The Tennessee basketball team—despite rallying in the second half—saw its season come to an end at the hands of Purdue on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
A hot-shooting Boilermaker squad proved to be too much for the Vols down the stretch, as Purdue won, 99-94, in overtime. Seniors Admiral Schofield, Kyle Alexander, Brad Woodson and Lucas Campbell suited up in Vol jerseys for the final time.
Admiral has been with us since day one and Kyle Alexander and the two walk-ons,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Go back four years ago and where we are today, there's a lot to be proud of, though right now it's hard to feel any of that, because you're always numb when this happens to you.”
Purdue’s hot shooting
The Boilermakers came out of the gates hot, scoring 40 points on 16 of 29 shooting in the first half, including a 7 of 16 effort from deep.
Carsen Edwards scored 15 in the opening period, hitting four 3-pointers. Purdue did not slow down in the second half.
Finishing the game with 15 made 3-pointers on 31 attempts, the Boilermakers were able to keep Tennessee at bay for most of the game. Ryan Cline poured in a career-high 27 points, including a 7 of 10 effort from beyond the arc.
“We knew they were going to make shots,” Barnes said. “They're an offensive team.”
Edwards finished the game with 29 points and hit five triples.
Tennessee’s big run
It took the Vols until the midway point of the second half, but their offense showed up.
Tennessee went on an 11-0 run over a three-minute stretch, cutting the Boilermakers’ lead to 65-62 with 7:19 remaining in the game. The Vols would parlay that into a 21-5 run over a six-and-a-half minute window, taking a two-point lead at the under four minute media timeout.
“Second half, we found some rhythm on the offensive end, started making it more difficult to be scored on,” Barnes said. “But it was a high-level game, and really I can't say enough about our guys fighting back. And taking nothing away from Purdue, but we were there.”
After scoring just one point in the first half, Schofield exploded for 18 points on 6 of 8 shooting in the second half. He was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers.
Junior Grant Williams scored 10 after the break and Lamonte Turner added 13 on a 5 of 7 effort from the floor.
Late foul call
With 1.7 seconds left in regulation, Turner was called for a foul as he leapt toward Edwards, who was shooting a triple in the corner.
Edwards—with Purdue trailing by two—stepped to the line and hit 2 of 3 attempts to send the game to overtime. While some claimed it was not a foul, Tennessee’s coach seemed convinced.
“It was a foul. It was a foul,” Barnes said. “He missed the shot. Lamonté hit him after the shot. That's a tough play because, again, we knew -- I think actually they were trying to work something inside…But Lamonté being a competitor that he is, he went up, and the ball was gone.
“It was three feet out of his hand when he hit him. We know the rule. You've got to allow the shooter to come back down.”
Tennessee finished the season with a 31-6 record.