Gainesville, Florida (PressExposure) March 26, 2009 -- Despite four of the Florida Gators, Walter Hodges (16), Alex Tyus (15), Nick Calathes (12), and Chandler Parsons (12) scoring in the double digits, The Gators fell in a February 24th contest at Pete Maravich Assembly Center 81-75 to guarantee Louisiana State University at least a share in the Southeastern Conference championships.
It's been a great year for Trent Johnson who took over a team that had recorded consecutive losing seasons.
"I'm so happy for these guys, you have no idea," Johnson said. "I don't believe in all that destiny stuff. This is a good basketball team. The thing I really appreciate about these guys is they speak from the heart and they have a sense of security."
Florida hasn't had a bad year. Overall they show a 21-7 standing and 8-5 in the conference, and stood in a three way tie with South Carolina and Kentucky for first place in the SEC East.
The Gators played well in this game, too, shooting for 50 percent in the first half and keeping the score close for most of the game.
At the end of the first half, Nick Calathes went on a 12-2 run with 4 minutes left. The Gators went into halftime with a 41-37 lead.
"Florida's a team that's really good in transition," LSU's coach Trent Johnson said. "We'll put a premium on taking care of the ball. They are playing very well, coming off two very good victories."
Midway through the second half, with LSU trailing 56-53, the Tigers began a 14-2 run of their own that put them back on top.
"We could never really get over the hump," Coach Billy Donovan said.
Florida tied the game at 58-58 on a lay up by Tybus, but with 10:18 on the clock Tasmin Mitchell took back the lead from the charity line.
Ray Shipman and Erving Walker both made valiant attempts from beyond the arc, closing the gap within three points (67-64), with 4:45 left in the game.
LSU countered with four straight points.
Calathes grabbed seven rebounds and led the team with six assists. Don Werner and Alex Tyus both snagged 6 rebounds.
But it wasn't enough.
"We didn't execute our offense well toward the end," freshman point guard Erving Walker said. "I don't think we were tired. They just outplayed us toward the end."
Marcus Thornton led LSU with 32 points,-15 within the first half. He scored 10 of 11 from the foul line, including 10 in a row at the end of the game, and hit six of 11 in three pointers.
"Winning is always fun," Thornton said. "Last year, we didn't have the season like we wanted to have. Nobody but the guys in this locker room thought we could have a season like this."
"I think we were playing against the best team in the league right now with a whole bunch of seniors," Donovan said. "Our guys did pretty well to be honest with you. We had some plays that we could have made, but we just didn't."