How Sweet It Is

ST. LOUIS - One Evan Turner is pretty good.

Five Tennessee Volunteers are even better.

Brian Williams scored the go-ahead basket on a tip-in with 32 seconds left, Bobby Maze converted a pair of late free throws and J.P. Prince blocked a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer last night, leading Tennessee past Ohio State, 76-73, and into the NCAA tournament's round of eight for the first time.

Wayne Chism finished with 22 points - all but four in the second half - and 11 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Volunteers (28-8), who pulled out a back-and-forth tussle in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

As the final buzzer sounded, Tennessee players let out screams of joy and sprinted onto the court.

Now, they are one win from the Final Four.

"It sounds real good, and we're livin' it up right now," Chism said.

Tennessee will play tomorrow against Michigan State, a 59-52 winner over Northern Iowa in the other Midwest Regional semifinal.

Durrell Summers scored 19 points and Korie Lucious hit a whirling turnaround jumper with 95 seconds left, helping the fifth-seeded Spartans survive a mid-major scare by the pesky Panthers.

Michigan State (27-8) needed a half to get used to Northern Iowa's grinding style and held the Panthers to 10 free throws over the final 10 minutes, 22 seconds to send the heroes of the Heartland home empty-handed.

Northern Iowa (30-5) knocked off one March monster but couldn't make it two straight, unable to contain the athletic Spartans for an entire game after stunning top-seeded Kansas in the second round.

Lucious hit his acrobatic shot, then Michigan State held, and Chris Allen scored on a putback with 31 seconds left to put the Spartans up by 57-51 and into the regional final against Tennessee.

Against the Vols, it was an opportunity lost for the Buckeyes.

No one appeared to benefit more than Ohio State (29-8) when No. 1 overall seed Kansas was upset by Northern Iowa in the second round.

Add in third-seeded Georgetown's first-round loss and fourth-seeded Maryland's loss last weekend, and Ohio State had what looked like a clear path to its second Final Four in four years.

To get there, though, the Buckeyes needed more than Turner, a leading contender for national player-of-the-year honors.

"I told our team, 'It's our team vs. their six,' " Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl said. "We were a better 10 than their six."

Turner finished with 31 points, 21 in the second half, but the rest of the Buckeyes were just 3 of 16 from the field in the second half.

Jon Diebler, so big for Ohio State in the first two rounds, shot 1 of 7 from three-point range. William Buford scored 15 points and David Lighty added nine.

Ohio State had won four of its previous five meetings against Tennessee, including a matchup in the 2007 regional semifinals. But these Buckeyes are far different from that squad, which featured an NBA-caliber roster that included Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook.

These Buckeyes do have Turner. But it's a game of five-on-five, not one-on-five.

After making only three baskets in the first half - including Ohio State's last with 22 seconds left - Turner surpassed that output in the first 5:12 of the second half.

Lighty finally gave him some help, scoring on a layup to put Ohio State in front 59-56 with 7:37 to play.

But Tennessee responded with a 12-4 run, getting contributions from four different players.

Chism, who seemed to get a boost when he took off his bright orange headband at halftime, gave the Vols a 72-70 lead with 1:39 to play.

Turner came up with yet another big play, swishing a trey from just beyond the arc with less than 42 seconds to go.

But Williams, a big, bruising center, tipped in Prince's miss on a layup.

Turner missed at the other end and Kyle Madsen lost the ball under the basket.

With less than 13 seconds left, Turner fouled Maze, who after a time-out, coolly blew a kiss to someone in the Tennessee fan section.

He made both free throws, giving Tennessee a 76-73 lead.

Turner had two more opportunities - and he's knocked down last-second shots before. But this time, he missed from deep in the left corner, then got the ball back.

With Prince all over him, Turner's last shot from near the top of the key didn't even get to the rim.

"Turner got a little bit of a look, but it wasn't very good," Pearl said. "Now we're going to go see if we can live every kid's dream."