By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — By beating Arkansas 66-50 Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Florida earned a third chance to play LSU.
Florida won at LSU before LSU came back to win at Florida — both games went to overtime.
LSU won the regular-season SEC title and has a NCAA Tournament bid secured despite the suspension of head coach Will Wade and starting guard Javonte Smart. Florida may still need a win to get into the NCAA.
Could Florida coach Mike White take another overtime game with LSU?
“I don’t know that my heart can. My guys probably can. They’ve been a resilient group all year. Two high-level college basketball games. Two that we had chances to win both,” White said. “Obviously we had chances to lose both.
“It will be hopefully a great game. We all know how good they are. Hopefully we’re competitive enough in the same regard to have a chance late and we’re in the same position where we can steal another one.”
Assistant Tony Benford is LSU’s interim head coach but White doesn’t expect that to impact LSU’s play.
“They’re really good. They finished the season really strong. Tony does a really good job. I know that firsthand. We were at Louisiana Tech one year, went into North Texas, got our brains beat in. He does a very good job. They have a good staff. They have a really good team,” the Florida coach said.
He said he won’t spend long telling his players about LSU’s suspensions.
“It will be a 30-second conversation. Let’s lock in on these guys’ actions, how good they are offensively, offensive glass,” White said. “We have to do a great job with their dynamic guards, led by Tremont (Waters). How do we read at a higher level than we did at home. He put us in a quandary, especially late in the game with his post touches.
That’s where our focus is going to be. That’s it.”