NEW YORK — When facing the physicality of fourth-seeded Tennessee, a team needs to just hang in and fight through a war of attrition to give itself a chance.
Ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic played that role to near-perfection on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 matchup at Madison Square Garden, beating the Vols, 62-55.
The Owls (34-3) face third-seeded Kansas State, a 98-93 winner over Michigan State in the earlier regional semifinal, in the Elite Eight Saturday.
The Owls withstood the Vols’ onslaught in the first half, never trailing by double-digits before taking control midway through the second half when they just couldn’t miss from 3-point range, making all five of their threes after halftime during a pivotal 7:54 stretch.
Florida Atlantic, which won its first NCAA Division I tournament game a week prior, is now 40 minutes away from the Final Four.
Johnell Davis had 15 points and six rebounds and St. Mary’s of Rutherford, N.J., product Nick Boyd had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Owls.
Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo each had 10 points for Tennessee (25-11).