Thanks to a clutch last-second shot from Lamonte Turner, Tennessee is headed home from the Emerald Coast Classic on a high note.
Turner drilled a clutch corner 3-point bucket as time expired on Saturday afternoon, leading No. 17 Tennessee past No. 20 VCU in their final matchup of the Niceville, Florida, holiday tournament.
“I think I just care so much about my team winning,” Turner said, via Grant Ramey of 247Sports. “Those opportunities I get a chance to make a play for my team that decides a game, I always want to do that and I always want to put my teammates in a great position.
“I always want to get that win for my teammates. I always come through in those moments.
The Rams, who fell victim to a 17-6 run to close out the first half, rallied back from a 13-point hole in the second half — and even retook the lead with less than seven minutes to go. De’Riante Jenkins, who finished with 15 points on the day for VCU, then sunk a 3-pointer to tie the game with just five seconds left.
Then, with the ball out of bounds on the sideline, Turner cut to the corner off a perfectly placed screen and hit the shot as time expired.
“He’s got a feel,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “He’s trying to find a balance on this team ... He’s competitive and there’s no doubt we always thought his biggest talent is that he’s competitive. He’s fearless. He’s not afraid to make a play in that situation.”
Turner finished with 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the win, shooting 2-of-5 from behind the arc. John Fulkerson led the Volunteers with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Jordan Bowden added 14 points.
Marcus Santos-Silva led VCU with a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 8-of-12 from the field, and Jenkins added 15 points. They were the only two to score in double-figures for the Rams.
The Vols were knocked off by Florida State 60-57 on Friday in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic, marking their first loss of the season. They will play Wednesday against Florida A&M before Saturday’s game against No. 16 Memphis.
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