Tigers Ragged: Top Ranked Florida Claws LSU

After weeks of controversy, close calls and questions about how good they really were, the Gators got to play on cruise control against LSU- and enjoyed every minute of it.

For an entire month, the Gators just couldn’t put teams away easily. Not since Florida crushed Texas A&M 69-36 did they win a game by more than ten points. Whether the opponent was Kentucky or Auburn, Florida had to fight and claw at the end to put it away, every single time.

Until last night, that is, when the Gators handed LSU a full fledged bleaux out in a game that was decidedly more lopsided than the 79-61 final score indicates.

Dorian-Finney Smith scored 18, Casey Prather and Michael Frazier each added 14 and Florida sort of got revenge for a stadium wide mocking of the Gator Chomp, albeit in a different sport. Whatever, it makes Florida fans feel good, so let’s just go with that. And hey, being me, I just had to have a response, right? It came in tweet picture form:

Florida didn’t appear to have a weakness against the Tigers, a team that was chasing an NCAA Tournament bid just a couple of weeks ago and now might be looking up at the NIT field. They shot the lights out from outside, Patric Young dominated inside, and their defense caused LSU’s offense a world of problems. They only shot 4-7 from the foul line, and they did allow Johnny O’Bryant to score 18, but honestly, in a game the Gators led by 20+ for the overwhelming majority of the second half, who cares?

More importantly, I am convinced that when Kasey Hill runs the point and Dorian Finney-Smith plays confident basketball, the Gators are simply unbeatable. With Hill in the game, you can slide Scottie Wilbekin, a good shooter, over to the 2 position, and now you have two sources of scoring (the other being Michael Frazier) instead of making one of them play ball distributor. Also, you don’t get any drop-off in terms of production from the 1 position, because Hill can slash to the hoop and distribute the ball just as well as Wilbekin. And if you can get some production out of Finney-Smith in the points column, you can suddenly see Florida put up big numbers on the scoreboard- the kind you haven’t for much of the year, because Doe Doe has been largely inconsistent all year. If Finney-Smith would just cut that time-wasting ball fake….

At this point, the Gators technically have nothing to play for but pride, and to keep peaking as a team. They’ve long ago clinched the official SEC Championship, and won it outright last Thursday when Kentucky lost to Arkansas. But when you think about it, that’s a lot to play for. Florida appears to have as good a shot as any to clinch the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but I could go all day counting off the list of #1 overall seeds to lose in the Big Dance. So all I’m really looking for against South Carolina in Columbia- who beat Kentucky in Columbia- is to see Florida play well. That’s all, just play good basketball, meaning no stupid turnovers, make your free throws, good ball movement, etc.

It’s been a crazy ride this year, and we all know that regardless of what happens against South Carolina, Kentucky in Gainesville on Saturday, and in the SEC Tournament, all that matters is what happens in March Madness. And I think the Gators are as prepared for it as any team in the country.