KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Lamonte Turner took an open 3-pointer with Tennessee ahead 12 on Saturday against Memphis. It missed.
The Vols senior took another with the Volunteers ahead less than 90 seconds later. It missed — and so did his next attempt just six seconds later.
As was the day for Turner and fellow senior guard Jordan Bowden. The duo combined to make only three of their 21 field-goal attempts as the Vols fell flat.
Tennessee fell 51-47 to Memphis at Thompson-Boling Arena, where it had won 31 straight.
No. 17 Tennessee (7-2) shot only 25% as a team and 15.4% from 3-point range, as the visiting team took a win in the Memphis-Tennessee series for the second straight year.
Josiah-Jordan James had 14 to lead Tennessee against No. 17 Memphis (9-1). No other Vol scored in double-digits, as Turner and Bowden combined for 10 points. Yves Pons had six on 3 of 10 shooting, as he struggled as well.
Forget the wild 194-point clash that Tennessee and Memphis played last season in Memphis. The in-state rivals played a brutal offensive game of first-one-to-50 wins in Knoxville.
Tennessee shot barely 20% for most of Saturday — until Jordan Bowden’s 3-pointer with 9:48 to play got the Vols rolling as much as they were against Memphis. The Vols were 3 of 21 from 3-point range until his corner three.
They got a solid blend of defense and offense to retake the lead that they held constantly in the first half. John Fulkerson had a pair of blocks, including a wild swat of a Tyler Harris shot. Tennessee forced a shot-clock violation and a Damion Baugh travel.
On offense, Pons made a pair of short jumpers — the latter a turnaround to give Tennessee a 43-42 lead with 5:56 to play. Fulkerson had a key post play through a foul to pull UT within one.
Turner put Tennessee ahead again 47-46 with a layup with 2:15 to play, as he made his first field goal.
But Baugh had the dagger — a corner 3-pointer that put Memphis ahead two with 1:43 to play.
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Pons, who spent almost 15 minutes in the first half on the bench with two fouls, missed the front end of potential game-tying free throws with 20 seconds to play in the 49-47 game. Memphis’ Alex Lomax, who made a handful of key shots to quell a second-half Tennessee run, made the clinching free throws.
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Memphis freshman D.J. Jeffries made a layup with 7:58 to play in the first half — the Tigers’ second field goal after a brutal 1 of 13 start. Tennessee built a 17-5 lead despite its own shooting struggles.
The Tigers controlled Tennessee the rest of the half, closing on a 20-7 run.
Memphis pounced on foul trouble for both Bowden and Pons. The Vols two best defenders were on the bench for the final 5:18 after Bowden picked up his second foul. Pons sat for the final 14:53 after drawing his second whistle.
Memphis Tigers guard Alex Lomax drives against Tennessee Volunteers guard Josiah-Jordan James during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. (Photo: Randy Sartin, USA TODAY Sports)
The Tigers went on a 13-5 run with Bowden and Pons relegated to the bench with foul trouble. Harris put the Tigers ahead 26-25 with a layup at the buzzer.
Fantastic freshmen start
James was the best freshman on the floor in the first half as the five-star prospect bested Memphis’ outstanding recruiting class. He scored UT’s first eight points and had 11 in the half, setting a career high.
Drew Pember provided a jolt off the bench with Pons in foul trouble. The freshmen attempted a massive one-handed dunk and drew a foul. He made the free throws, then scored on a nifty cut and James pass.
The freshmen scored 13 of Tennessee’s first 15 points as the rest of the UT offense slumped to a horrible start.
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