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Basketball Survives Another Nail-biter, 84-82 Over Florida

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NCAA Basketball: Florida at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU basketball assistant Tasmin Mitchell walked in to the media room after LSU’s 84-82 win over Florida saying: “A win is a win.”

That’s the best way to describe what transcribed in the PMAC Tuesday night.

With 1:20 remaining in LSU’s game against Florida, the Tigers led 79-69. Then Florida went on an 11-2 run to make it 81-77 with 30 seconds left in the game.

The Tigers dominated for most of the second half after trailing 36-34 at halftime, but the Gators ultimately scored 20 points in the last 3:24 of the game to make it a close one.

A ball that was originally called off of Florida over overturned after a review and Florida got the ball with half a second left on the clock.

A blown coverage in the lane allowed Florida forward Keyontae Johnson to get a shot up — one that went in — but it wasn’t in time to force overtime and LSU (14-4, 6-0 SEC) secured the victory.

“We wanted to switch everything,” Mays said. “I was guarding the guy that was taking it out, so I couldn’t see what was going on. Obviously, they got an open look and luckily the buzzer went off before. We have to do a better job at the end of the game. We know how to get ourselves back in it, now we have to figure out how to take care of (a lead). Credit to these guys, we’re 6-0. We just have to keep winning.”

Both LSU coach Will Wade and Florida coach Mike White said there’s just something about these two teams that makes it a close game every time.

“We have to keep it close,” joked LSU guard Skylar Mays. “That’s how things work out. It has worked for us, so why not stick with it. I have seen crazier things happen in my time here, but that was just a great game. Credit to (Florida), they are a quality team. They are resilient just like us. Luckily we were able to pull this one out.”

“It seems like every time we play Florida,” Wade reiterated. “It seemed real different when we were up 11. I did a bad job with our execution.”

Despite the final score, LSU dominated for most of the game, especially in the second half. LSU out rebounded the Gators 38-28 and six Tigers scored in double figures — Darius Days (10), Trendon Watford (14), Emmitt Williams (19), Javonte Smart (13), Skylar Mays (18) and Marlon Taylor (10). Taylor added 11 rebounds for a double-double on the night.

Florida’s three point shooting down the stretch is what almost made the difference. The Tigers shot 14.3 percent from beyond the arc, while the Gators shot 36.7 percent and 40 percent in the second half alone. They were 3-for-3 in the last 1:11 of the game.

“We gave up some big three’s down the stretch,” Smart said. “(Florida) had some big shots that brought them back in the game. We just have to follow our scouting report and not let the people that shoot the threes shoot the threes.”

Florida coach Mike White said that he felt the Gators shot with more confidence in the last five minutes of the game than they did in the first 35 because they were playing with “nothing to lose.”

That aggressiveness from the Gators led to LSU shooting 31 free throws and making 24 of them. The Tigers were 17-for-22 from the charity stripe in the second half.

LSU remains undefeated and alone in first place of the SEC. The Tigers take a break from conference play this weekend and hit the road to Austin for their part of the SEC-Big XII Challenge against Texas.