At the end of the second half of Tennessee’s game against Purdue, there was a controversial foul call on UT’s Lamonte Turner.
With mere seconds remaining in the second half, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards caught the inbounds pass and jacked up a three to try and give the Boilermakers the lead down 82-80. Turner closed out on him and made contact as Edwards came down. The official whistled Turner for a foul, though he vehemently disagreed with the call.
Edwards went to the line to take three free throws. He missed the first, but he made the second and third. The game went to overtime after that, and Tennessee was out of gas. Purdue prevailed 99-94 in the extra frame, and that late foul call was one of the biggest talking points after the game.
Turner said after the game that Edwards had been pushing his leg out on jump shots all game, and he had tried to tell the officials.
“Any time you try to contest a shot and somebody kicks their leg out, obviously it makes it harder to contest a shot,” Turner said after the game. “I had been complaining to the refs about that all night. Last play of the game, I try to contest his shot, and he kicks his leg out. His leg made contact with my body, and they called a foul.
“I don’t really understand what I’m supposed to do right there. I’m trying to contest his shot and the guy kicks his leg out. But that’s the call that was made. It didn’t decide the game. It sent us to overtime, and we lost in overtime.”
Though Turner disagreed with the call, his head coach wasn’t as skeptical initially. Immediately after the game, Barnes said the play was a foul and didn’t discuss it much further than that.
“It was a foul. He missed the shot. Lamonte hit him after the shot,” Barnes said at the time. “That’s a tough play because, again, we knew — I think actually they were trying to work something inside. It was close to a five-second count. I even think they got that in. I know they got it in because I saw it.”
Upon further review, however, Barnes has softened his stance on the call.
During the Vol Calls radio show, Barnes was asked about the late foul call on Turner. While he said that he can’t argue with the call that was made, he does believe that it was much more questionable than he thought initially after watching film from the game.
“I can’t argue with the call because I understand where it was and how it was, but the fact is we made a play on the ball,” Barnes stated. “I felt bad for Lamonte because we wouldn’t have even been back in that game if it wasn’t for the way he carried himself on both ends of the court.”
What brought on the change in perspective for Barnes? Just that: A change in perspective.
According to Barnes, the angle where he was during the game was the same spot the official was who made the foul call. And at that angle, all Barnes could really see was Turner making contact, not Edwards kicking out his leg. After looking at the film and seeing different angles, Barnes has changed his mind on what he thought initially.
“If you look at that from a different angle, (Edwards) kicked his leg out, and Lamonte had already kinda slid by him and had his back to him,” Barnes continued. “But the angle where the referee was standing was the exact same angle that I was looking at. Where I was, I couldn’t tell how far Lamonte had gone by him, but I did see there was contact. But if you look at it at a different angle, it looks like his leg goes out because the ball was four feet out of his hands. (Turner) didn’t affect the shot.
“What you want to do is, you want to contest it. I think Lamonte being competitive just jumped up, and honestly I’ve had people tell me it wasn’t a foul either. In a split-second decision like that, it’s hard.”
Ultimately, Tennessee’s 14 missed free throws an inability to even slam home dunks in the first half are what really cost the Vols in their game against Purdue, but that foul call certainly didn’t help. It’s a call that will be discussed years from now, much like the questionable charge call on Jarnell Stokes against Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen in 2014.
The Vols’ 2018-19 season came to an end after that game, and now Barnes, Turner, and the rest of the Vols have to regroup this offseason and prepare to try and make another run next year.