Coach Billy Donovan feels Florida is playing the right way.
Outstanding shooting during a three-game winning streak is certainly contributing to that opinion, which may not change against LSU.
The No. 11 Gators will try to continue connecting at a high percentage Saturday when they seek a fourth straight victory against the Tigers.
Donovan is happy with Florida’s recent success after watching his team shoot 40.4 percent from the floor – including 5 of 19 from 3-point range – in a 67-61 loss at Kansas State on Dec. 22.
After struggling to find their stroke in the first 10 games, the Gators have heated up during their current streak.
Florida (11-2, 1-0 SEC) is shooting 55.4 percent from the field – 45.2 from beyond the arc – in those wins, a run that continued with Wednesday’s 77-44 rout of Georgia to open conference play. The Gators shot 52.7 percent while connecting on a season-high 12 3-pointers and collected 17 assists to seven turnovers.
“We’re playing the right way,” Donovan said.
Donovan’s mantra includes spreading the ball around, and the team has had a different leading scorer in each of the last four games while averaging 16.0 assists over the past three.
“There’s got to be a level of unselfishness on any team,” Donovan told the team’s official website. “You have to rely on each other and utilize each other’s talents on the floor. That’s how you become more difficult to defend.”
That’s certainly been the case during three straight wins against LSU (9-3, 0-1), as the Gators have made 50.3 percent of their shots and 35.3 percent from long distance.
They spread the ball around superbly in the most recent matchup Jan. 21, when five players scored in double figures while the team shot 56.3 percent in a 76-64 win.
Erik Murphy made 6 of 7 shots – 3 of 4 3-pointers – and led the way with 15 points in that game. The senior forward enters this one nursing a broken rib under his right arm, which may have been a reason he scored 11 points off the bench Wednesday after putting up a team-high 21 with seven rebounds in a 78-61 victory over Air Force on Dec. 29.
“I don’t really think about it,” Murphy said Wednesday. “I wasn’t trying to avoid contact. I don’t think it’s going to hinder me at all.”
Mike Rosario was the Gators’ most recent scoring leader, scoring 19 points against the Bulldogs – one shy of his total from the previous two games.
The Tigers are trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season after falling 68-63 at Auburn on Wednesday. However, they’re outscoring opponents by an average of 15.2 points during an 8-0 start at home.
Beating Florida for the first time since Feb. 24, 2009, would give the Tigers their longest winning streak on their own court since reeling off 17 straight bridging the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
Coach Johnny Jones is well aware of what lies ahead in the Gators.
“They are very experienced and very tough,” he told the school’s official website. “They have great size, strength and quickness. They have the ability to shoot the ball and rebound it.”
LSU struggled from the floor Wednesday, making 37.3 percent of its attempts, but is hitting 46.7 percent at home.
Shavon Coleman leads the team with averages of 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds, but he had a season-low four points on 2-of-9 shooting Wednesday.