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(Saturday, January 18th)
Final Score: (7) Florida 68, Auburn 61
Auburn, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Casey Prather showed no signs of rust in his return to the lineup, scoring 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the seventh- ranked Florida Gators' 68-61 win over the Auburn Tigers.
Prather also pulled down six rebounds after missing the past two games with a knee injury.
Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young added 16 and 13 points, respectively, for the Gators (15-2, 4-0 SEC), who have won nine in a row.
Chris Denson ended with 21 points for the Tigers (8-7, 0-4), who have dropped four straight games. KT Harrell tallied 18 points.
"We have the toughest first four games in the SEC," Denson said. "I do not think that last year our mentality would have been the same in these games. We have a good couple of games coming up. There is nothing we can do about the past four games, so we are just looking ahead and to Mississippi State on Wednesday."
With the score tied early on, Florida went on a 16-3 run to take a 25-12 lead with 5:46 left in the first half.
The Tigers quickly swung the momentum in their favor with a 16-2 surge. Allen Payne made two free throws with 1:52 remaining to make it 28-27 Auburn.
Florida shot 61.1 percent from the field in the first half and took a 33-32 edge into the locker room.
Holding a 40-39 lead with 16 1/2 minutes to play, the Gators used an 8-1 spurt to create some distance. Kasey Hill capped the flurry with two free throws to make it a 48-40 contest.
The Tigers managed to keep it close and got within one twice down the stretch. Tahj Shamsid-Deen made a jumper with 1:59 left to cut Florida's lead to 62-61, but Wilbekin responded with a jumper.
After Harrell missed a 3-pointer, Wilbekin went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it 65-61. Young followed with a block of Harrell's attempted layup.
Wilbekin followed with another 1-of-2 performance from the line to make it a five-point game with 17.8 seconds remaining.
"We kind of let our guard down and they did a great job capitalizing on our offense to finish out the first half," Wilbekin said. "Then they did a great job knocking down three's when we left them open."
Despite the loss, Auburn holds an 87-74 advantage in the all-time series with Florida. The Gators, though, have won six straight and 16 of the last 17 meetings. In addition, Florida has posted eight straight wins on Auburn's home floor ... The Tigers went 7-of-13 from beyond the arc ... The Gators shot 53.8 percent from the floor ... Payne had 11 points and six rebounds.
01/18 20:07:52 ET
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