BATON ROUGE-- Guard KeVaughn Allen scored 12 points in overtime to help the Florida Gators (15-11 7-6 SEC) win on the road again, beating the 13th ranked LSU Tigers 82-77 on Wednesday night. The win for the Gators was their second straight on the road & their first on the road this season against a ranked opponent.
Both teams missed their shots early with neither team scoring in nearly the first 90 seconds of the game. But a layup by guard Marlon Taylor took the zero off the Tigers (21-5 11-2 SEC) side of the scoreboard. And Gators center Kevarrius Hayes matched Taylor with a layup of his own.
The Gators grabbed their first lead at 4-2 when Hayes followed his first basket with a dunk & guard Andrew Nembhard, who shot a perfect 9 for 9 at Alabama on Saturday, added a layup making the score 6-2. A dunk by forward Keyontae Johnson made the Gators run 8-0, but a layup by forward Naz Reid plus the free throw ended that run.
Nembhard, who with his shooting performance in Tuscaloosa was the first player in the conference in over 20 years to make at least 9 shots without a miss, hit a short jumper for his second basket of the game. And fellow guard Noah Locke hit the team's first three pointer of the game, giving the Gators a 13-5 lead.
The Tigers scored the next four points but the teams exchanged baskets until the home team scored six straight points to tie the score at 17 with just over 9 minutes left in the first half. A long three pointer by guard Jalen Hudson, who came off the bench to lead all players with 12 points in the first half, gave the Gators a three point lead.
After another basket by Nembhard made the score 22-19, both teams struggled shooting the ball & didn't score for nearly two minutes until Tigers guard Skylar Mays made a layup. But a layup by Hudson gave the Gators a three point lead again. The two guards traded points again when Mays hit two free throws but Hudson did him one better when he hit another long three, making the score 27-23.
Another layup by Hudson gave the Gators a six point lead with under five minutes in the first half. But the Tigers, who entered the game having won 14 of its last 15 games, outscored the Gators 8-4 in the final four minutes of the first half to head to the locker room trailing by just two points.
The second half started with Florida outscoring LSU 7-2 in the first two minutes, grabbing a 40-33 lead. But a 12-2 run by the Tigers that included seven points by forward Kavell Bigby-Williams helping LSU take a 45-42 lead. But five straight points by the Gators including a three pointer by Locke put his team back up again by two.
Trailing by two, the Tigers scored 11 points in the next four minutes, while the Gators struggled from the field. And with under six minutes left in the game, the Tigers had the lead again, 56-52.
Allen hit a long three pointer to get the Gators within one but a dunk by guard Marlon Taylor gave the Tigers a three point lead. Two free throws by Hayes got the Gators within one. And in the last four minutes of regulation, the two teams traded big baskets to end up tied at 64 at the end of regulation.
In the first minute of overtime, the Tigers grabbed a one point lead on a free throw from guard Tremont Waters but a jumper by Allen gave the Gators back the lead.
After the first minute of overtime, the seesaw battle continued when the Tigers got two free throws from Reid to again have the lead by one. But over the three next minutes, the Gators went on a 10-3 run that was sparked by two three point shots from Allen. Allen hit four free throws in the final minute to close the road victory for the Gators.
Florida looks to continue to add to its resume & better its chances for a NCAA tournament berth when they host the Missouri Tigers on Saturday at 4pm.