Tennessee bounces Purdue in overtime at Atlantis
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Purdue came to Atlantis eager to take on the monumental tasks that could lie ahead.
Games against top-five teams would have given the Boilermakers golden opportunities to score premier wins in the best-case scenario or endure great tests, with the résumé bumps that would come with them, in the worst case.
That outlook was flipped on its side Tuesday.
Purdue got worked over on the boards, disrupted on offense, struggled with late leads and got beat in overtime by Tennessee, 78-75, sustaining a loss that throws a cold bucket of water on the buzz that's come from a hot start and will inevitably affect the Boilermakers' NCAA Tournament résumé by maybe denying it higher-profile games.
It had its chances.
In overtime, Dakota Mathias scored seven straight points and P.J. Thompson made a three-pointer with 2:35 left to position Purdue well, up five. It went by the wayside, though, as big man Kyle Alexander made the second three-pointer of his career on eight tries — "the backbreaker for us," Matt Painter called it — and Volunteer forward Grant Williams took over.
Williams scored eight in the extra session, the last being the go-ahead bucket with 14.5 seconds left, scoring in the lane over Purdue's Vincent Edwards.
"He got to his spots," Edwards said. "You let a good player get to his spots, that's what happens."
Thompson's jumper for the lead caught front rim and Tennessee finalized the score with two foul shots in the final second of the game.
Prior, Purdue led by three in the final 10 seconds of regulation, only to see Lamonte Turner tie the game with a three — he came off a screen and found no resistance behind the line — after a prolonged dry spell for the Vols.
Carsen Edwards' clean look from three to win it at the buzzer missed, caroming off the front of the rim.
Those things happened to Purdue.
Why they happened surely stings.
The Boilermakers' either regressed to their SIU-Edwardsville rebounding form or Tennessee was just that good. Somewhere in the middle, the truth probably lies, but the Volunteers scored a gawdy 21 points off 20 offensive rebounds, including two of their field goals in overtime.
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A Purdue team that seemed to completely reverse on its course on the boards after that debacle against Edwardsville in Game 1 was outrebounded 50-41 and it cost it the game.
"They were just tougher and more physical to the ball," Mathias said. "… They hit us first. A lot of credit to them. They played hard."
Turnovers were no smaller piece of Purdue's downfall. The Boilermakers committed 18 of them, leading to 20 Tennessee points and denying Painter's team opportunities when it was generating defensive stops and getting the rebounds.
"We rushed some things," Vincent Edwards said, "took some quick shots we shouldn't have."
So to review: That's 41 Tennessee points off either offensive rebounds or Purdue turnovers, in a game it won in the final seconds, of overtime.
"Our decision-making wasn't good enough to win the game," Painter said of the latter.
Setting a dubious tone for the afternoon to come, Purdue — as it did at Marquette — blew a robust first-half lead, just before halftime.
Though nothing came easy in that first half, Purdue took an 11-point lead with five-and-a-half minutes left, on Thompson's three-pointer.
But things fell apart from there.
Tennessee made six of its final eight shots, capping a 15-4 end-of-half run with a jumper to beat the shot clock, then a dunk off an offensive rebound to beat the halftime buzzer, the Vols' seventh and eighth second-chance points off their 11 first-half offensive rebounds.
Purdue didn't score for nearly the final three-and-a-half minutes of Period 1 and Tennessee closed the half scoring nine straight.
For a Purdue team that landed in the Bahamas Monday with high hopes and good reason for them, it set the tone for the rest of the game, and trip, really, and things are now certain to not go anywhere near as hoped during the remainder of its stay.
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