When faced with the physicality of fourth-seeded Tennessee, a team needs to hang in there and fight a war of attrition to give itself a chance.
The ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic played that role almost perfectly Thursday night in a Sweet 16 matchup at Madison Square Garden, beating the Vols, 62-55.
The Owls (34-3) face third-seeded Kansas State, a 98-93 winner over Michigan State in the previous regional semifinal, in the Elite Eight on Saturday.
The Owls withstood the Vols’ onslaught in the first half, never trailing by double digits before taking over midway through the second half when they simply couldn’t miss from 3-point range, making all five of their 3-pointers after halftime during a crucial match. 7:54 stretch.
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Florida Atlantic, who won their first NCAA Division I tournament game a week earlier, is now 40 minutes from the Final Four.
Johnell Davis had 15 points and six rebounds and St. Mary’s of Rutherford, NJ product Nick Boyd had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Owls.
Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo each had 10 points for Tennessee (25-11).