Gators Win Douglas Vs. Roberson Shootout

Auburn, Ala.--It's doubtful there has ever been a more spectacular buzzer-beater shot at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum than a turnaround bomb by <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1584106]>Toney Douglas</A> to send Wednesday night's Auburn vs. <A HREF=>Florida</A> basketball game into overtime.

The shot followed a nearly length of the court pass thrown by Quinnel Brown with 1.5 seconds to send the game into overtime, but the Tigers didn't have enough left in the tank against the deeper, taller and more talented Gators, who hung on for an 84-78 victory.

Douglas, a freshman guard, did all he could to keep the Tigers in the game with clutch play after clutch play to finish with 32 points. However, he was upstaged by Florida junior guard Anthony Roberson, who finished the contest with 34 points and nine rebounds.

"We didn't have a chance of winning if Roberson didn't do what he did, but on the flip side Auburn didn't have any chance of winning if Douglas didn't do what he did," said Florida coach Billy Donovan. "I don't know if I have ever seen a freshman in our league as good as him."

The 32 points for Douglas was the most for an Auburn freshman in SEC play since NBA star Eddie Johnson scored 38 vs. the Gators in February of 1974.

Douglas finished the game hitting 12-23 field goals. He added four rebounds and was five of five at the foul line.

Roberson hit 11-19 field goals, including 6-10 from three-point range. The long-range shooting was a big factor for the winners, who made 55.6 percent of their three-pointers to 23.3 percent for Auburn.

"Roberson made some phenomenal shots," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "In the first half against the zone he made one from so far out I couldn't believe he shot it. He was on fire tonight."

Auburn senior Quinnel Brown goes up for a shot vs. the Gators. He scored 21 points for the Tigers.

"Q (Brown) made a great pass and Toney made a great catch," Lebo said of the spectacular play at the end of regulation, an Earl the Pearl Monroe style turnaround from just in-bounds around 35 feet from the basket after the guard caught a football style pass from his teammate. Brown had the option on the designed play of hitting either Douglas or senior guard Ian Young who was on the other side of the court.

"I didn't have a chance to square up to the basket," Douglas said. "I just took the shot and I knew when it left my hands it was going in."

Despite the excitement following the hard to believe play, Lebo said he was very concerned about his team going into the overtime period and he was right. "We were fatigued at that point," the coach said. "We knew we would have trouble in overtime."

Donovan said he was worried about the momentum the big shot Douglas made could have given the home team. The coach said it was important that Robertson hit a long-range three-pointer in the first minute of the overtime to give his team a shot of confidence. "I think that was something we really needed," he said.

"I was really proud of our guys because we have a lot of young players and I was proud of the resiliency we showed to overcome Douglas' remarkable shot. I am proud of the way our guys responded on their court, in their building."

Douglas said his bomb at the end of regulation was no accident. "I have been practicing that shot since I was young in the yard," he said.

Auburn led 39-36 at halftime despite 57.7 percent shooting from the Gators and 16 points from guard Anthony Roberson, who drilled four three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

The Tigers countered with 14 points from Douglas, who was just 1-3 on treys but six of nine on field goals.

Although the Tigers struggled physically with the much taller Gators, at halftime they held a surprising 15-14 edge in rebounds.

There were only six fouls called on each team in the first half. Three were charged to Auburn's Daniel Hayles.

Neither team could build a substantial lead in the first half until the Gators moved ahead 25-18 at the 7:33 mark on a basket by Al Horford. However, the Tigers scored 11 straight points to erase that lead at the 4:25 mark on a three-pointer from the top of the circle by Quinnel Brown.

Auburn stretched the lead to five on a basket by Douglas and led by three at intermission.

Florida quickly erased the Auburn lead, moving in front 46-41 at the 16:01 mark with transition baskets. That caused Lebo to call a timeout to reset the strategy.

The Gators stretched their lead to 10 points. Auburn cut the margin to five at the 10:31 mark on back to back baskets by Brown. Another basket by Brown, a turn-around jumper near the basket, cut the margin to 59-56 with 6:47 left in regulation.

The Gators built the lead back to 67-60, but Auburn kept in striking distance. The Tigers cut the lead to three again on a hustle play by Hayles, who saved a loose ball headed out of bounds to Brown, who scored inside to narrow the lead to 67-64.

A pair of free throws by Douglas on Florida's 10th foul of the half with 1:28 narrowed the gap to 67-66.

Auburn had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but Corey Brewer stole the ball from Young and made a layup and was fouled by Young for a three point play to put the Gators ahead 70-66.

Auburn cut the lead to 70-68 on a pair of free throws by Young with 40.1 seconds left. The Tigers got the ball back with 26.5 seconds left when Frank Tolbert, who was in for Hayles who had fouled out, forced a jump ball on Roberson and the Tigers had the possession arrow in their favor.

The Gators then got the break they needed when Douglas beat his man off the dribble and drove to the middle, but was called for a questionable charge into David Lee, who appeared to be moving.

Auburn looked to be toast, but then things got really interesting. With nine seconds left, Horford missed the front end of a one-and-one and Auburn got the ball back with a chance to tie or win, but Young lost the ball in traffic as he drove in the middle of the floor.

With 1.9 seconds left Roberson was fouled and had two shots waiting. He made the first, but missed the second and Nathan Watson got the rebound and called timeout with 1.5 seconds left.

After a pair of timeouts, Brown threw the in-bounds pass into frontcourt in front of the Auburn bench. Douglas' jumped for the ball and hit a turn-around three-pointer to beat the buzzer and send the game into overtime.

The Gators took the lead in overtime as Roberson hit a long three-pointer at the 4:22 mark of the five-minute OT. They then built the lead to 80-75 at the 1:22 mark

However, the Tigers weren't finished yet. A three-point bomb by Douglas from left of the top of the key with 1:07 left cut the UF lead to 80-78. That was the last gasp for the Tigers, who didn't score the rest of the way and fell 84-78.

Auburn hung tough on the boards, matching Florida's total of 36. The Tigers also forced 23 turnovers and committed just 14. However, that wasn't enough to overcome 58.5 percent shooting from the Gators.

Florida was particularly effective from long-range, hitting 10-18 three-pointers to just 7-30 for Auburn, which finished the night by hitting 42.9 percent of its shots.

Auburn got 21 points and seven rebounds from Brown, who played 42 minutes.

Watson played 41 minutes and led all rebounders with 11. He added nine points.

Young scored a dozen points and added five assists with four turnovers in a ironman effort at point guard. He played all but one minute.

Hayles scored four points and added five rebounds.

Auburn's lack of bench production was a major problem. Tolbert played 15 minutes and did not score. Troy Gaines, Brett Howell and Ryan Daniel played three, four and three minutes apiece and none scored.

Lebo liked the turnover ratio, but noted the Tigers made some costly ones. "We battled but had some key turnovers at crucial times that hurt us," he said.

"We played awfully well," the coach added. "I was proud of the way they responded after the Mississippi State game. In the second half against Mississippi State, when they made their run, I thought they squashed our will. When Florida made their run in the second half, I thought we responded well."

Lebo said the lack of help from the bench hurt. "Four over 41 minutes in the game. We probably would have played five over 41 minutes if one (Hayles) hadn't fouled out."

Auburn fell to 0-2 in the SEC and 9-6 overall. Florida is 2-0 in the SEC and 10-3 overall.

"We made some great hustle plays," Lebo said. "Our energy, for the most part, was pretty good. Our three-quarter court press that we haven't shown anybody this year bothered them a bit. I am disappointed for those kids, who played well enough to win the game. The positive thing is we played well against a very good team."

The Tigers return to action on Saturday with a 4 p.m. home game vs. the Ole Miss Rebels.

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