Gators "Buzzsaw" Barbee's Boys

Florida came out hot and kept the pressure on for a comfortable SEC basketball road win at Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--Florida put on an impressive display of three-point shooting as the visiting Gators showed why they have been the best team in the SEC by a wide margin this season as they cruised to an 83-52 basketball victory on Saturday.

The Gators, who improved their record to 21-3 overall and 11-1 in the SEC, launched 30 threes and made 15. They carved up Auburn's zone defense in the first half making 7-15 treys.

In the second half, playing largely against man-to-man defense, the Gators were even more efficient from long range, making 8-15 treys.

"Today, we just ran into a buzzsaw," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee, whose team lost a third straight game and for the ninth time in its last 10 outings. The Tigers are 9-16 overall and 3-9 in the league.

"We just played one of the best teams in the country," Barbee said when asked to assess what happened to his Tigers. "We played a veteran and experienced team, and they proved why they are the best team in our league."

The Auburn coach said his team's performance was uneven. "I told our guys I was disappointed in our overall defensive intensity and attention to detail. You have got to learn from playing against teams like that and what makes them different."

Barbee said he will review video of the game to get a better read on who played hard and well on defense throughout the game and who didn't. He said the guys who were most effective on defense will get more playing time.

"You want to put up a better fight than that against a team that is that good, especially in front of a great crowd like it was today, but it is obvious why Florida is such a great team," Barbee said.

The Tigers fell behind early and never made a serious run against the Gators, who shot 60 percent in the first half to build a 47-22 lead at intermission.

The Gators couldn't keep up that shooting pace the whole game, but still finished the contest at 57.4 percent. Auburn shot 35.2 percent from the field while making 4-16 threes.

Neither team made many trips to the foul line. Auburn was 7-8, Florida was 6-10.

The Tigers and Gators each grabbed 30 rebounds while Auburn turned the ball over 14 times, five more than the visitors.

Senior guard Frankie Sullivan came off the bench for a second straight game. He said that he didn't have a problem with that, but noted the result bothered him. "I just hate losing," he said. "It is sick to me to lose like that."

Sullivan said he wished he could figure out why the team is struggling so much in recent weeks after playing much better basketball at times earlier in the season. "If I knew the answer I would definitely try to fix it right away," said the senior, who added that it is "embarrassing" to lose the way his team did on Saturday.

Sullivan, the Tigers' leading scorer for the season, finished with eight points. The player who replaced him in the starting lineup, Chris Denson, led the Tigers with 13 points. Jordan Price came off the bench to score 12 points as he hit 5-10 shots.

The post play was a big issue for the Tigers. Rob Chubb was 0-4 from the field and scored one point and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum played 13 minutes. He grabbed three rebounds, but was 0-2 from the field with no points.

Florida's Patric Young shoots vs. Josh Wallace left and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum right.

Mike Rosario led the Gators with 22 points. He hit 9-14 field goals. Michael Frazier, who was 6-7 on treys, scored 18 points for Florida while Kenny Boynton added 16 points as he made four three-pointers.

Rosario said the strong start was a key to victory. "It was big, especially giving the team the first punch on the road. We were just making a statement from the beginning of the game knowing it was going to be a 40-minute game."

Boynton agreed, adding, "I think every loose ball we tried to get and we did a great job of attacking it. I think defensively we had a good day. Offensively, we had a great day."

Starting Lineup: The Tigers opened the game with Allen Payne, Josh Wallace, Chris Denson, Rob Chubb and Shaquille Johnson on the floor.

Halftime Numbers: The Gators blitzed the Tigers in the opening 20 minutes by hitting 7-15 threes and 18-30 (60 percent) overall from the field. Rosario scored 18 points in the period to help the Gators take a 47-22 lead.

Auburn was 8-23 (34.8 percent) from the field, 3-8 on threes and 3-6 free throws while committing 10 turnovers, eight more than the visitors. Florida held a 16-13 rebounding edge in the first half.

Worth Noting: Auburn's record in the month of February is now 1-4.

Worth Noting, Part 2: The Gators have now won five consecutive games in the series to cut Auburn's lead to 87-73.

Up Next: The Tigers will wrap up their three-game homestand on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. game vs. Texas A&M.

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