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.