Orlando Region Sees Upset; Tennessee Advances

Ken Cross

March 18, 2023 at 11:25 am.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amway Center hosted an afternoon of challenges on Thursday as Furman upset Virginia, while two games just missed being upsets.

The Cavaliers led the Paladins nearly from beginning to end before JP Pegues’ three-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining lifted the Paladins, 68-67. Charleston battled San Diego State, but the Cougars couldn’t score with their normalcy against the Aztecs’ solid defense in the 63-57 sequestering by SDSU.

Tennessee held off Louisiana, 58-55, as the Volunteers had to stave off the Ragin’ Cajuns after their 18-point lead was scissored to three. Tennessee will play Duke on Saturday after the Blue Devils routed Oral Roberts, 74-51.


Cavaliers Fall to Furman in Orlando Opener

Virginia had a solid season as the Cavaliers tied Miami for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title and then lost to Duke in the ACC championship game.

The Cavaliers were a (-5.5) favorite over the Paladins and led up until the end where Virginia sported a 67-65 lead after Paladins forward Garrett Heine netted a pair of free throws.

With seven seconds remaining, Virginia guard Kihei Clark made the inbound pass against a Furman press that was in the full 94-feet mode.  Clark looked like he was trying to throw the basketball away as he threw a one-handed pass that was intercepted by Heine at midcourt.

Heine found Pegues on the right wing where he nailed the triple for the 68-67 win and afterward, Virginia guard Reece Beekman’s shot from half-court was offline.

“He threw it to Garrett Hein and as soon as I saw it go into Garrett’s hands, I was like, I want the ball,” explained Pegues. “I feel like those are moments I have created my whole life and moments I am built for.”

Virginia had defended well all afternoon until Jalen Slawson scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in an 18-4 run which saw his and-one with 5:02 remaining. That gave the Paladins their first lead at 57-54.

“I thought one of the biggest plays of the game didn’t happen on the court,” said Furman head coach Bob Richey as he referenced Bothwell fouling out. “I was talking to the official and I walked back in the huddle, and he said, ‘We’re going to find a way to win this game.’”

This turned out to be Virginia’s third first-round loss in their last four NCAA Tournament appearances.

“I think the guys had a terrific year, being co-champs in the ACC, got to the championship game of the conference tournament and felt like we had this, but certainly lost,” said Cavs head coach Tony Bennett.


Aztecs’ Defense Stops High-Flying Charleston

Charleston’s Ante Brzovic made a layup to tie the Cougars with San Diego State at 53-53 with 3:27 remaining. Next, the Aztecs held Charleston to 1-of-5 from the floor to end the game, while Matt Bradley scored on a layup and Micah Parrish hit a triple to give SDSU the 63-57 win.

The Cougars came into the game with a 31-3 record as they averaged 80.1 ppg and averaged 33.1 percent from three. Charleston was 5-of-24 from three on the afternoon as they were able to get three of those in a stretch throughout the first half. The Cougs took 30 three-pointers per game on average during the regular season while making around nine.

San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher talked about the respect his team and staff had for Charleston as well as knowing that this would be a tough physical matchup.

“We’re one of the few teams in the country that when the offense isn’t going, we can play defense and rebound well enough to stay in the game until we make timely shots,” Dutcher said.

Charleston led throughout the first half as Ryan Larson and Dalton Bolton hit a pair of threes for an 18-13 Cougars lead. Then, Babacar Faye scored on a lay-in to give Charleston its biggest lead at 24-17 with 6:03 left in the first half.

SDSU followed with an 11-0 run where Jaelen Ledee had four points in that string with a triple by Lamont Butler.

“They pride themselves on a lot of the same things we do and that’s toughness and tenacity,” said Cougars head coach Pat Kelsey. “They’re a strong, physical team – one of the best defensive teams in the country.”

Duke, Tennessee set-up key matchup

Tennessee guard Tyreke Key hit a three to give the Vols a 48-30 lead over Louisiana with 7:29 to play. Tennessee had trouble putting the Ragin’ Cajuns away as Kobe Julien hit three triples in a 13-0 run to place ULL in position to pull off the second upset in Orlando.

The Vols never scored again from the field after Jamai Mashack made a layup, but Tennessee hit six of eight free throws down the stretch to hold off Louisiana, 58-55.

“They don’t shoot a lot of threes, but we did have some breakdowns defensively,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. “We were going under a couple of times too much on some screens.”

Key led the Vols with 12 points, while Mashack scored 11. Tennessee struggled offensively as the Volunteers found only 12 points on 21 free throw attempts while Louisiana scored 21 points off 18 Vols’ turnovers.

“Jahmai has been a big part certainly ever since before Zakai (Zeigler) went down,” said Barnes. “He found his niche and he’s a guy that we know can guard people.”

Zeigler was lost for the season two weeks ago with a torn ACL.

Tennessee faces Duke, a 74-51 winner over Oral Roberts on Thursday evening. The Blue Devils took a 15-0 lead over the first eight minutes of the game and were never threatened.

The loss ended the Golden Eagles’ winning streak at 19 games as they went 18-0 in the Summit League.

Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach led all scorers with 23 points as he was 9-of-17 from the floor.

“Jeremy has been on a tear,” said Duke head coach Jon Scheyer. “For me, it’s more just his mindset. I think the scoring, the playmaking comes with it. He’s never rattled and he is playing on both sides of the ball.”