Tipoff at the O’Connell Center is set for 6 p.m. Central Time, and ESPN will have the live broadcast as part of its weekly Super Tuesday programming. Brad Nessler and Sean Farnham will be on the call.
The Gators are coming off their first loss in SEC play – a 73-61 setback in Athens on Saturday that doubled as the program’s first defeat at the hands of a conference opponent in 25 tries dating back to 2013.
Billy Donovan’s crew had previously begun to resurrect its season, running off to a 3-0 start in the league after stumbling to a 7-6 mark in non-conference play, a period when Florida quite frankly played a higher level of competition than it currently is (UF opponents included Miami, Georgetown, UNC, Kansas, Florida State and Connecticut).
The Tigers also arrive at Tuesday night’s contest looking for redemption after they gave away a home game Saturday to Texas A&M, falling 67-64 in a game LSU led by 14 at one juncture.
Needless to say, there will be plenty on the line for both teams in the O’Dome.
Get ready for tonight’s game with projected starters stats, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the Rowdy Reptiles.
LSU (13-4, 2-2)PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 9.9 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.7 spg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 12.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.4 apg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 16.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 48.8% FGs
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 15.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.9 bpg
C Darcy Malone (So., 7-0, 245) – 1.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 44.4% FGs
Impact Reserve: G Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.2 apg
Florida (10-7, 3-1)PG Kasey Hill (So., 6-1, 182) – 8.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.4 apg
G Chris Chiozza (Fr., 6-0, 160) – 4.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.6 spg
F Dorian Finney-Smith (Jr., 6-8, 218) – 13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 spg
F Devin Robinson (Fr., 6-8, 178) – 6.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.9 apg
F Chris Walker (So., 6-10, 220) – 5.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Impact Reserve: G Michael Frazier II (Jr., 6-4, 194) – 13.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 38.3% 3s
- It’s something you don’t see very often, but a good number of Florida’s most productive players come off the bench. Consider that three of UF’s top five scorers on the season typically don’t start – Michael Frazier II, the team’s second-leading scorer; 6-foot-10, 245-pound Michigan transfer Jon Horford (7.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg); and 6-foot-2 junior guard Eli Carter (7.5 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.0 spg). Then there’s 6-foot-6 junior swingman Jacob Kurtz, who chips in 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. This should illustrate that despite inexperience, the Gators are very deep and Donovan can keep quality lineups in throughout the game.
TALK OF CHALK
- Building off the point above, it’ll be imperative for LSU to avoid giving up the big run when it’s caught with one of its weaker lineups on the floor. Runs are inevitable in college basketball, but the Tigers can’t afford to let Florida reel off 10 or 12 straight just because Martin and/or Mickey hit the bench for rest or, even worse, foul trouble. This puts a big defensive onus on the likes of Jalyn Patterson, Tim Quarterman and Brian Bridgewater if he sees some time at the three/four. Tonight will also be a stiff test defensively for Darcy Malone, who was strong on that end versus Texas A&M but couldn’t hold his own quite as well at Ole Miss against the Rebels’ bigs.
- Florida has been good but not infallible at home this season, currently 7-2 overall and 2-0 against SEC opponents. What’s been most consistent about the blue and orange at home, though, is the pressure defense. The Gators are conceding just 51.8 points on average in the O’Connell Center. LSU on the season is averaging 75.1 points. Obviously something’s got to give. The smart money is on a raucous crowd in Gainesville affecting the Tigers and swaying the pace to Florida’s liking. Whether that’s completely the case or not, LSU has to improve, especially late in games, on “valuing possessions,” as Jones drove home following the loss to the Aggies. So put an even bigger emphasis than usual on grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds, executing a higher percentage of the time in half-court offense and, most importantly of all, not turning the ball over (Tigers average just north of 15 turnovers a game).
“(It’s) a very talented Florida team that has played a real difficult and tough schedule. Even in their losses, their games have been extremely close. They sit at 3-1 in the league. With the play of Finney-Smith, Frazier, Horford, Murphy—the guys that they have on their team—along with Hill, they’ve done a tremendous job of playing without the experience that they had from last year. With the experience that they have with guys returning and the new guys they have implemented on this team, Billy Donovan has done a tremendous job with them.”
WHAT LSU’S SAYING
- Johnny Jones with an overview on Florida
“I expect them to space the floor really well. They are going to move the ball precisely. On the defensive end, they are going to do an excellent job of having you scouted and making sure they try to force you to play to your weakness instead of your strengths. If you have a good scoring post, they are going to double down on your post guys. If you have shooters, they are going to shade them and try to take them away from you. They’ve done a tremendous job with the spacing on the floor. They’ve always had shooters. I think that is consistent with the type of team they have this year.”
- More Jones on Florida, how they play
“The thing for us is we get excited that we have the ability to get up, in terms of the score, and compete at a certain level. To get up 12, 13, 14 points, it says something now. It is the matter of being able to manage it when you get to that point. You understand it is a game of runs. Unfortunately, you have to go through some growing pains to allow that to happen.”
- Jones on LSU closing out games