Florida triple dips Tigers, 102-70

If there were any doubts that Florida was not deserving of its No. 2 national ranking, it erased them – along with LSU – Wednesday night. The Gators became the first team to score triple digits against the Tigers in nearly six years, posting a 102-70 win at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.

LSU coach John Brady was not around to see Florida hit the century mark after being ejected from the game just a few minutes into the second half. Frustration with his players combined with disgust over an officiating call brought about two technical fouls on Brady with 17:22 remaining, and assistants Kermit Davis and Butch Pierre called the shots the rest of the way.

"I have to compliment Florida," said Brady. "I thought they were the best team in the country tonight. Even if our team played its best, I don't think we could have won this game. That's how good this Florida team is."

Florida (14-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) enjoyed a comfortable edge from the onset thanks to 60 percent shooting and six players scoring in double figures. Brett Nelson led the way for the Gators with 26 points to tie his career high. The Tigers (11-5, 1-2) also struggled stopping Gator center Udonis Haslem, who poured in 16 of his 20 points in the second. He also led Florida with a career-high 16 rebounds.

Ronald Dupree led LSU with 19 points, including the first basket of the game. His baseline drive gave him a clean lay-up for a 2-0 LSU lead, but Nelson responded with the first of his six three-pointers and the Gators never relinquished the lead. Florida's first three baskets were behind the arc, making the score 9-2 with in the first two minutes of the game.

The Gators led 47-26 at halftime after holding three LSU starters – Torris Bright, Collis Temple and Jermaine Williams – scoreless in the first half. Williams scored the first basket of the second half with a jump hook, but Florida answered promptly with a three-pointer from Matt Bonner. The Gators were able to take advantage of defensive miscommunication on the possession, so Brady called a timeout just 44 seconds into the period.

After watching what he thought was a Florida foul, Brady walked out to half court when Williams was called for a block on the Gators' James White. Referee John Clougherty assessed a technical on Brady and then tossed him from the game when Brady refused to yield ground.

"The reason I did that was to make an impression on my team," Brady said. "Our team is a good team only when we rely on each other, communicate and execute as we should. When we don't execute, don't rely on one another and fail to communicate, we're not going to be a team that wins games."

Nelson hit all four free throws from the technical fouls and White got one from the personal foul to put Florida ahead 55-30. The largest lead for the Gators was 39 points, coming with just under five minutes to play on David Lee's dunk in transition.

Turnovers were a persistent problem for LSU against Florida in the first half. The Tigers committed 14 miscues in the opening 20 minutes, resulting in eleven Gator points.

Temple found his range in the second half and made all five three-pointers he attempted to finish the game with 15 points. Dupree was the Tigers' top rebounder with eight boards.

Williams scored all eight of his points in the second half, when Bright also got his four for the night. Antonio Hudson scored seven off the bench, and Brad Bridgewater and JueMichael Young each added six points while Thomas Davis contributed five.

In addition to Nelson and Haslem, Florida got double-digit nights from Bonner (11), Lee (11), LaDarius Halton (14) and Orien Green, who also posted a career-best with 14 points. 

The game marked the first time since Feb. 10, 1996, that LSU allowed an opponent to score over 100 points. In the second to last season under Dale Brown, the Tigers lost at South Carolina, 106-68. Kentucky also broke the century mark against LSU that season, winning 129-97 at the Maravich Assembly Center on Jan. 16, 1996. Southern scored 100 against LSU in the 1995-96 season but lost, 109-100, to the Tigers on Nov. 29, 1995.

LSU returns to action Saturday against Auburn in a game that has been moved up to 1 p.m. at the PMAC in Baton Rouge.

"We're going to go back home and have a couple of good days of practice," said Brady, "and I won't be surprised that we play a very good game on Saturday."

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