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Updated: Saturday, February 14, 2004 7:12 PM EST
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LSU 73, (20) Florida 70

GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Louisiana State's young team may not be able to fly under the radar anymore.

Jaime Lloreda converted a key layup in the final minute and the Tigers used a stifling defensive effort down the stretch for a 73-70 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 20 Florida.

Louisiana State (17-4, 7-3 SEC West), which starts two freshmen and a sophomore, won its fifth straight, holding Florida to one basket in the final 4 1/2 minutes. The Gators took a 66-58 lead on Matt Walsh's 3-pointer with 4:30 left.

The Tigers ran off the next 10 points, taking the lead for good on Darrel Mitchell's two free throws for a 68-66 advantage with 1:33 to go.

"We have some nice wins, but winning at particular times in the season become more significant than others," Tigers coach John Brady said. "And for us to come here and get this win, as Florida needed to win with their tough schedule the rest of the way out, we took their best shot at home and we were able to win it."

Florida's Adrian Moss split a pair from the line before LSU came up with the game's biggest play. Freshman reserve Tack Minor made a perfect feed inside to Lloreda, who scored over three Tigers for a 70-67 edge with 42 seconds remaining.

The Gators (14-7, 5-5 East) had one last chance to tie after Lloreda made 1-of-2 with four seconds left. But Danish sophomore Christian Drejer's runner from just past halfcourt was an airball as time expired.

"Today was similar to the rest of the season," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "In the last seven to eight minutes, we can't stop anybody. I can't put my finger on it."

Lloreda collected 19 points and nine rebounds despite not practicing the day before due to bursitis in his left Achilles. He also suffered a right ankle injury in the first half and left for a brief stretch.

"The second time really hurt and I didn't think I was going to get back in the game," Lloreda said. "The trainer just tightened up my shoes, and I went back in to the game. It really hurt, though."

LSU shot 59 percent (13-of-22) in the second half and also was able to get to the line. Mitchell finished with 18 points and freshman Brandon Bass added 13 and four blocks.

"It definitely helps our confidence," Bass said. "It was a big win. We're confident we are a good team."

Matt Walsh drained a season-high six 3-pointers and scored 24 points and Anthony Roberson added 18 for Florida, which fell to 9-4 at home. Walsh was shut out down the stretch and Roberson managed only one 3-pointer.

"We were getting good shots as a team," Walsh said. "I don't really realize how many shots I'm getting down the stretch. It's not our offense that lost the game, it's the defense."

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