Back on January 20th, LSU routed The Gators in Gainesville. The win was less impressive than it would have been in previous seasons, but the The Tigers looked complete and finished strong. Since then the team has lost four conference games, squandering solid second half leads. LSU has looked like a team that can't finish a game all season. Saturday's win against the Gators was not always pretty, but The Tigers finished strong in the second half.
Saturday's star was forward Jarell Martin. The Tigers needed this win to keep their slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive, and Martin stepped up his game. After only having a combined 22 points in his last two games, Martin scored a career-high 28 points. He was also 11-16 at the foul line and had 13 rebounds. Martin topped off his performance with a steel and in between the legs dunk that gave LSU a 28-26 lead. Jordan Mickey and Keith Hornsby added 14 and 12 points respectively.
The first half was all Tigers. The team scored the game's first 12 points, and went on another long run to take a 33-26 lead at the half. LSU took a 47-31 lead with about 10 minutes left in the game. Florida responded by going on a 13-4 run, and cut The Tiger's lead to seven. LSU fans groaned. With six minutes left Devin Robinson sunk a three-pointer, making the score 54-48. It looked all too familiar to spectators in the PMAC, but Jalyn Patterson finished strong for The Tigers. He got a pair of three-pointers that helped LSU take a 63-48 lead. Final score 70-63, The Gators never took the lead after Martin's in between the legs dunk.
Saturday's game was important because Jarell Martin again showed us why he is one of the best playmakers in the conference. It also kept The Tiger's hopes of a tournament berth alive. LSU has three games remaining until an important showdown with #18 Arkansas on March 7.
Next game is Tuesday February 24th at Auburn. It will be televised on ESPNU at 6 PM.