There’s only one Southeastern Conference team that the No. 10 LSU basketball team has faced this season and haven’t beaten, and it will get a chance to rectify that Wednesday at 6 p.m. when it takes on Florida in the Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center.
The last time the Tigers (24-5, 14-2 SEC) and Gators (17-12, 9-7), LSU coach Will Wade says he didn’t have his team ready, and Florida took advantage by taking an early lead and controlling the pace for the remainder of the game.
“They beat us every which way you could beat us when we played them a couple weeks ago,” Wade said of the 82-77 overtime loss in the PMAC. “I got outcoached, we got outplayed. It was a total, total beat down. Total takedown from start to finish against Florida. They picked on mismatches out of timeouts. They killed us on baseline out of bounds. They played harder than us. It was just a total beat down.”
After that game, Wade said Florida was the kind of team that will end the Tigers’ postseason if they didn’t get their act together.
LSU has struggled against what Wade called “Gritty, grimy, tough, defensive-minded teams that are very physical” all season, especially when they put length on point guard Tremont Waters the way Florida did during the first game between the team teams.
Waters had just two points before the overtime period against the Gators, but Wade attributed most of that to an illness that ultimately kept him out of LSU’s next two games against Tennessee and Texas A&M.
“He’ll be feeling better,” Wade said. “I think that will be the number one thing. I just don’t think he was himself. They had a lot to do with it. They put length on him. Their ball screen defense is very, very good.”
Another factor to consider is the fact that it will be senior night for a Florida squad that has no shortage of seniors playing in their last home game.
Gators senior guard KeVaughn Allen leads the team with 12.5 points per game to go along with 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.9 rebounds per game. He led the Gators with 21 points in the first game.
Fellow guard Jalen Hudson and 6-foot-9 center KeVaughn Allen also contribute a lot on both sides of the ball, but primarily on defense where Florida is one of the best in the country.
They’re going to be ready to play in a tough environment on senior night when they’ve got KeVaughn Allen and Hudson,” Wade said. “They’ve got some very, very good players who are seniors. (Riley) Norris and (Donta) Hall who were seniors torched us from Bama on Saturday. Can we respond to all that stuff? That’s what I’m interested in.”
LSU freshman guard enters the contest on a tear after averaging 18 points in the Tigers’ wins against Texas A&M and Alabama and earning the SEC’s Freshman of the Week honor.
Waters returned to action against the Crimson Tide on Saturday tallying five points, including a 3 shortly after checking into the game for the first time. Wade said he figures Waters will play a larger role on Wednesday night.
He also figures to be more prepared himself.
“I had a very, very poor plan of attack the first time against Florida,” Wade said. “We’re going to change up what we do and we’re going to have a much better plan of attack.”
WHO: No. 10 LSU vs. Florida
WHEN: Wednesday, March 6, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center
BROADCAST: ESPN2, 98.1 FM
SERIES: 63-47 LSU
KenPom Prediction: Florida 69, LSU 67
NET RANKINGS: No. 13 LSU, No. 35 Florida