When No. 7 Tennessee needed its hero most, junior Grant Williams delivered again. Down by one to the unranked Ole Miss Rebels, Williams launched a mid-range layup with five seconds left to give his team the lead and converted a free throw to notch the 73-71 win for the Volunteers.
A nail-biter in Oxford 😬— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) February 28, 2019
No. 7 Tennessee narrowly escapes an upset against Ole Miss. pic.twitter.com/PgwsnzisoZ
Ole Miss fought Tennessee to the final minute of its SEC battle against the top-10 foe and nearly stopped the Volunteers on their home court, but Williams and Co. proved to be too much. Williams' 21 points helped the Volunteers avoid their third defeat in four games and instead elevated Tennessee to 25-3 on the season and 13-2 in SEC play The loss moves Ole Miss to 19-9 and 9-6. The Rebels showed that they should not be dismissed in the SEC, but Tennessee holds on to its top-10 ranking for now. Here are three takeaways from this SEC nail-biter:
Lamonte Turner turned heads
Tennessee unexpectedly needed an unsung hero against the Rebels, and they found one in Lamonte Turner. The redshirt junior put up 17 points against a tough Ole Miss team. His efforts proved critical in holding off the persistent Rebels, and his point total put him second in scoring among all Volunteers. The point total stands as his fourth-highest of the year and six points above his season average.
Turner is having his best season so far in a Tennessee jersey. Already he's started more games this year than his two previous seasons combined, and he's becoming to be a player to watch as Tennessee wraps up its regular season.
Williams has been the go-to leader for the Volunteers all year, but Wednesday night's game demonstrated that he won't be enough to carry Tennessee to victory in March. He'll need help, and he found that in the form of Turner.
NEW RANKINGS: Gonzaga leads Andy Katz's new Power 36
Tennessee shot 51.8 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc, with Turner and Williams combining for nearly half of all of Tennessee's field goal attempts. Turner was 75 percent from the field while Williams hit seven of his 13 attempts. Neither athlete excelled from long, as Turner hit just one 3-pointer and Williams didn't attempt a single long range shot. Those 3-point stats stand in contrast to Ole Miss' 39.1 percent mark from beyond the arc.
Don't doubt Terence Davis
Terence Davis, much like Turner, proved to be an x-factor for his team, picking up 16 points and creating opportunities for himself in a back-and-forth game against a top-10 foe. Even with help from three teammates scoring double-digits, Davis' efforts weren't enough to pull off the upset. But he did manage to create a highlight reel for himself during the battle.