Florida traveled to Baton Rouge on Tuesday to take on the LSU Tigers who entered the night undefeated in league play. Despite trailing by ten with 1:11 to play, the Gators gave themselves a shot and finished 0.1 second short in a thriller. Ultimately, Florida lost 84-82 and fell to 12-6 overall and 4-2 in SEC play.
How it Happened:
Florida came out hot from the start, with Kerry Blackshear hitting three pointers on back to back plays for the Gators. Omar Payne added another alley-oop lay up as Florida took a 13-9 lead early.
Florida and LSU traded buckets after this early lead until Florida began to separate themselves at the 11-minute mark, pushing the lead to seven with 9:30 left to play in the first. LSU had missed shots on 11 straight possessions, yet Florida could never muster more than that seven point lead through the first 12 minutes, before LSU began their full court press to slow the Gator offense down.
The Tigers managed to take a late first half lead with under a minute left in, but Scottie Lewis responded with a buzzer beating deuce from just inside the three-point arc. Florida entered the break with a 36-34 advantage.
Both teams came out of the break scoring at will. LSU went 4-4 to open the period and took a one point lead. A Nembhard layup put Florida back on top 43-42 just thirteen seconds later.
Freshman forward Omar Payne was charged with a flagrant-1 foul at the 14:06 mark for a trip after an offensive rebound. The Tigers capitalized by sinking both free throws and getting a bucket from Skylar Mays to take their largest lead of the game at that point (46-43). LSU continued this hot streak and extended the lead to nine with 9:53 left forcing a Gator timeout.
LSU just couldn’t miss in the second half as Skylar Mays banged home a 35-foot shot clock beater to extend the lead to nine at the 3:50 mark.
Trailing 79-69 with 1:20 to play, the Gators continued to fight. An Andrew Nembhard layup, a Noah Locke three, and a Keyontae Johnson three pulled Florida within two at 79-77. LSU hit 5-6 from the charity stripe on the final :36, but the Gators still had a chance.
After video replay gave Florida the ball under their offensive basket with 0.5 seconds, Keyontae Johnson came free and put the easy layup in. Upon further review, the ball was still on Johnson’s fingertips at the buzzer and the Gators fell just short of the victory.
3 FG%: 33%
Rebound +/-: -10
Nembhard: 15 points, 10 assists
Locke: 16 points, 2 rebounds
Johnson: 16 points, 9 rebounds
Payne: 7 points, 4 rebounds
Blackshear: 15 points, 5 rebounds
Florida will take part in the annual Big XII / SEC Challenge on Saturday. The Gators will welcome No. 1 ranked Baylor into Exactech Arena for an 8:00 PM tip. The Bears are 16-1 on the season.