Florida bounced back from its previous home loss to Alabama with a 73-64 victory over LSU.
The Gators took a lot better shots and played more aggressive on offense, which was ultimately the difference in the win over the Tigers. Florida’s problem against Alabama was taking contested threes without much ball movement or flow offensively, with the Gators looking rushed all game.
But in this game, the ball movement was more crisp and with purpose, and that turned into open 3-pointers and layups. Florida shot 52 percent from the floor, which is what we are used to seeing from Mike White’s squad.
As for LSU, it played well in the first half despite Tremont Waters failing to score, but the Tigers could not overcome Florida’s hot shooting in the second half.
LSU certainly played well enough to win, but just could not make the plays that Florida did down the stretch.
Difference Maker – Florida’s overall aggressiveness
The difference in this game was Florida’s aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.
The Gators took high percentage shots by either driving all the way for a layup, drawing a foul, or penetrating and kicking for an open 3-pointer. Even in missing some of the shots, Florida simply found more quality looks than it did against Alabama.
We all know that the Gators can shoot very well from outside, but they tend to fall in love with it and become a jump shooting team. When Chris Chiozza, Jalen Hudson, Keith Stone, and KeVaughn Allen on the floor, this team needs to attack due to the elite athleticism of those players.
On the defensive end, Florida had six blocks despite being somewhat undersized. Kevarrius Hayes altered multiple shots to go along with adding three blocks, and was once again the rim protector that the Gators need with John Egbunu still sidelined.
The aggressiveness on defense led to the high block total and eight steals, which turned into a lot of runout opportunities for a team that loves to get up and down the floor.
Player of the Game – Jalen Hudson
The junior guard had one of his best overall games of the season in finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three steals.
He hit a big 3-pointer late in the game to give Florida the advantage after LSU briefly regained the lead, with Florida never relinquishing the lead from there.
Hudson was hitting from the perimeter, driving the middle of the lane and dishing, and converting on tough layups. When he displays that type of toughness, he’s a difficult player to guard. He isn’t afraid of contact, and also has the athleticism to create space and make shots from deep.
The Gators travel to South Carolina on Saturday to face the Gamecocks, who are coming off a blowout loss to Arkansas.
South Carolina will be a tough test for Florida due to the the Gamecocks’ overall size and physicality, which was on full display when Frank Martin’s team won the previous meeting between the two teams in Gainesville.
Florida needs to maintain its aggressiveness from this game and carry it on the road, because nothing will come easy in Columbia.
Expect a bounce back game from Chiozza, who has combined for only seven points in the previous two games.
The Tigers return home to face an Ole Miss team that is coming off a home loss to the resurgent Missouri Tigers.
LSU has to find ways to get Waters going, as he has been struggling of late. When the Tigers were having success early in the season, Waters was the focal point of the offense and opened things up for everyone else.
And while he may have hit a freshman wall, he should get back on track soon due to his overall talent.
The resurgence of Brandon Sampson, who had 17 points in this game, is a great sign for LSU moving forward as well.