BATON ROUGE — The LSU Tigers remain the lone undefeated team in Southeastern Conference play. LSU rallied from a first-half deficit to down visiting Florida, 84-82, inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night. With the victory, LSU improved to 14-4 overall and 6-0 in the SEC.
How It Happened:
The two SEC powers started the game by trading layups as Florida’s Andrew Nembhard’s bucket to begin the contest was answered by LSU’s Skylar Mays’ own two-point bucket.
The two teams would continue to go back-and-forth for the opening minutes of the first half until LSU went ice cold from the field. The Tigers went a little more than seven and half minutes without scoring a single point. The drought would finally end with a put back, of his own shot, by Emmitt Williams.
That putback made it 22-17 in favor of Florida.
The Gators though were unable to pull away due to their own struggles getting the ball into the bucket. LSU’s press proved to be frustrating for Florida as the Gators shot 46.9 percent from the field in the first half.
LSU managed to fight back from a eight-point deficit and trailed 36-34 at the break. Trendon Watford was a big reason why as the freshman forward scored the team’s final seven points and had 10 total at the break. Marlon Taylor came off the bench and gave LSU a spark scoring 5 points and pulling down 7 rebounds in the opening half.
Noah Locke’s three-pointer extended Florida’s lead to 39-34 to start the second half but LSU responded a minute later with a Watford jumper and then a floater off the glass by Javonte Smart.
The two teams would continue to go back and forth with LSU taking a lead with a Darius Days layup with 14:33 remaining but then Florida reclaiming it 15 seconds later with a jumper by Nembhard.
LSU then took control around the 12-minute mark.
Smart hit a pair of free throws to give the Tigers a 48-45 lead.
In the next seven minutes, LSU would outscore Florida 22-17 as Williams scored five points during that stretch.
Florida hung around but then Mays stepped up with two huge plays.
LSU’s senior guard first drained a three-pointer as time expired on the shot clock. Mays then stole the ball immediately afterwards to keep the cheering crowd on its feet. A few moments later Days grabbed a rebound off his own three-point attempt and put in the layup.
With 3:24 left in the game, LSU held a 73-62 lead over Florida.
Locke made a three-pointer with 3:15 left that trimmed the lead to 73-65 but LSU responded with a dunk by Williams which made it a 10-point game again.
Florida wouldn’t go away as a layup by Nembhard and a three-pointer by Locke cut LSU’s lead down to 79-74 with 52 seconds remaining.
After a missed dunk by LSU, Florida made it 79-77 as Keyontae Johnson hit a three-pointer from the corner.
LSU’s Williams would be fouled on the ensuing possession and drained both of his free throws to make it 81-77 in favor of the Tigers with 36.1 seconds to play.
Florida’s Johnson though responded with another three-pointer, this one over Aundre Hyatt, and made it a one-point game.
Mays would be fouled and made one fo two free throws to make it 82-80.
Florida’s Scottie Lewis stepped out of bounds on the ensuing possession and the ball was turned over to LSU. After another foul, Mays stepped to the line to seal the victory.
Florida inbounded the ball with less than a second remaining and Johnson put it off the glass for what appeared to be the game-tying bucket. After a quick review though it was ruled that Johnson did not get the shot off before the clock expired.
Big Number: 38
Despite facing a far taller front court from Florida featuring 6-foot-10 Omar Payne and 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear Jr., won the rebound matchup in Tuesday night’s SEC matchup. The Tigers pulled down 38 rebounds compared to only 28 by Florida.
Player of the Game: Skylar Mays
LSU’s senior guard stepped up in multitude of ways in Tuesday night’s win. Mays led the Tigers with 18 points and was tied with a team-high 7 assists but he came up big in the waning seconds as he made three of his final free throw attempts to seal the win.
Up Next: LSU will travel on Saturday to take on Texas in the Big 12 / SEC Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.