For the first time since 1981, the Florida Gators are 0-3 to open its conference slate
One thing is for certain about Florida’s 64-58 loss at home to LSU: it wasn’t the referees’ fault. Instead, this game followed a similar formula as many of the Gators’ losses this year: pitiful shooting early (and often), a serious attempt at coming from behind in the middle of the second half, followed inevitably, by the inability to close in the final moments.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Despite a different starting lineup than we’ve seen all year (freshman Kowacie Reeves in for Brandon McKissic) the Gators still got off to a slow start and fell behind 9-2 early. LSU then went on a 11-0 run midway through the first that saw them build a 27-13 advantage with 7:45 remaining until halftime. Florida managed to cut the lead to six late in the period, but a buzzer-beating layup sent the Tigers into the break with a 38-30 lead.
LSU opened the second half with six unanswered before Phlandrous Fleming finally got the Gators on the board in the second half with a trey nearly four minutes out of intermission. Following a pair of made free throws from LSU’s Eric Gaines, Florida went on its own 10-0 run to cut the deficit to three at 46-43. The two teams pretty much traded baskets the rest of the way, though the Gators did cut the lead to one after a Colin Castleton layup with 6:04 remaining. It would be the closest Florida would get as they never led.
Castleton finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds and made 7-10 from the field. Fleming was the only other double digit scorer, finishing with 11 points off the bench.
The Gators shot just 36% and just 7-31 from beyond the three point line. Additionally, they missed half of their free throw attempts (11-22), including four misses (on five attempts) in the final four minutes of action.
For the first time since 1981, the Gators are 0-3 to open conference play. Florida (9-6 overall) will travel to Columbia to face South Carolina on Saturday. The Gamecock entered Wednesday 10-5 and 1-2 in the SEC. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM and will be aired live on SEC Network.