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Thursday, October 28, 2021
<p>Keyontae Johnson</p>

Keyontae Johnson

Forward Keyontae Johnson caught an inbounds pass with 0.5 seconds to go in the game.

With his team down by two, Johnson laid the ball up at the buzzer, and it found the bottom of the net — much to the dismay of the home crowd.

Johnson then clapped as if his late-game heroics would continue on to overtime while his teammates jumped and celebrated. They basked in their 6-foot-5 teammate’s clutch performance — except forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. — who stared blankly at his team while on the baseline. Maybe he saw that the ball didn’t leave Johnson’s fingertips in time.

The referees confirmed Blackshear Jr's suspicions after a review. No basket.

Florida’s men’s basketball team lost to LSU 84-82 on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Tigers entered the matchup as the top team in the SEC and seemed like the favorite.

This was on the heels of Florida’s most impressive win of the season in which it dismantled then-No. 4 Auburn on Saturday by 22 points in Gainesville.

Nevertheless, UF (12-6, 4-2 SEC) and LSU (14-4, 6-0 SEC) have a recent history of tight games dating back to last year where two of the three matchups went to overtime, and the total difference in points was only seven (236-229).

This game was no different.

The offense was sporadic for both teams in the first half, and it usually followed a good defensive play.

The Tigers had multiple possessions with sloppy play leading to seven turnovers. Florida took care of the ball until the Tigers brought the full-court press.

Freshman guard Ques Glover struggled against the aggressive defense and had three turnovers in the first half.

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LSU kept the game close by capitalizing on those steals and scored 11 points on UF’s six first half turnovers.

The opening half ended with UF leading 36-34 after guard Scottie Lewis drained a fadeaway jump shot at the top of the key with three seconds to go.

Lewis led Florida at the half with nine points, while LSU’s leading scorer, Trendon Watford, had 10.

In the second half, LSU’s aggression was the catalyst for its eventual win.

The Tigers went 16 of 31 from the field and cashed in on 17 points from the free throw line — they had 24 in the game.

Earlier in the week, coach Mike White praised LSU’s talent — especially its ability to convert from the charity stripe.

“They’re fantastic in a lot of areas,” White said on Monday during media availability. “Getting to the foul line; converting free throws at a really high clip; they are arguably the best offensive rebounding team in our league.”

White’s praise was warranted. LSU was second in the SEC in free throw percentage at 76.3 and had the No. 2 offense in the SEC — averaging 79.9 points per game — entering Tuesday’s game.

The Tigers stretched the lead to 11 at one point before Johnson hit back-to-back threes in the game’s final minute to give Florida hope.

It wasn’t meant to be. The officials determined that the ball didn’t leave Johnson’s fingertips before the final buzzer.

Johnson and guard Noah Locke led UF with 16 points each. Blackshear Jr., who was suffering from a stomach virus, had 15 points, as did guard Andrew Nembhard.

Six of LSU’s players scored in double digits and were led by forward Emmit Williams with 19.

After playing the top team in the SEC, the schedule only gets harder for the Gators. Florida plays No. 1 Baylor (16-1) at 8 p.m. on Saturday in Gainesville.

Follow Joseph on Twitter @JSalvadorSports and contact him at jsalvador@alligator.org.

Keyontae Johnson

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