GAME NOTES: The seventh-ranked Florida Gators continue their run through the SEC, as they take on the Auburn Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Auburn Arena.
Billy Donovan's Gators enter this weekend with an eight-game win streak in tow. That has included a perfect 3-0 mark in conference play thus far. The team blasted Georgia in Gainesville on Tuesday, 72-50, its 25th straight win at the O'Connell Center.
Tony Barbee's Tigers are at the opposite end of the SEC spectrum. Auburn is still searching for its first league win of the season, entering this game with a three-game losing streak in tow. The Tigers dropped a 78-67 decision at Tennessee on Wednesday.
Auburn holds an 87-73 advantage in the all-time series with Florida. The Gators however, have won five straight and 15 of the last 16 meetings. In addition, UF has posted seven straight wins on Auburn's home floor.
The Gators are fueled by their aggressive defensive play this season. Florida leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense, limiting foes to a mere 59.6 ppg. The team also boasts of positive margins in both rebounding (+5.3) turnovers (+2.7). The scoring depth is vast, with five players currently averaging double figures. Leading scorer Casey Prather tops the scoring list at 17.0 ppg, but has missed time with a knee injury of late. Fortunately, there is plenty of options to assuage the loss short-term. Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin are tied with 12.4 ppg. followed by Dorian Finney-Smith and Patric Young with 11.1 and 10.8 ppg, respectively.
Prather didn't play against Georgia, but the Gators didn't need him, as they routed the Bulldogs. Frazier took control at the offensive end, pouring in a game-high 21 points. Finney-Smith added 14 points, while Will Yeguete and Young posted 12 and 10 points, respectively. Florida held Georgia to a mere .333 shooting effort, while forcing 15 turnovers.
The Tigers fell victim to an efficient Tennessee squad that delivered on 54.5 percent of its shots in an 11-point win over Auburn. The Vols also dominated the play on the boards, outrebounding the Tigers, 42-28. Chris Denson did his best to keep Auburn in the game, netting 24 points, on 10-of-18 shooting. KT Harrell added 15 points, while Tahj Shamsid-Deen finished with 10 in the loss.
Auburn posts decent numbers on the offensive end, with 74.5 ppg, on .454 shooting. Still, the team has a pair of prolific scoring options in Denson and Harrell. Denson leads the SEC in that category, netting 19.4 ppg. Harrell isn't far behind, ranking third in the league at 19.0 ppg. The scoring pool dries up quick after that though, with Shamsid-Deen ranking third on the team at 8.4 ppg.
The Tigers have a potent one-two punch, but there is a good chance that Florida's defensive gameplan will limit both Denson and Harrell. If that happens, the Gators will cruise to victory.
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