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March 17, 2013Slightly more than two months ago, LSU took its worst beating at the PMAC this season at the hands of Florida.
The Gators pulled away in the second half for a 22-point victory over the Tigers. LSU was matched against that same Florida team in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday.
The Tigers' result this time was no better. The scoreboard showed LSU losing by the same 22-point margin, 80-58. But, the Tigers were in this game for just ten minutes. The Gators outscored LSU 25-11 over the second portion of the opening half.
After halftime, Florida didn't let up. The Gators had more than a 30-point advantage for more than a handful of possessions. Regular-season champion Florida, which goes for the SEC tournament title Sunday against Ole Miss, toyed with the Tigers in two games.
In the Gators' regular-season victory against LSU, four players scored at least ten points. The same scenario played out Friday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Erik Murphy (27), Scottie Wilbekin (16), Michael Frazier (11) and Patric Young (10) reached double figures in the second meeting.
The Tigers had their opportunity to make a huge statement against the Gators. In the same situation 12 months earlier, LSU gave SEC champion Kentucky a huge scare in the quarterfinal round of the league tournament. Florida was never in a position to worry after the opening ten minutes.
The Tigers' final four losses - against Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss and Florida - came by double digits. LSU allowed at least 80 points in all four defeats. The Tigers also permitted all of those opponents to shoot higher than 50 percent from the field.
But, what was disappointing Friday were the outputs from post player Johnny O'Bryant and point guard Anthony Hickey. Although both are sophomores, these two guys form the foundation of this LSU team. Neither player answered the call against the Gators on Friday.
O'Bryant finished with eight points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. In the regular-season game against Florida, O'Bryant had two points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Young may be just one year older than O'Bryant, but he was like the neighborhood bully in the two games.
Hickey showed a total lack of aggression against Wilbekin. Hickey took only four shots - making two. He had just one assist and one steal. His best offensive numbers were five rebounds. Hickey lost the point guard matchup in all four of the Tigers' late-season defeats.
Charles Carmouche was the lone LSU player who challenged the Gators on Friday. Carmouche had 14 points and three assists in 28 minutes. In the Tigers' victory against Georgia on Thursday, Shavon Coleman was the star of the game. Notice that neither O'Bryant nor Hickey was a key factor.
LSU split its final eight games. The Tigers had that 4-4 mark with O'Bryant and Hickey not being playmakers. LSU certainly needed a big lift from both those players if it was going to knock off one of the premier teams in the SEC.
The Tigers will find out Sunday night if they will play another game. The NIT bracket will be announced at 8 p.m. Sunday. A year ago, LSU received an invitation and a long trip to Oregon. The Tigers presently sit squarely on the NIT bubble.
If LSU gets a NIT bid, both O'Bryant and Hickey must definitely step up their performance levels for the Tigers to last longer than one game.