NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Lamonte Turner made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give No. 17 Tennessee a 72-69 victory over No. 20 VCU in the Emerald Coast Classic third-place game on Saturday.
Turner’s big shot spoiled a dramatic comeback by the Rams, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half.
John Fulkerson led Tennessee (6-1) with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Bowden added 14 points and Turner scored 12 for the Vols.
Marcus Santos-Silva led VCU (6-2) with 22 points and De’Riante Jenkins had 15.
Jenkins hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 69-69 with 5 seconds left. Tennessee called timeout and inbounded the ball from the frontcourt with 1.7 seconds remaining. Turner launched the winning shot from the right corner.
The teams traded the lead six times and were tied six times to open the game before Tennessee closed out the first half with a 17-6 run to take a 37-26 lead at the break. Jalen Johnson made a 3-pointer to break a 20-20 tie and start the run.
VCU chipped away and took its first lead of the second half on a jumper by KeShawn Curry at 58-56 with 6:42 to go.
Fulkerson put Tennessee ahead 69-66 by blocking a shot, grabbing a rebound and then hitting a pair of free throws after he was fouled, setting up the dramatic 3-pointers in the final seconds.
Tennessee: The Vols bounced back from their loss to Florida State in the Emerald Coast Classic semifinals on Friday. Although Tennessee never led in that game, the Vols narrowed the final margin to three points against a Florida State team was just a few votes short of making the AP Top 25. The road doesn’t get any easier, though. After a home game against Florida A&M, the Vols entertain No. 16 Memphis. The schedule also includes a visit to Cincinnati and a home game against Wisconsin, both currently unranked but in the next tier of teams, before Southeast Conference play begins in January.
VCU: It was a tough couple days in the Florida Panhandle for the Rams, who saw their season-opening six game winning streak — the best start in school history — turn into a two-game skid. The losses to Purdue and No. 17 Tennessee likely will lead to VCU’s exit from the AP Top 25. The schedule, though, gets easier with no more Power 5 opponents ahead.
VCU hosts Old Dominion next Saturday.
Tennessee hosts Florida A&M on Wednesday.