ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands — Tennessee senior Wayne Chism seemingly couldn’t miss Monday night, until it came time for the potential game-winning shot.
Chism’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with two seconds left missed the mark, and seventh-ranked Purdue held on for 73-72 victory over the ninth-ranked Vols in the championship game of the Paradise Jam on Monday night.
“I didn’t like the catch, but with time winding down I knew I had to shoot it,’’ said Chism, who scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds. “The shot didn’t come off good, and I tried to chase it down, but they beat me to the ball.’’
Purdue’s Kelsey Barlow missed a pair of free throws with 17.6 seconds left to give the Vols the chance to win the game on the final possession.
Purdue was led by tournament MVP E’Twaun Moore, who scored 22 points and keyed a pivotal run midway through the second half that gave the Boilermakers (4-0) the lead for good before a capacity crowd in the U.S. Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
Bobby Maze scored 13 and Tyler Smith had 10 for the Vols (4-1).
UT coach Bruce Pearl said the final play was set up for Maze to drive to the basket with hopes of scoring and/or drawing a foul.
“We were trying to run a high ball screen for Bobby. He had been getting into the lane effectively,’’ Pearl said. “They did a good job of jamming him, and Bobby made an excellent decision to kick it out to Wayne, who was there all by himself.”
Maze said the lane closed quickly.
“I turned the corner and saw two guys there, so who else would I rather have shooting that shot than Wayne,’’ Maze said. “Wayne has been making them, and that’s a shot we’ll take every time.’’
Pearl said he was pleased with Chism’s performance, as the 6-foot-9 post hit 8 of 13 shots from the floor.
“Wayne played like a man tonight,’’ Pearl said. “He was the best interior player in the game, scoring all those points with contact, and he goes 7-for-7 from the free throw line.’’
The Vols had an opportunity to take the lead when trailing 72-70 with 40 seconds left, but Cameron Tatum missed a 3-pointer.
Purdue took charge of the game at the 9:06 mark when Moore got a steal and scored inside to trigger an 8-0 run that he capped with a jumper with 6:16 remaining that gave Purdue at 64-59 lead.
The Boilermakers held a 42-41 halftime lead despite 6-foot-10 center JaJuan Johnson playing only eight minutes in the first half after getting two quick fouls.
The Vols jumped out to a 7-1 lead, but Purdue rallied with a 9-0 run. The game see-sawed and stayed tight, with neither team leading by more than four points.
DePaul defeated St. Joseph’s 58-51 in the consolation game earlier Monday.
UT returns to Knoxville today to prepare to play the College of Charleston at 7 p.m. Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Series History: It was the first time Tennessee had played Purdue since the schools split a home-and-home series in 1980 and 1981. ... The Vols beat the Boilermakers in Knoxville 78-69 in Gene Keady’s first year as coach and lost at Purdue 68-62 the following season. ... Pearl and Wisconsin-Milwaukee won at Purdue, in 2005, 73-68.
Orange Slices: The Vols trailed at halftime for the first time this season ... UT’s shot clock violation with 17 seconds left in the first half was its first of the season.