On a cold February night, the Tigers shooting was equally frigid in a 82-77 loss to Florida.
LSU shot 43 percent from the line, 31 from three and an uncharacteristic 16-25 from the free throw line. In a game that constantly bounced back and forth between a one possession or two possession game, the Tigers tempted fate a few too many times with missed freebies and the Gators picked up arguably their biggest win of the 2018-19 season.
“They simply wanted it more,” Naz Reid said after the game. “That’s it.”
Florida came into tonight as a team desperate for a marquee win to resuscitate their NCAA tournament hopes and certainly played the part. Florida, who had the disadvantage in size along the front court, grabbed 15 offensive rebounds on the night. The Gators were able to play the Tiger length and size to a draw and cashed in 34 points in the paint and 17 second chance points.
“We told our guys all week, Florida is going to give us unbelievable resistance,” Will Wade said. “I don’t think some of our guys believed us.”
Tremont Waters had an atypical night from the floor, shooting 3-12 and only making two of four free throws. Waters hit a huge three in overtime to tie the game at 70 but couldn’t duplicate the success. Trailing by three, LSU was able to trap Florida on an inbounds play, the ball slipped out, found its way to Waters, but the shot wouldn’t fall.
Waters wasn’t alone in the shooting woes. Naz Reid needed 12 shots to get 15 points; Skylar Mays was 6-12; Javonte Smart was 2-8, and Emmitt Williams went scoreless.
“We could just never get in rhythm tonight.” Wade said. “The game was played at Florida’s pace and their way the whole night.”
Wednesday night’s loss was full of missed opportunities for the Tigers. LSU had more rebounds than Florida, but it never felt like it. LSU got to the line 12 more times than Florida, in fact Florida only shot four free throws in the entirety of regulation, but LSU had nearly as many misses, nine, as the Gators did makes, 11. And for whatever reason, the Tigers had a miserable night from point-blank range, missing nine of 18 layups. The Tigers were able to break through Florida’s press defense on several occasions, but couldn’t convert at the rim.
“Florida was able to impose their will and their style of play on us,” Wade said.
With around 37 seconds remaining in the game, and defeat looming as a certainty, the Tiger faithful started filing out of the PMAC but nobody on the LSU side could blame the fans for leaving.
“We let them down,” Reid said.
“I would have left too if I could have,” Wade said. “It’s embarrassing we’ve lost two home games, I feel terrible for our fans. People spend their hard earned money to come watch us. It’s absolutely sickening to me.”
LSU returns to the court Saturday morning at 11 to play the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers.