“Would you have let your players cut down the nets had they wanted to?”
Billy Donovan: “No”
It was just another day at the office for college basketball’s top ranked team as the Florida Gators successfully defended their home court against the LSU Tigers 79-61 on Saturday. The game wasn’t as close as the final score makes it out to be — and the final score doesn’t even make it out to be that close at all.
It was Florida’s game from the get-go starting off the contest on an 8-0 run while forcing LSU into three straight turnovers on their first three possessions.
From there, it got out of hand.
Dorian Finney-Smith led the Gators with 16 points and contributed to a stellar 3-point shooting day night with four made 3′s while the team shot 13-for-23 from 3-point range as a whole. After the game, Finney-Smith said he has confidence on offense when he plays with confidence on defense, and he talks about how Florida made LSU miserable all game long.
“We just came out very disruptive. We got a lot of tip-balls,” Finney-Smith said. “We trapped Johnny O’Bryant, we trapped their bigs because they’re a big team. It was great team defense.”
LSU played its starters heavy minutes; the Tigers only had 11 minutes off the bench and zero bench points at halftime. It seemed as though the Tigers were going to force-play their type of game whether it was working or not. Tigers forward Jordan Mickey said their struggles came at a mix between Florida’s talent and their own missed chances.
“I personally think there are things we could have done better, but Florida, they’re an extremely good basketball team,” Mickey said.”They shot the lights out tonight. They executed their stuff, they were great on defense. It was a little bit of both sides.”
In the end, that quote told the whole story. LSU never led at any point during the game, and really never had a chance to take control or momentum away.
After the game, Gator senior guard Scottie Wilbekin addressed what comes with being number one and how they just keep everything as close as they can — let those who talk about it talk, they’ll just go out and play.
“That’s just been our motto all year. No matter what’s going on around us, just go out there and play our hardest. It was a good example of that out there today,” Wilbekin said.
With this win, Florida achieved a multitude of accomplishments. First of all, they extended their winning streak to 21 games. Second, they eclipsed the most regular season wins in program history at 27 wins this season – more than either national championship teams. And finally, they clinched their SEC regular season title outright — which was technically given to UF already with Kentucky’s loss to Arkansas.
So the crowd stuck around a few minutes late to see what would happen. Would the players come out and cut down the nets?
In the end, they did not.
The seniors (and entire team) agreed that though the regular season title is nice, and it was one of their goals, it wasn’t THE goal, and more importantly, they still have more goals to accomplish.
That has been the focus of this team all year long. It’s not about the closest goal, it’s about the chase for the next one.
For audio on the quotes above, click here:
UF forward Dorian Finney-Smith on team defense
LSU forward Jordan Mickey on where they struggled
UF guard Scottie Wilbekin focusing on the goal not the No. 1 ranking