Gators hit 3 with seconds left to knock off No. 9 LSU

Florida moves on in SEC Tournament

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Florida's Andrew Nembhard celebrates after shooting the game-winning basket against the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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

The SEC regular-season champs had one last chance as Will Reese threw the ball deep to Naz Reid, who couldn't catch it while defended by a pair of Gators before the buzzer.

Eighth-seeded Florida (19-14) now will play either No. 22 Auburn or South Carolina in the semifinals Saturday after a thrilling comeback that firmed up the Gators' chances for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth.

LSU (26-6) was a 3½-point favorite and had won five straight without coach Will Wade, who remains suspended indefinitely despite asking Thursday to rejoin the Tigers for the postseason. LSU quickly squashed that idea with a statement noting Wade will remain suspended until he speaks to school officials about the reports of an FBI wiretap that led to his suspension March 8, noting Wade has yet to "deny any wrongdoing to us or publicly."

The Tigers did have freshman Javonte Smart back after LSU announced a couple hours before tipoff Friday that the guard has fully cooperated in a "joint inquiry" with the school and the NCAA.

They accepted their trophy as the league's regular-season champs from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey before tipoff in a subdued ceremony. Then LSU led 35-25 at halftime and as much as 42-29 with 16:52 left.

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. LSU led 63-60 when Keyontae Johnson hit a 3-pointer, officials called a foul on LSU and the LSU bench was assessed a technical also a technical for arguing. KeVaughn Allen hit a pair of two free throws, and Kevarrius Hayes hit one for a six-point play.

Reid hit two 3-pointers in the final minute to tie it at 70 and again at 73 with 13.2 seconds left. Then Johnson passed out to Nembhard at the top of the key for the winning 3.

Nembhard led five Gators in double figures with 20 points. Johnson finished with 16, Hudson had 13, Allen scored 12 and Hayes had 11.

Reid led LSU with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Smart finished with 13 points off the bench.

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