Florida will look to finish the regular season with a winning record and a .500 mark in conference play when it hosts LSU on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
It will be an emotional Senior Night for three Gators — preseason All-SEC forward Colin Castleton, center Jason Jitoboh and point guard Kyle Lofton — who will be honored before the game. Castleton’s season came to an end Feb. 15 when he broke his hand in the second half of a 79-64 win over Ole Miss.
Castleton was averaging 16.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and an SEC-best 3.0 blocks per game at the time.
“He decided to come back and be a part of this as we built the foundation, not knowing exactly what the season was going to look like, and played like one of the best players in America,” Florida coach Todd Golden said.
Florida (15-15, 8-9 SEC) picked up its first win without Castleton, beating rival Georgia 77-67 on Tuesday night behind a season-high 24 points from guard Will Richard.
The Gators also had their best defensive game without Castleton, holding Georgia to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and 18.2 percent (4 of 22) from 3-point range to break a three-game skid.
“That was a sign of a team that stuck together,” Golden said. “That really stayed the course, even when things haven’t been going their way.”
LSU (13-17, 2-15) is coming off an 81-76 home loss to Missouri on Tuesday night. The Tigers were up by as many as 19 points in the first half but were unable to maintain the lead.
“Unfortunately in the second half, some of the similar problems that have bothered us all year, a lot of turnovers, unforced turnovers at times,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said.
LSU has lost 16 of its last 17. The Tigers have been led by center K.J. Williams, who averages 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He’s a threat inside and outside who has made 54 3-pointers and is shooting 42.5 percent from 3-point range this season.
“We’re going to have to be really mindful of how we can take away his 3-point attempts,” Golden said of Williams. “He’s a really good player from everywhere, can operate from the block, in the post, in 3, but the 3s are where he really separates.”
–Field Level Media