Tennessee basketball broke down the atmosphere in the locker room after Saint Peter's win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive crack rang out from the Tennessee basketball locker room Thursday and down the Spectrum Center lobby.

An NCAA employee came out moments later with a foam board with a picture of Charlotte's Bracket on it. The “Tennessee” sign was crooked and there was a split along the board.

What happened?

“Honest mistake,” Tennessee senior Colin Quinn said.

No. 2 seed Tennessee was relieved with an 83-49 win over No. 15 St. Peter's — so impressive that Quinn drove straight through the bracket board where teams always place their name banner after a lead.

“Every time I looked at that billboard, I thought it was billboard-type material,” Quinn said. “I found out the hard way.”

How the prop in Tennessee's locker room was broken

Dalton Knecht initially denied involvement in breaking the plate. He said he was Josiah Jordan James. James explained that it was Quinn who was in the opposite corner of the cramped locker room.

“He really smashed it,” goalkeeper Santiago Vescovi said. “He broke this thing. He took it literally. He did what he was supposed to do.”

So did the Vols (25-8) by dominating St. Peter's (19-14) from start to finish. They will face No. 7 seed Texas (21-12) on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, CBS) in a trip to the Sweet 16 in Detroit.

Tennessee did this by being the aggressor from the beginning. He went inside to Jonas Aidoo regularly to confirm his presence early. Knecht was the knockout shooter as always, and Zeigler was the engine of everything. Vescovi hit a pair of 3-pointers. Tobi Awaka played well inside.

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The Vols were elite defensively. The only criticism James could think of was the need to reduce sales volume. UT had 15.

She was dominant enough regardless of the opener that Quinn came off the end of the bench when given the opportunity to get into the game. He heard his name called then. He heard it again in the locker room to put up the Tennessee board for the next round.

“I was asked to slap it. I just tried to make it and put it with some force. I put quite a bit on it,” Quinn said.

Tennessee had a good game before facing Texas in the 16th

The Vols spent the first 48 hours after their loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Championship with a lot of film.

“We knew Nashville wasn't as good as we wanted it to be, so we had to come out and stay focused, be more aggressive and physical,” Knecht said.

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James said last week's practices were about accountability. He emphasized the same message that Vols coach Rick Barnes posted after the MSU loss: The next 40 minutes could be the last. The folder didn't want that. They challenged each other to battle after two matches that lacked grit.

It paid off in the first game.

Vescovi could tell before Tennessee left the locker room that it was ready. There was energy and excitement to play.

“That's the kind of effort we're going to need every night if we want to keep playing,” Vescovi said.

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Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @By Mike Wilson. If you enjoy Mike's coverage, Consider a digital subscription It will allow you to access all of it.

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