No. 17 Tennessee, No. 20 VCU to meet for 3rd place in tourney

The Associated Press

The No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers and No. 20 VCU Rams will meet on Saturday in a much-awaited contest in the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida's panhandle in Niceville.

The two top 25 squads just won't be facing each other in the way they expected.

Losers of Black Friday semifinal matches, the Vols and Rams will meet in the third-place game on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

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Florida State and Purdue then will compete for the ECC's championship at 7 p.m. ET.

UT and VCU were not necessarily expected to lose, but both managed to do it in similar fashion -- via turnovers.

The Vols (5-1) suffered their first loss of the season, much of it due to an athletic, pressure-oriented defense by FSU, which as the first team sitting outside the top 25 surely stands to move one spot into the ranks of the nation's best.

The Seminoles defeated the Vols and coach Rick Barnes 60-57 in the first semifinal game on Friday.

Tennessee guard Lamonte Turner struggled mightily through the first 30 minutes, failing to get the offense going and, worse, turning the ball over as his team trailed from the outset.

Following the loss, Turner -- a senior point guard -- told his teammates the loss was on him, but Barnes said he respected the way his players hung in and did not get down against a strong FSU team.

In fact, as poorly at Barnes' group played, it was amazing that the game was as close as it was.

"I am not surprised we fought back the way we did," Barnes said. "I am with these guys every day. We are going to grow up."

Turner finished with a game-high 20 points, but he was successful on just 5 of 18 field-goal attempts, with one 3-pointer.

While he did manage to go 11 for 14 at the foul line, the most glaring number on his scoresheet was eight -- the number of times he lost the ball to the Seminoles.

The loss prevented Tennessee from starting a season 6-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.

In VCU, the Vols will find a similar team as FSU -- one that pressures defensively -- but also one that shares something in common with UT: a propensity for not taking care of the ball.

The Rams (6-1) committed a season-high 21 turnovers in their 59-56 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers, and the team didn't help itself at the foul line either.

Despite forcing 18 turnovers by the Big Ten school, VCU also slipped when the game was on the line.

Leading scorer Marcus Santos-Silva, who played exceptionally well for the majority of the contest, made just 1 of 4 free throws in the final 97 seconds of the game, while Purdue knocked down 5 of 6 freebies.

Santos-Silva, who notched 19 points, was just 3-for-8 at the charity stripe, and the Rams made 15 of their 22 attempts on the night.

"We put them on the line too much, and we had too many turnovers," said VCU coach Mike Rhoades. "A lot of them were just over penetration, jumping up in the air, forcing it."

--Field Level Media

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