Saturday , Feb , 24 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Gators and Tigers meet in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, LA (Sports Network) – With the SEC title already firmly in
hand, the third-ranked Florida Gators hit the road this weekend, as they
take on the LSU Tigers in conference action from Baton Rouge.

Billy Donovan’s squad won 12 of its first 13 league affairs and
captured the SEC regular season crown with Wednesday’s 63-49 decision
over South Carolina. It was just the second outright SEC crown for the
Gators and fourth overall. Florida has now reached 12 SEC wins five times
under the current 16-game schedule and a win over the Tigers will set a new
school record.

On the surface, there doesn’t look to be much fight left in LSU. After
reaching the Final Four a year ago, the Tigers have fallen on hard times,
winning just three of 13 league affairs and posting a horrific 2-8 record in
true road games. To emphasize LSU’s plight, the team has dropped three
straight games and nine of its last 10 overall. On Tuesday, the team came up
short at Kentucky, 70-63.

The Gators trail the all-time series with LSU, 57-37, but took a pair of
games from the Tigers last season, including in the semifinals of the SEC

One area which Florida is certainly not lacking is offensive firepower. The
Gators came into the week leading the nation in field-goal percentage
(currently at .529), including .422 from long range (third nationally). The
result is a steady 80.3 ppg. All five starters are averaging double digits,
but the strength of this team is in its potent frontcourt. Center Al Horford
is averaging 12.9 ppg and leads the team with 8.8 rpg. He is joined in his
efforts inside by forward Joakim Noah, who adds 12.5 points and 8.1 rebounds
per game. Corey Brewer (12.8 ppg) rounds out the productive trio. The
backcourt is in good hands as well, led by Taurean Green (team-high 13.3 ppg)
and sharpshooter Lee Humphrey (10.1 ppg, .468 from three-point range). In the
title clinching win over South Carolina, Horford led the charge with a near
double-double, logging 20 points and nine rebounds, while also blocking five
shots. Chris Richard came off the bench to tally 14 points, as the only other
double-digit scorer in the game for Florida. Brewer and Noah didn’t light up
the scoreboard (six points each), but they did own the boards, combining for
25 rebounds.

The Tigers could have certainly used All-American candidate Glen Davis in
Lexington this week, but the 6-9 junior did not make the trip due to a muscle
strain in his right leg. With his presence missing down low, LSU was outscored
in the paint, 34-26 and was edged out on the boards (35-33). Tasmin Mitchell
led the team offensively, posting 19 points, followed by Terry Martin’s 16
points. However, the team shot a pedestrian .397 from the floor in the game
and struggled in the second half, as Kentucky opened things up with a .591
shooting performance in the second stanza to earn the victory. This is not a
flashy offensive team, so if Davis is not on floor, the Tigers are at a
distinct disadvantage. Davis is one of the premier power players in the nation
and currently leads the team in both scoring (18.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.5
rpg). However, he is listed as doubtful for this game. Mitchell gets the job
done up front as well (14.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), while Martin (10.7 ppg, .423 from
behind the arc) provides perimeter balance.