GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Darius Days scored 20 points about 25 miles from his hometown, Eric Gaines added 15 in his second start of the season and No. 12 LSU beat Florida 64-58 on Wednesday night.
The Tigers (15-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) won their first game without starting point guard Xavier Pinson, who sat out with a sprained knee. Gaines helped pick up the slack, scoring eight points in the second half and going 4 of 5 on free throws down the stretch.
The Gators (9-6, 0-3) lost for the sixth time in nine games and fell to 0-3 in league play for the first time since the 1980-81 season.
LSU dominated Florida down low, outscoring the Gators 42-26 in the paint. And the Tigers did that without much help from big men Tari Eason and Efton Reid.
Eason picked up his fifth foul on a charge with a little more than 14 minutes to play, and Reid joined him on the bench with 7:16 remaining. Reid picked up three fouls in the first half and was called for a fourth in the opening minute of the second.
Florida’s biggest issue was at the free throw line. The Gators missed 11 from the charity strip, including seven of nine down the stretch.
Colin Castleton led Florida with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Phlandrous Fleming added 11 points.
LSU led by 14 in the first half, but Florida whittled it to two several times in the final minutes. Anthony Duruji, Myreon Jones and Brandon McKissic each missed a pair of free throws in crunch time.
LSU: The Tigers entered with the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense, giving up 56.4 points a game, and that figure won’t change much after another stout defensive performance that included five blocks and eight steals.
Florida: The Gators opened league play with a daunting schedule that included three ranked teams: Alabama, Auburn and LSU. They were close at times in all three but were doomed by lengthy scoring droughts.
Florida guard Niels Lane did not play and was not on the bench. A team official said Lane’s absence was a coach’s decision. Lane, a sophomore, has played in just seven games this season and has nearly as many turnovers (7) as points (8).
LSU hosts Arkansas on Saturday.
Florida plays at South Carolina on Saturday.
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