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Tennessee cruises past Mercer to reach Sweet 16

Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Jarnell Stokes posted a 17-point, 18-rebound double-double, as the Tennessee Volunteers manhandled the Mercer Bears, 83-63, in third-round action from the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.

Josh Richardson registered a career-high 26 points and Antonio Barton netted 18 points for the Volunteers (24-12), who built a double-digit halftime lead by outrebounding the Bears by a 24-4 margin in the first half while outscoring the Bears 22-10 in the paint.

"As a team, we've been doing that all year," Stokes said of his squad dominating the glass. "I feel like now that it's in the NCAA Tournament, it's getting a lot more attention. We always feel like we control the boards. That's one thing that I always go into the game trying to make my imprint on."

Tennessee, which secured a spot in the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history and first since 2010, will take on the Michigan Wolverines next Friday in a Midwest Regional semifinal in Indianapolis.

Langston Hall scored 15 points to pace the 14th-seeded Bears (27-9), who upended Duke in the second round to become just the 18th No. 14 seed to defeat a No. 3 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

"Our guys showed great resolve, wanting to win," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "Had a bunch of shots go in and out late, but Tennessee was tremendous. I mean, they did everything right. Richardson was MVP of the world tonight."

Tennessee never trailed in the contest, as Stokes supplied five points during the Vols' 8-0 run to open the game.

Daniel Coursey's jumper tied the tilt at 10-10 just under six minutes in, but Tennessee answered with seven straight points, capped by Richardson's 3- pointer that pushed the lead to 17-10 with just under 11 minutes on the clock.

Bud Thomas drained back-to-back triples around two free throws from Jeronne Maymon to make it a one-possession game before Richardson ripped off a personal 10-2 run to push Tennessee's lead to 29-18 with 6 1/2 minutes left.

Jakob Gollon's triple shortly after brought the Bears within eight, but the Vols closed the half on an 11-4 swing to take a 42-27 lead at the break.

Barton helped keep Mercer at arm's length by scoring 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, culminating in a 3-pointer that gave Tennessee a 61-45 spread with 10:52 to play.

Tennessee cruised from there, never allowing the Bears to get closer than 11 over the remainder of the contest.

Game Notes

All but two of Tennessee's points came from its starters ... The Vols lead the all-time series with the Bears, 4-1 ... Mercer was looking to become just the third No. 14 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. Cleveland State in 1986 and Chattanooga in 1997 were the only other teams ... Tennessee outrebounded Mercer 41-19 overall and outscored the Bears 36-24 in the paint ... Mercer's Ike Nwamu netted 12 points, while Jordan McRae finished with 14 points for Tennessee.

03/23 22:04:39 ET

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