LSU basketball may have lost at Florida 73-64 on Wednesday night, but the Tigers’ postseason outlook is still vastly improved now that coach Will Wade seems to have solved his team’s biggest riddle.
Junior guard Brandon Sampson came off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring with 17 points. Sampson had been in a deep funk for virtually the entire SEC schedule before finally showing signs of life with 13 points in a win over Arkansas.
Now it feels safe to say Sampson is back, and it’s a development that will at the very least put LSU (13-10, 4-7 SEC) in position to earn an NIT bid. LSU’s offense has been overly reliant on freshman point guard Tremont Waters to provide the scoring, making life easier for opposing defenses when game-planning against the Tigers.
If Sampson continues to provide a legitimate scoring threat, Waters’ own production will benefit. Prior to the Arkansas game, Sampson had only scored in double figures once in SEC play.
Three keys to Florida’s win over LSU
- The run(s): Florida went up by as many as 12 points after opening the second half with a 17-3 run. The Tigers battled all the way back to take a one-point lead on two different occasions, but seemed to expend too much energy in the comeback effort to keep up with the Gators in the final 6 minutes. Florida outscored LSU 11-3 in the final 5:45 of the game.
- Turnovers: The Tigers were too careless with the basketball to pick up a road win against a quality opponent. LSU turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 21 Florida points. Ball security has mostly been a strength for LSU this season — the Tigers came into the game ranked 51st nationally in turnover percentage. Ball control abandoned them against the Gators. Waters struggled his way to 7 giveaways.
- Bad defense: Florida shot 52 percent from the field. Unless you can create somewhere around 20 turnovers or get red-hot from 3-point range, beating any opponent that shoots better than 50 percent is a tall order.
LSU-Florida box score
What’s next for LSU basketball?
The Tigers return to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to face Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.