Toughest Test Awaits Basketball Tigers

The Auburn basketball Tigers will take on No. 2 ranked Florida on Wednesday in Gainesville.

Auburn, Ala.--With a 92-82 victory on Saturday in a rematch vs. Mississippi State the Auburn basketball Tigers passed last season's SEC victory total.

Now 12-11 overall and 4-9 in the conference, for Auburn to earn a fifth SEC victory on Wednesday night at Florida the Tigers will likely have to play their best game of the season.

Florida is the SEC's hottest team and will come into the game (6 p.m. CST on Fox Sports Net) with an 11-0 league mark and a 22-2 overall record.

Coach Billy Donovan's Gators are 14-0 on their homecourt this season and have won 17 straight games with the latest victory an impressive 69-59 decision on Saturday in Lexington vs. 14th-ranked Kentucky.

Included in Florida's winning streak is a 68-61 victory over the Tigers on Jan. 18th at Auburn Arena. The Tigers had a chance to win that game late, trailing by just a point with under two minutes remaining. "Give Florida credit," Barbee said. "They made the plays when they had to make them."

Auburn senior guard Chris Denson, who is leading the SEC in scoring at 20.9 points per game, scored 21 vs. the Gators in the previous matchup this season.

Barbee pointed out on Monday that the Gators are the best team in the conference. "They are extremely difficult to play wherever it is, but at home with their crowd, their energy and their press it makes it even more difficult," he said.

The Auburn coach noted that he likes the effort his team has been playing with against SEC opponents. "These guys really like each other," he said. "They like playing together, they like playing for each other and that lends you to play hard because you are not playing for yourself. That is what I really like, really love, about this team. They are competing every single day."

Commenting on his team, senior guard Denson said, "We have to do a lot better job of finishing games. We were 0-3 (in SEC play) when we faced Florida and we didn't know how to finish games well with a young group. As the year kept going we got past the 0-6 start and we did a better job of finishing.

"It definitely gave us confidence, knowing we could compete with anybody," he said of Auburn's near upset of the Gators last month. "They are a different type of beast at home. We saw the breakdowns we had in film yesterday, we have to correct our mistakes and hopefully come out with a 'W' on Wednesday."

After Wednesday's game the Tigers will return to Auburn Arena for a 5 p.m. contest vs. Vanderbilt on Saturday.

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