LSU beats Florida 79-61, ends 6-game losing streak in series
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey were dominant in the paint and nearly perfect from the free throw line.
In short, they were way too much for Florida to handle.
Martin scored 22 points, Mickey added 14 points and 14 rebounds, and LSU beat the Gators 79-61 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers (14-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from a tough home loss to Texas A&M and snapped a six-game losing streak in the series.
The Gators (10-8, 3-2) lost consecutive conference games for the first time since dropping three in a row late in the 2011-12 season. This was Florida’s worst home loss since a 93-75 setback to Ohio State on Nov. 16, 2010.
”If we don’t come together as a team, we’ll continue to get embarrassed,” Florida forward Alex Murphy said.
LSU turned a close game into a double-digit lead with a 14-2 run midway through the second half. The Tigers gashed Florida in transition, routinely getting easy shots at or near the basket.
Martin and Mickey did the most damage inside. Martin made 7 of 15 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds. Mickey was 4 of 10 from the field and 6 of 6 from the stripe. He controlled the glass, too, notching his 10th double-double of the season.
”Coming on the road and getting this victory is a big plus on our hand,” Martin said. ”After losing to Texas A&M, we came and bounced back. It was a big relief off our shoulders.”
Keith Hornsby and Tim Quarterman added 15 points apiece for the Tigers. Quarterman chipped in eight assists and five rebounds.
Maybe the biggest difference was from 3-point range.
LSU made 8 of 13 from behind the arc, while Florida went 3 of 16.
Despite the 3-point disparity, Florida used a 7-0 spurt to get back in the game with about six minutes remaining. The Gators cut it to 66-56 on Michael Frazier’s 3-pointer and Murphy’s layup that came off a steal.
But Martin responded for LSU, scoring on a putback to make it a 12-point game. Quarterman added a trey a few minutes later that sent Florida fans scrambling for the exits with about four minutes to play.
”It was real important for us to finish the right way,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ”I thought our guys did a great job of composing themselves and getting back out there and taking care of the basketball and ending strong.”
Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith, who missed two days of practice this week with a hyper-extended knee, had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Murphy also had 10 points.
The Gators shot 38 percent from the floor.
The Tigers were considerably better, hitting 52 percent from the field.
”They’ve got a lot of different answers at a lot of different spots,” Donovan said.
LSU: Won its fourth road game of the season. … First time this season LSU played a conference game decided by more than seven points. … Won in Gainesville for first time since Feb. 13, 2008.
Florida: Made a 3-pointer in its 782nd consecutive game, a streak that started in 1992. … Donovan shuffled his starting lineup again, going back to the one he used in the third game of the season. It included walk-on Jacob Kurtz. … Gators have a return trip to LSU in a month.
Martin and Mickey combined for 36 points, 22 rebounds, five assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Together, they were 11 of 25 from the field and 13 of 14 from the free throw line. Donovan tried nearly his entire bench to stop them and even considered an illegal move. ”I was going to put (assistant coach John) Pelphrey in, but they said his eligibility was up.”
Donovan said he’s not surprised by his team’s struggles. ”I’m not surprised at all by any of this,” he said. ”I’ve tried a lot of different things with them. They’re going to have to figure it out.”
LSU plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Florida plays at Mississippi on Saturday.