COLUMBUS, Ohio — Admiral Schofield ran around the court in sheer joy, waving a March Madness towel after Tennessee made it back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016.

The rest of the Volunteers? Just trying to breathe normally again.

Tennessee avoided one of the biggest meltdowns in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, letting a 25-point lead slip away Sunday before Southeastern Conference player of the year Grant Williams asserted himself in overtime to lead the Volunteers to an 83-77 victory over Iowa.

None of the Volunteers (31-5) saw such a close call coming, not after they’d raced ahead 44-19 in a sizzling first half they dominated every which way.

“The way we started the game, that’s the team we win (with),” said Schofield, who had 17 of his 19 points in the opening half. “The way we finished the game, we can’t have that.”

Tenth-seeded Iowa (23-12) nearly pulled off a historic comeback, sending it to overtime tied at 71 – the first overtime game in this year’s tournament. The last time the teams played also was in the NCAA tournament, with Tennessee rallying from a 12-point deficit to a 78-65 overtime victory in the First Four at Dayton in 2014.

The Volunteers’ best player made sure they wouldn’t be on the wrong end of a big comeback this time.

“Grant Williams hit some big shots,” Iowa forward Luka Garza said. “He’s a big-time player. And we defended him well.”

Williams had a pair of free throws and two jumpers and had a strip in overtime that helped the Volunteers and match their school record for wins in a season. He finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

“I feel like a fifth grader who just ate Skittles,” Williams said, summing up the finish.

Jordan Bohannon scored 18 points for Iowa, which never led.

“They were No. 1 for a very long time this year for a reason,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffrey said. “It’s not often that you get down 25, come back and tie it. So very pleased with the effort and concentration and execution of our guys, to a man.”

Last year, the Volunteers lost to Loyola-Chicago in the second round. They followed it with a record season – ranked No. 1 for four weeks, a school-record 19-game winning streak, a full season in the Top 10 – and had just enough in overtime Sunday to keep it going.

Coach Rick Barnes was doused with water in the locker room afterward.

“My suit got soaked,” Barnes said. “I got soaked. And when my hair gets wet, it don’t look too good.”

(1) VIRGINIA 63, (9) OKLAHOMA 51: The Cavaliers (31-3) took another step toward wiping away the sting of a first-round loss last year, getting 14 points from Mamadi Diakite and 12 from Ty Jerome to clamp down on Oklahoma (20-14) in Columbia, South Carolina.

Virginia’s win gave the Atlantic Coast Conference five teams in the Sweet 16.

MIDWEST REGION

(1) NORTH CAROLINA 81, (9) WASHINGTON 59: Luke Maye and Nassir Little each scored 20 points, and top-seeded North Carolina (29-6) never trailed in a win over ninth-seeded Washington (28-8) in Columbus, Ohio.

The Tar Heels moved on to face fifth-seeded Auburn in the regional semifinals.

Maye added 14 rebounds.

The Tar Heels committed 10 turnovers in the first half and led by eight points at the break. But they bolted out in the second half, put together a 13-0 run.

Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell paced Washington with 12 points.

WEST REGION

(3) TEXAS TECH 78, (6) BUFFALO 58: Jarrett Culver had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Texas Tech (28-6) won in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to reach the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.

Nick Perkins had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Buffalo (32-4).

EAST REGION

(4) VIRGINIA TECH 67, (12) LIBERTY 58: Kerry Blackshear had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Hokies (25-8), who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 52 years by beating Liberty (29-7) in San Jose, California.