LSU Presents a Bit of a Mystery

When you get to the second half of your conference schedule it's supposed to be all about execution and strategy. The unknowns about opponents early in the season are supposed to be long gone by now; replaced by stacks of video that make it clear what their strengths and weaknesses are. At least the way it should be.

But it's really not that way for the Florida Gators as they prepare for a Wednesday night home game against LSU. The Bayou Bengals come into the game with their center, Chris Johnson back in the lineup and their coach John Brady no longer on the bench. They have played just one game with that combo and lost a strange 47-45 decision to Tennessee.

LSU comes into the O'Dome losers of ten of their last 11 games, including a 1-7 SEC record. Ten different players have started at least one game in a never ending search for the right combination. LSU boasts the leading scorer in the SEC (conference games) in Marcus Thornton (22.9) and one of the top five freshmen in the league in 6-10 forward Anthony Randolph (13.7/8.5).

The thing that has hurt LSU the most in SEC play has been erratic shooting from most of their players. Thornton, for example is shooting an impressive .403 from beyond the three point line (31-77), but his teammates have been positively abysmal (.183, 17-93). Overall the Tigers are shooting .393 from the field, .282 from beyond the arc. They average just 62.9 points in SEC play, but they've given up 72.1.

A big challenge for the Gators will showing that they can deal with Thornton. In the last two games the Gators could not contain the top scorer for Tennessee (Chris Lofton 26) or Georgia (Sundiata Gaines 32). Tennessee ended up being a loss and Georgia was a closer game than it should have been. If Thornton is able to score at will the Gators could find themselves in a battle in the final minutes.

Florida Coach Billy Donovan talked about how he sees LSU responding to the coaching change from Brady to long time assistant Butch Pierre.

"LSU's team is probably looking at this right now as a starting over period. A new year, a new season, everything's new right now. Butch Pierre has taken over and he's been with John a long, long time. As far as knowing the system and what they're trying to do there's no question he'll bring of lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the team."

Donovan also talked about the fact that the Gators are facing a very talented, capable team that is much better than their record.

"I think that they're a really talented team. I think that Randolph is a guy that was as good as any forward coming out (of high school) last year. Then you've got Thornton, the junior college transfer who's a tremendous scorer. I think he's got the same qualities as Lofton does in that he can get off his shot and make very difficult shots. Garrett Temple has been there for a long time playing the point spot. They have a lot of really nice pieces to their team. Getting Johnson back has added a different element to their team. They're long. They're athletic. They're a hard team to guard and present a lot of problems in a lot of different areas. Where they're at right now with their league record and all that stuff is any indication. I think we'll see a team that will play really well on Wednesday."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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