Gordon scored the first basket of the game, but that was the only lead of the game for UMass. Tennessee would then go on an 8-0 run and never surrendered that lead thanks to the impressive play of Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes. Tennessee was able to establish a slow, grind-it-out pace in the first half, which hampered UMass' offense as they struggled against a very physical Volunteer frontline. UMass had benefited recently from its ability to get to the free-throw line, but it only had two attempts in the first half and finished with 11 attempts compared to the Vols' 31.
Chaz Williams didn't finish his illustrious career at UMass how he wanted. He struggled with turnovers all game, committing five. He finished with 12 points and 5 assists, which is below his season average. He did have his usual energy and was one of the lone high energy spots for the Minutemen.
Jarnell Stokes had the tournament game of his life, leading Tennessee in scoring and rebounding with 26 and 14 respectively. He was scary efficient, shooting 64% from the field and an incredible 12-13 from the line. Jordan McRae was able to score at will as he scored 21 points on 9-16 shooting from the field. He seemed to be the Vols answer every time UMass would try and make a run.
Coach Kellogg decided to go with a new starting line-up for the first time all season, with Maxie Esho getting the nod over the lanky Raphiael Putney. Esho had been impressive during the A-10 tournament with his relentless energy and inside scoring. He struggled with his newfound starting role, shooting only 5-15 but finished with 12 points and 6 boards.
The game was over in the first half as Tennessee would lead by as much as 20, leading 38-18 with just under two minutes left. UMass really struggled to score, missing easy layups inside and failing to find any kind of perimeter scoring. They scored 20 of their 22 first half points in the paint. McRae would hit a 3-pointer over Chaz Williams just before the buzzer to give the Vols a 41-22 halftime lead.
Tennessee out-rebounded UMass 37-32 in large part to Stokes and fellow big man Jeronne Maymon. Maymon had a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He and Stokes patrolled the paint and were able slow down UMass' offense.
Tennessee's defense was impressive, holding a UMass team who averages around 73 points per game to only 67. UMass on the other hand really struggled defensively, even switching out of man-to-man to a 1-2-2 zone. The zone was very ineffective as many Minutemen had their hands down and failed to box-out. They were more effective in the second half when they went to the full court press.
The Minutemen came out with some fire in the second half as they cut the 19 point deficit to 10 at the 13:50 mark, by way of a Chaz jumper making the score 48-38. Both Derrick Gordon and Sampson Carter contributed significantly to the run, with Carter hitting two huge 3-pointers. However, that would be as close as they would get as Tennessee would quickly increased their lead back to 17 thanks to a run started by McRae. UMass and Tennessee would trade baskets until the final buzzer sounded.
Cady Lalanne was aggressive early and had some nice baskets inside. Once UMass began to push the ball more in the second half his touches dropped off. He did lead the team with 7 rebounds to go along with his 8 points. Derrick Gordon was able to get to the basket and played hard on defense, usually having to guard McRae. Trey Davis played decent, picking up some late points to finish with 9 for the game. He did have 3 steals, but had some mental lapses defensively as he found himself on the wrong end of a few and-ones. Carter would finish with 6 points off of two 3s and Raphiael Putney finished his career coming off the bench and scoring 2 points and grabbing 2 boards.
Overall, it was a very disappointing showing for UMass as they were never really in the game. Chaz's emotions were on full display as the camera showed him on the bench, covering his face with a towel as tears rolled down his face. No player has been as fun to watch this season as Chaz, so this game was tough to watch as he couldn't get his team going.