On a Senior Night when Florida needed to be overflowing with a sense of urgency, two of the Gator seniors had it coming out of their ears.
Unfortunately, with the game on the line, the ball ended up in the hands of the third one.
KeVaughn Allen passed up a 3-point shot with seconds left in overtime and instead drove to the basket without getting a shot off. As a result, Florida lost 79-78 in overtime to No. 10 LSU on a night that could have been a huge one for an NCAA bubble team.
“Crushing,” Florida coach Mike White said Wednesday. “Just crushing. Golden opportunity. To not get a shot off on the last possession is just disheartening.”
Earlier in this season, Allen scored 21 points in the second half and overtime in a win at LSU. In his final home game as a Gator, he didn’t shoot after a 1-for-6 first half, instead acquiescing to fellow senior Jalen Hudson.
Another disappearing act, this one at a really bad time.
“It’s the same thing for a long time,” White said.
Florida actually had three chances to take the lead in the final 90 seconds. The first possessions ended after a missed short jumper by Keyontae Johnson. The second was a drive by Hudson that was blocked and appeared to be goaltending.
“It was a controversial no-call,” Hudson said.
The third and final possession couldn’t have gone much worse from point guard Andrew Nembhard walking the ball up the floor with the fans screaming at him to hurry to Hudson (after a timeout) falling down trying to drive to Allen not getting the shot off.
“I thought I had more time than I did,” Allen said, “but obviously I didn’t.”
LSU (25-5, 15-2 SEC) remained tied with Tennessee at the top of the SEC with one game to play. Florida missed another chance to pad its resume, but fell to 17-13 and 9-8 in the league.
If the Gators don’t make the NCAA Tournament, it will be their record at home that will cost them dearly. Florida finished with a 4-5 record in SEC games in Exactech Arena.
“I wanted to get out of here with a win,” said Hudson.
He did about everything he could, scoring a season-high 33 points. Senior Kevarrius Hayes had 15 rebounds for Florida.
“Jalen was really good,” said White. “(Kevarrius) is a beast. I love that kid.”
Florida had a chance to win the game in regulation after Hudson hit a rattling 3 from the corner with 6.2 seconds to play. But LSU’s Tremont Waters, who had a team-high 19 points for LSU, sped down the court past Nembhard for an easy layup to force overtime, the seventh OT of the year for the Tigers.
“I don’t think one man can stay in front of me,” Waters said.
Florida fell behind by five early in the overtime, but battled back to have a chance to win.
Instead, the Gators lost for the second straight time, both at home, and now go to No. 6 Kentucky to finish the regular season.
“It’s just a tough loss,” Hudson said.
The senior scored 16 straight UF points during one stretch of the second half, as Florida rallied from an 11-point first half deficit to take an eight-point second-half lead. But as has been so often the case this year, the Gators couldn’t hold it.
Johnson scored 15 points for the Gators and Noah Locke had 10. Emmitt Williams had a double-double for LSU with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
“Our guys made plays when we needed to,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “It’s been our story all year.”
Locke did set the Florida freshman record for made 3s in a season with 75, breaking Anthony Roberson’s 16-year old mark.
Next up: Florida travels to No. 6 Kentucky to face the 25-5 Wildcats to close the regular season. The game is Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS.
|No. 10 LSU 79, FLORIDA 78, OT|
Reid 4-9 1-2 9, Bigby-Williams 2-6 0-0 4, Mays 3-11 4-5 11, Smart 6-15 0-0 15, Taylor 2-5 2-3 6, Williams 5-8 3-4 13, Days 1-2 0-0 2, Waters 8-16 1-2 19, Graves 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-72 11-16 79.
Johnson 6-9 1-3 15, Hayes 2-7 4-8 8, Allen 1-6 2-2 4, Hudson 11-20 7-8 33, Nembhard 2-4 0-0 5, Bassett 1-3 1-2 3, Stokes 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Locke 3-6 2-2 10, Okauru 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 17-25 78.
Halftime_LSU 34-31. End Of Regulation_Tied 72. 3-Point Goals_LSU 6-20 (Smart 3-7, Waters 2-4, Mays 1-6, Taylor 0-1, Days 0-1, Bigby-Williams 0-1), Florida 9-25 (Hudson 4-9, Locke 2-4, Johnson 2-4, Nembhard 1-2, Bassett 0-1, Ballard 0-2, Allen 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_LSU 41 (Williams 14), Florida 33 (Hayes 15). Assists_LSU 10 (Waters 6), Florida 10 (Nembhard 4). Total Fouls_LSU 22, Florida 16.