NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Here’s a quick look at Florida’s 80-58 SEC tournament win over LSU on Friday at Bridgestone Arena:
How it happened: Erik Murphy put on a shooting clinic, and the top-seeded Gators came out smoking and never really cooled off. He had 15 points in the first half and was 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Florida built a 43-28 lead at the break, and the lead ballooned to 30 points by the midway point of the second half.
Turning point: The Tigers, with guard Charles Carmouche making all three of his 3-point attempts, managed to hang around for most of the first half. But the Gators went on a 13-5 run, capped by Michael Frazier’s 3-pointer to beat the buzzer, and turned a close game into a 15-point margin at the half.
Player of the game: Murphy, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, was sensational. He finished with career highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds and was 11-of-15 from the floor. He was 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
What it means: Florida was able to bounce back from its disappointing 61-57 loss to Kentucky in the regular-season finale last Saturday and played some of its best offensive basketball of the season. It’s the first time the Gators have reached 80 points since an 83-52 win over Auburn on Feb. 16. They were 11-of-20 from 3-point range, and when they shoot like that from the perimeter, they're capable of beating just about anybody.
What’s next: The Gators (25-6) will face the Alabama-Tennessee winner in the SEC tournament semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The Tigers (19-12) will now wait to see if they make it into the NIT.