Basketball Report: Red-Hot Florida Gators Await An LSU Squad That’s Looking for Answers

Matt McMahon against Alabama on February 12, 2024
LSU head coach Matt McMahon has added another big transfer to his incoming class of players. PHOTO BY Michael Bacigalupi

LSU basketball (12-11, 4-6 SEC) is going through one of its toughest stretches of the season and it doesn’t get much easier with a road trip to face the red-hot Florida Gators up next.

Florida (16-7, 6-4 SEC) is coming off a huge win over No. 12 Auburn and has now won five of its last six games. That stretch includes a win over then-No. 10 Kentucky. Florida has lost just one game at home this season.

LSU is having almost the complete opposite run. LSU has won just one of its last six games and hasn’t strung together consecutive wins since it beat Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in back-to-back games in early January.

LSU is in its most difficult part of the schedule. Its last two games have been against ranked opponents, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 16 Alabama. After the Florida game, LSU’s next two games will be against ranked teams as well, No. 15 South Carolina and No. 17 Kentucky.

LSU has won just one SEC game on the road this season, a 68-53 win at Texas A&M. Besides the game in College Station, LSU has lost all its SEC games on the road by at least 15 points.

In its most recent win, Florida jumped out to a 42-26 halftime lead over Auburn and maintained that lead en route to a 16-point win over the ranked Tigers. Riley Kugel led the Gators with 22 points. Walter Clayton Jr. added 20 points and Zyon Pullin pitched in with 19 points.

Clayton is the Gators’ leading scorer this season averaging 16 points per game and Pullin is second on the team averaging 15.6 points per game. Florida has five different players averaging over 11 points per game this season.

Tyrese Samuel leads the team with 8.1 rebounds per game and Micah Handlogten is second on the team with 7.7 rebounds per game. Both players are in the top five in the SEC for rebounds per game. Pullin is second in the SEC with 4.9 assists per game.

Florida averages 84.7 points per game, good for 12th best in college basketball. LSU has given up at least 88 points in three of its last four games and has the 250th best scoring defense in the country, giving up 74.5 points per game. LSU has one just one SEC game this season where it gave up over 80 points.

Florida is the best rebounding team in college basketball with 44.4 rebounds per game. It averages 16 offensive rebounds per game. LSU ranks 149th in college basketball with 36.1 rebounds per game. LSU has won just one SEC game where it failed to outrebound its opponent.

LSU guard Jalen Cook scored 20 points against Alabama after missing the previous game against Tennessee with a hamstring injury. Will Baker, LSU’s 7-foot senior, has led the team in scoring in three straight games and dropped 24 points against Alabama. Baker scored 22 of his points in the first half.

Jordan Wright scored just nine points and made just one field goal against Alabama. Wright is second on the team with 15 points per game this season. Cook leads the team with 15.9 points per game in 12 games played. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. It can be watched on the SEC Network.

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Will Nickel

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