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COURTSIDE BLOG: LSU vs. Florida FINAL

LSU 85, Florida 73; Here's a link to my story in Thursday's Miami Herald: "Donovan's worries are realized in loss to LSU"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida was overmatched tonight against an LSU team that has won but nine games this season. What does this mean for the Gators? They better win a few more regular-season games to impress the NCAA Selection Committee.

The magic number for an at-large bid remains at 23 wins (just my opinion). Florida was supposed to get its 20th win of the season here at O'Connell Center tonight. The schedule doesn't get any easier. (And don't look now but Florida might have to play LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament.)

TONIGHT'S LEADERS
LSU (9-14, 2-7 in SEC)
C Chris Johnson 19 points, six rebounds, four blocks, three assists
F Anthony Randolph 22 points, five rebounds, two blocks
G Marcus Thornton 20 points, 4-7 from three-point range

FLORIDA (19-6, 6-4 in SEC)
G Nick Calathes 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists
F Dan Werner 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists
G Walter Hodge 10 points, six rebounds
F Adam Allen 6 points

LIVE BLOG BELOW

-All over but free throws now.

Gotta five Florida a little credit. They don't have much of a chance left to win this game but they're not giving up. Speights' just dunked but LSU's Anthony Randolph is having the best game of his career. He just made five straight points to give him 22 points on the night. LSU 77-65, 2:01.

So much for momentum. Florida just gave it all back with a 9-0 LSU run. Marcus Thornton started the run with a three-pointer and LSU added two quick points with a Florida turnover followed by an Anthony Randolph dunk. Doesn't look like LSU will be giving this game away.

Speights just took a feed from Werner and jammed home the most powerful dunk of his life. Rowdies going crazy now as Florida has cut the lead to four, LSU 55-51, 9:22.

Florida on a 7-0 run (two Werner field goals and a Calathes three-point play). Rowdy Reptiles screaming in my ears. LSU 55, Florida 49 10:21.

Interesting line-up for the Gators right now. Tyus, Parsons, Mitchell, Hodge and Lucas. Mitchell nails a three-pointer, LSU 50-42, 13:43.

LSU's Anthony Randolph (almost as skinny and almost as tall as Johnson) is on his own personal run. He's scored six and could make it seven with a free throw after this timeout. LSU 50-37; 15:24.

Werner is off tonight. 0-of-4 from three-point range.

Three Florida turnovers to the begin the half and another three-pointer from LSU's Chris Johnson. Not looking good for the Gators. LSU 44, Florida 35; 17:27.

-The second half is about to begin and Florida coach Billy Donovan is still giving the same referee an earful. Veteran reporters on press row are saying this is the worst they've ever see Donovan react to a questionable call.

HALFTIME THOUGHTS BELOW
What's wrong with Florida guard Nick Calathes these days? He struggled in the win against Georgia and he's not having a good game tonight against LSU. Calathes has four points, four rebounds and three assists. That's a pretty productive half but he looks kind of slow tonight.

-Florida needs to find an answer for LSU big men Chris Johnson and Anthony Randolph. The two players are dominating inside with a combined 19 points.

-Donovan gave one of the refs the long stare at halftime. Wouldn't be surprised to see Donovan get a technical foul in the second half.

FIRST HALF BELOW: LSU 41, Florida 33
Werner is sucking wind and just nodded to Donovan for a substitution. He needs a break after a terrible three-point attempt. LSU on a five-point run thanks to a three-point play by Anthony Randolph and a runner from Marcus Thornton. LSU 36-27, 3:19.

Hodge and Calathes nail back-to-back three-pointers, cutting LSU's lead to 31-27, 5:09.

Allen with his second three-pointer of the game. Is Country Boy finally emerging from his midseason funk? LSU 27-19, 6:50.

Parsons answers with a driving slam dunk of his own. Impressive power move from Mr. Parsons.

Wow! This LSU team is athletic. How are they so bad? Well, LSU isn't playing bad tonight. Garrett Temple, a 6-0 guard, just drove through the lane for a jam, LSU 25-12, 9:21.

LSU's Terry Martin makes his second three-pointer in a row and Adam Allen answers with a three of his own. LSU 25-12, 9:53.

Timeout in the O'Dome. Florida has more turnovers (five) than field goals (four).

"Coat Rack" swishes a three-pointer. This is getting ridiculous. No...now it's ridiculous. LSU made another three-pointer. LSU 20-8, 12:03.

Jonathan Mitchell is the only Gator contributing right now. He just made a 18-footer and took a charge. Oh, but "Coat Rack" dunked again, LSU 14-4, 13:57.

Chris "Coat Rack" Johnson is going to be tough to guard tonight. Speights doesn't appear quick enough for the job. Johnson just slammed down his second dunk of the game and was fouled in the process. LSU Marcus Thornton swishes a three-pointer, LSU 12-2, 15:34.

The Human Coat Rack scores LSU's first two baskets of the game, LSU 4-2, 17:54.

OH MY GOSH! LSU center Chris Johnson is so skinny (6-11, 185 pounds). This guy looks like a coat rack.

PREGAME NOTES BELOW
Florida trails LSU 58-37 all time but has won four of the last five meetings between the two schools. LSU is playing its second game without former head coach John Brady, who was recently fired.

-Florida coach Billy Donovan is close friends with Brady and called him earlier in the week to offer his support. LSU interim head coach Butch Pierre lost his head-coaching debut with a 47-45 loss to Tennessee.

-This is the Tigers' third game since the return of center Chris Johnson, who broke a bone in his right hand on Jan. 2 against Tulane.

-The story line for Florida is simple tonight. The Gators are expected to win but Donovan will be looking for his young team to make improvements on the defensive end of the court. Donovan criticized his team for playing poor defense after last week's win against Georgia. The win against the Bulldogs snapped a two-game skid.

-The dance team is dancing.

LSU (8-14, 1-7 in SEC) starting five
F Anthony Randolph 6-10, 190, freshman, 14.1 ppg/8.6 rpg
C Chris Johnson 6-11, 185 pounds, junior, 11.6 ppg4.9 rpg
G Alex Farrer 6-5, 200 pounds, sophomore, 2.7 ppg/1.5 rpg
G Garrett Temple, 6-5, 185 pounds, junior, 6.6 ppg/3.5 apg
G Marcus Thornton, 6-4, 190 pounds, junior 19.5 ppg/5.9 rpg

FLORIDA (19-5, 6-3 in SEC) starting five
F Dan Werner, 6-7, 235 pounds, sophomore, 8.7 ppg/6.8 rpg
C Marressee Speights 6-10, 245 pounds, sophomore 14 ppg/7.9 rpg
G Walter Hodge 6-0, 170 pounds, junior, 10.3 ppg/2.9 apg
G/F Nick Calathes, 6-6, 194 pounds, freshman, 15.4 ppg/6.2 apg
G Jai Lucas, 5-11, 155 pounds, freshman, 9.5 ppg/2.3 apg

-jo-

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