GAINESVILLE -- It’s only January, but Florida’s NCAA Tournament hopes are already on life support.
The Gators (10-8, 3-2 SEC) were mauled at home by the LSU Tigers, suffering consecutive conference losses for the first time since 2011-12.
LSU (14-4, 3-2 SEC) trounced UF 79-61 on Tuesday in the O'Connell Center, spearheaded by Jarrell Martin’s game-high 22 points.
The 6-foot-10 forward was unstoppable inside, while fellow forward Jordan Mickey chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double on the year.
“They beat us in every facet of the game,” UF reserve swingman Alex Murphy said.
“If we don’t come together as a team we’ll continue to get embarrassed.”
Murphy was Florida's lone bright spot (a career-high 10 points), as little else went right Tuesday night.
UF missed another prime opportunity for a statement win, as its usual maladies continued to plague an enigmatic group.
Florida had no answer for Martin or Mickey, and its issues didn’t stop there, as the Gators were also gashed in transition (14 fast break points) and from downtown (8-of-13 from 3-point range).
Tigers guard Keith Hornsby was 3-for-6 from deep, while point guard Tim Quarterman added 15 points and eight assists off the bench.
UF played with minimal energy early, and consistently lacked execution and defensive discipline throughout. The Gators again demonstrated a lack of chemistry and continuity.
“I’ve tried a lot of different things with [the team] but they’re going to have to go through [the growing pains] for us to get better,” UF coach Billy Donovan said.
“Not enough competitiveness, not enough fight. Definitely not enough at all.”
Florida’s offensive execution wasn’t any better, hitting just 3-of-16 from behind the arc and missing tons of shots around the rim. The Gators shot just 38 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers.
Donovan juggled his starting lineup again, going with Kasey Hill, Jon Horford, Jacob Kurtz, Michael Frazier II and Devin Robinson for just second time all year. Afterwards, Donovan acknowledged his rotation remains in flux, as he is desperate to find any sort of consistency from a 10-man rotation.
“It’s like a revolving door,” he said.
“There’s no one else I can really put in there right now.”
The Gators trailed 37-32 at halftime, but the Tigers slowly extended their lead and went on a 14-2 run midway through the second half. Florida responded with a quick 7-0 spurt to cut LSU’s lead to 10 with 5:54 remaining, but Martin tipped in a put-back and Quarterman drained a deep 3-pointer to stop the run.
“Collectively, we’re not getting it done right now,” UF swingman Michael Frazier II said.
“It’s really as simple as that.”
Dorian Finney-Smith missed two days of practice with a hyper-extended knee and did not start. The redshirt junior had 10 points, eight rebounds and five turnovers off the bench. … The 18-point loss was Florida’s worst home defeat since 2010 against Ohio State. … LSU won in Gainesville for the first time since 2008. … The Gators return to action Saturday at Ole Miss (6 p.m., SEC Network).
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