Tennessee basketball fans react to up and down second half

Tennessee basketball had highs and lows throughout the second half of their Sweet Sixteen win over Creighton.

Creighton v Tennessee
Creighton v Tennessee / Mike Mulholland/GettyImages

It was a battle of heavyweights on Friday night in Detroit. Tennessee basketball's defense faced Creighton's explosive offense. The Bluejays threatened the Vols offensively in a similar way to Alabama, who will play their Elite Eight game later on Saturday.

If Tennessee was going to defeat Creighton, it would need multiple players to step up. That's nothing new for the Vols, but with Santiago Vescovi out of the lineup on Friday night due to an illness, the need for another Vols to step up was pivotal to the Vols' success.

The Vols were down by one coming out of the halftime break and would need to tighten up their defense if they wanted to pull away from the Bluejays. That's exactly what the Vols did early in the second half, going on a run to give the Vols the lead and extend it to double digits.

The Vols went on an 18-0 run early in the second half, forcing Creighton to take two timeouts throughout the run. This insane run sent VolTwitter into a frenzy, with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.

Josiah-Jordan James stepped up for Tennessee on both ends of the court. JJJ had to bring a little extra Friday night with his fellow super senior out of the game due to sickness. He finished the game with 17 points, which is his highest point total since February 3 when Tennessee beat Kentucky in Lexington.

Tennessee put everything together in the second half after struggling throughout the first. Even Aaron Torres blessed us with his curse by complimenting Tennessee's performance. Of course, as soon as he posts the orange emoji and follows it up with a "this is not a curse post," the Vols begin the second-half collapse.

Creighton started creeping back after their second timeout and Torres' post. Nothing was falling for the Vols, and just about everything was falling for Creighton as they slowly made their comeback. Tennessee couldn't get anything going offensively and were playing completely differently than the offense that just went on an 18-0 run.

After a Creighton run made the game a three-point deficit, Tennessee's defense settled in and locked down the Bluejays. Tobe Awaka led a lot of that effort. He split time with Jahmai Mashack and Jonas Aidoo down the stretch.

Tennessee probably doesn't win this game if Awaka isn't on the court Friday night. In the final two minutes, he stepped up and became THE playmaker for the Vols. He didn't go on a shooting spree or put up ten points in two minutes, but he locked down the paint and gave great effort to secure the win.

In March, it's more important to survive than to be the best team on the court for 40 minutes. The Vols were able to put everything together down the stretch, mostly due to their 18-point run, and they were able to survive Creighton.

Tennessee is still dancing and will take their next dance to Purdue on Easter Sunday. The Vols and Boilermakers will tip off at 2:20 PM ET for a spot in the Final Four.