This one started as poorly as it possibly could for Tennessee — and it didn’t get much better.
The Volunteers looked like they had just rolled out of bed in the opening minutes, turning the ball over seven times in the first five minutes. Lamonte Turner had a tough start in particular, logging three turnovers in the first few possessions alone.
Florida State’s length and quickness was an issue for Tennessee as the Seminoles locked in on Tennessee’s passing lanes. The Vols made it worst with some flat-out lazy attempts, though.
The dust settled after six minutes of play and the Florida State lead was 14-2.
Turner decided to stop the bleeding himself, attacking the paint and getting to the free throw line. Four quick points plus a dunk from Yves Pons allowed Tennessee to settle in a bit, making it a 14-8 game.
Tennessee and Florida State traded buckets from there. Yves Pons hit a three and then threw down a baseline dunk. Josiah James was more aggressive early on, hitting a mid-range jumper and getting to the free throw line.
The Vols’ biggest problem — turnovers aside — was that they were getting nothing out of Jordan Bowden. The senior guard didn’t make a field goal until the final minute of the first half, but it was a big one.
Bowden slashed the Florida State lead to five on the final possession of the first half, bringing the score to 29-24. After 13 turnovers in the half, that was a win for the Vols.
The Tennessee offense was largely lost against Florida State’s length and pressure. How would Barnes adjust at halftime?
In the first minute, it was more of the same.
Turner committed a foul on a three-point attempt, then tossed another bad pass that resulted in a turnover. The senior point guard was in the middle of his worst game of the season — and it didn’t look like it was going to get any better.
Tennessee couldn’t get a clean look at the basket for anyone. Florida State wasn’t doing anything special offensively, but it was enough to extend their lead in the first five minutes of the second half.
Even the rare open shots weren’t falling for Tennessee.
With 14 minutes to play, the Florida State lead sat at 40-29.
Tennessee wouldn’t quit though. Turner attacked the paint and got to the line, then found Bowden on a backdoor cut for four quick points to trim the lead back to seven points.
Florida State didn’t let that last very long though. Another turnover led to a Patrick Williams dunk over Yves Pons, which brought the lead back to ten points. Tennessee just didn’t have the offensive rhythm to make a comeback tonight, especially with Turner and Bowden ice cold from outside.
Down 13 points, Tennessee once again kept fighting. Lamonte Turner was in the middle of a bad night, but still had the pedal to the floor. Six quick points kept Tennessee breathing for the time being. The Seminoles answered with a three, but Turner flew down the court and drew another foul.
Turner made two from the stripe to bring us to a 48-41 game with under eight minutes to play. That Florida State lead would hold over the next few minutes as the two sides swapped free throws.
At the under three minute mark, the Florida State lead was eight points.
John Fulkerson fouled out on a brutal call with 1:30 left, but Jordan Bowden kept Tennessee alive once again with a three to cut the lead down to five points. The Vols could have used more of that a little earlier in the game, unfortunately.
Yves Pons kept the game alive though with a big block at the rim, then Turner streaked down the floor to draw a foul. Lamonte went down on the baseline, appearing to nurse a leg cramp. He would return shortly after.
Davonte Gaines hit two free throws in his place to cut the lead to three with a minute to play.
Tennessee got the stop at the other end, but gave up a big offensive rebound. They would foul, and Florida State hit 1-2 from the line to make it a four point game.
The Seminoles put this one on ice with a steal — a fitting end to a sloppy offensive game from Tennessee.
Final score: Florida State 60, Tennessee 57
The chances were there for Tennessee, but the shots weren’t falling and the sloppiness was too much to overcome against a really good Florida State team.
The Volunteers shot 22 percent from three-point range and 33 percent from the field. On a brutal night from Jordan Bowden and an inefficient night from Lamonte Turner, Tennessee was lucky to stay alive in this one.
Tennessee will face the loser of VCU-Purdue tomorrow.