AUSTIN WILEY (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

The Auburn Basketball Tigers Will Be at Home Vs. A Florida Team That Arrives On a Winning Streak

Auburn will try to rebound from a road loss, but the challenge is a major one as the nationally-ranked Florida Gators visit Auburn Arena.

Austin Wiley (above) is one of four freshmen expected to start for the Tigers. He is averaging 9.4 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Auburn, Ala.--Tied in a three-way race with Kentucky and South Carolina for the lead in the SEC basketball standings, the Florida Gators will be at Auburn Arena for a 6 p.m. CST matchup on Tuesday vs. Bruce Pearl’s Tigers.

The Gators arrive with plenty of momentum from a six-game winning streak. Their latest victim, Texas A&M, lost 71-62 on Saturday at Gainesville, Fla.

That evening Auburn fell 90-84 at Ole Miss as the Tigers surrendered a 23-point lead in the second half to drop to 16-9 overall and 5-7 in the SEC. Florida, winners of 13 of its last 15 games, is 20-5.

“If I knew exactly what to do we would have done it because we did it against Mississippi State,” Pearl said when asked about his team losing a big lead in the second half.

“All of the things I said we did wrong we’ve got to try to fix. Trust me, we’re going about trying to fix them. We were not waiting to just this game.

“By the way, we’re not going to have to worry about protecting a big lead against Florida,” Pearl said. “It’s not necessarily like that is going to happen again. Along those lines, if I knew exactly what to do to fix it I would have fixed it before we went to Ole Miss.”

Florida is ranked second in the SEC in points allowed per game, giving up just 65.5 per contest while scoring 78.6 per outing. Opponents are making just 41 percent of their shots vs. the Gators.

Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen, who is 6-2, 183 pounds, leads the Gators in scoring at 13.7 points per game. 

The No. 2 scorer is 6-6, 215 graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry from College of Charleston, who is averaging 12.7 points per contest in a reserve role.

The other double figures scorer, 6-8, 200 junior forward Devin Robinson, is averaging 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Robinson is a junior forward for Coach Mike White's Gators.

Florida’s top rebounder is 6-11, 255 junior John Egbuna, a transfer from USF?averaging 7.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

Kasey Hill, a 6-1, 175 senior guard, is averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists, which ranks No. 2 in the SEC.

The other starter, 6-8, 196 senior Justin Leon, is averaging 7.0 points and 3.7 rebounds.

The game will be televised on the SEC Network. The Gators are ranked 13th/15th in the major polls this week.

Talking about what his team needs to do after building a lead, Pearl said, “You attack in numbers and that doesn’t change until it gets really late and you’re counting possessions.

“What we’re not doing is, we’re settling really early with no numbers,” the coach said. “We’re turning it over on our under-the-basket out of bounds play with a full clock. We’re getting an offensive rebound and putting it right back up instead of just pulling it out and running some offense. We’re not playing obviously smart, playing advantage-disadvantage.

“You still have advantage in the break and you must continue to attack, so don’t misunderstand me, but when the opponent is back defensively, which they were most of the time (at Ole Miss), you don’t take the air out of the ball, you just don’t settle. We settled for shots that they wanted us to shoot.

“They only ran 10 seconds of offense and we didn’t foul them. Now we can get the ball back and have a chance to score and create more possessions. That’s something that either a more experienced team or a better-coached and drilled team would understand and execute. We have not been able to do that.”

News and Notes: With sophomore Horace Spencer lost for the season with a shoulder surgery that will require surgery, the Tigers hope to have T.J. Lang back in action to add depth at power forward. Lang, a junior, missed Saturday’s game at Ole Miss because he was recovering from the flu...Auburn is making 8.6 threes per game, which is second in the SEC behind Vandy’s 10.0 per contest...Florida is fourth at 7.7 threes per game...Backup freshman center Anfernee McLemore has made 22-28 field goals while averaging 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in his last six games.


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