Sports Journalism Blog

By Caleb Lynn | @CalebLynn1

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — The No. 12-seeded Oregon State Beavers earned their first NCAA tournament victory since 1982, defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 70-56. Oregon State (18-12) quieted a pro-Tennessee crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Beavers did it with the heart of seniors like Ethan Thompson and Roman Silva, who have been dealing with the crazy circumstances of this season.

Silva’s career-high 16 points, on 8-of-8 shooting, led the Beavers. Thompson scored 13 with 10 rebounds. Jarod Lucas scored 14.

Tennessee (18-9) was led by Keon Johnson, who scored 14 points.

The Beavers were able to overcome the struggle of forward Warith Alatishe, the Most Outstanding Player of the Pacific-12 Conference tournament, who made just 2 of 10 shots and was held to four points, nearly six beneath his average.

Silva averaged 5.3 points, but he was able to take advantage of the Oregon State strategy to get the ball inside.

“They made it a focus,” Silva said. “They wanted us to free shooters up and go in and out.”

Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said, “I could not be more happy for Roman just because of who he is, and how he goes about his deal.”

Tennessee was without starting forward John Fulkerson due to facial injuries. With Fulkerson out, the Volunteers did not have a starter taller than 6-foot-6. Tinkle made Oregon State’s height advantage a focal point in the game plan. “Roman was big time, he has done that for us,” Tinkle said. “We know he’s got an advantage in there…. I could not be more proud of a guy’s improvement within our program.”

Tennessee was limited to 33% shooting, including 19.2% (5 for 26) from 3-point range. Oregon State earned a third consecutive victory against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

“We have guys that aren’t intimidated by people,” Silva said. “We are not going to get tight for anybody and that is how we are going to play on this run.”

Thompson, first-team All Pac-12 player, has started 124 games, the most in Oregon State history. He is the only player in school history to have 1,400 points and 400 assists. For Thompson, he is looking to seize the opportunity as he got his first double-double this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

At the end, Tennessee’s lack of height was too much to overcome. “Disappointed that I did not think we played our best basketball,” said Rick Barnes, coach of the Volunteers. “It is hard to play this game when the ball is not going in and when you do not have an inside presence.”