RALEIGH, N.C. — Tennessee isn't done just yet.
And there was neither a tense 45-minute game of drama nor a no red-eye flight after this win.
The 11th-seeded Volunteers advanced to the NCAA tournament's round of 32 with a commanding 86-67 win against sixth-seeded Massachusetts on Friday afternoon at the PNC Arena.
Tennessee will face 14th-seeded Mercer, the tournament's Cinderella who upset third-seeded Duke 78-71 earlier Friday and eliminated the Vols in the first round of last season's National Invitation Tournament, on Sunday at a time to be determined later Friday.
Jordan McRae scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half, and Jarnell Stokes notched both a career-high in scoring and his 21st double-double of the season by scoring 20 points in the second half.
Much as he did in November of last season when he had then a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds in a win against UMass in a preseason tournament in Puerto Rico, Stokes punished the Minutemen to the tune of 26 points and 14 rebounds and hit 7-of-11 shots from the field and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Tennessee (23-12) quickly jumped out to a 13-point lead and led by as many as 20 in the first half, and after the Minutemen (24-9), who were 16-1 and ranked 13th in the country at one point in January, trimmed the lead to 10 early in the second half, Stokes helped the Vols put the game away.
It is just the program's 18th NCAA tournament win, and now the only thing standing between Cuonzo Martin's Vols and the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis next week is Mercer, which won 75-67 in Knoxville in the NIT last March.
Josh Richardson, the hero in Tennessee's overtime win against Iowa on Wednesday night, scored 15 points and Jeronne Maymon added 11 points and 11 rebounds as four Vols' starters combined for 73 points.
The Vols shot nearly 54 percent for the game and scored 42 points in the paint and 19 in transition against the up-tempo Minutemen.
After trailing by 19 at halftime, UMass quickly scored the first six points of the half before Tennessee answered with a couple of baskets. The Minutemen made another surge to cut the Vols' lead to 10 points twice, but Tennessee answered by beating the Minutemen's press and scoring easily.
McRae's three-point play pushed Tennessee's lead back to 57-40 at the 12: 41 mark, and he later hit a turnaround fadeaway baseline jumper over 5-foot-9 UMass point guard Chaz Williams.
Stokes banked in an 18-foot jumper and hit two free throws to push Tennessee's lead back to 21 with a little less than 10 minutes left, and the Vols' largest lead of the game was 23 points at 67-44 with 8:36 left in the game.
Unlike Wednesday night's "First Four" game against Iowa in Dayton, Tennessee opened the game with poise and ran out to a 16-8 lead on Darius Thompson's fast-break layup-and-foul that prompted UMass coach Derek Kellogg to burn a timeout with 12:46 left in the half.
Maymon's outback of a McRae miss gave the Vols their largest lead of the half at 13 points (21-8), and after the Minutemen got to within nine points, Tennessee used a quick 7-0 spurt on two baskets by McRae and a Josh Richardson jumper to take a 30-14 lead and prompt another UMass timeout.
Maymon scored underneath again to push Tennessee's lead to 20, but McRae delivered the highlight of the game when he caught a long downcourt pass from Thompson, cocked the ball behind his head and slammed in a big-time tomahawk dunk.
After UMass scored four straight points, McRae canned a 3 from atop the key give the Vols a 41-22 lead at the break.
Even though it shot 2-of-9 on 3s, Tennessee shot 51.5 percent in the first half and outscored the long, athletic Minutemen 24-20 in the paint. McRae scored 14 of his points before halftime.
UMass shot just 33 percent despite scoring all of its points in the paint or at the foul line with just three 3-point attempts and turned the ball over 10 times. The Vols turned those miscues into 11 points.
More coverage online and in Saturday's Times Free Press.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...