The loss puts VCU (6-2) winless on the road (0-2), while Tennessee (5-1) leaves Destin, FL with a signature win. The Seminoles never trailed, although the Volunteers (5-1) twice closed the gap to three points in the final 3 minutes.
The only other Boilermaker in double figures was Trevion Williams with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, but he fouled out with almost five minutes left to play. Yves Pons brought the double-double trouble scoring 13 points, grabbing 10 boards and swatting three shots, representing the Vols' best performance on the evening.
Bowden hit a 3-pointer and Davonte Gaines made a pair of free throws in the final two minutes to narrow the margin to 57-54.
Kyle Trask threw three first-half touchdown passes, including two to Freddie Swain, and the eighth-ranked Gators hammered the Seminoles 40-17 to end a four-game, home losing streak in the series. They won at then-No. 6 Florida, 63-51, on November 10.
Florida should remain in the top 10 of the AP college football poll, especially with No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 Minnesota and 10th-ranked MI all losing. Purdue has an opportunity to gain additional momentum before facing defending national champion Virginia on December 4 in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge by winning the tournament championship game against Florida State.
Tennessee: Losing to a solid Florida State team may have slowed but perhaps not derailed the Vols' upward momentum in the rankings. They'll have an opportunity to get back on track, though, in the tournament consolation game against another nationally ranked team in Tennessee.
"He's got a feel", Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. The loss ended a five-game winning streak to open the year for the Vols, though there remain plenty more games to be played.
Tennessee and Florida State had played each other eight times before, but Friday's game was their first meeting in three decades. They will play Wednesday against Florida A&M before Saturday's game against No. 16 Memphis.