The Florida Gators improved to 9-7 (2-2 SEC) after defeating the LSU Tigers 67-56 in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night.
The game started about as poorly as you could imagine for Todd Golden’s squad. The Gators missed a pair of free throws, allowed two offensive rebounds, and went scoreless in the first four minutes of the game, finding themselves trailing 7-0 after the first media timeout.
Florida answered with a quick 8-0 run which gave the Gators their first lead of the night roughly six minutes into the 1st half.
Bad shot selections led to poor three-point shooting and a sloppy 1st half for both teams. The Gators shot 28.6% from the field and 17.6% from beyond the arc while the Tigers shot 35.7% from the field and 29.4% from three before halftime.
I considered the Gators lucky to trail 28-25 after the first 20 minutes of play.
The Gators started the 2nd half with much more aggression, attacking the basket and taking higher percentage shots.
Florida attempted 22 free throws in the 2nd half, which ended up being the difference maker on Tuesday night.
The Gators made 24 of 32 (75%) from the charity stripe while the Tigers connected on 13 of 16 (81%). I don’t know the numbers on this, but I imagine your chances of winning skyrocket if you attempt double the number of free throws as your opponent.
Florida took the lead 38-36 with 14:03 left after a pair of free throws from Colin Castleton. The Gators would go on to extend their lead to eight points and never look back.
Colin Castleton led the Gators with 18 points on just six shots. The 6-11 forward did most of his damage from the free throw line, connecting on 12 of 15 in the game and 7 of 8 within the last five minutes.
Castleton added seven rebounds and two assists to the stat sheet. The Gators’ leading scorer continues to prove why he’s one of the best rim protectors in college basketball, blocking five shots in the contest. Castleton has blocked 12 shots in the Gators’ last two games; Florida won both.
Riley Kugel’s demeanor and poise have taken a huge step forward over the last two games for the Gators. He seems to be playing with a different level of confidence and comfortability. Kugel totaled seven points, six rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes of play against LSU. Kugel’s plus minus of 21 led the Gators on Tuesday night.
Florida shot 50% from the field in the 2nd half, taking advantage of LSU’s nine 2nd half turnovers.
Rebounding continues to be an issue for the Gators in the early stages of SEC play. LSU outrebounded Florida 40-34, including 15 offensive rebounds to Florida’s eight.
The Gators need to find more consistency with their shot selection and shot making ability as SEC play continues. Florida shot under 40% from the field and 20% from three. Those numbers aren’t going to cut it down the stretch.
This was an impressive 2nd half performance which gave the Gators a much-needed SEC road victory.
Florida looks to keep their momentum going on Saturday as the Gators take on Missouri at 3:30p.m. inside the O’Connell Center.