Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators edged by LSU in tough road loss

By Adam Silverstein
January 21, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators edged by LSU in tough road loss

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Just a few days after their greatest effort of the season in a demolition of the then-No. 4 Auburn Tigers, the Florida Gators were unable to continue their winning ways, falling 84-82 on the road against the LSU Tigers. Though Florida (12-6, 4-2 SEC) led at the half, it trailed by double digits late in the game before rallying in a near-comeback effort against a talented LSU team (14-4, 6-0 SEC) that remains undefeated in conference play.

Unlike many games, though, Tuesday night’s loss at the Maravich Assembly Center was not due to poor shooting, exceptional carelessness with the ball or a lack of consistency for the Gators. In fact, they outplayed the Bayou Bengals in many ways over the course of the 40-minute contest.

So what went down in Florida’s latest loss? Let’s take a look with some fastbreak takeaways from the game.

It was over when … the buzzer sounded a tenth of a second before sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson’s game-tying layup — off a baseline out of bounds play — left his hand and fell into the basket. Referees determined that Johnson’s shot did not come in time, and LSU survived at home despite a late Florida comeback that looked set to force overtime after UF forced a turnover with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Gators lost their two-point halftime lead for good with 14:08 remaining as the Tigers slowly built an 11-point lead. With LSU up 10 and 1:20 remaining, Florida went on a sudden 11-3 run with three straight three-pointers (Johnson hit consecutive treys). UF made the final five field goals of the game as LSU kept itself afloat with free throws, but it was too little too late.

Exceptional efforts: The Gators had four players score 15+ points with Johnson (6 of 12, nine rebounds) and sophomore guard Noah Locke (5 of 8) leading the way with 16 each. Redshirt senior F Kerry Blackshear Jr. and sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard each scored 15, and while Nembhard added a game-high 10 assists for a double-double, he made just 6 of 16 baskets.

What went wrong: Shooting was finally not an issue for Florida (.508 FG, .367 3PT, .818 FT), and it even distributed the ball well with 13 assists, but it struggled competing in the paint. UF was beat badly in paint scoring (50-32) and on the board (38-28). LSU also capitalized better off turnovers (19-9) and took 31 foul shots compared to just 11 for the visitors. Those disparities are tough to overcome despite the fact that the Gators outshot the Tigers in all three phases, particularly beyond the arc.

Odds and ends: LSU saw all of its scorers post double-digit totals … freshman F Omar Payne made 16 straight baskets over his last three games before missing his fourth and final shot on Tuesday … LSU’s has Florida’s number, improving to 65-48 all-time in the series, including 36-15 at home, though UF is 5-3 against it under Mike White … the last two regular-season games between the Gators and Tigers have ended with the visiting team winning in overtime (and it almost happened again on Tuesday) … the last four games between Florida and LSU have been decided by 2.75 points per game with a total combined score of 319-313 UF (the teams played three times last season)

What it means: This was a tough loss for the Gators, which appeared to do everything they could in order to win this game. Unlike some prior losses this season, this was an example of one team truly going out and winning a game rather than another biting themselves in the butt and losing it. This is tough for Florida to swallow considering it played nearly as well as it did against Auburn a few days ago, but it is going to have to compose itself as it has another big game coming up. This will ultimately go down as a “good loss” on UF’s NCAA Tournament resume, though the team is just 1-4 in so-called “Quadrant 1” games this season.

What’s next? As luck would have it, the Gators will face the top team in the nation on Saturday. Florida will host No. 1 Baylor at in one of the featured games of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The game will air at 8 p.m. ET and air live nationally on ESPN. UF last Saturday won its first game against a top-five team since November 2009 and did so for the first time at home (or in the regular season) since December 2006. The Gators are now 1-5 against top-five teams under White. Florida as a program is just 2-16 all-time against the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25, and Saturday will be just the second time it has ever hosted such a team with that ranking not named Kentucky at home.

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