Tigers Can't Get The Handle On The Gators

Too many turnovers kept Auburn from having a shot at upsetting the Gators in Gainesville.

Gainesville, Fla.--The Tigers couldn't keep a handle on the Gators or the basketball Saturday as Auburn fell to Florida 68-52 in the O-Dome to drop to 11-6 overall and 2-4 in the SEC.

Auburn turned the ball over 22 times and the Gators, who are back on the winning track following two straight losses, took advantage as they turned the Auburn turnovers into points.

The Tigers came out more aggressively on offense early in the second half as they scored 12 points in the first 4:30 of the period. A Quinnel Brown three-pointer with 15:27 remaining pulled the Tigers within two at 38-36.

The two teams battled back and forth over the next three minutes, but the Gators never gave up their lead. The Tigers got back to within two on an Ian Young jumper with 12:01 remaining. However, that was as close as they would come as the Gators went on an 11-0 run over the next six minutes to lead 55-42.

The big run took much of the fight out of the Tigers and the Gators, who shot 43.3 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range, would never look back as they led by as many as a 20 and took a 16-point victory to move their record to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in SEC play.

Along with the turnovers the Tigers only shot 41.7 percent from the floor, 26.3 percent from three-point land and 58.3 percent from the charity stripe. The Tigers and Gators each had 29 rebounds. Auburn blocked eight shots and the Gators blocked one.

Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said there were two key problems for his team on Saturday. "We didn't make enough shots and we turned it over a little too much," he noted.

Nathan Watson

In an ugly first half of basketball, Auburn committed 16 of its 24 turnovers and only made eight field goals, yet went in to the break only down eight points. For the Tigers, Nathan Watson led the way with eight points and Marco Killingsworth added seven points and four rebounds in the first half.

Anthony Roberson did the damage for the Gators as the red-hot guard hit six of his seven field goals, including all four of his three-point shots for 16 of the Gators 30 first half points. However, the Tigers' defense kept the Gators out of sync much of the half as they shot only 39 percent from the floor and committed nine turnovers.

The Gators jumped out to an early 17-5 on a three-pointer by Roberson with 12:49 remaining. However, despite the turnovers the Tigers battled back as Watson scored eight points in a row capped by a three to pull the game within eight with 8:35 remaining.

The Tigers pulled within seven on a Killingsworth put-back jam of a Brandon Robinson missed lay-up with one minute remaining. Then following one made free throw by Matt Walsh, Ian Young missed a three-point attempt with time running out in the half.

Ellis said that the Tigers' defense was what kept them in the game in the first 20 minutes of play. "In the first half we just had a sub par game offensively, he said. "Now, defensively, I think we were cutting them off. From a perimeter standpoint I think Roberson just stepped up and hit some big shots when the defense was there and you have got to give them credit."

The Tigers were led by Killingsworth who dropped in 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the losing effort. Robinson also added 10 points and seven boards and Watson finished with eight points and two assists.

Roberson dropped in his sixth 20-point game of the season for the 17th-ranked Gators as he scored 21 points, hitting 5-7 from three-point land. David Lee added 12 points and five rebounds and Adrian Moss had 10 points and five boards in the 16-point win.

Next up the Tigers will take on the SEC West leading Mississippi Sate Bulldogs at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on the 31st following a much needed mid-week open date.

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