Tennessee basketball served notice its ready to play with the big boys, overcoming Big Ten bully Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
The Vols (3-0) scored a 78-75 overtime victory over the No. 18-ranked Boilermakers (4-1) at Paradise Island, Bahamas, on Wednesday.
Tennessee was out-sized on the floor but still out-rebounded Purdue 50-41 and out-scored the Boilermakers in the paint 38-24.
Tennessee plays a semifinal game at 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN against No. 5 Villanova. The championship game is Friday at noon ET.
Sophomore Grant Williams scored all of his 22 points in the second half and in overtime, including the game-winning basket with 14.5 seconds left. Williams was scoreless and had just one rebound in the 8 minutes he played in the first half.
Lamonte Turner scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, but it was Turner’s 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left that tied the game at 63-63 and forced the overtime.
The win gives Tennessee its first 3-0 start since the 2010-2011 season.
1. The Big Run
The Vols used a 16-0 run in the middle of the action to serve notice this would be a game.
Down 30-21,Tennessee scored the final nine points of the first half, and then opened the second half with a 7-0 burst to go up 38-31 before Purdue rallied.
2. No-so-hidden hero
Junior Kyle Alexander is hard to miss at 6-foot-10, but his contributions were easy to see on Wednesday.
Alexander scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, including a dunk off a Williams’ pass that gave UT a 74-73 lead and capped a pivotal 6-0 run in overtime.
It was also Alexander hitting a 3-pointer with 3:04 left in the overtime after Purdue had pulled ahead 70-65 and appeared on the verge of putting the game away.
3. Guard play
Turner was 6-of-12 shooting including 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point line, but the rest of the Vols’ guards were a woeful 4-24 from the floor: Jordan Bone (1-10), Jordan Bowden (2-7), Chris Darrington (1-5) and James Daniel lll (0-2).
Tennessee had 14 assists and 15 turnovers against Purdue’s celebrated defense. The Boilermakers were in midseason form, having played four games this season in addition to having played eight games in the World University Games in August.
Top plus players: The Vols out-scored Purdue by 19 points when Admiral Schofield was on the floor and by 13 when Alexander was in play.
Worst minus players: Tennessee was out-scored by 10 points when freshman forward Derrick Walker won on the floor and was minus-6 with Jordan Bowden playing.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) November 22, 2017