Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

No. 17 Florida Gators win 16th straight home game, 76-64 over LSU Tigers

GAINESVILLE — On a night when the outside shots didn't fall, Florida proved what it has been trying to convince everyone since the season began: There's a lot more to its team than just its top-notch 3-point shooters.

Five Gators scored in double figures, despite shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc, as No. 17 Florida extended its home winning streak to 16 (10 this season) with a 76-64 victory over LSU on Saturday night.

Florida (15-4, 3-1 SEC) made only 7 of 21 3-pointers but still shot a season-high 56.3 percent from the field and has now shot better than 50 percent in three consecutive games. Since dropping its SEC opener at Tennessee, Florida has won three straight league games.

"I think we're more focused on a day-to-day basis," said junior forward Erik Murphy, who had a team-high 15 points. "We try to come in and get prepared for teams, do what we've got to do, make sure we do all the little things it takes to win. And we can do a lot of different things. If somebody's off, we look for somebody else to fill in. Really anybody on our team can score."

Saturday night, it was guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton who were off. The two combined to go 1-of-10 from 3-point range, and Boynton's 34-game streak with at least one 3-pointer came to an end. Yet it was Walker's clutch 3-pointer with 2:29 remaining in the game that extended Florida's lead and halted an LSU comeback.

Florida trailed 10-4 early but eventually outscored LSU 26-12 to close the half with a 38-26 lead. Down by 16 at one point in the second half, LSU (12-7, 2-3) went on a 10-2 run to pull within 58-50 with 7:45 remaining but could not get closer.

Down the stretch the Gators had no answer for LSU junior center Justin Hamilton, who scored 18 of his career-high 27 in the second half. Hamilton made 13 of 22 shots; the rest of the Tigers made 15 of 41. Anthony Hickey was the only other LSU player in double figures with 10 points.

"Hamilton was really, really hurting us," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "But I didn't mind. The last four minutes we were going to try to double him, but I was so fearful of giving (other players) 3s, because when you double team the low post like that with their offense, the ball is going to find itself on the perimeter and give those guys some pretty decent looks. So we lived with him having a huge night."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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