Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators blow past LSU in key double bubble game

By Adam Silverstein
February 26, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators blow past LSU in key double bubble game

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball is making its push toward the 2020 NCAA Tournament, and it is attempting to not leave any doubt in the eyes of the selection committee. Florida (18-10, 10-5 SEC) picked up one of its best wins of the season on Wednesday night with a blowout 81-66 victory over the LSU Tigers (19-9, 10-5 SEC) inside the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Not only did the Gators have one of their most efficient shooting nights of the campaign, they were immensely careful with the ball over the course of the contest. They simply outplayed the Tigers in nearly every facet of the game, atoning for a tough 84-82 road loss back on Jan. 21.

What went down in the O’Dome? Keep on reading for some fastbreak takeaways from the Florida-LSU game.

It was over when … sophomore guard Noah Locke drained a three — his only basket of the game — to push the Gators ahead 77-62 with 3:02 remaining. Though Locke was silent most of the night, his triple was well-timed, helping stave off a Tigers rally that included runs of 6-0 and 5-0 late in the contest. UF led by as many as 19 points in the second half and never saw its advantage dip below double digits over the final 18:04 of the game.

Exceptional efforts: It was quite a night for sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson, who posted a career-high 25 points along with 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double in his last six games. Johnson made his first eight shots of the game, finishing 11 of 15 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc with five assists, two steals and a block just for good measure. Johnson and redshirt senior F Kerry Blackshear Jr. are the first Gators teammates with 7+ double-doubles in a single season since Joakim Noah and Al Horford in 2006-07.

Freshman G Scottie Lewis was also outstanding, posting a career-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting and matching Johnson at 2 of 3 from long range. He also had a couple highlight dunks late in the game that helped steal the show. Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard atoned for his rough outing at Kentucky, scoring 17 points with four dimes, three boards and no turnovers.

Odds and ends: Florida’s five turnovers were its fewest of the season and lowest team total since March 9, 2019 … the Gators dominated paint scoring (48-38) and were also efficient off turnovers (14-2) and on the fastbreak (8-4) … UF had 17 assists on 34 baskets, improving to 7-0 this season when dishing more than 15 dimes in a game … freshman center Jason Jitoboh hit all three of his shots and led the bench with six points … Florida’s starters outscored its bench 71-10 … the Gators are now 17-3 when scoring 66+ points in a game this season … UF improved to 49-65 all-time against LSU, 30-21 at home and 6-3 under head coach Mike White … the Gators are 6-2 in their last eight games

What it means: Not only did the Gators improve their NCAA Tournament chances with a solid win in a late-season game, they also helped their SEC Tournament seeding by pulling even with the Tigers in conference play. With only a few games left, it will be interesting to see how Florida closes things out. It currently sits in a tie for third in the SEC behind Kentucky and one game back of Auburn. The top two seeds in the league earn a bye in the SEC Tournament.

What’s next? Florida will hit the road again on Saturday when it faces Tennessee at 2 p.m. ET in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN2. The Gators have lost three straight to the Volunteers and dropped four of the last five meetings since the 2015-16 season. UF is also on an 0-3 streak in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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