Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner has became quite the road warrior this season, and that effect has rubbed off on the rest of his teammates.
Already having notched strong performances against Georgia Tech, Purdue and South Carolina, the sophomore guard was at it again as the Vols took on Iowa State.
Behind 20 points (6-of-9 3PT FG) from Turner, 16 from James Daniel and a 10-point, seven-rebound performance by Admiral Schofield, Tennessee was able to knock off the Cyclones 68-45 after another stellar performance on the defensive end.
The win marked UT’s 15th on the season and makes the team just one victory shy of tying their season total from last year.
Donovan Jackson led Iowa State with 13 points as the Vols held the Cyclones to just 33 percent shooting.
“We played like we want to play in terms of our defense,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought all of our post guys did a terrific job with our ball-screen defense, which we haven’t done up to this point.”
Saturday also marked Barnes’s 650th career victory as he now finds himself among the top five coach of the year candidates.
Despite the large disparity in the final score, things did not open well for the Vols as play got under way at Hilton Coliseum.
Tennessee opened the game slowly, down six at one point despite Turner’s first 3-pointer cutting the lead at the 15:23 mark in the first half.
Turner also assisted on two of the Vols’ five first half triples, three of those shots coming by way of Daniel, who finished the half with 14 points.
“I just tried to be aggressive for my team,” Daniel said. “I knew that I was going to get a couple shots today because of how they have to play Grant and Admiral.”
While he didn't score much over the course of the game’s opening 20 minutes, Turner made up for it following the intermission.
Tallying 14 points in the second half, Turner failed to miss a single throw, knocking down four consecutive shots from long distance as Tennessee opened up a 41-21 lead following a 10-2 run to open the half.
“He had it going on,” Barnes said. “You could feel it.”
Schofield joined in on the action as well, hitting a triple of his own as the Vols totaled 12 for the game and five in the second half alone.
The Cyclones, on the other hand, shot just 4-of-17 from beyond the arc and connected on just 41.2 percent of their free throws.
Overcoming another slow start, this will go down as Tennessee’s fifth road victory of the season in just seven tries, something the tournament selection committee will surely take into account come late February.
The Volunteers will resume conference play on Jan. 31, when they welcome the LSU Tigers to Thompson-Boling Arena.
Since the season began in November, Barnes has preached his desire to see his team improve. He feels they took another step in that direction on Saturday.
“I do think we’re growing. I don't think there's any question about that,” Barnes said. “I think playing a hard schedule helps too.”