Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Florida crushes LSU for 21st straight win

GAINESVILLE — On a day Florida honored its first SEC championship team on its 25th anniversary, its most recent champion chose to act like any other SEC team.

With the Gators having clinched the SEC regular-season championship last week, their four seniors informed coach Billy Donovan they had no desire to cut down any nets yet. After all, there's too much left to play for.

Instead, the No. 1-ranked Gators went about their business with one of their most productive games in the past two weeks, hitting a season-high 13 3-pointers in a 79-61 win over LSU in front of a sellout crowd of 12,589 at the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon.

"We try to come out with the same motivation every game, but I guess if there's anything (different after clinching), you can see the light at the end of the tunnel," senior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "We only have two games left now, and we want to finish out strong."

Florida (27-2, 16-0) extended its home winning streak to 31 games and won its 21st straight game overall. The Gators are the 13th team in SEC history to win 16 conference games in a season and surpassed their school record for regular-season wins.

"I told our guys that this was going to be a game that we were really going to find out a little bit more about ourselves in terms of how we were going to respond, what kind of commitment we were going to make, to make improvements that we needed to improve on," Donovan said.

"I know our guys had an enormous amount of respect for LSU, with what they've done, the way they've played. You look at every offensive statistical category (in the SEC), they are up there in everything."

With Florida pressing nearly the entire game, LSU had three turnovers and one missed shot on its first four possessions. The Gators held a double-digit lead from the 11:44 mark of the first half.

The Gators' bench outscored LSU's 28-2. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill returned from a groin injury and played 21 minutes, and freshman Chris Walker contributed six rebounds and a blocked shot in 14 minutes.

"We have a lot of guys that are healthy right now, so that helps a lot," senior forward Casey Prather said. "I feel like we're a team that's still trying to get better."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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