Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

LSU at Florida

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LSU (24-5 straight up, 17-11-1 against the spread) can exact revenge and basically clinch the SEC regular-season title with a win tonight at Florida. The Tigers have Vanderbilt in Baton Rouge for Saturday’s regular-season finale, and the Commodores are still winless in SEC play. Since LSU owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Tennessee and Kentucky, it will take the championship with wins over UF and Vandy.

Kentucky, which hosts Florida on Saturday, is one-half game back of LSU after escaping Oxford with a non-covering win over Ole Miss last night. Tennessee is one-half game in front of the Tigers thanks to last night’s drubbing of Mississippi State in Knoxville.

As of early this morning, most books had Florida (17-12 SU, 12-17 ATS) installed as a one-point favorite with a total of 137.5.

When these teams collided at the Pete Maravich Center on Feb. 20, UF won an 82-77 decision in overtime as a seven-point road underdog. KeVaughn Allen scored all 21 of his points in the second half and overtime to lead his team to the winner’s circle. The senior guard out of North Little Rock (Ark.) High School scored eight straight points in the extra period, including back-to-back treys that staked his team to a six-point advantage with 1:08 remaining.

However, LSU would counter with a trey of its own and force Allen to turn the ball over with about 11-12 ticks remaining. LSU star guard Tremont Waters had a clean, albeit deep, look at a 3-ball after Allen’s turnover. He pulled the trigger on it and was off the mark. UF’s freshman Noah Locke snagged the rebound and was fouled. With 8.1 seconds left, Locke splashed the nets twice on free-throw attempts to seal the deal in Redstick.

Jalen Hudson and Locke added 15 points apiece, as both players hit drained a trio of shots from downtown. Hudson scored 12 of his 15 in the first half. Andrew Nembhard added 10 points, eight assists, three rebounds, three steals and committed just two turnovers in 42 minutes of action.

All five LSU starters were in double figures led by Skylar Mays, who had 18 points. Freshman center Naz Reid finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but he committed five turnovers. Waters was held to 10 points by going just 3-of-12 from the field and 2-of-8 from long distance. He had four assists but also coughed up three turnovers.

After losing at Tennessee on Feb. 9, Mike White’s team ripped off five consecutive wins, only to see that streak end Saturday night in a 61-55 home loss to Georgia as an 11-point favorite. As has been the case so many times this season, the Gators simply couldn’t generate enough offense.

UGA led nearly the entire first half until UF went on a 14-7 run to lead 28-27 at intermission. Even with starter Rayshaun Hammonds logging just five minutes of playing time due to an injured knee, UGA sophomore center Nicolas Claxton proved to be too much for the Gators in the final 20 minutes. Claxton scored 25 points, blocked three shots and had two steals while burying 9-of-12 field-goal attempts, as the Bulldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak and covered the spread in their fifth straight game.

Hudson was UF’s only player in double figures with 13 points. Allen, who along with Kevarrius Hayes (8 pts., six rebounds & 2 blocks vs. UGA) and Hudson will celebrate Senior Night tonight, went 1-of-10 on FGAs and finished with only five points against the Dawgs. Hayes and Allen are the last of the recruits remaining from the dynastic Billy Donovan Era (Hudson was brought to Gainesville by Billy D via the transfer route from Va. Tech).

UF had a 27-19 edge on UGA in the rebounding department, but the Gators made only 18-of-48 FGAs (37.5%) and 5-of-21 from downtown (23.8%).

Florida has been atrocious at home, especially for our purposes. UF has five outright defeats in 14 home games, limping to a 3-11 spread record.

Nevertheless, in Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology,’ Florida is a ninth seed in the South Region that would face eighth-seeded VCU in the opening round for the right to most likely meet top-seeded Duke in Columbia, S.C., in the Round of 32. Another noted bracketology guru, ‘Bracketville Dave’, has the Gators among the ‘Last Four Byes’ as a No. 10 seed squaring off against Louisville in Des Moines.

UF is ranked No. 29 at KenPom.com and No. 35 in the NCAA’s new NET metrics that have replaced the RPI. White’s team is 2-9 against K-Pom’s Top 50, but seven of those defeats have come against foes ranked No. 22 or better and eight L’s have been against Top-35 opponents. The Gators are 7-11 versus K-Pom Top-100 foes, with their best wins coming at LSU, vs. Ole Miss, at Alabama (by 18 pts.), at Arkansas and vs. Butler (by 34!).

Florida has been a strong defensive team all season, ranking 16th in the nation in scoring ‘D’ by allowing opponents to averaged only 63.1 points per game. On the flip side, UF ranks No. 286 in the country in scoring offense (68.3 PPG) and No. 291 in FG percentage (42.1%).

Allen leads the Gators in scoring (12.5 PPG), steals (1.4 SPG) and FT percentage (87.9%), but he’s made only 39.2 percent of his FGAs and 33.8 percent of his 3-balls. Locke is averaging 10.3 PPG and draining 38.8 percent of his treys, while Nembhard (8.1 PPG) has a 150/60 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Lunardi currently has LSU slotted as a No. 3 seed that would face No. 14 seed Yale in Jacksonville. The survivor would face the winner of sixth-seeded Buffalo and No. 11 seed, Ole Miss. If form were to hold and the Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16, they’d be looking at a potential showdown against second-seeded Michigan State in the East Region semifinals.

Will Wade’s team has thrived on the road, producing an 8-1 SU record and a 7-2 ATS mark. Since the loss to Florida, LSU has won three games in a row both SU and ATS.

Waters missed back-to-back home wins vs. Tennessee in OT and vs. Texas A&M when he came down with an illness shortly after the defeat against the Gators. He returned this past Saturday to play 24 minutes in LSU’s 74-69 win at Alabama as a three-point favorite. Waters had five points, four steals, three assists, two rebounds and one blocked shot.

Mays led the way against the Crimson Tide with 20 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists compared to only one turnover. Ja’vonte Smart contributed 19 points, four assists and two steals, while Reid produced another double-double with 12 points and 13 boards.

Waters paces LSU in scoring (15.3 PPG), assists (5.8 APG) and steals (3.0 SPG). Mays averages 13.7 points and 2.0 steals per game, and he has a 66/35 assist-to-turnover to go with a team-high 86.7 FT percentage. Reid averages 13.5 points and 7.0 RPG, while Kavell Bigby-Williams (7.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG) has team-highs in FG percentage (66.4%) and blocked shots (1.9 BPG).

LSU is No. 19 at K-Pom with a 6-3 record against nine K-Pom Top-50 opponents. The Tigers are 16-4 versus Top-100 foes and has just one bad loss to No. 105 Oklahoma State on a neutral court. Their best victories are at Kentucky, at Mississippi State, at Ole Miss and vs. Saint Mary’s on a neutral floor. LSU’s losses to both UF and FSU came in OT and it lost by six at Houston and by one at home vs. Arkansas. Other quality wins include home scalps over Tennessee, Auburn, Furman, Alabama and Memphis.

The ‘under’ is 20-9 overall for UF after cashing in three straight games and eight of its past nine. However, totals have been a wash for the Gators at home (7-7).

The ‘over’ is 17-11 overall for the Tigers, 5-4 in their home games. Since runs of 6-1 and 12-3 for LSU, the ‘under’ has emerged in back-to-back outings. LSU has had only one total in the 130s all season and that was in an 81-69 home win over ULM that saw the 150 combined points jump ‘over’ the 137.5-point tally. Furthermore, the Tigers have seen the ‘over’ hit at a perfect 6-0 clip in their six games that have had totals of 143.5 points or fewer.

ESPN2 will provide the broadcast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

-- Penn State travels to the RAC tonight to take on Rutgers at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions were 1.5 or two-point road ‘chalk’ early this morning. They’ve won five of their past eight games while producing a 7-0-1 ATS record. The game before that, PSU lost 99-90 to Purdue in overtime as a seven-point home ‘dog, so it should really be undefeated ATS-wise for more than a month now (the loss to Purdue came on Jan. 31). As for Rutgers, it is on a 6-0 ATS run with three outright victories during that stretch. The Scarlet Knights lost outright in two of those games on a last-second bank shot (from the corner off a length-of-the-court pass!) by Iowa and in overtime at Illinois. They won 64-60 at PSU as seven-point road underdogs on Jan. 26.

-- Iowa State guard Marial Shayok, a transfer from Virginia, is ‘out’ of tonight’s game at West Virginia due to a foot injury. Shayok averages 18.7 points and 5.2 RPG. The Cyclones were six-point favorites at WVU this morning.

-- Duke narrowly escaped Wake Forest’s upset bid as a 24.5-point road underdog at Cameron Indoor Stadium last night. The Blue Devils won a 71-70 decision when Wake’s Chaundee Brown’s short jumper that would’ve been a buzzer-beating game winner rimmed out as time expired. R.J. Barrett led Duke with 28 points. The South Point in Las Vegas had the Demon Deacons at 40/1 odds on the money line.

-- After the victory over Wake Forest, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said star freshman forward Zion Williamson is almost ready to return. However, he doubts that he’ll be ready for Saturday’s regular-season finale at UNC, but Coach K added that “he’d be surprised” if Zion wasn’t ready to play in next week’s ACC Tournament.

-- Bettors on Virginia Tech and the ‘under’ in its game at FSU took the Bad Beat honors for Tuesday night. The Hokies went to halftime with a 33-19 advantage as four-point underdogs in Tallahassee. The Seminoles outscored Buzz Williams’s squad 42-28 in the second half to force overtime. Then FSU prevailed by a 73-64 count to miraculously cover the number. Gamblers on the ‘under’ might’ve had it even worse, as the 137 combined points tipped ‘over’ the 136-point total due to the extra session.

-- Xavier had its five-game winning streak both SU and ATS snapped in last night’s 71-66 loss at Butler as a four-point underdog. The 137 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 137.5-point tally. Kamar Baldwin was the catalyst for the slumping Bulldogs, who were 3-7 SU and 2-8 ATS in their 10 previous games. Baldwin finished with 24 points, six rebounds, four steals, three assists and one blocked shot, while Paul Jorgensen added 19 points, five seals and five boards on 5-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc.

-- Georgia hooked up money-line supporters with a payout in the +500 neighborhood in Saturday’s win at Florida. Tom Crean’s team returns to action tonight vs. Missouri on the SEC Network at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. As of this morning, most books had UGA as a four-point home ‘chalk’ with a total of 135 or 135.5. Hammonds, who averages 12.1 points and 6.1 RPG, is listed as ‘doubtful.’

-- A few notable money-line winners from last night: Minnesota +180 vs. Purdue, Kent State +160 at Miami (OH.), South Carolina +165 at Texas A&M, Oklahoma +120 vs. Kansas and Rhode Island +125 at St. Joseph’s in OT.

-- Ohio State star forward Kaleb Wesson will miss a second straight game tonight at Northwestern due to a suspension. Wesson averages 14.6 points and 6.7 RPG for the Buckeyes, who were one-point road underdogs this morning. This is a 9:00 p.m. Eastern tip on the Big Ten Network.

-- La Salle guard Pookie Powell (lower body) is ‘questionable’ for tonight’s game against Dayton. Powell averages 16.2 points and 1.5 SPG.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

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