ATLANTA — Sophomore guard Lamonte Turner came off the bench to score 24 points, including three of the team’s eight 3-pointers, to lead Tennessee to a 77-70 win over Georgia Tech on Sunday at McCamish Pavilion.
Turner was 6-for-12 from the field, 3-for-8 on 3-pointers and 9-for-9 from the line. He added three rebounds and two assists for the Volunteers (6-1), who won their third straight game and are off to their best start since 2010.
“I knew I would have to step up just being one of the older guys on the team,” Turner said. “I was trying to focus on making plays for the team.”
Grant Williams was an inside force with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots before fouling out. Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bowden each scored 10.
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said, “Lamonte’s experience was huge. He had that look where I thought I thought he had great command of himself.”
Georgia Tech (4-3) was led by Ben Lammers with 17 points and nine rebounds. The Yellow Jackets got 15 points from Tadric Jackson, 14 points from Jose Alvarado and 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists from freshman Curtis Haywood II.
Tennessee led 35-29 at halftime. Georgia Tech got as close as one point in the second half when Haywood made a pair of free throws with 2:59 left. But Turner answered with a pair of free throws and the Yellow Jackets could never get any closer than three.
“We just could not get over the hump,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “The hardest thing to coach is when you can’t score. Without (injured) Josh Okogie, it’s hard to score. We have to adapt and find a way.”
Tennessee: The Volunteers continue to take down members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Tennessee has an exhibition win over Clemson and regular-season victories over N.C. State and Georgia Tech. The Vols still have games remaining with North Carolina and Wake Forest before opening Southeastern Conference play.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have lost two straight games, but hope to get sophomore Josh Okogie back soon from a dislocated finger. Okogie, last year’s leading scorer, has not played this season while serving a six-game NCAA suspension. Okogie had the splint removed from his hand this week, but may not play until the ACC season begins.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Tennessee was deadly from the line, making 23 of 27 attempts. Turner was perfect on nine tries and Jordan Bone made 6 of 8. Georgia Tech struggled on free throws, making only 22 of 33.
One of Turner’s 3-pointers killed some Georgia Tech momentum midway in the second half. The Yellow Jackets had cut the lead to 41-40, but Turner nailed a well-guarded 3-pointer late in the shot clock to regain the momentum.
HE SAID IT
Barnes on Tennessee’s best start since 2010: “It’s early still. We’ve played some quality teams. We’ve got a long way to go. Our guys have worked hard. They deserve to have some things happen.”
Tennessee: The Volunteers play again at home on Saturday against Lipscomb, the first of a three-game homestand that includes North Carolina.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets travel to play Wofford on Wednesday in their first true road game of the season. (They opened against UCLA in China.) Georgia Tech will then take an 11-day break before returning next home on Dec. 17 against Florida A&M.