Tennessee holds off Louisiana-Lafayette to move on in NCAA Tournament
Tyreke Key scored 12 points, Jahmai Mashack added 11 and No. 4 seed Tennessee survived a late scare to hold off Louisiana-Lafayette 58-55 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (26-8) whittled an 18-point deficit to three in the final minute — creating some tense moments and a couple technical fouls — but the Volunteers (24-10) closed it out by forcing tough shots and making just enough free throws.
Tennessee, which lost six of 10 heading into the tournament, advanced to face fifth-seeded Duke in the East Region’s second round at the Amway Center.
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The Blue Devils routed No. 12 seed Oral Roberts 74-51 earlier Thursday, giving Duke coach Jon Scheyer a win in his tournament debut.
It will be the first meeting between Tennessee and Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
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The Vols should hope to take much better care of the ball than they did against the Sun Belt Conference Tournament champions.
They finished with 18 turnovers in the fourth game without starting point guard Zakai Zeigler, who tore a ligament in his left knee in the team’s regular-season finale. Zeigler led the Southeastern Conference with 6.5 assists a game.
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Uros Plavsic added nine points, and Oliver Nkamhoua chipped in eight for Tennessee.
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Jordan Brown led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 16 points.