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Florida vs. LSU, Game Thread: Gators seek sustained success in Baton Rouge

Florida’s first SEC win was an emotional victory. Can the Gators do the same sort of work on the road?

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Florida Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Just days after vanquishing Mike White and Georgia, the Florida Gators hit the road to face another foe that was familiar during White’s tenure: LSU.

And the last guy is part of the storyline for this one, too: If White’s Gators were great against Auburn, they had slightly more qualified success against Will Wade’s LSU. Florida went 6-4 against the Tigers of the Pelican State under White, and 5-3 against Wade-coached teams, but just one of those latter eight games was decided by double figures.

And, memorably, the trilogy of contests in 2018-19, when LSU’s strong-ass roster won the SEC, featured two overtime battles and a three-point SEC Tournament win, with Florida winning the series 2-1 — but only winning the aggregate score by a combined seven points.

Last year’s Gators also suffered one of their most ignominious defeats at LSU’s hands. Even with do-everything reserve and future NBA lottery pick Tari Eason almost entirely taken out of that game by five fouls in seven minutes of play and towering center Efton Reid also hampered and later disqualified by his own five fouls, Florida sputtered to a 64-58 loss in which it made just seven of 31 hoisted threes and could not stop local product Darius Days all game long.

But that was the last team Wade would pit against Florida — and the last one White would coach against LSU. Both teams have changed coaches since, and Todd Golden has what would appear to be a second straight game in which his team might be stronger despite his opponent’s gaudy record, with Matt McMahon’s Tigers having a 12-3 mark and two wins over teams in the KenPom top 100 — by a combined five points over Wake Forest and Arkansas. LSU’s also dropped its last two games, road trips to Kentucky and Texas A&M, and while tonight’s game will take place in the friendlier confines of Baton Rouge, the Gators are rather easily the second-best team to have visited all season.

LSU’s rotation — heck, roster — is almost entirely comprised of transfers, too, from former Murray State Racers Justice Hill and K.J. Williams — who followed McMahon south — to Illinois transfer Adam Miller and Mississippi State import Derek Fountain. (Miller technically arrived at LSU a year ago, but sat out with an injury.) While Williams has been All-SEC excellent as an inside-out terror, most of his teammates have had more uneven seasons, though NC State transfer Cam Hayes has hit about 40 percent of his threes.

Expect this one to be another tight game, probably Florida’s fourth SEC tilt to go down to the wire in as many tries.