Much like the Biblical David, Ohio U fired accurately from long range to post a 97-83 upset of Basketball Goliath Georgetown, a No. 3 seed, in Thursday's Midwest Regional opener. The Bobcats shot a sizzling 56.5 percent (13 of 23) from 3-point range on their way to victory.
Armon Bassett, a 6-2 junior, was 5 of 10 from 3 en route to 32 points. D.J. Cooper, a 5-11 freshman, was 5 of 8 from 3 and chipped in 23 points. Tommy Freeman, a 6-5 junior, was 3 of 4 from 3 and added 11 points.
Stopping that trio will be Job One for Tennessee in today's game. The Bobcats are an average basketball team when they shoot the ball with average results. But when they're hitting from the far reaches - as they were Thursday vs. Georgetown - they can be scary.
"They really shoot it ... and it's not just one guy," UT head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Cooper was Freshman of the Year in the league. Bassett is a guy we recruited a little bit at Tennessee. He's a dynamic scorer. And Tommy Freeman is a dead-eye 3-point shooter. You put three guys out there that can shoot the 3-ball."
Ohio U has a space-eater inside - 6-10, 249-pound Kenneth van Kempen. The power forward is DeVaughn Washington, a 6-8, 225-pounder who recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds vs. Georgetown.
"Van Kampen is a really big-bodied kid who bangs around and makes open shots, and Washington is an athlete," Pearl noted. "It's a team that's got some balance to it."
Even so, the Bobcats project to be the most perimeter-oriented team Tennessee has faced all season.
Bassett has taken nearly half (202) of his 411 shots this season from 3, and is hitting an impressive 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. Likewise, Cooper has taken nearly half (196) of his 404 shots from 3, although he is connecting at a so-so 31.6 percent rate. Freeman takes 81.5 percent of his shots beyond the arc (184 of 226) and makes a mind-boggling 47.3 percent of them.
Clearly, the Bobcats are dangerous when they're hitting their 3s. Tennessee, however, is among the NCAA's best teams at defending the 3, limiting opponents to just 29 percent behind the arc.
"It was a tough matchup for Georgetown because they lifted Georgetown's bigs away from the basket," Pearl noted. "I think we do a pretty good job in ball-screen defense but it's going to get tested, I guarantee it."
NOTES: Pearl grew up in Sharon, Mass., roughly 20 miles from Providence's Dunkin Donuts Center, site of today's game.... Tennessee is 4-0 on CBS, the network that is televising the tournament. The Vols' previous appearances were home games with Kansas, Florida and Kentucky, plus Thursday's Midwest Regional opener vs. San Diego State.... Bassett leads Ohio U in scoring at 17.4 points per game, followed by Cooper (13.4) and Freeman (10.1). Cooper leads in assists (5.9 per game) and van Kempen in rebounds (6.8 per game).... Vol senior Wayne Chism will set a program record by appearing in his ninth NCAA Tournament game today. He currently is tied with Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Dale Ellis and Steve Ray at eight.... Ohio U handed Tennessee its first loss in Thompson-Boling Arena, beating Don DeVoe's Vols 72-70 on Dec. 21, 1987. It was just the fourth game played in the facility.