"Wayne Chism stepped up," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "He played like a man."
"I thought Bobby Maze played a nice ballgame," Pearl noted. "He did not turn the ball over against that pressure and scored effectively. He made a good play at the end to get Wayne a terrific open look."
Both teams played as if there was more at stake than an early-season tournament title. The intensity and physicality showed up in two stats: One, Tennessee shot just 43.4 percent, Purdue 44.6 percent. Two, there were 54 foul shots. Tennessee hit 23 of 28, Purdue 19 of 26.
In the end, the Boilermakers made a few more key plays at the finish than the Vols.
"I was proud of our kids," Pearl said. "I thought we stepped up and played with a lot of passion. I thought we played with enough intelligence to win the game."
The Vols didn't play with enough ball security to win, however. They committed 16 turnovers, even though the game was played at a fairly deliberate pace.
"I don't like nine assists, 16 turnovers," Pearl said. "That bothers me. I think a lot of the turnovers weren't forced. I would say half of the turnovers were unnecessary ... balls we just threw away where we didn't cherish the possession."
The lead went back and forth for 35 minutes but Purdue eased ahead 72-66 on two free throws by Keaton Grant with 2:13 left. The Vols fought back valiantly, however.
Smith hit a couple of free throws and Chism scored on a layup as the Vols closed to 72-70. After a Purdue free throw, Maze scored on a drive, narrowing the gap to 73-72 with 18.6 seconds remaining. The Boilermakers' Kelsey Barlow missed two free throws with 17.6 seconds left, giving Tennessee the ball with a chance to win.
Maze drove into the lane, then fired the ball back outside to Chism, whose 3-pointer was off to the right. Barlow chased down the long rebound in the right corner, sealing the outcome.
"Bobby did a great job of kicking it back out when he saw he got trapped," Chism said. "He came to me but I fell short."
The Vols return to action Friday night, hosting College of Charleston at 7.