Florida scored 21 points off 16 LSU turnovers, and 17 points from Brandon Sampson weren’t enough to pick up a road win. Behind 18 points from Jalen Hudson and 57 percent shooting in the second half, the Gators topped the Tigers 73-64 in Gainesville.
Sampson was the lone player in double figures for LSU (13-10, 4-7 SEC). Tremont Waters scored all nine of his points in the second half and had six assists and seven rebounds, but also turned the ball over seven times.
LSU led by nine points in the second half and by one with 5:45 to go, but managed just one field goal the rest of the game and missed its final eight attempts from the floor. The Gators (16-8, 7-4 SEC) outscored the Tigers 11-3 during that stretch to seal the deal.
“I thought that’s as hard as we’ve played in a really long time,” said head coach Will Wade. “We played really hard. We had that part of the equation down. We just didn’t play very smart.”
Keith Stone scored seven of Florida’s first nine points, but two Sampson 3s off the bounce from the top of the key keyed a 17-4 LSU run to build a 20-11 Tiger lead early. The Gators snapped back by scoring the next seven, four from Stone, to creep within two, where the Tiger lead would remain heading into halftime.
The Gators surged ahead after halftime, using a 15-1 run to take a 12-point lead. Egor Koulechov, held to just two first-half points, scored 10 in the first 4:45 of the second half. His jumper at the 15:15 mark made it 48-36 Florida.
LSU didn’t back down. A 12-4 Tiger run followed, kickstarted by better defense and another Sampson 3, his fourth of the night. Tremont Waters, held without a field goal for 32 minutes, spun in transition and finished spectacularly for a three-point play, Florida’s lead down to just 58-54 with eight minutes to go. Two Daryl Edwards threes and a Sampson slam, courtesy of a Waters feed, helped the Tigers surge ahead 59-58.
Jalen Hudson’s three capped a 10-2 run, Florida’s lead back to seven, but Waters quickly answered with a 3 of his own for a 68-64 deficit with just over three minutes left. Down six with just under two minutes left, Edwards got two looks and Sampson got one to pull within one possession, but neither could hit. Hudon’s three-point play on the other end gave Florida a nine-point edge and the win.
“You can’t turn the ball over 16 times and give up 21 points off those turnovers,” Wade said. “I’m not sure the result matched our effort. I thought we played as hard as we’ve played maybe all year. We just didn’t play smart enough.”