Tigers provide a different look for Florida

LSU struggled last season because of its lack of size. That has changed this season. No. 1 Florida is preparing for a new-look LSU lineup that features plenty of size, including four players at least 6-5. The 6-5 wing Shavon Coleman started games at power forward last year but will be the starting shooting guard on Saturday. It creates different lineups the Gators could see.

"Major concern," Billy Donovan said about the LSU frontcourt. "A major concern."

It's easy to see why. It starts around 6-9 forward Johnny O'Bryant III, who is averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. The former McDonald's All-American and Parade magazine All-American attracts the attention in the paint, and that has been the case since he stepped foot on campus in Baton Rouge, but the difference this year is his supporting cast.

Teams can no longer focus on taking O'Bryant out of the game because the Tigers have other options to make an impact. Freshman forward Jarell Martin is also averaging 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds, a versatile forward that can be effective from behind the three-point line. LSU forward Jordan Mickey leads the SEC with 3.4 blocks per game, adding 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. He gives the Tigers a true rim protector.

"A lot like Anthony Davis was for Kentucky a few years ago where he can really, really alter the game around the basket," Donovan said of Mickey. "And now O'Bryant has got some legitimate guys around him. Their team has gotten drastically bigger, stronger and more physical. Our ability to play post defense is critical, our ability to rebound the ball is critical."

The Tigers also lead the conference in assists, a quality that impressed Donovan while watching film during the week. They're unselfish and don't mind sharing the ball to get a better shot. There are six different players on the LSU roster averaging at least nine points.

"They are a really, really talented team," Donovan said. "I would say their basketball team has a lot of answers at a lot of different spots. They lead our league in scoring. They're just about in the top four and five of every offensive statistical category. Defensively, we'll have our hands full."

The Gators will have to be better on offense, especially against an LSU defense ranked 13th in the league and averages 71.9 points allowed. Despite the defensive struggles, the Tigers are second in the league with 8.2 steals per game. Junior guard Anthony Hickey is fifth in the league with 1.8 steals per game.

"The coaches emphasized to us yesterday they get a lot of steals, so we're going to have to do a good job taking care of the ball, executing on offense and getting stops on defense," Florida guard Michael Frazier said.

Florida backup point guard Kasey Hill (groin) practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and will play against the Tigers. Hill missed the previous three games.

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