Jarell Martin was LSU's best player on this Saturday, is a future NBA rotation player, and scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds against Florida.
Jacob Kurtz was Florida's best player on this Saturday, is a manager-turned-walk-on who has no professional basketball aspirations, and scored nine points and had eight rebounds for the Gators.
That's sort of the story of LSU's 70-63 win over the Gators in a nutshell.
Florida's too young, too weak inside, and too thin to match up with teams like LSU, and that's true even when its shots are falling. When they aren't, as they weren't on this Saturday — Florida shot 35.3 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from three — it gets really hard to keep up with teams like LSU. And Florida could have been forgiven for turtling after a 20-7 thrust — really a 12-0 salvo and an 8-7 exchange of fire — to begin the game.
But this Florida team, despite its many limitations and lamentations, still plays hard and, for stretches, well. It responded to that slow start with a 19-4 surge of its own in the first half. And when LSU met that with a 23-5 run comprised of a 9-0 run to finish the first stanza and a 14-5 opening to the second half, Florida fought back with an 8-0 run. When LSU moved 13 points ahead again, Florida responded, and finished on a 15-7 run.
Florida's actually fairly good at playing from behind, and dealing with slow starts — certainly, it does both a lot, so it should be. And there are flashes from players on this team, like Devin Robinson (12 points, seven rebounds) and Eli Carter (14 points), that suggest that the parts aren't all faulty.
Florida's also uncannily good at taking a lead and almost immediately giving it up — with, say, a turnover leading to an in-game between-the-legs dunk. The latter talent is the dominant trait, it would seem.
This season is lost. This team is, more or less, lost. And it's a pain to root for Florida, to get invested in every possession, right now.
But at least watching Florida, and seeing how hard these Gators try despite their long odds and laundry list of woes and losses, is still an experience.