Gators Improve Effort En Route to SEC Win

Following Tuesday night's 89-77 loss to No. 2 Kentucky – a game that was tied at 72-all with five minutes to play – head coach Billy Donovan arranged for his players to watch film at their next practice, focusing on their intensity, or more specifically, the lack thereof lately.

Turns out there is something to that "a picture is worth 1,000 words" thing.

Responding to their coach's challenge, the Gators (12-5, 1-2) came out focused and took care of defending SEC champ LSU, leading from start to finish en route to a solid 72-58 win before an O'Connell Center crowd of 11,627 Saturday night.

All five Florida starters scored in double figures, led by freshman Kenny Boynton's 18 points, and the Gators, who shot a solid 50 percent from the field (27-of-54), were a decent 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from 3-point range while defensively holding the Tigers to just 42.6 percent shooting (26-of-61), including just 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc. LSU, which has now lost six of its last seven games after an 8-2 start, had won three straight games in the series and six of the last eight overall, including victories in two of the last three visits to the O'Dome.

Senior All-SEC forward Tasmin Mitchell was a one-man gang for the Tigers (9-8, 0-3), scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He did most of his damage in the first half, however, with the Gators holding him to just two points and one rebound after the break.

Florida opened the game on a 12-4 run and had a 32-17 lead with 6:32 left in the first half when Mitchell ignited an LSU comeback that trimmed the lead to seven, 37-30, at the half.

But after the teams traded baskets to open the second half, the Gators caught fire, exploding for 13 unanswered points and going on a 20-4 run that was capped by a Boynton 3-pointer that gave the Gators a 57-34 lead with 13:52 remaining in the game.

They would go on to lead by as many as 24, 62-38, with 10:25 left, although LSU was able to cut the final margin to 14 at the end thanks to some sloppy UF passing down the stretch.

"I was really happy with the way our guys came out and played," Donovan said. "We held a 15-point lead in the first half, but then I thought Mitchell hurt us in some ways there in the last six minutes of the half with some long jumpers.

"It's kind of feast or famine with him because when he posts you up, he starts wheeling and spinning and he gets to the free throw line. The fact that he made most of his points off jump shots I thought was actually good for us. We made a couple of adjustments in the second half to take his jumper away, but I think he causes much more damage when he's around the basket."

With senior Dan Werner suffering from the flu, junior Chandler Parsons, usually UF's top man off the bench, got his first start of the season and responded with a solid 11-point, five-rebound effort, joining Boynton, Erving Walker (14 points), Vernon Macklin (14 points) and Alex Tyus (11 points) in double figures.

Walker and Boynton, meanwhile, controlled the perimeter for UF, combining for 32 points, 11 assists and only two turnovers while holding LSU's starting guard duo of Chris Bass and Bo Spencer to a combined 12 points with five assists and four turnovers. Mitchell was the lone LSU player in double figures.

It was a big turnaround for Macklin, who was hampered by foul trouble and played limited minutes in UF's losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. With sophomore Kenny Kadji sidelined with a herniated disc, Florida was pounded inside in its losses to the Commodores and Wildcats. Macklin not only avoided foul trouble against LSU, but, in fact, did not commit a single foul.

Instead, he took advantage of LSU foul trouble inside to dominate at the offensive end with his short hooks, connecting on 6-of-9 shots from the field. He also grabbed eight rebounds to tie Tyus for team-high honors while also tying his personal season-best.

The Gators will try and even their SEC slate at 2-2 when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday to take on former UF assistant John Pelphrey's Razorbacks in a game that will be televised on ESPN beginning at 9 p.m. (ET).

Arkansas (8-9, 1-1) also picked up its first SEC win of the year Saturday by upsetting Alabama.

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