Good Half Not Good Enough Vs. Gators

Auburn led at halftime, but couldn't hold on to pull off the upset at No. 11 ranked Florida.

Gainesville, Fla.--With Auburn holding a three-point lead at the start of the second half, No. 11 Florida caught fire from the perimeter, hitting a barrage of threes as the Gators pulled away from the Tigers for a 63-47 SEC home basketball win on Tuesday night.

The Gators (22-6, 10-3) hit 7-of-12 threes and out-rebounded the Tigers 22-10 in the second half. For the game, Florida had 39 rebounds to Auburn's 24.

The Tigers (14-13, 4-9) were dealt a scare with 11:04 left in the first half when Kenny Gabriel hit the floor hard and left the game favoring his back. He returned to the game with 6:40 left in the first half, but left the game for good midway through the second half with another injury.

"It had a big effect on our game, but it is the next man up," said head coach Tony Barbee. "We talked about it in the locker room. That is an opportunity for somebody to step up and seize the moment. We didn't have that guy step up."

Kenny Gabriel dunks vs. the Gators.

Auburn couldn't make up for Gabriel's offensive production and managed to score only 17 points in the second half. The Tigers shot 33.3 percent from the field for the game and only 45.5 percent from the foul line, going 5-11.

"There are a lot of different keys," said Barbee of the game. "A big one is that we are going to have to score. We had 11 points in the second until two minutes to go in the game. You are not winning that game on their floor."

"They are a veteran, seasoned team," added Barbee. "You knew they were going to make a run. We just didn't have the firepower to counter-punch it."

With Rob Chubb battling foul trouble most of the evening, Adrian Forbes stepped up off the bench, scoring a team-high 11 points and grabbing six rebounds in 27 minutes of play.

"I thought Adrian did a good job of being physical and fighting those guys tonight," Barbee said. "He gave us a good interior presence, especially on the offensive backboard. He got five offensive boards, but just one defensive so he has got to rebound a little bit better."

After committing 12 turnovers in the first half, the Gators took better care of the ball, giving it up only six more times.

Florida guard Kenny Boynton led all scorers with 20 points, which included a 6-of-9 performance from beyond the arc. Erving Walker and Bradley Beal added 13 apiece for the Gators.

Gator coach Billy Donovan said he was disappointed in his team in the first half. "We turned the ball over 12 times. We were 5-for-10 from the three-point line. We gave up eight offensive rebounds. I probably didn't do a good enough job coming out of a 30-point win on the road of getting them where they needed to be mentally. We were slow reacting in the first half."

The first half almost had enough action for an entire game with two ties and nine lead changes. Auburn took a 30-27 lead into halftime.

Auburn's active 2-3 zone forced the Gators, who average 11 turnovers a game, into 12 first-half turnovers. In contrast, the Tigers only committed four.

Allen Payne prepares to shoot while Florida coach Billy Donovan watches.

The Gators shot a blistering 62.6 percent from the field, making 10 of their 16 first half shots. Auburn almost doubled the number of attempted shots, though, hitting 11-of-31.

Both teams found their touch from the three point line, with the Tigers hitting 5-of-10 and the Gators 4 of 9 in the opening 20 minutes.

"We didn't defend as well as we did in the first half so the lead got up on us and we struggled to get back in the game," Varez Ward said. "We ended up shooting 33 percent and you can't come down here and expect to win, especially on their home court, shooting 33 percent."

The Tigers return home to face the Arkansas Razorbacks for the second time this season. The Razorbacks narrowly won the first matchup in Fayetteville 56-53. The game is slated to tip off at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday.

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