Florida, sans Parsons, tops LSU 68-61 on road

The crowd was sparse Sunday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA, but the No. 14/15 Florida Gators effort without senior forward Chandler Parsons (deep thigh bruise) was not. Missing their best player, Florida (21-5, 10-2 SEC) still rolled to a 68-61 victory over the LSU Tigers (10-17, 2-10 SEC) behind 17 points each from junior point guard Erving Walker and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton.

Leading 40-25 at the break, the Gators allowed the Tigers to get within six midway through the second half but held on to their lead due to a superior effort by the backcourt at the charity stripe over the final few minutes.

Florida opened up the first half with a 10-0 run and utilized an 8-2 run later in the period to go up a game-high 15 points, 36-21, with 4:20 to go before the break. A layup by redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin allowed UF to close the half with the same 15-point advantage; they shot 59.4 percent from the field as a team while holding LSU to only 34.4 percent shooting.

The Tigers fought back with a 9-2 run to open the second half and cut the Gators’ lead to 42-34. A three-pointer by Walker put Florida back ahead 15 with 12:59 left, but LSU responded with an impressive 17-7 run to reduce their deficit from 15 to six with 4:41 remaining in the game and UF on their heels.

Boynton ended the Tigers’ run and a 5:51 scoring drought for the Gators on a fastbreak layup with 3:10 remaining.

Florida, which was only 6-for-12 from the free throw line and saw three consecutive frontcourt players miss the front end of one-and-ones in the second half, hit eight-straight free throws to end the game thanks to the backcourt of Walker (four), Boynton (two) and freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin (two).

LSU G Ralston Turner posted a game-high 18 points but was the only player on his team to score in double figures.

Three of UF’s starters hit that mark with Macklin adding 16 points and seven rebounds to Walker and Boynton’s respective 17-point performances.

Walker went 5-for-10 (3-of-6 from downtown) while also hitting four free throws and tying Matt Walsh for sixth all-time on the school’s career three-pointers list. Boynton was 5-of-12 (1-for-5 from three, 6-for-7 from the line) and also grabbed two steals.

Senior F Alex Tyus picked up nine boards while also scoring six points. Freshman F Casey Prather, who started in place of Parsons, was held scoreless in only 15 minutes of action. Wilbekin ended up playing the majority of Parsons’s minutes.

With the victory, the Gators have won 10 conference games for the first time since 2007. Florida improved to 18-1 when holding an opponent under 70 points this season and 12-0 when forcing more turnovers; they have now won 16 of their last 19 games. The Gators’ defeat of the Tigers was their first in Baton Rouge since Jan. 28, 2003 and just their fourth win in the last 10 total games in the series.

Florida hosts Georgia on Thursday for the second meeting between the teams this season. UF beat UGA 104-91 in double overtime on Jan. 25.

Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

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No. 14 Florida Gators at LSU Tigers Gameday

Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center – Baton Rouge, LA [Capacity: 13,472]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 14 FLORIDA GATORS LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Trent Johnson
Record: 20-5 (9-2) Record: 10-16 (2-9)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -10.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» LSU leads the all-time series against Florida 60-38, has won six out of the last nine games in the series, and has not dropped a home game to UF since 2003. However, the Gators defeated the Tigers 72-58 last season.
» Donovan is now 10-8 all-time against LSU and 3-4 when facing them on the road. Conversely, Johnson is 1-1 against UF.
» Florida has won 15 of their last 18 games with 11 victories against RPI top 100 teams. The Gators are 6-1 on the road this season, which includes a 4-1 record in SEC play; they were 8-9 away from home last year. A victory Sunday would give UF seven true road wins for the first time since 2003.
» Florida is 3-1 against the SEC West this season after finishing a perfect 6-0 in the division last year. They are 53-17 against the division since 2000. LSU is 0-3 against the SEC East this season.
» The Gators earned back-to-back victories against ranked opponents for the first time since 2007, defeating then-No. 24 Vanderbilt and then-No. 11 Kentucky two weeks ago.
» Florida improved to 17-1 when holding opponents under 70 points this season after limiting South Carolina to 60 points last Wednesday.
» UF is 11-0 this season when forcing more turnovers than their opponents and 4-0 in SEC play when dishing 15 or more assists.
» The Gators will be without senior forward Chandler Parsons Sunday afternoon; a deep thigh bruise has ended his streak of 43 consecutive starts.
» Florida junior point guard Erving Walker is a trio of three-pointers away from tying the career total of Matt Walsh (192); the mark would place him sixth all-time in school history. Nine treys from Walker would move him into the top five.
» Defeating Tennessee on Saturday, UF reached 20 wins for the 13th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the SEC.
» The Gators best the Tigers in all four major statistical categories. Florida holds advantages in points per game 71-62.4 (120th-306th), rebounding 38.2-35.5 (39th-149th), assists 13.9-11.4 (106th-285th) and field goal percentage .458-.401 (78th-318th). UF ranks 12th in RPI (.6389) and seventh in strength of schedule nationally compared to their opponent being 215th (.4704) and 114th, respectively.

GATORS WITHOUT PARSONS ON SUNDAY

Parsons, who is averaging double-digit points (10.8) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, will not be active Sunday after suffering a deep thigh bruise last Saturday against Tennessee, the University of Florida announced Saturday evening. He underwent treatment for the injury throughout the week and even traveled with the team to Baton Rouge but is simply not healthy enough to get on the court. Florida was hopeful Parsons could be ready as the team had eight consecutive days off for him to heal. With the Gators’ next game not until Thursday, he could have up to 11 days off should he not return to practice early in the week. It is expected that freshman F Casey Prather will start in his place, though Donovan could choose to go with a smaller lineup including freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin instead.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.7 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.423) and three-point percentage (.385). Walker also leads Florida in turnovers (63) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 58.3 percent from the floor this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but is struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is only hitting 36.1 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 12.9 points per game and makes a team-high 82.9 percent of his free throws.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
» Prather…who will likely earn his first start for the orange and blue on Sunday. The freshman only plays an average of 6.9 minutes per game but is shooting at a 48.5 percent clip on 33 shot attempts this season.
» Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.25:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.3 boards off the bench.
» LSU Gs Ralston Turner and Andre Stringer…who are both freshmen yet their team’s best scorers. The duo combines for 24.2 points per game while each playing 30-31 minutes every contest. Turner is the better three-point shooter (33.6 percent), but Stringer is the best free throw shooter of the starting five (76.3 percent).
» Tigers F Malcom White…who is his team’s third-leading scorer with 8.5 points per game. White also averages 5.5 boards and shoots a team-best 47 percent from the field.

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