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January 22, 2012

Tigers beaten by Florida

LSU held each of Florida's three perimeter players below his scoring average Saturday night in Gainesville.

Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal and Erving Walker were a combined dozen points under their points per game. However, the Tigers let two other Gators players enjoy productive offensive games.

Post player Erik Murphy scored 15 points, while backup wing player Mike Rosario contributed 11 points as Florida defeated LSU 76-64.

In the Gators' three previous Southeastern Conference games, Murphy had scored a total of 28 points, while Rosario accounted for a total of 17 points. Against the Tigers, Murphy was 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers. Rosario was 3-of-7 from the field and made four foul shots.

Boynton, Beal, and Walker were a combined 12-of-27 from the field, including just 2-of-12 on 3-pointers. Walker had 12 points, while both Boynton and Beal finished with 11. Coming into Saturday's game, Boynton was averaging 19 points, Beal 14 points and Walker 13 points.

LSU's three perimeter starters - Anthony Hickey, Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner - all had tough nights. Those three individuals were a combined 9-of-27 from the field and scored only 23 points. Hickey had ten points, while Turner had eight and Stringer five.

Justin Hamilton was the Tigers' only consistent threat on offense as he scored a career-high 27 points. Hamilton, who also grabbed eight rebounds, made 13 of his 22 field goal attempts.

"We competed and we had some shots that didn't go down for us in the second half," LSU coach Trent Johnson said. "Florida is explosive and skilled. The guy who's running the show (Billy Donovan) is probably one of the best coaches in the country."

The Tigers (12-7, 2-3) jumped out to a quick 8-2 advantage as Hickey and Stringer knocked down 3-pointers. Sparked by three field goals from Patric Young, the Gators rallied and tied the score at 12-12. Murphy gave Florida the lead for good at 15-14 on the first of his three 3-pointers.

After Murphy's trey, Florida (15-4, 3-1) outscored LSU 16-7 to take its first double-digit lead of the game. Boynton scored seven of his 11 points during that stretch. Beal had a 3-pointer and two free throws in that run.

The Gators scored the last seven points of the first half to go on top 38-26. Murphy hit another 3-pointer, while Rosario sank two foul shots and Beal made a basket. LSU came no closer than eight points in the second half - the last time at 68-60 following a Hamilton field goal with 3:23 remaining.

The Tigers shot the ball well thanks to Hamilton as they made 44 percent of their field goal attempts. However, Florida made 56 percent of its field goal attempts. Moreover, the Gators were 15-of-20 at the foul line as compared to 3-of-5 for LSU.

Hamilton had virtually no help in the post. Storm Warren, who got in early foul trouble, played just 12 minutes and contributed four points and one rebound. Malcolm White was scoreless in 16 minutes. Eddie Ludwig, who had played 18 minutes in the previous four SEC games, did have seven points.

Hickey, who was 4-of-10, had three rebounds and two assists. Stringer missed eight of his ten field goal attempts. Turner was 3-of-7. Chris Bass had three points and four assists in 19 minutes. Bass played most of the first half at point guard because of early foul trouble for Hickey.

The Tigers have now lost their first three SEC road games - each by at least nine points. LSU will continue to play away from the PMAC on Wednesday night when it visits Mississippi State in Starkville.


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