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LSU basketball set to open SEC Tourney as top seed

LSU’s Skylar Mays

NASHVILLE – The No. 9 ranked LSU Tigers went through its usual day-before-game routine Thursday in preparation for Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with the Florida Gators in the Southeastern Conference tournament.

The Tigers and Gators will meet in the first game of the day at noon at the downtown Bridgestone Arena. The contest will be televised by ESPN with Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes and Laura Rutledge on the call. The Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair and former LSU Coach John Brady will be courtside for the game on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).

Florida won the right to meet LSU for a third time after scoring a 66-50 win over Arkansas in the opening game of Thursday’s second round. The ninth-seeded Gators outscored the eighth-seeded Razorbacks, 36-22, in the final 20 minutes as Keyontae Johnson had 20 points and 12 rebounds and KeVaughn Allen added 17 points.

The two teams split games in the regular season with Florida winning in overtime in Baton Rouge, 82-77, on Feb. 20 and LSU winning in Gainesville in overtime, 79-78, on March 6. This will be the third meeting in less than a month between the two teams.

Skylar Mays and Tremont Waters both averaged 14.5 points in the two contests with Waters averaging 5 assists. Naz Reid had 12.5 points and a 10 boards per game average with 10 offensive and 10 defensive boards in the two contests.

In the win in Gainesville, Waters had 19 points and Emmitt Williams returning to his home state had 13 points and 14 rebounds.

LSU shot 43.0 percent in the two games, while Florida shot 45.5 percent. The Gators had a 20-13 advantage in three-point field goals, but LSU averaged 42 rebounds in the games compared to 36 for UF. LSU had a 38-26 advantage over two games in offensive rebounds. LSU in the win had a 44-26 advantage in points in the paint and 20-8 in second chance points.

Both teams did turn the ball over in the two meetings with LSU totaling 28 combined to 25 for Florida.

LSU has an 8-3 lead in games played between the two teams in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina are the other three teams that finished in the top four that received the double byes to Friday’s quarterfinals. The first two games of the Friday session will be televised on ESPN with the evening session back on the SEC Network.

At halftime of Friday’s game the late Wayde Sims will be honored as the team’s “SEC Legend” for 2019. Wayde’s parents Fay and former Tiger Wayne Sims will accept the award in memory of their son.

An LSU win will put the Tigers in the semifinals at noon on Saturday.

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