Tigers Hit Road to Battle High-Powered Gators

Tony Barbee's basketball Tigers look for their first SEC road win of the season Tuesday against the Florida Gators.

Auburn, Ala.-- Fresh off its first win against a ranked opponent since 2009, the Auburn men's basketball team hits the road to face another ranked opponent in the No. 11 Florida Gators on Tuesday.

Auburn (14-12 overall, 4-8 SEC) hasn't won back-to-back games against ranked opponents since beating No. 4 St. John's and No. 11 UNLV in the 1986 NCAA Tournament. The Tigers have fallen short in eight chances for back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams since then.

The Tigers will also be going for their first SEC road victory of the season with a win over then No.25 Alabama in 2007 being their last over a ranked-SEC opponent on the road.

"Florida is obviously a difficult place to play," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "They are a talented team coming off a big win at Arkansas where they shot the ball phenomenally."

Florida (21-6 overall, 9-3 SEC) handed Arkansas its first home loss of the season in the Gators' 98-68 beat-down of the Razorbacks on Saturday. It was the worst loss for Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena since the venue opened in 1993.

The Gators, who are averaging 70.7 points per game in SEC play, shot a blistering 58.3 percent from the field and made 13-23 attempts from beyond the arc.

"The three-point line is such a big part of their game," said Barbee. "It is difficult, obviously, to take that away from them."

Tony Barbee's Tigers have four regular season games left on the schedule before heading to the SEC Tournament in New Orleans that runs March 8-11.

Against the Razorbacks senior point guard Erving Walker scored a career-high 31 points for the Gators, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from three-point range.

Walker scored 12 points in the Gators' 45-40 win over the Tigers at Auburn Arena last season and was the only Florida player to score in double figures.

Erving Walker

In all, the Florida backcourt combined for 77 of the Gators 98 points, with junior Kenny Boynton scoring 25 and freshman Bradley Beal chipping in 21 of his own. This season all five of the Gators' starters average double-digit points per game with Boynton's 17.5 leading the way.

The Gators' potent offense and dominating performance against Arkansas doesn't faze senior forward Kenny Gabriel, though.

"It doesn't make me nervous because it's just like any other game," Gabriel said. "Just playing away from home, we've got to play defense and we have to rebound the ball and not give them any second-chance points."

Florida's effectiveness from the perimeter and from the paint, where center Patrick Young puts up 10.7 points per game, makes the Gators a difficult team to defend.

"It is tough because you can't over-help," Gabriel said. "Once you over-help, it leaves somebody open and then you start scrambling, and that's when they can start knocking down the shots so we've just got to be active on defense and not let them get anything easy.

"They like to post the ball to Patrick Young so we know that we have to defend him really well and keep him off the offensive boards," Gabriel added.

Auburn holds an 87-71 advantage in the series, although Florida holds a 44-30 edge in Gainesville.

The game is slated to tip off at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on ESPNU.


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