The game of basketball is about making key shots when it matters most. The best basketball players in the world always want the ball when the game is on the line, whether they were ice cold or red hot prior to the key moment. Lamonte’ Turner was one of those players, no matter what had happened leading up to a critical possession, Vol Fans were always comfortable with the ball in his hands.
Turner’s legacy on Rocky Top will always be remembered for his clutch shots that sealed victory for his team. From stunning Kentucky in the SEC Tournament to his last-second buzzer-beater to knock off VCU, Turner’s career at Tennessee was filled with massive shots that will always be remembered by fans of Volunteers. With Turner’s career coming to a shocking end after being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a rare condition in which a nerve or blood vessel is compressed, let’s take a look back at some of the best moments from his time as a Tennessee Volunteer.
Tennessee V. Kentucky, 2017-18
It was the season when the Vols improvements under Rick Barnes were really beginning to become apparent. After starting the season out unranked, the Vols would move into the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time under Barnes and were now getting a key opportunity to prove to the world that they were for real, as they were battling the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena.
The game was close for all 40 minutes and it was destined to come down to the wire. With the stakes at an all-time high and the match-up guaranteed to have a monumental impact in the race for the SEC Regular Season Championship, it was the perfect storm for Lamonte’ Turner to rip Kentucky fans’ hearts out for the first time. With Tennessee down by two, with the ball, and time bleeding down to less than 30 seconds, Admiral Schofield passed up a semi-open look, passing the ball back to Turner to set up a play. Turner, who was playing point, noticed a Kentucky player who was playing a bit off of him as he was likely attempting to find Grant Williams under the post. Turner put up his shot and the crowd went dead silent as the ball swooshed through the net putting Tennessee up by 1. One defensive stop, and an Admiral Schofield dunk later, the game went final; Tennessee 61, Kentucky 59. It was Turner’s first time torching Kentucky, but certainly not his last.
Tennessee V. Kentucky, 2018-19 SEC Tournament Semi-Final
It was one of the best wins in Tennessee Basketball history, when all hope seemed to be lost the Vols players never stopped playing. With about 2 and a half minutes remaining in regulation, the Vols trailed Kentucky by 6. Kentucky’s offense was red-hot and it seemed as if a Kentucky victory was imminent. However, with the ball under Tennessee’s possession, the Vols went back to their bread and butter: future NBA 1st round pick Grant Williams. Williams went under the basket to lay in a 2 pointer, additionally, a foul was called, Williams would have an opportunity to cut it to a one-possession game at the free-throw line. Kentucky responded by giving the ball to P.J. Washington, who nailed a two-pointer after tracking down his own rebound. Tennessee then ran down the court, and when they needed it the most Senior guard, Admiral Schofield delivered a 3 point shot cutting the Wildcats’ lead down to 2. The Vols then got a huge turnover after Kentucky freshman, Tyler Herro accidentally stepped on the line. Grant Williams then nailed a corner three-pointer to give Tennessee a 1-point advantage, sending Kentucky fans into a state of shock in the process. On the other end of the court, UK turned yet again to Washington who, again, tracked down his own rebound and then following through to the hoop, giving Kentucky the edge. Down by 1, and with time running out the Vols turned to Lamonte’ Turner who did what he does best: nail a 3 pointer with the game on the line. Tennessee 82, Kentucky 78.
Tennessee V. VCU, 2019-20
Most fans were unable to watch Turner’s best play of the season due to it being played near the same time as Tennessee’s football match-up with Vanderbilt was getting ready to kick-off. However, Turner’s buzzer-beater will go down as one of his biggest plays during his career at Tennessee.
With the game tied at 69 and just over a second remaining on the clock, the Vols would have one last opportunity to knock off VCU. Tennessee turned to none other than Lamonte’ Turner to shoot the final shot of regulation as he buried the 3 sending the arena into utter chaos. Tennessee’s bench stormed onto the court and likely made one of Turner’s final games as a Volunteer, one of his most memorable.