The offense was clicking on all cylinders on Wednesday night as the Gators overwhelmed a sputtering LSU defense on their way to a comfortable 81-66 win. Keyontae Johnson, who has been playing the best basketball of his career recently, took his game to another level with a monster 25 point, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 block game. It didn’t matter who the Tigers put on him as it seemed like every time he got the rock he was taking it all the way to the hoop and his ability to get penetration made everything work for the Gators. Scottie Lewis also contributed with one his best games of the season putting in 18 points and 4 assists, looking particularly comfortable on offense with his ability to attack closeouts and then make a proper read with a pass. This was a game the Gators really needed to stay at the top of the SEC standings and to better their NCAA Tournament resume and they were able to get the win with ease over a solid LSU team.
Getting It Done Inside
When Florida has been at their best offensively this season it has often been because their three-point shots were falling but against LSU their scoring was all about getting it inside and finishing at the rim. The Gators registered 50 points in the paint, far and away the most they got in a game this season which speaks to just how good the offensive performance was. Keyontae Johnson and Scottie Lewis were unstoppable when they attacked closeouts and when Andrew Nembhard took a ball screen he was getting to the front of the rim nearly every time. Getting offense inside is far more consistent than relying on jump shooting and if the Gators can keep their offense going towards the rim they’ll likely have some more tremendous offensive performances.
Sharing The Rock
Another indication that Florida was executing offensively was their 17 assists, and it wasn’t from their regular leader Andrew Nembhard. He was able to chip in 4 assists, a number below his season average which shows just how much everyone else was sharing the ball. Keyontae Johnson (5 assists) and Scottie Lewis (4 assists) were particularly impressive when it came to finding open teammates and their movement of the basketball made Florida’s attack look much more lethal. When Florida has high assist numbers, especially from players other than Nembhard, it usually means the offense was clicking and if you see secondary assist numbers like the ones from Wednesday night in future games it will be a positive sign.
You might not know it from the way they looked against the Gators on Wednesday but LSU is one of the best offensive teams in the country, ranked 2nd in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric entering the game. The Gators were able to slow them down immensely, only allowing the Tigers to shoot 44% from the field and 26% from three. One of Florida’s problems this year has been their struggles on defense but we’ve been seeing major improvements in that area and with LSU as good of an offensive team as you’ll see the fact the Gators defended them well deserves recognition.
It was a big game with both SEC and NCAA Tournament implications and the Gators played some of their best basketball of the season and they deserve tons of credit for stepping up to the challenge. It was great to see their offense thriving, but the way they defended LSU is what’s most encouraging. The defense has been one of the main things that have kept Florida from playing their best basketball this season and it seems like they are definitely improving as indicated by their effort on Wednesday. It seems like the Gators are starting to come together and they are playing their best basketball of the season at the end of the year which is what you want and it could mean they go on a run in postseason play.