Updated with more information at 7:15 p.m. on March 16, 2019.
NASHVILLE — Lamonte Turner made the go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the key in the final minute as Tennessee advanced to the title game of the Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament with an 82-78 win against Kentucky on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena.
The eighth-ranked, third-seeded Volunteers (29-4) will take on 22nd-ranked, fifth-seeded Auburn (25-9) in the tournament's title game at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday. Auburn beat eighth-seeded Florida 65-62 in Saturday's first semifinal as the Gators (19-15) lost for the fourth time in their past six games.
The Vols finished their semifinal on an 18-6 run, taking the lead for good on Turner's 3 with 30 seconds remaining. Kentucky's P.J. Washington missed two baskets inside, and Jordan Bone put the game away with four free throws in the final 10 seconds as the fourth-ranked, second-seeded Wildcats (27-6) lost to Tennessee for the second time in three meetings this season.
Admiral Schofield, whose assist on Turner's final shot was his fifth of the game, led the Vols with 21 points and made four 3-pointers — including a big one during the run — on eight attempts behind the arc. Grant Williams, who added 20 points for the Vols, had a three-point play that ended a 4:46 stretch without a Tennessee field goal, then hit a 3 from the corner that briefly gave the Vols the lead.
Bone added 18 points and matched Schofield for the team lead with five assists.
Washington scored 16 points to lead five Wildcats in double figures, with Keldon Johnson (15), Reid Travis (11), Ashton Hagans (10) and Tyler Herro (10) the others. Hagans had a game-high 12 assists.
Here is the good, the bad and the verdict for Tennessee from Saturday's win:
Tennessee is built on toughness this season. At no point was that more evident than during the final 2:58 of Saturday's game after Kentucky led 72-64. Tennessee's final run was based on a desire not to lose and a willingness to do whatever it took to make sure that didn't happen. The Vols pressed, forcing a couple key turnovers, and they made shots, hitting four of their final five, with the final three coming from 3-point range.
The officiating. It seemed as though the game was well-officiated on the court, but at some point the constant jogging to the monitor for replays has to stop; it's slowing the game down.
The Vols believed Kentucky didn't respect them. They felt even more disrespected with people suggesting Tennessee's sound beating of the Wildcats on March 2 was due in part to the absence of senior forward Travis, referred to as a "neutralizer" of Williams. The respect won't happen overnight, considering the Wildcats have eight national championships while Tennessee has yet to reach a Final Four. What the Vols can say is they are advancing to Sunday's SEC championship matchup — although Saturday's game felt more like a title fight between two teams battling for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.