BATON ROUGE - Anthony Hickey provided 12 of his team-leading 15 points during the second half, but the LSU basketball team was handed a 74-52 defeat by No. 11 Florida in the program's annual "Gold Game" Saturday at the Maravich Center.
In the process, the Tigers (9-4, 0-2 SEC) lost their fourth consecutive decision to Florida (12-2, 2-0 SEC). It also marked the first time that LSU has started SEC play with two defeats since the 2009-10 season. The 52 points on 21 field goals made were both season lows for the Tigers.
Hickey canned 6-of-12 from the floor sparked by a trio of three-pointers. He also added four assists, four steals and three rebounds. The Hopkinsville, Kent., native has reached double figures in his last five outings going back to the UC Irvine game on December 18.
After being limited to a season's low four points at Auburn, Shavon Coleman bounced back in a big way and notched 11 points to go along with five rebounds.
Andrew Del Piero logged a career-best 33 minutes. He tacked on seven points and five rebounds, one shy of a career-high. Malik Morgan and Andre Stringer chipped in six points each, while Morgan also secured five rebounds and three steals.
Florida was paced by Kenny Boynton's 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. It marked the fifth time that Boynton has eclipsed the 20-point plateau on the season. The Gators also received double figures from Patric Young (14), Erik Murphy (12) and Will Yeguete (10). Yeguete also matched a season's best 13 rebounds to claim his second double-double of the season.
After falling behind 4-0 in the game's opening minutes, LSU grabbed its first lead at 8-6 on a Hickey triple with 15:52 remaining. The Gators switched to a 2-3 zone defense en route to nine of the next 11 points to regain momentum and grab a 15-10 advantage.
LSU fought back behind a Morgan three-ball from the left baseline followed by a Del Piero lay-up in transition to knot the score at 15-15 at the 8:14 mark.
With the score all square at 19-19, Florida turned back up the defensive intensity and held the Tigers without a field goal over the final 5:38 of the opening half. Conversely, the Gators scored eight of their next 10 points in the paint coupled with a Scottie Wilbekin jumper as time expired to come away with a 29-20 lead going into the locker room.
LSU was only able to muster two field goals in the opening 7:31 of the second half. During that time, Florida capped its 31-6 spurt led by eight points from Boynton and five points from Murphy, respectively, to take their largest lead at 50-25.
The Tigers turned to full court pressure and ripped off a 14-3 run to pull back to as close as 50-37 with 9:53 left. Hickey buried a three-ball and added a pair of lay-ups from steals to spark the run.
Murphy ended the LSU momentum with a triple of his own from the top of the key. The Gators fired back with 11 of the next 13 points over the next three-plus minutes capped by a Yeguete lay-up to go up 61-39 at the 6:06 mark.
LSU returns to action Wednesday versus South Carolina. Tip time is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Maravich Center, and the game will be carried online via ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app. Tickets can be purchased online at LSUtix.net or by calling the LSU Athletics Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184.
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball on Twitter.
LSU vs. Florida- January 12, 2013LSU HEAD BASKETBALL COACH JOHNNY JONES
"First off, I want to really thank our fans. I thought they came out and did a tremendous job of really keeping our guys energized throughout the basketball game even there in the second half when (Florida) had a nice lead. I thought our fans did a great job of energizing us, allowing us to run our press and really stay involved in the game. I think we played not only one of the best basketball teams in our conference, but one of the best teams in the country today. I think Florida is a very talented basketball team. They were only a few plays away last year from making it to the Final Four. With a number of players that they have back, they showed their experience throughout the game tonight. We really want to commend our guys. I thought they gave a tremendous effort. They played every second of every play and expended a lot of energy. We had some guys down today, and some guys that were not 100 percent. I thought the guys that were out there gave us everything they had against a very talented team. We are sitting here 0-2 in conference play, but the great thing about playing a team like Florida here at home is you get a great measuring stick of where your team is in this early part of the season. There are some barometers in terms of some things we have to work on. Some things I take as a great positive. We didn't have many turnovers today. We only had eight turnovers against a very good and talented defensive basketball team. We did a great job of taking care of the basketball. I think that's a great sign for us. Unfortunately, one of the goals tonight was to win the war on the boards. We weren't able to do that. We got beat by a considerable amount there. That's an area that we have to improve."
On evaluating his team after 13 games...
"I think we are a team that understands that we have a lot of room for growth. We feel that the things that happened and transpired today we can fix. We have guys that can continue to improve and areas that we can continue to get better at. We can execute better on the offensive end. We can do a better job of making sure we strike and rebound the ball better. We have been a good rebounding team, but I think we were exposed today against size, strength and quickness. We only shot about 36 percent from the field, and (Florida) did a great job of rebounding the ball. They shot about 44 percent from the field. They had about 19 offensive rebounds. That means they were getting some second chance opportunities, on top of shooting 44 percent. Those are areas that we feel like we can clean up and get better."
LSU Player Quotes
On Florida's size on offense...
"They have good size, but we were just missing shots. We had wide open shots. They contested some shots, but we just missed some shots. That is something that we have to work on during practice."
On being concerned about shooting...
"We aren't concerned. We know that we are a team that can shoot the ball. We are going to keep getting better day-by-day. We are going to keep shooting the ball."
On Florida's toughness inside the paint...
"They were tough. I think the toughest thing is that Florida had a deep bench. They would have people come in one after another. That will really wear you down at the end."
On trouble scoring during second half...
"We just came out flat., and that can happen to any team. It just happens sometimes."
On Florida's offensive run during second half...
"Because of their length, we had a tough time getting them off the boards on the defensive end. So, they got a lot of offensive rebounds and second chances. Florida out rebounded us by close to 20. That really hurt us."
On Johnny's O'Bryant III's recovery...
"Johnny isn't 100 percent yet. It is all about getting him better every day. He will get better. We have to move on and get better. Johnny is going to keep cheering us on as we get better."
FLORIDA HEAD COACH BILLY DONOVAN QUOTES
On beating LSU on the road with a banged up team...
"Well, I was really really pleased. We had two veteran guys out and really kind of found out relatively close to tip that we weren't going to have Mike (Rosario). Then obviously Casey (Prather) getting hurt in the game - that really kind of had us coming down the stretch with six guys on the road. I thought it was a really really good win for our guys."
On how fatigue played a roll in the game...
"I thought the one segment there in the second half we had a big lead, and we didn't handle the ball well. I thought we had alot of turnovers based on some fatigue. (Kenny) Boynton was probably out there too many minutes, as was Scotty (Wilbekin). Our guards played alot of minutes, but we showed some resolve. I thought (Erik) Murphy's three on that run really got some momentum back for our team. Then, we did a better job against the press, attacking it and getting some tip ins and some follow ups."
On how he felt about his team's overall performance against a resilient LSU squad...
"For these guys to come in here against a good LSU team and find a way to win, I think is impressive because when you look at their team, they've had a history here of being a really good comeback team. They did it against Seaton Hall here and won down 16. They were down by 21 at Marquette and tied the game. This has been a pattern for their team, and I felt even when we got up they were going to make a run at us."