The Tennessee Volunteers passed their first true test of the season this afternoon in the Bahamas, beating No 18. Purdue in overtime.
Tennessee started cold from the floor. Purdue’s size advantage was obvious as the Vols were unable to get anything going on the inside. Tennessee was able to penetrate, but they just weren’t able to finish. The Boilermakers were clogging up the passing lanes and creating plenty of frustration for the Vols early on.
Just as Purdue seemed to be taking control of this one, Lamonte Turner showed up in a big way. He was all over the court, rebounding and nailing big shot after big shot. His 12 points kept the Vols alive in the first half. That — and a stellar effort from the Vols on the offensive boards.
Tennessee closed strong in the first half, storming back from a nine point deficit to tie the game at 31-31.
The Vols continued their run out of the halftime break. They put together a 16-0 run at one point, holding a seven point lead early on in the second half. After a shaky start, Tennessee’s defense settled in.
The two teams traded blows throughout the middle stages of the second half. After going very quiet, the Purdue offense woke up. They regained the lead with 11 minutes to play, but the Vols weren’t going anywhere. Tennessee battled back to tie the game once again at 44.
Grant Williams started slow, but hit a big corner three with seven minutes to play to give the Vols a lead. He followed that up by drawing a foul and hitting two free throws on the next possession. That was a big sequence that was much needed for Tennessee after a dry spell.
However, Purdue got some offensive help as they hit the double bonus. They were able to keep pace with the Vols from the free throw stripe.
Tennessee led by two with under three minutes to play when Carsen Edwards nailed a three. Back and forth we went.
Purdue had a slight edge late as both teams went cold. Tennessee had the ball with 30 seconds to play. They got it down low to Grant Williams, but he couldn’t get his post shot to fall.
The Boilermakers hit two free throws on the other end to make it a three point game. With five seconds to play, Lamonte Turner drilled a three to bring us even at 63. Carsen Edwards missed his three point attempt at the buzzer, meaning we were headed to overtime.
Grant Williams got the Vols rolling in the overtime period with a second chance basket, but Purdue answered with a three and a quick turnover for a layup. Purdue got another easy bucket off a turnover from Jordan Bone on the next possession to take control.
Tennessee kept battling, though. A three from Kyle Alexander and a put back from Grant Williams had the Vols still breathing with two minutes to play down just three points.
Williams got another bucket down low to pull the Vols to within one point with one minute to play. After a stop on the defensive end, Williams found Alexander down low for the slam to give Tennessee the lead back. It was 74-73 with 40 seconds to play.
Isaac Haas — Purdue’s 7-2 center — answered right back with an easy bucket of his own, however.
Once again, Tennessee had the ball with a chance to take the lead. That’s just what Grant Williams did. He got the bucket down low, putting the Vols ahead. Purdue missed their shot to answer, but James Daniel was fouled. Daniel hit both free throws to ice this one.
Tennessee got the win, adding a huge win to their tournament resume. The Vols will get the winner of Villanova-Western Kentucky tomorrow at noon eastern.