USA TODAY Sports
If there's one thing that the Gators are known for, it's blowing SEC teams out. Today was no exception, as UF cruised to an easy 80-58 victory over the Tigers. Although it is disappointing that LSU wasn't able to make noise in the tournament after an impressive win yesterday, the Tigers likely have done enough to find themselves playing next week. The loss means that the Tigers finish with a record of 19-12, which is somewhat impressive for first year head coach Johnny Jones. Being able to finish in the middle of the pack this year bodes well for next year's team, as an infusion of talent could get the Tigers over the 20 win mark again and possibly back into the tournament.
The story of the game was pretty simple, Erik Murphy. The 6'10" forward was all over LSU from the beginning, and finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds. His hot shooting put LSU into a hole that they were never able to get out of, and the Gators overall defense kept the game well out of reach. A lot of credit has to go to the guards on Florida as well, because the passing skills they have made it easy to find open shooters like Murphy. The size mismatches that Florida gave LSU didn't help either, and didn't give LSU many options. Overall, UF won the rebounding battle by 16.
For LSU, the one bright spot might have been Charles Carmouche, who started the game off with some quick threes that kept LSU in the game. Carmouche finished with 14 points, but never got much help from anyone else and was the only Tiger to score more than 10 points. The three point shooting as a team wasn't horrible, and LSU finished 9-19, but Florida took away any edge that LSU might have had from behind the arc and finished 11-20 themselves.
I still think it's unclear where LSU will find themselves. They came into the game today as a fringe NIT team, and I don't think they should really be knocked out of the NIT for losing to an elite Florida team. The Tigers' overall resume isn't that bad, as they have wins over Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, and finished with a .500 conference record. It's not enough to get a home game, however, and the Tigers will have to play some tough games if they do end up making the NIT.