LSU entered its game with Florida looking to get back on track in SEC play, but left the game in a deeper hole.
The Tigers started the game on the front foot, and led 28-25 at halftime behind an impressive defensive effort. However, Florida found its rhythm in the second half and LSU was never able to respond leading to a 67-56 defeat.
“Obviously start off by giving Florida great credit by coming in here and getting a big road win,” Head Coach Matt McMahon said. “I think for us to have opportunities to win games. We've got to find ways to eliminate self-inflicted wounds.”
Turnovers were one of the main keys to victory for Florida. The Gators cashed in on 23 points of 16 LSU turnovers. Nine of those turnovers came in the second half where LSU was outscored 42-28.
It was somewhat of a tale of two halves the way Florida dominated LSU down the stretch despite never haining much control in the first half. It was a slow game offensively much of the game from both teams, but in the second half, Florida’s ability to consistently get to the free throw line was the difference.
Florida only shot 39.6% from the field on the night, but got to the free throw line 32 times, making 24 of those free throws. Of those 32 free throw attempts, 22 came in the second half where the Gators shot an efficient 82%. LSU shot 81% from the free throw line in the game, but only got to the line 16 times.
“We can't get doubled up at the free throw line, clearly. Them getting 32 attempts to our 16,” McMahon said. “The formula for us, we've got to keep them out of the lane there. We did a better job on the glass and improved there but of course we'd like to see us get to the line more effectively.”
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Outside of just the free throws, Florida was much more effective on offense than LSU in the second half. Florida shot 55% from the field in the final 20 minutes, including going 9-12 from two-point range. Florida put an emphasis on getting to the basket in the second half, which led to improved efficiency and the 22 second half free throw attempts.
“I thought we were really tight and compact defensively in the first half, took away driving lanes, did a good job guarding the ball one on one and forced them to take tough, contested shots from the perimeter,” McMahon said. “Second half, I thought they made a concerted effort to put their head down and drive it. And I thought we got beat more off the dribble one on one. But we're a team defense and we weren't loaded into gaps where we needed to be to prevent some of those driving lanes.”
LSU’s efficiency started off low, and stayed that way throughout the whole game. Much of LSU’s offense came from beyond the arc, and the Tigers had another poor shooting game. LSU was able to make a few three-pointers to gain control in the first half, but shot 0-11 from three-point range in the second half as Florida slowly took control of the game.
KJ Williams led all scorers and was one of the lone bright spots for LSU adding 23 points. However, despite going into the game shooting right around 50% from three-point range, he shot just 1-9 from beyond the arc in this game.
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Florida was led by their star player, Colin Castleton, who finished with 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. A big part of that was Florida’s effort to get to the free throw line where 12 of Castleton’s points came from, shooting 12-15.
The path forward only gets tougher for LSU as it now prepares to go on the rod to face No. 4 Alabama. This is the beginning of a four-game stretch where LSU will face four ranked teams, two of which are currently ranked in the top 10.
The Tigers matchup with the Crimson Tide is scheduled for 3 p.m. this Saturday and will be streaming live on ESPN.