No. 4 hard to sell at LSU


Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 1:56 a.m.
BATON ROUGE, La. - The No. 1 team in the country wasn't enough to sell out the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
When LSU upset No. 1 Arizona on Dec. 21, it was in front of several thousand empty seats.
LSU tried to up the ante Tuesday night by offering free bobblehead dolls of coach John Brady in an attempt to pack the place for a nationally televised game against No. 4 Florida.
That wasn't enough either. Free toys and the No. 4 team in the country weren't enough to prevent full sections in the upper deck from being empty Tuesday night.
Despite having its best team since the 1999-2000 season, interest in the LSU basketball team is woefully low. Matters weren't helped by a recent three-game losing streak.
During pre-game introductions, they showed highlights of the Arizona win on the scoreboard. Few fans noticed.
It was the first time in conference play this season that the Gators had played in front of a crowd that was not sold out.
  • Florida senior Matt Bonner picked up his second foul with 14:43 left in the first half and was sent immediately to the bench. With Bonner out of the mix, the Gators went to freshmen Christian Drejer and Adrian Moss and junior Bonell Colas early in the game.
    Florida point guard Justin Hamilton also spent a good portion of the first half on the bench with two fouls.
  • BOGGAN SIGHTING: Florida freshman Mario Boggan made his first appearance in conference play this season when he entered the game with 6:54 left in the first half. Boggan hadn't played since the Dec. 30 win over Florida A&M. As of halftime of Tuesday night's game, Gator freshman Rashid Al-Kaleem still had not played during conference play this season.
  • EXTRA SESSION: Tuesday night was Billy Donovan's fourth trip to Baton Rouge since becoming Florida's coach. Two of the first three trips went to overtime. LSU beat Florida 88-82 on Jan. 8, 1997 and the Gators won 81-74 on Feb. 13, 2001.
  • TIP-INS: This was Florida's fourth appearance on an ESPN network this season and the fifth nationally televised game. The Louisiana Tech, Stanford and Mississippi State games were on ESPN or ESPN2 and the Maryland game was on CBS ... LSU's Ronald Dupree and Florida's David Lee entered Tuesday night's game No. 2 and No. 3 in the SEC in rebounding during conference play with 9.0 and 8.8 per game, respectively ... Donovan entered Tuesday night's game with a 9-10 career record on the road against SEC West teams.
  • NEXT UP: Florida returns home to face Arkansas at 1 p.m. Saturday at the O'Connell Center. The Gators have won three of the last five in the series, but are 4-8 overall against the Razorbacks. Arkansas beat Florida 94-92 in overtime last season in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have an SEC-worst 6-10 record and have not won on the road this season.
    Dylan B. Tomlinson covers UF men's basketball for The Sun. You can reach him by calling 374-5054 or by e-mail at tomlind@gvillesun.com
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