Lamonte Turner made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left and No. 8 Tennessee held on to defeat No. 4 Kentucky 82-78 in the semifinals of the SEC tournament on Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn.
The third-seeded Volunteers (29-4) will play No. 22-ranked and fifth-seeded Auburn, which defeated eighth-seeded Florida in Saturday’s other semifinal, in the tournament title game Sunday. The second-seeded Wildcats are 27-6.
Admiral Schofield scored 21 points, Grant Williams had 20 and Jordan Bone added 18 to lead Tennessee.
PJ Washington scored 16, Keldon Johnson had 15, Reid Travis had 11 and Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans added 10 each for Kentucky. Hagans recorded 12 assists.
After Kentucky beat Tennessee by 17 in Lexington and Tennessee beat Kentucky by 19 in Knoxville during the regular season, this matchup was much closer as neither team ever led by double figures.
Kentucky led by eight points with less than three minutes remaining, but Williams scored five straight points.
After a layup by Washington, Schofield and Williams made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Tennessee a 75-74 lead with 1:31 left.
Washington’s tip-in put the Wildcats back on top with 1:06 left, but Turner, who scored just seven points, answered with his only 3-pointer in four tries.
Washington missed a layup and a tip before Bone made two free throws for a four-point lead with 10 seconds left.
The score was tied four times early in the second half and the lead changed hands for the fifth time in the period when Hagans’ layup gave Kentucky a 59-58 lead.
Johnson followed with a layup and Washington had a dunk as the Wildcats matched the largest lead that either team had to that point.
Moments later, Johnson made another layup to give Kentucky a 67-60 lead with six minutes remaining, but the Vols kept coming back.
The lead changed hands seven times and there were four ties in the first half. Tennessee broke the final tie on Schofield’s jumper, which was part of an 8-0 run that gave the Vols a 29-24 lead.
Travis’ free throw ended the run and he later scored Kentucky’s final five points of the half, leaving Tennessee a 36-34 halftime lead.
—Field Level Media