Oregon State played up the underdog role all season and is now the latest No. 12 seed to win an opening-round NCAA Tournament game.
Roman Silva scored 16 points and the Beavers took advantage of Tennessee’s icy perimeter shooting to beat the fifth-seeded Vols 70-56 in the Midwest Region Friday night.
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Oregon State (18-12) became the first Pac-10/12 school to win the conference tournament after being picked to finish last. The Beavers are the 51st 12th-seed to take down a fifth-seed since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded in 1985.
The 7-foot-1 Silva bulled his way through the Vols for an 8-for-8 night after struggling in the Pac-12 Tournament. Oregon State hit seven 3s in the second half to win their first NCAA Tournament game since reaching the 1982 Elite Eight.
Oregon State moves on to face the winner between Oklahoma State and Liberty on Sunday.
The Vols (18-9) opened their third straight NCAA Tournament shorthanded.
John Fulkerson was out with a facial fracture and concussion caused by a pair of elbows by Florida’s Omar Payne in the SEC Tournament.
Tennessee could have used the extra shooting help from its fifth-year senior — or anyone, really, as the Vols finished 5 for 26 from the arc while shooting 33% overall.
The Vols caused Oregon State some problems with their press and hit a few shots down the stretch to pull within 10, but started the rally too late.
Now, a team ranked in the top-10 earlier this season, is headed home early in a surprise between two programs that started the year on opposite ends of the projection spectrum.
Tennessee was picked to win the SEC and looked like the favorites while winning its first seven games. The Vols had an uneven rest of the season, ending with a loss to No. 6 Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals without Fulkerson.
Oregon State was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 and exceeded expectations by finishing sixth in the regular season. The Beavers took it a step farther by beating rival Oregon to win their first conference title.
Oregon State rolled its underdog role right into Bankers Life Fieldhouse, throwing the Vols into an offensive funk while building a 19-point lead.
Tennessee had little flow to its offense, its half-court sets filled with lots of dribbling and casting up 3-pointers — making few.
The Vols shot 8 of 31 overall and 2 for 13 from 3 in the first half, pulling within 33-19 on Keon Johnson’s off-balance layup at the buzzer.
Tennessee shot marginally better in the second half, but Oregon State went 7 for 13 from the arc to stifle the comeback bid.
Johnson led the Vols with 14 points.
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Oregon State embraced being underdogs all season and didn’t back down against a team that reached No. 6 in the AP Top 25 earlier this season.
Tennessee’s inconsistent shooting hit a low note at the wrong time, sending the Vols out of the bracket after reaching the Sweet 16 the last time the NCAA Tournament was held.
Oregon State will play the winner between Oklahoma State and Liberty on Sunday.
Tennessee heads home early from what was expected to be a deep March run.