Gators facing a test at LSU

Florida coach Billy Donovan didn’t hold back about the challenge his team faces in Baton Rouge on Saturday.

The Gators are without their two leading scorers and face one of the most talented teams in the league in LSU. And Donovan doesn’t have to do much to prove to his team that they’re in for a challenge at Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. (TV: CBS).

All he has to do is talk to them about what happened almost five weeks ago in Gainesville.

LSU beat Florida 79-61 in the O’Connell Center. The Tigers pulled away late, outscoring the Gators by 13 points in the second half and stifling any chance at a Florida comeback.

“They played very well and we were handily beaten here,” Donovan said. “Now we go to their place without our two leading scorers, and it’s going to take a real monumental effort by our guys to go on the road against a team that’s very talented, very gifted. They’ve got a lot of answers at a lot of different spots.’

LSU’s big men Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey carried the team for 36 points and 22 rebounds, five points and four rebounds more than the duo is averaging on the year.

Their defense and rebounding ability also jumpstarted what LSU was able to do in transition, scoring 14 points off turnovers and beating the Gators down the court.

“You’ve got to be smart in terms of playing against them,” Billy Donovan said. “When you’ve got a guy like Mickey in the paint, who is a really good shot blocker, you’ve got to make really good decisions when you get in there. You’ve got to make smart decisions because blocked shots, for them, lead to fast breaks. Bad shots lead to fast breaks. They’re really good on the break, really explosive and fast.”

Martin and Mickey get the headlines for LSU, but they’ve been consistent contributors for the Tigers. When their guards are playing well, it makes LSU really difficult to beat. Josh Gray, Keith Hornsby and Tim Quaterman can each get hot on any night and carry the Tigers from the perimeter.

In the first matchup between the teams, Hornsby and Quarterman combined for 30 points and went 11-19 from the field.

“They’ve got guards with Quarterman, Gray and Hornsby that have shot the ball very well,” Donovan said. “They’re very well balanced team. This will be a tremendous challenge for us on Saturday. If they shoot the ball well, they’re very difficult.”


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