"If I see anybody in law enforcement waiting for me outside the building it's because we stole this one," Bruce Pearl quipped on the post-game show.
Even so, the win improves Tennessee to 14-7 overall and 5-2 in SEC play. The loss drops Arkansas to 13-7 and 1-6.
The Vols' defense couldn't stop Stefan Welsh (22 points), Courtney Fortson (19) or Michael Washington (18) but their offense saved the day. After shooting just 40 percent in the first half, Tennessee hit 55 percent in the second to pull out the hard-fought win.
Wayne Chism scored 22 points, Tyler Smith 16 and Maze 13 for Tennessee. The star of the show, however, was 6-8 junior J.P. Prince, who produced 13 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Pearl conceded that one of the keys to victory was "getting J.P the ball against the zone, where he could look over the top of things."
The game was a streaky affair from start to finish. The Vols opened with an 8-1 spurt, then Arkansas scored 16 consecutive points to go up 17-8. Tennessee answered with a 12-0 run to go up 20-17.
Down 35-33 at halftime, the Vols used a 9-0 burst to go up 42-35. The Razorbacks clawed back, however, and led 58-53 with 8:20 to play. That's when Prince took over for the Vols and Fortson did likewise for the Hogs.
Prince scored six points and assisted Chism on a three-point play during an 11-3 spurt that put Tennessee on top 64-61. Fortson answered by hitting a 3-pointer and a driving layup to give Arkansas a 66-64 lead with 3:19 left.
Two inside baskets by Smith and one by Chism gave Tennessee a 70-68 lead but Fortson scored on another drive to tie the score at 70 with a minute to play. Prince broke the tie on a tip-in with 39 seconds left but Fortson retaliated with an acrobatic drive that made it 72-all with 11 seconds to go.
Maze drained his dramatic 18-footer with 5.4 seconds remaining to give Tennessee a 74-72 lead, then Arkansas missed twice from in close in the final seconds.
The youthful Vols made just 7 of 24 shots from beyond the arc and committed 15 turnovers. They won largely because the Razorbacks were even younger and sloppier.
"We had to overcome some adversity," Pearl said. "We had to overcome ourselves – turning the basketball over and not handling their zone. But, when you shoot 55 percent in the second half and score baskets on your last five or six possessions you put yourself in position to win the game."