Florida emerges from tight finish to hold off LSU

Updated:

Walter Clayton Jr. scored 21 points and surging Florida held on to defeat LSU 82-80 on Tuesday night in Gainesville, Fla.

Tyrese Samuel added 15 points, Zyon Pullin had 14 and the Gators (17-7, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) won for the sixth time in their last seven games.

Will Baker and Jordan Wright scored 16 points each and Tyrell Ward and Jalen Cook added 12 each to lead the Tigers (12-12, 4-7), who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.

Samuel was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and made one of two free throws to break a 78-all tie with 38 seconds left. Pullin made a steal, leading to Clayton’s layup and an 81-78 lead with 20 seconds left.

Wright made a layup for the Tigers with 11 seconds remaining, and the Gators’ Alex Condon made one of two free throws for a two-point lead with 9 seconds left. The Gators held on when Wright missed a shot from the lane just before the buzzer.

Baker and Jalen Reed made consecutive 3-pointers to start the Tigers’ second-half scoring and get them within 10 points, 50-40.

Clayton scored five points during a 10-0 run that gave the Gators a 60-40 lead.

Cook made a 3-pointer and LSU crept within 14 points before Florida’s Riley Kugel made a jumper.

The Tigers scored the next seven points to get within 66-57, but Samuel converted a three-point play.

Wright made consecutive jumpers to help LSU pull within seven points. Florida rebuilt the lead to 11, but the Tigers got within five with four minutes remaining.

Pullin answered by making a jumper, but LSU scored the next seven points, tying the score at 78 on Ward’s 3-pointer with 1:33 left.

LSU scored the first five points of the game and led by five points a second time before Florida pulled even at nine. Samuel’s jumper broke the tie and gave the Gators their first lead.

The Tigers got within one point three times before the Gators opened a 25-18 lead.

Baker answered with a 3-pointer before Will Richard and Clayton scored four points each to help Florida expand the lead to 37-26.

Ward made a 3-pointer for LSU, but Pullin scored five points and Condon had four as the Gators took a 48-34 halftime lead.