published Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Florida looks like champ against LSU

LSU guard Andre Stringer (10) heads to the hoop as Florida guard Mike Rosario (3) defends during their NCAA basketball game Friday at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville. Florida won 80-58.
LSU guard Andre Stringer (10) heads to the hoop as Florida guard Mike Rosario (3) defends during their NCAA basketball game Friday at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville. Florida won 80-58.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — The most important moment in Florida's 80-58 victory over LSU in the SEC basketball tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon actually may have taken place in a medical facility Wednesday evening.

That's when a precautionary MRI on Gators senior forward Erik Murphy's right knee came back negative and Florida coach Billy Donovan decided "he was going to be able to play. It wouldn't be a problem."

Murphy instead became a huge problem for the Tigers, scoring a game-high 27 points, including five 3-pointers, and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds as the Gators advanced to today's semifinal against Alabama.

"[Murphy] kind of puts the defense on their toes," said LSU's Charles Caramouche, who led his team with 14 points and three steals.

"If you've got a big guy guarding him, he'll take him outside. If you have a guard guarding him, he'll end up posting him up. It's a tough matchup."

The entire Gators team was a tough matchup for LSU, hitting 51 percent from the floor (29-of-57) and 55 percent from the 3-point line (11-of-20). Beyond that, they outrebounded LSU by 20 -- 47-27.

"They're long, have great length, and with their size, quickness and the strength they have inside, they can make it difficult for you," said first-year LSU coach Johnny Jones, whose 19-12 Tigers should land in the NIT. "Florida is just a very, very good basketball team."

If the 25-6 Gators keep playing like this over the rest of the SEC tourney, it may be tough to deny them a No. 2 seed come Selection Sunday.

"If we can ever get to point where we can continue to have a night like this collectively and [starters Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, who scored just nine combined points] start making a few shots, we could become that much more potent offensively," coach Billy Donovan said.

When you can become more potent than 80 points in a 22-point win you led by 35 at one point, you're going to become a tough matchup for everyone.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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