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SEC MEN'S TOURNAMENT - QUARTERFINAL - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

Nembhard's last-second 3 sends Gators to semis

2 days ago
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Florida Gators finally figured out how to avoid overtime against LSU.

For that, they could soon be receiving a very nice reward.

Andrew Nembhard hit a 3-pointer with a second left, and Florida rallied from 13 down in the second half Friday to upset the ninth-ranked Tigers 76-73 in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

The win likely took the Gators (19-14) off the bubble and secured them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

With the game tied at 73, freshman Keyontae Johnson had the ball when he saw LSU forward Naz Reid sliding into position to take a charge. Johnson passed to Nembhard, who was open at the top of the key for the winner.

"I just had confidence in him," Johnson said. "I'm glad he hit it."

The SEC regular-season champs tried to make one last play to salvage their opening game at the SEC Tournament. Will Reese threw the ball deep to Reid, but he couldn't catch it, and the buzzer sounded. That prevented the third overtime this season between these teams, and sent the Tigers home, where they'll attempt to get ready for next week.

Trailing by 13, Florida clawed back into the game by hitting eight straight shots and 10 of 11. Jalen Hudson made a pair of free throws with 6:05 left to give Florida its first lead of the game at 58-57, setting up a frantic finish.

Reid, who finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, hit two 3-pointers in the final minute to tie it at 70, and again at 73 with 13.2 seconds left. Then Johnson found Nembhard for the winning 3.

Nembhard said he had no time to do anything more than catch and shoot.

"I'm happy it went down for sure," said Nembhard, who finished with 20 points and was one of five Gators in double figure.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators' 3-point shooting woes, which contributed to their three-game skid to end the regular season, surfaced again. They went 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) in the first half outside the arc, a number made worse considering they shot more from the outside than inside the arc. But the Gators kept shooting 3s and went 6 of 13 in the second half.

UP NEXT

Florida: Semifinal vs. Auburn on Saturday.

LSU: Hoping for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA bracket.