GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Colin Castleton scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half and Florida held off LSU 83-79 on Saturday.
Castleton scored Florida’s first 15 points of the second half, including a personal 9-0 run that put the Gators up 51-45. He made two free throws and Tre Mann followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 62-52 at the 12-minute mark.
The lead was never more than 10 but was was at 10 on a Mann jumper with 3:15 to go. From there the Gators missed four shots and the Tigers twice made it a one-possession game but Scottie Lewis made 5 of 6 free throws in the last 29 seconds, including the clinchers with 5.9 seconds to go.
Mann scored 19 points, Lewis had 17 and Anthony Duruji 16 with seven rebounds for the Gators (5-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference). Castleton was 7 of 10 from the field and 7 of 7 from the line, where Florida was 20 of 23.
Freshman star Cam Thomas, a Chesapeake product from Oscar Smith High School, scored 28 points for the Tigers (6-2, 1-1), who had their five-game winning streak stopped. Trendon Watford added 21 points with eight rebounds and Javonte Smart 20. LSU shot 41% but made seven 3s and went 22 of 25 from the line.
In the first half, LSU was 5 of 8 from 3-point range but Florida shot 58% overall and the score was tied at 40 at the break.
Thomas, the leading scorer in the SEC and third in the nation at 24.1 points a game, had a four-point play with just over a minute to go in the first half for a 40-35 lead. But Omar Payne made two free throws 10 seconds later and after LSU missed, Duruji had a deep 3-pointer from the right wing as time ran out.
It was a good half for the Gators with Castleton, the junior transfer from Michigan, playing just two minutes because of early foul trouble and leading scorer Keyontae Johnson (16 points per game) still sidelined after collapsing during a game on Dec. 12 and needing emergency medical attention. Johnson, a Norview High School product from Norfolk, was at his first game, masked up on the bench, in street clothes.
Florida, which postponed four games after Johnson’s collapse and didn’t play for 18 days, is scheduled to play at Alabama on Tuesday. LSU returns home to face Georgia on Wednesday.