JaJuan Smith and Tennessee lost the lead, but not their poise.
Smith hit four straight free throws in the final 13.6 seconds of overtime and the Volunteers held on for a 76-71 win over Butler on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, barely surviving a game they at times threatened to turn into an East Regional rout.
The first second-round game featuring two 30-win teams definitely lived up to the distinction.
The Vols (31-4) scored six straight points inside after the Bulldogs took their first lead in the final 2 minutes of OT, including benched guard Ramar Smith's basket with 27 seconds left to make it 72-68.
Butler still wouldn't go away. Pete Campbell followed a missed shot to make it 72-70 with 16 seconds left. JaJaun Smith then made both free throws, and Julian Betko rebounded a missed 3-pointer by A.J. Graves and was fouled with 4.9 seconds left for Butler. He made 1-of-2 from the line, and Smith grabbed the rebound before icing the game with foul shots at the other end.
Wayne Chism led foul-plagued Tennessee with 16 points, while Tyler Smith added 15 and JaJuan Smith had 11.
The Vols led by 13 in the first half and 10 in the second half but Butler kept coming back.
The Bulldogs, who were behind for the first 37 minutes, took their first lead on Graves' short jumper in the paint to make it 68-66 with 1:46 left in overtime. Ramar Smith and Chism both scored inside to retake the lead inside the final minute.
Tyler Smith blocked Graves from behind and Chism won the scramble for the loose ball and called timeout with 33 seconds left. Ramar Smith then scored inside after losing his starting job to J.P. Prince.
Story Courtesy: AP Wire Reports