LSU Defeats Florida, 84-82, Remains Undefeated in SEC Play
BATON ROUGE – It was a typical LSU-Florida basketball game. At least the way the two teams have played against each other in the last 12 months.
LSU played its sixth game of one or two points this season and came out with an 84-82 victory over the Gators Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to remain undefeated in the Southeastern Conference at 6-0.
Florida defeated LSU by five points in overtime on Feb. 20, 2019; LSU then came back to defeat the Gators, 79-78, in overtime in Gainesville on March 6, 2019; and, one week later Florida defeated LSU, 76-73 in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals in Nashville.
And this meeting appeared to be heading to overtime when Keyontae Johnson appeared to make a layup off a Florida inbounds that started with 0.5 to play. Officials ruled the bucket good on the floor and then went to the monitor to review and after a short review video showed the red light was on before it left Johnson’s hand. The bucket was waved off making it LSU’s 11th consecutive SEC win dating back to last year.
LSU has now won seven consecutive games overall heading into Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge game at Texas.
Six-of-the-seven LSU players that played finished scoring in double figures led by Emmitt Williams with 19 points. Skylar Mays had 18 points (7 assists), Trendon Watford 14 points, Javonte Smart 13 points (7 assists) and Darius Days and Marlon Taylor 10 each. Taylor had his first double double with 11 rebounds (6 offensive).
Florida got 16 from Johnson with nine boards, while Noah Locke also had 16 points. Kerry Blackshear had 15 points and Andrew Nembhard had 15 points and 10 assists.
LSU finished the game 29-of-61 from the field with two treys and 24-of-31 from the free throw line. Florida finished 31-of-61 for the game with 11 treys and 9-of-11 at the line.
The Tigers out rebounded the Gators, 38-28, with a 15-8 advantage on the offensive glass. LSU, which scored 50 points in the second half of play, had 50 points in the paint for the fourth time this season (50-32 advantage). LSU had a 19-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
LSU trailed by two, 36-34, at halftime but took the lead for good on the second of two free throws by Days, 44-43, with 14:08 to go. The big setup for the Tigers came on a 7-0 run that started with six minutes to play after Johnson hit a three-pointer that cut LSU’s lead to 66-62.
Taylor missed a jump shot but Days got the rebound and Mays laid the ball in to make it 68-62 with 5:21 left. At the 4:02 mark Mays hit a three-pointer that pushed the LSU advantage to nine, 71-62. After a Florida turnover, Days got a layup to push the game to 11 points, 73-62, with 3:24 to play.
The Tigers still went to the final 1:20 with a 79-69 lead, but a Nembhard score made it 79-71 and a steal that led to a Locke three-pointer cut the game to five, 79-74, with 52 seconds to play.
LSU missed two shots on the other end and Johnson hit a three to cut the LSU lead to 79-77 with 36 seconds left. Emmitt Williams was fouled and made two free throws to make the LSU lead four, 81-77. But Johnson hit another three-pointer and the LSU margin was one, 81-80, with still 31 seconds left.
Mays was fouled and made one-of-two free throws to go up 82-80 with 27 seconds left. Florida turned the ball over and Mays was fouled again, making both to make it 84-80 with eight seconds left.
Blackshear made a layup with less than two seconds to play to make it 84-82. LSU tried to get the ball inbounds and it was knocked out with 0.1 showing. The officials went to the monitor 1) reversed the ball and 2) put the time back to 0.5 setting up the final play.
A crowd of 10,479 took in the contest at the Maravich Assembly Center. LSU will be back at home for two games on Jan. 29 against Alabama and Feb. 1 versus Ole Miss.
LSU Head Coach Will Wade
On if he expected anything else in a game against Florida…
“It seems like that every time we play Florida. I was kind of expecting it a little different. We had an 11-point lead. Like I told them, we’ve been really good coming from behind in these situations. Now we’ve got to be a little better – make some better decisions playing from ahead. That was my fault. It wasn’t the players fault at the end of the game. I just did a bad job with some of execution. Quite frankly, we haven’t worked on it a whole bunch in practice because we spend our time working on a lot of other things. We’ve got some time Thursday where we can certainly get some things corrected that we need to get corrected. At the end of the day, we played well. We pounded the paint. We only took 14 threes. We did what we needed to do to win. I think we took 47 twos and took a ton of free throws, which is our formula for winning – kill people at the free-throw line, pound people in the paint. We drove the ball really well. I thought we’d be kicking ourselves. In the first half we missed seven or eight layups. We were stuck on 15 or 16 points forever. At the end of the day, we found a way. It wasn’t pretty and certainly wasn’t how we wanted it to end. Like I told our guys, it’s a win, let’s enjoy it. We’re 6-0 in league. We can get to correcting things tomorrow or Thursday as we get ready for Texas.”
On outrebounding Florida by 10 and getting 15 offensive rebounds…
“The offensive rebounds were really important. I thought we did a really good job. (Keyontae) Johnson for them has been a real pain for us. He killed us in the games last year as a freshman. He’d been a real issue for us. I thought we did a better job boxing him out tonight, especially down the stretch – Skylar (Mays) got the jump ball and Aundre Hyatt did a good job of boxing him out. Hyatt made some winning plays. I know his stuff on the stat sheet doesn’t jump off the page at you, but he made some big time, big time winning plays. At the end of the day, the rebounding certainly helped us because they’re a really good rebounding team. They came in to the game with one of the best rebounding margins in the SEC.”
LSU Guard Skylar Mays
On LSU playing Florida…
“We have to keep it close. That’s how things work out. It has worked for us, so why not stick with it. I have seen crazier things happen in my time here, but that was just a great game. Credit to (Florida), they are a quality team. They are resilient just like us. Luckily we were able to pull this one out.”
On Coach Will Wade‘s plan at the end of the game…
“We wanted to switch everything. I was guarding the guy that was taking it out, so I couldn’t see what was going on. Obviously, they got an open look and luckily the buzzer went off before. We have to do a better job at the end of the game. We know how to get ourselves back in it, now we have to figure out how to take care of (a lead). Credit to these guys, we’re 6-0. We just have to keep winning.”
On Marlon Taylor’s performance…
“Marlon was awesome. He is kind of finding his footing. It has kind of been bumpy for him because he has been out so long, but credit to him because he has continued to work and just have the right mindset. Now things are turning for him, so we are just hoping he can keep that up.”
LSU Guard Javonte Smart
On being 6-0 in the SEC…
“It means a lot. We just want to keep winning and keep the winning streak going. If it comes down to a six-minute game, we work on that every day in practice. Coach tells us you can’t foul, stay solid on defense and make free throws so we can come out with the win.”
On giving up threes at the end of the game…
“We gave up some big three’s down the stretch. (Florida) had some big shots that brought them back in the game. We just have to follow our scouting report and not let the people that shoot the threes shoot the threes.”
LSU Forward Emmitt Williams
On outscoring Florida in the paint…
“It is huge, but I want to give all the credit to my whole team because we did a great job keeping the ball out of the paint. As you can see, me and Darius (Days) are short five men, but I think we are the biggest guys in the world.”
On the rebounding effort…
“As you can see, a lot of our teammates stepped up tonight. Marlon Taylor had a huge double-double today. He had seven rebounds in the first half, so that was huge.”
Florida Head Coach Mike White
Opening Statement …
“I grew up with Greg Heiar and worked with Bill Armstrong five years, so it may just be the familiarity with each other. Maybe the coaching staff just wants to beat each other’s brains in, who knows? It’s been four high level, fun college basketball games which is obviously more fun for them, coming out and winning it tonight. It was just a good game; I don’t know what it is. Other than that, it was two competitive games that have interesting endings. We have to find a way to bounce back and are ready to get home.”
On the late-game comeback attempt…
“In LSU’s defense we were playing with nothing to lose there and played out of desperation. We probably shot the ball more confidently late, more than the first 35 minutes unfortunately. I’m really proud of the effort down the stretch just to have a chance. We were a split second or two away from potentially continuing to be playing right now as we are speaking. Our guys, especially with this team, had so much youth out there. We could have just packed in out there, but our guys fought to the bitter end. We made it interesting.”