GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tremont Waters dribbled the length of the court for the tying basket with 3 seconds remaining in regulation and then hit a 3-pointer early in overtime, helping No. 10 LSU escape with a 79-78 victory at Florida on Wednesday night.
The Gators had a chance to win it with 7.8 second left in overtime, but Jalen Hudson slipped and then KeVaughn Allen failed to get off a driving shot before the final buzzer.
The Tigers (25-5, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) nearly gave the game away in the final minute of regulation. Waters coughed up a turnover that led to a dunk at the other end and Skylar Mays missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Hudson, who scored 16 straight points in the second half in his final home game on “Senior Night,” looked as if he delivered the winner. His 3-pointer from the elbow rattled around the rim and fell through with 6.2 seconds left, putting the Gators (17-13, 9-8) up 72-70. But that was enough time for Waters to go coast to coast while splitting Florida’s half-hearted defense.
Waters finished with 19 points, six assists and six turnovers. Javonte Smart added 15 points for the Tigers, who have won eight of nine and avenged their only loss in the last month.
Emmitt Williams chipped in 13 points and 14 rebounds. Williams scored 11 straight in the first half, helping LSU build a double-digit lead.
The Gators stormed back behind Hudson, who finished with a season-high 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting.
Allen, Florida’s leading scorer, had another poor shooting performance. The senior, one of three honored before the game, had four points on 1 of 6 from the field. He has missed 21 of his last 25 shots, all in the last three games.
The Tigers pounded Florida on the glass and in the paint, enjoying a plus-10 rebounding advantage and outscoring the Gators 44-26 in the lane.
LSU: The Tigers can clinch a share of the SEC regular-season title with a victory Saturday against lowly Vanderbilt. They already have locked up a double-bye in next week’s conference tournament and continue to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding.
Florida: The Gators are playing consecutive games against Top 10 teams for the first time since the 2007 Final Four. The Gators won both of those a dozen years ago to clinch the national championship. They might need to upset Kentucky on Saturday to secure a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament field.
Florida’s Noah Locke broke the school’s freshman record for 3-pointers when he hit his second of the game and 75th of the season early in the second half. Anthony Roberson set the previous mark in 2003.
LSU hosts Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale Saturday. It will be “Senior Night” for the Tigers, who will honor forward Kavell Bigby-Williams.
Florida plays at No. 6 Kentucky on Saturday. The Wildcats won the first meeting 65-54 in early February.
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