(7) Florida (20-3) at Auburn (9-15)
Saturday, February 16, 1:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Auburn Arena (9,121) -- Auburn, Alabama. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Florida 12-0, Auburn 7-6. Away Record: Florida 6-3, Auburn 2-6. Neutral Record: Florida 2-0, Auburn 0-3. Conference Record: Florida 10-1, Auburn 3-8. Series Record: Auburn leads, 87-72.
GAME NOTES: The seventh-ranked Florida Gators continue their quest for an SEC regular-season title, as they take on the Auburn Tigers in league action at Auburn Arena on Saturday.
Billy Donovan's Gators have had a superior season both in and out of conference. Florida comes into this contest with a stellar 20-3 record, which includes a near flawless 10-1 mark in SEC play. The lone loss in-conference came on the road at Arkansas on Feb. 5. The Gators have won two straight games since then and really showed their dominance this week, with a 69-52 rout of defending national champion Kentucky.
Auburn has struggled this season at 9-15 overall. Wins have been even harder to come by in-conference, with the Tigers sitting just outside the league cellar at a mere 3-8. Auburn has dropped two straight and eight of its last nine games, including an 83-75 setback against Arkansas on Wednesday.
This marks the only regular-season meeting scheduled between these two teams. Florida trails the all-time series, but has closed the gap with wins in four straight and 14 of the last 15 meetings, overall.
Stingy defensive play has been the driving force in Florida's run to the conference crown. The Gators' gaudy +21.3 scoring margin is a direct result of holding teams to a mere 52.7 ppg (fourth nationally), on just .372 shooting. Florida also enjoys a +7.4 rebounding margin and is forcing almost 15 turnovers per game. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double digits in scoring, led by Kenny Boynton's 12.9 ppg. Erik Murphy is a close second at 12.8 ppg, followed by Mike Rosario and Patric Young, who tack on 12.5 and 10.8 ppg, respectively.
Florida snapped a five-game losing streak to Kentucky emphatically this week, as the team reached the 20-win mark for the 15th straight season. UF shot a solid 49 percent from the floor in the game, with five players notching double figures in the balanced attack. Scottie Wilbekin led the charge with a game- high 14 points. Young, Rosario and Casey Prather added 12 points each, while Murphy finished with 10.
In a game that saw the momentum switch throughout the second half, Auburn came out on the losing end against Arkansas, for the team's second consecutive loss. Chris Denson led the way in defeat with 18 points. Frankie Sullivan chipped in 11 points off the bench, but it wasn't enough to push the Tigers to victory.
Offensive proficiency has not been an area of strength for Auburn this season, as the Tigers are averaging a modest 66.9 ppg on a meager .415 shooting. Sullivan came off the bench for the first time in the loss to the Razorbacks, having been a mainstay in the starting lineup in the other 23 games this year. He currently leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg, despite shooting well under 40 percent from the floor (.377). Denson is currently the only other Tiger in double figures at 12.2 ppg. Rob Chubb is just under that mark (9.1 ppg), but does lead the team on the boards (7.3 rpg).
The Tigers lack the depth to keep this one close. The Gators are humming along and are closing in on the league title. They aren't about to slip up as a heavy favorite.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 75, Auburn 54
02/16 10:46:09 ET