Talented Gators A Tough Test For Tigers

The Tigers will head to Gainesville to take on the 17th ranked Florida Gators Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Following a huge 19-point comeback win over Arkansas, the Auburn Tigers will be heading into the O-dome Saturday at 3 p.m. to try and steal a road win from the Florida Gators.

The 17th ranked Gators are very tough in the O'Connell Center, where they hold a 12-5 advantage over the Tigers, and had won 13 straight there before losing 79-68 to Mississippi State Wednesday night.

"It's always a tough game in Gainesville," Auburn's Cliff Ellis, who is 5-7 against Florida, says. "They have great emotion and that is always a factor in the game because they try to really turn their team on. Florida is a team that as a rule really tries to play aggressive defense especially at home, getting stuff off of their traps."

The offensive minded Gators, who are 11-5 overall and 2-2 in SEC play, lead the league in scoring offense at 81.7 points per game, field goal percentage at 49.6 percent and three-point field goals made with 7.6 per game. They are also third in the SEC in three-point shooting percentage hitting 35 percent from downtown.

Marco Killingsworth will be a big factor in how Auburn plays Saturday in Gainesville.

The Gators are led by outside threat Anthony Roberson who is averaging 15.7 points and 3.9 assists per game. The six-foot-one sophomore has also racked up five 20-point games so far this season.

Inside David Lee is the big threat for Florida. The 6-9 junior forward is scoring 15.3 points and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game.

"David Lee is the guy that leads them inside, Ellis says. "His field goal percentage is very high and he rebounds with authority."

Along with Roberson, fellow sophomore, Matt Walsh is dangerous in the Gators backcourt. Walsh, who can nail the three, is averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

One big question mark for the Gators is whether 6-9 forward Christian Drejer, who went out with a back bruise against Vanderbilt and missed the Mississippi State game, both Gators' losses, will start or even play for the Gators.

Ellis, who is 3-7 against Florida's Billy Donovan, says that he sees a whole lot of ways the Gators can hurt you. "They have so many three-point weapons and they have got inside guys," he explains. "They are deep. If You go around the guys that can shoot the three you start with Roberson, but there's Roberson, Drejre, Walsh, (Mohamed) Abukar, (Ryan) Appleby and (Lee) Humphrey to name a few. Then inside you have got Lee, (Bonell) Colas, (Adrian) Moss and (Chris) Richard. It's a deep team."

Auburn heads into the matchup on a down hill slide offensively over the past few games. The Tigers are only scoring 72.2 points per game and after leading the league in both field goal percentage and three-point shooting in pre-conference play they are now hitting only 45.7 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from downtown.

The Tigers, who are 11-5 overall and 2-3 in SEC play, will likely need Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson to have big games if there is to be any chance of an upset on Saturday.

Killingsworth is averaging 14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Also the junior's 63 percent field goal shooting is leading the SEC.

Robinson, who has been limited in the last three games with a high ankle sprain suffered at Vanderbilt, needs to have a big game inside if the Tigers hope to pull off a win. The forward is averaging 12.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

In the backcourt the Tigers will need solid efforts from Ian Young and Lewis Monroe at the point guard spot. If the backcourt can control the turnovers against a very tough Florida defense Auburn could have a chance to pull one out in the O-dome.

One possible problem for the Tigers is their pressing defensive style. Ellis says that against a team like Florida, especially at home, you have to be very careful with the press. " If you don't get back in the press the three-ball is going up. It's a lot tougher to press them there than it is somewhere else."

All in all, Auburn will likely have a tough time with the Gators on Saturday. And Ellis says that he knows what kind of a challenge he and his team are heading up against.

"This is a team that has been number-one in the country at one point in this season," Ellis says. "So, we know we are facing a great team, going into one of the toughest places to play, not only in our league but in our country, and it is going to take a great game."

Tip-off for the sold out contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS.


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