The Florida Gators (16-8, 7-4) were victorious Wednesday night, defeating the LSU Tigers (13-10, 4-7) 73-64. With the win, the Gators were able to snap their 3-game conference losing streak, as they look to get back on track after a rough past week. After losing two games in embarrassing fashion last week, the Gators got a much-needed victory.
Junior guard Jalen Hudson led all scorers with 18 points. Hudson played well-rounded game Wednesday, pulling down 9 rebounds while also being assertive on the defensive end.
Sophomore forward Keith Stone had another solid showing for the Gators. Stone poured in 15 points, which added another good performance on the year for Stone. Stone, who is averaging 8.2 points per game, has played a larger role for the Gators down the stretch, and may be the team’s most underrated players.
After a bit of a slow start, Florida trailed 31-33 at the half. But after a strong showing in the second, the Gators were able to pull away down the stretch thanks to 42 points in the second half. Grad transfer Egor Koulechov was instrumental in the second half run, scoring 10 of his 12 points.
The Gators had a strong night defensively, having 8 steals and forcing 16 turnovers. The Gators were able to hold dynamic freshman point guard Tremont Waters to 9 points. The crafty freshmen averaging 15.3 points a game shot 3-15 from the field, notably struggling from the 3-point line shooting 1-9.
Florida responded well from their disappointing loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide last Saturday. In a game that seemed to be Florida’s to lose, the Gators did just that, going cold on offense down the stretch yet again.
The Gators got the win, but still showed signs of inconsistencies which have haunted them all season long. Florida was able to claw back into the game after going down 8 early. And a 10-3 run to start the second half sparked the team and the crowd. But once again, the Gators were unable to put away their opponent, letting the Tigers get back into the game after the Gators once had a 9-point lead.
Florida went with a different look in their lineup, starting Hudson in place of KeVaughn Allen. For a second straight game, head coach Mike White has changed the starting lineup. The status of big-man John Egbunu is still uncertain, so expect White to continue to experiment with the Gators lineup trying to find what sticks.
In a crucial month of February, it’s now-or-never for Florida to reach their potential. A sense of consistency must be maintained within the Gators, as they need to win the games that should be theirs down the stretch. The opportunity to make statements will present themselves, with match-ups against ranked opponents Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky still to come in last month of the season.
Florida will set their sights on the South Carolina Gamecocks, as they meet Saturday for a noon-tip in Columbia. The Gamecocks bested the Gators this season when they met in Gainesville, so Florida will be looking to get one back. A victory over a gritty South Carolina squad will continue to help the Gators progression on the season as they try to catch up their expectations.