The Florida Gators men’s basketball team lost their first SEC home game since 2012 Tuesday night when they were defeated by the LSU Tigers 79-61.
The loss was Florida’s second in a row in conference play, as their record fell to 10-8 on the season and 3-2 in the league.
LSU’s big man duo of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey were considered the advantage for the Tigers (14-4) heading into the contest, and that proved true as they Martin scored 22 points with eight rebounds while Mickey scored 14 points while grabbing 14 boards. But Florida held its own inside, actually outscoring the Tigers in the paint area.
One area that Florida was horrible in was transition defense as LSU repeatedly raced down court for easy looks and lay ups at the rim.
However, the biggest difference maker was arguably the team’s shooting percentages. Florida’s offense struggled once again, going just 23 of 60 (38%) from the floor while the Tigers were able to convert on 27 of 52 (52%) shot attempts. LSU asserted their shooting dominance from behind the three-point line, making 8 of 13 (62%) three-point attempts compared to the Gators’ woeful 3 of 16 (19%).
After being dealt their worst loss at home since another 18 point defeat against Ohio State in November of 2010, head coach Billy Donovan sent a message to his team.
“I think what happens sometimes to these guys is they get so consumed with themselves, and again I want to make sure I clarify what I mean by that,” Donovan said. “It’s not like hey I’m not scoring or hey you’re not throwing me the ball, it’s not that. It’s like they want to play well first, and then they want the team to do well. The mentality is wrong, they’ve got to flip that to the point of doing their job. You know, we don’t do our jobs.”
One positive from the match up was Florida continuing to demonstrate their ability to score at the basket. LSU had the matchup advantage on the interior with Martin and Mickey, but the Gators outscored the Tigers 34-30 in the paint.
“I think there’s only two games this year in 18 games that we have not scored more points in the paint than our opponent, and that’s with no post presence,” Donovan said. “The thing I didn’t want to do this year with this team is just be totally one-dimensional, where we’re all on the perimeter and trying to bomb three-point shots to win games. We’re getting the ball in there, but we’re not getting fouled enough and were not finishing enough.”
Forward Alex Murphy had the best game of any individual Gator, scoring 10 points to tie for the team-high on three of five shooting, while sinking all four of his free throw attempts and grabbing two offensive rebounds in just 12 minutes off the bench. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith was the other Gator in double figures, as he notched 10 points by making 4 of 13 shots from the field.
The Gators will be back in action on Saturday when they visit Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. Tip-off from C.M Tad Smith Coliseum is set for 6 p.m., with coverage on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at 5:25 pm.
Click below to hear Coach Donovan’s comments: