The Florida Gators basketball squad found new life after last week’s BYE, toppling the Auburn Tigers in convincing fashion at the O’Dome, 81-65. But now the other Tigers of the SEC are on their way to Gainesville to deliver a new test, but UF head coach Todd Golden sounds confident that his team has LSU figured out.
Golden addressed the media on Monday, breaking down the Tigers’ strengths and how the Gators have been able to control their emotions after getting a big win this past Saturday against Auburn.
The second-year head coach also explained how the Gators have created some chemistry together despite being a roster of mostly transfers this season.
Check out the highlights from Golden’s Monday afternoon press conference.
On maintaining momentum
We’re at that point in the conference season where it sounds cliche but every game, even with our recent success, is super important to us. I feel we have a lot we can build on over the past couple of weeks but one of the things that we’ve talked about before is just handling success and making sure that we come out tomorrow and we play with the same energy and enthusiasm that we played with on Saturday.
If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a really good shot but if we don’t, it’s going to be a really big challenge.
What are LSU strengths?
I think LSU is really talented. They have multiple guys who could hurt you. Jalen Cook can really score it, Will Baker is a really tough cover at the five spot and then they have long, active wings who can make some shots. Watched a little bit of that game on Saturday live against Alabama and just a lot of baskets going back and forth.
We’ve got to be ready to go. It’s going to be a challenge to guard them. They’re a tough cover that way. My hope is that we can bring the same energy and enthusiasm on our home floor like we did this past Saturday.
Controlling emotions after a big win
It’s something that we’ve had to work on the past couple weeks, to be honest. We talked about it after the Kentucky game. We wanted to enjoy it that weekend but once the game was over, we woke up the next day and we had to be prepared for A&M.
Similar mentality and similar approach after Saturday. We had Saturday night to enjoy, got together yesterday, watched some film and worked out and today is going to be a really important practice.
Florida Gators guard Walter Clayton Jr. was watching the media session from the side of the room.
To be honest, it starts with Walter Clayton,” Golden said jokingly. “If he practices hard, we have really good practices and that’s the expectation we have as well.
Impact of having homecourt advantage
Yeah, they’re doing their part, you know, they’ve been great coming out and supporting, and we got a really good crowd for Mississippi State also which was a midweek game, you know. It might not be the same as Saturday, but I do anticipate it being really good again.
The Rowdies have been awesome. You know, pulling up to the game, I usually get to the game about an hour and 45, hour and a half before, and (there was a) huge line across the street as we’re coming into the building. Really happy for our guys, because they’ve created a lot of excitement on campus.
Building chemistry within the starting lineup.
It’s definitely not an exact science. I think it’s actually really, really challenging. But we do kind of build our roster and our program with the idea of, like, all right, are these pieces going to fit together. We’re not just going and trying to recruit the most talented guys and then try to figure it out. We want to make sure the pieces work together.
A big part of that comfort is that these guys complement each other very well. (Zyon Pullin) is a point guard, but Walt can play point guard is a great scorer. Riley is the best athlete, incredible in transition and a great downhill driver. Will is an outstanding standstill shooter. That’s just on the perimeter, but they kind of come and work together.
You can play three of the four of them together and they work together. Their ability to have success individually while we’re having success as a team is the main reason they get along so well.
Expectations for his team going into tomorrow's game
We have to stay consistent. We have to have a similar effort. Our expectation going into every game, especially at home, is to win. I think we have to make sure we have a similar effort to what we did Saturday for us to say we’re either happy or satisfied.
But LSU is coming in and it’s going to be a super big challenge; a different challenge. They’re a different team than Auburn. We have got to make sure we handle success the right way, with great energy.
Limiting offensive turnovers
We’ve been pretty good at taking care of the ball. We’ve had our moments. Obviously the A&M game, it really hurt us but part of our ability to make this jump that we have really since the end of December has been our ability to take care of the ball and our ability to get on the glass. When we do those things, it kind of raises our floor in terms of how productive we can be offensively.
When we make shots along with those things, we’re really tough but limiting turnovers and creating more possessions on the glass has been a really good foundation for us. It’s been a huge reason as to why we’re able to win some of these games against high-caliber opponents and it’s going to be what continues to allow us to do it moving forward.
There’s a gap. When we take care of it, we’re pretty dang good but when we don’t, it’s hard for us to push through and win.
Next game info
LSU comes to Gainesville to take on Florida inside the O’Connell Center on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.