The Tigers have had an up and down season, fueled by some moments of bad coaching and terrible free throw percentage. In previous seasons a victory over the Gators would be a marquee win. A sweep against the Gators would be a season highlight, and a definite sign the team was headed in the right direction. This year The Tigers just need to avoid another late loss to a mediocre conference team. This is an important win towards LSU securing a winning season in conference play this year. A loss against The Gators Saturday would put the team at 7-7 in the SEC.
On paper, The Tigers should have no trouble handling The Gators. LSU has better talent, and a better record. Florida still has Billy Donovan though, one of the most successful coaches over the past decade. The Tigers have put themselves in a position to need this win. Fans have already stopped dreaming of the NCAA tournament, and settled for looking ahead to next season. A win Saturday is important for LSU heading into next month's SEC tournament.
The Gators do not look like their usual selves this season. They are 13-13 overall, and 6-7 in the SEC. Unfortunately The Tigers have not faired well against struggling teams this season. The team has squandered several second half leads, and struggled with shooting down the stretch. LSU has also had flashes of brilliance, including an early season victory over West Virginia and a hard fought loss against Kentucky. The Tigers should have no trouble handling the Gators, but Florida still has some weapons. The team only allows 59.4 points per game, and gets 7.6 steals a game. If LSU wants to win they have to avoid their perpetual late second half shooting errors.
The Tigers will need a big game from leading forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin. The Gators have impressive points allowed numbers, but their defensive rebounding has been terrible (22.5) all season. If The Tigers can capitalize on that it could help their shooting struggles. Overall The Tigers should have a definite advantage at home against a rebuilding team. A win on Saturday will get the team back on the right track, and encourage the fan base.
The game will air on CBS at 12 PM.