Florida knocks LSU out of SEC Tournament
Nashville, Tn. — LSU led by as many as 13, but Florida battled back to beat the Tigers 76-73 in the final seconds. Florida freshman guard Andrew Nembhard hit the game-winning 3-pointer for the Gators with 1.2 seconds left, to knock-out the top-seeded team from the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
The first half was all LSU, who was still without Head Coach Will Wade and being led by Tony Benford as Wade’s suspension continues. The Tigers led 35-25 at the break and held a double-digit lead for most of that time, despite not shooting a single free throw in the opening half. A few minutes into the second half, Florida made 9-straight shots and used an 18-6 run in a 5 minute span to pull within one at 48-47 with under 12 minutes to play. From there it was a tight one, with the Gators taking their first lead of the game with 6:05 to play. After that, there were 4 ties and 5 lead changes down the stretch.
The game looked like it was going to head to overtime, for the third time between these two schools this season, with Naz Reid hitting two huge threes — one to tie it at 70 with a minute to play, and one to tie it at 73 with 16 seconds to play. But on Florida’s ensuing possession they came down and crushed the Tigers hopes of taking home the SEC Tournament title to go along with their regular season SEC title.
Reid did it all for LSU and dominated the entire game, finishing with a game-high 26 points and 14 rebounds. In addition to his work underneath, he was also 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. Javonte Smart, who was cleared to play just hours before the game, finished with 13 points off the bench for LSU. As expected, the Tigers attacked the basket and got to the hoop early and often, ultimately finishing with 48 points in the paint and out-rebounding Florida 41-31.
Florida, who now advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, had 5 players in double-figures. Nembhard finished with 20 points and 6 assists, while Keyontae Johnson added 16 points and 10 rebounds. The 8th-seeded Gators will take-on 5th-seeded Auburn Saturday at noon (CT) in the semifinals.
LSU (26-6, 16-2 SEC) now awaits their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, which they’ll find out in two days on Selection Sunday.