Florida's defensive fire might not be fully back, but the Gators' offense brought all the heat necessary to char LSU in their 2013 SEC Tournament quarterfinal on Friday. Florida outscored LSU 30-10 while building a 35-point lead in the second half, then cruised to a 80-58 final score.
Erik Murphy was among the red-hot Gators on the day, putting up 27 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs, and dropping in five of his seven threes. Scottie Wilbekin made four of his five threes, and had 16 points of his own, while Michael Frazier made both of his threes and had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
That offense was necessary in the first half, which featured five made LSU threes and 28 points by the Tigers, but less so at its end and in the second half. Florida ripped off a 35-8 run spanning the halves against LSU in Baton Rouge, and followed that on Friday with a 55-21 advantage over a 21:22 stretch that ended the competitive portion of the contest. (Florida closed the first half on a 13-5 run and opened the second half on an 8-1 run that became a 17-6 run.)
Florida stifled LSU in the second half, allowing three made field goals in the first 15 minutes before starters exited en masse, and did it without reliance on pressure, forcing just 10 turnovers on the day. And two of the Tigers' 10 offensive rebounds on 36 misses came on the final offensive possession, when DeVon Walker was the tallest Gator on the floor.
Florida, meanwhile, got 13 offensive rebounds on 28 misses, and four from Murphy, two from Patric Young (10 points, six rebounds), and two from Kenny Boynton (two points, seven assists, three rebounds). Murphy and Wilbekin playing very well covered for Boynton and Mike Rosario failing to score (nine combined points on 3-for-14 shooting), and for more struggles from the free throw line, where Florida was 11-of-22.
But Florida had all those problems ... and still led by 35. And Frazier's second three came on a sweet out-of-bounds play at the end of the first half, which should make Gators fans feel a little better about Florida's execution in those circumstances.
The Gators weren't flawless on Friday, nor as fiery or fantastic as Billy Donovan would probably like them to be. But, regardless, they were far too much for another foe.
It would be nice to see that recur on Saturday, when Florida will face Alabama and Tennessee, two teams that have matched up far better with the Gators.