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Lamonte Turner’s buzzer-beater leads No. 17 Tennessee past No. 20 VCU in Emerald Coast Classic

Tennessee guard Lamonte Turner reacts to hitting the winning shot at the buzzer in the Emerald Coast Classic against Virginia Commonwealth in Niceville, Florida, on Saturday. (AP/Mark Wallheiser)

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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