"I am extremely proud of this team and what it was able to do today," LSU head coach John Brady said.
The Tigers came out on the losing end of a 70-53 decision when Florida visited Baton Rouge on January 28. Despite an aggressive defensive effort against the Gators, LSU shooting woes left the Tigers at Florida's mercy.
That was not the case on Friday.
"LSU played very well today," Gators' head coach Billy Donovan said. "Jaime Lloreda and Torris Bright were non-factors last time we played. In this game, Lloreda and Bright were big factors in brining down out game."
Bright scored just three points in the game, but his defensive presence was heavily felt. Lloreda, on the other hand, along with Ronald Dupree, were the biggest Gator killers. Lloreda scored 21 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked four shots. Dupree scored 19 first half points en route to a 24-point effort.
"I played the worst game I ever have had when Florida came to Baton Rouge on January 28," Lloreda said. "And that was the game my mother and father came to see."
Lloreda must have used that as motivation playing arguably his best game Friday, even sinking the game clinching free throw with 12 seconds remaining.
"I thought in the first half we had no answer for Dupree and in the second half we had no answer for Lloreda," Donovan said.
It looked as if the Tigers were in for a long afternoon when Florida jumped out to an 11-2 advantage. Matt Bonner and Anthony Roberson opened the scoring with back-to-back three-pointers before Dupree scored LSU's first points at the 18:24 mark.
"Coach (Butch) Pierre told us before the game they (Florida) were going to come out hot," Collis Temple III said. "The key for us was to weather the storm."
The Tigers outscored Florida 19-5 over the eight minutes building a 21-16 lead at the 8:39 mark. A Dupree jumper with 11:32 left to play in the first half gave the Tigers the lead for the first time at 16-14 – they never trailed again.
"We fell behind early by nine, but from that point until the end of the half, we played about as well as we can play," Brady said.
LSU led by as many 15 points in the first half, on top 40-25 with 27 seconds remaining in the opening period. At the half, the Tigers maintained a 13-point, 40-27 handle on the contest.
"I thought we did come out to play but we just didn't make things happen," Donovan said. "Offensively, there was a different dimension in LSU."
The Tigers had been getting things done with the three-ball coming into the SEC Tournament. Although LSU hit only 4-of-13 treys in the game, the Tigers shot a sparkling 27-of-49 (55-percent) from the field in the contest. In the first half alone, they knocked down 18-of-28 shots (64-percent).
In the team's earlier matchup, LSU managed a single three-pointer (18-percent) and shot a horrendous 33-percent from the field.