LSU (26-6) was a 3 ½-point favourite and had won five straight without coach Will Wade, who remains suspended indefinitely despite asking Thursday to rejoin the Tigers for the post-season. "Absent that, the university is in a very hard position with regard to compliance with NCAA requirements, and until Coach Wade talks to university administration about this, he remains suspended", Tom Skinner, LSU's general counsel said in response to Wade.
"It was a mature decision", says Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins, "to say 'I'm not quite ready yet, and I'm enjoying the college experience.' In today's world, you get so many outside influences, trying to give you their opinions".
Florida clawed back into the game by hitting eight straight shots and 10 of 11. Jalen Hudson made a pair of free throws with 6:05 left to give UF its first lead of the game at 58-57, setting up a frantic finish. Reid drained a 3-pointer to tie the score at 73. Then Johnson found Nembhard for the winning 3. LSU's freshman forward Naz Reid immediately tied it up with a three with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 73-all. "In my head I was thinking what Coach White said: Play off two feet".
Wade sent out a statement today saying as much, and also conveniently failed to address whether or not he was guilty of committing blatant NCAA violations caught on tape by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An assist from Keyontae Johnson put Nembhard in position to sink a jumper from deep to bring the Gators up by three with one second on the clock. Smart finished with 13 points off the bench.
The freshman guard was held out of LSU's win over Vanderbilt to close the regular season and didn't learn until about 9:45 a.m. Friday that he could play again.
"I have nothing to do with that", Smart said.
Nembhard left of Aurora Ont. hugs teammate Jalen Hudson after hitting the game-winner
Nembhard led the Gators with 20 points on 7-for-14 from the floor, including 3-or-7 from the three-point line.
Mays said playing without Wade has been a challenge, but he offered complimentary remarks of the job assistants Greg Heiar, Bill Armstrong and Benford have done to prepare the team for games.
The Gators made it to line 26 total times and converted on 16 of those opportunities, and knocked down six triples in the second half.
"I'm happy it went down for sure", Nembhard said.
LSU: The Tigers will have a complaint about the discrepancy in foul calls with 24 on LSU compared to 10 for the Gators.
Even though Dontay Bassett connected on a couple of free throws, the Gators had struggles in this department for the first 20 minutes of game time. "Coach (Tony Benford) called me and told me I could play". "We're not going to get any calls".
"If we were to get a shot to play in the NIT, I think we could make a good run".