Keon Johnson, 5-Seed Tennessee Upset by 12-Seed Oregon State in NCAA Tournament

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 19, 2021

Oregon State center Roman Silva (12) shoots against Tennessee during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Friday, March 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

After a miraculous run through the Pac-12 tournament that granted them their first berth in the men's NCAA tournament since 2016, the No. 12-seeded Oregon State Beavers kept the surprises coming with a 70-56 defeat of No. 5 Tennessee in first-round play Friday.

Roman Silva led on both sides of the ball for the 18-12 Beavers with 16 points and three blocks in the win. 

For the Volunteers, who end the season at 18-9, Keon Johnson dropped 14 points and six rebounds. 

In its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2016, Oregon State earned its first win since 1982. 

Notable Performers

  • Roman Silva, Oregon State: 16 PTS, 4 REB
  • Jarod Lucas, Oregon State: 14 PTS, 6 REB
  • Keon Johnson, Tennessee: 14 PTS, 6 REB
  • Jaden Springer: Tennessee: 12 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST


Tennessee Can't Overcome Slow Start 

Tennessee only hit two of 13 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half and was 0-for-11 on those tries until Santiago Vescovi was successful with 3:39 left to play in the frame as it chased the Beavers who jumped out to an early 11-point lead.

But the Vols didn't just struggle from deep. At the end of the half, no Tennessee player had scored more than Jaden Springer's six points, and the team as a whole shot a miserable 25.8 percent from the field. 

While this game put their woes on the big stage, Tennessee's offense has struggled throughout the season. The team ranked 92nd in Division I in points scored and shot just 44.3 percent from the field, ranking 163rd nationwide. 

With averages that were less-than-impressive entering Friday, the Volunteers struggled to live up to them and ended the day with 33.3 percent shooting from the field and just 19.2 percent from three.

Wes Rucker @wesrucker247

Tennessee’s offense has to be changed in the offseason. It just has to be. Or the #Vols need to recruit players who will execute offense the way Barnes wants it. No matter what happens today or in this tournament, this offense has to change. Or the players need to change.

The Volunteers were without senior John Fulkerson, who suffered a facial fracture and concussion in the SEC quarterfinals against Florida one week ago. Tennessee pulled out the win that day but fell without Fulkerson in the semifinals the next day. The forward had appeared in every game for Tennessee leading up to his injury and averaged 9.5 points per game and a second-best 5.5 rebounds. 

Tennessee went on a 7-0 run through the middle of the second half and eventually made the scoreline a bit more respectable but couldn't catch the Beavers. 


Roman Silva's Career-Best Drives Beavers

Roman Silva averaged 5.3 points per game entering Friday, but he outscored that by the end of the first half, and his career-best outing fueled the win for Oregon State.

He started by going a perfect six-for-six from the field to lead a 15-3 run for the Beavers, who led by as much as 20 and never faltered on Friday. 

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Oregon State has Tennessee on UPSET ALERT 🚨 The Beavers are feeling it 🔥 https://t.co/mB7Ce17yKY

John Canzano @johncanzanobft

Oregon State’s Roman Silva has been a problem for Tennessee.

Where Tennessee faltered from three, the Beavers were on fire, hitting 47.6 percent of their shots from deep, well ahead of their season average of 34 percent from beyond the arc. 

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Oregon State is on FIRE from deep 🔥 @BeaverMBB | #MarchMadness https://t.co/0zgHNpVd4w

That strength from deep was led by Jarod Lucas, who scored his 14 points largely off of threes. The sophomore went four-of-nine from long range. 

NBC Sports Northwest @NBCSNorthwest

Jarod Lucas has more three-pointers than the entire Tennessee team so far #GoBeavs

Tennessee caught on to Silva in the second half, limiting him to four in the frame—still good for a career-high 16. But the Beavers looked elsewhere to continue the onslaught. Zach Reichle and Ethan Thompson powered the scoring early in the second half, with Reichle posting two threes to keep it going. 

Thompson, who is the team's leading scorer, ended the night with 13 points, while Reichle posted 10 in the win. 

Silva starred on both sides of the ball, posting three blocks to lead all players. 


What's Next? 

Oregon State will face the winner of No. 4 Oklahoma State/No. 13 Liberty in second-round play.

Tennessee will look ahead to 2021-22, when it will welcome in a pair of top recruits. Point guard Kennedy Chandler, a 6'1" Kansas native, is the second-ranked player at his position and the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2021, according to 247 Sports

The team will also welcome Jahmai Mashack, a 6'5" small forward from California who is the No. 62 recruit nationally and the 11th-ranked at the position.