Basketball Tigers Bounced By Gators

Gainesville, Fla.--Udonis Haslem scored 18 points to lead the Florida Gators to an 89-61 win over the Auburn Tigers Wednesday night in front of 11,311 fans at the O'Connell Center.

The loss drops Auburn to 11-13 overall and 3-10 in SEC play while Florida improves to 20-5 overall and 9-4 in conference play.

With the 27-point loss to the Gators coupled with the 36-point drubbing at the hands of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Tigers have put together the worst back-to-back games in nearly five seasons. It has been since a 92-50 loss to Kentucky at the end of the 1996-97 season and a 68-42 loss to Temple to begin the 1997-98 season that an Auburn team has been beaten by more points in consecutive games. The only saving grace for the Tigers on Wednesday night is that it could have been much worse.

Misfiring from every point on the court, the Tigers couldn't buy a basket early and trailed 11-2 just minutes into the game. But they would show signs of life and for a moment things looked good for Auburn as Marco Killingsworth and Marquis Daniels each scored two baskets over the next minute and a half as Auburn climbed back within three at 11-8.

Another Daniels basket following a timeout cut the lead to just one before Florida began pulling away from the visitors. Scoring the next seven points and 18 of the next 21, Coach Billy Donovan's club stretched themselves out quickly and never looked back, taking a 46-28 lead into intermission behind nine points from Haslem and eight from Brett Nelson.

The second half was much of the same as Auburn just couldn't find the range early thanks to stifling defense from Florida. Haslem scored the first six points of the second half and Matt Bonner added numbers seven and eight as the Gators quickly built a 27-point advantage. The lead would stretch to as many as 30 at times in the second half and only some long range shooting by Adam Harrington kept this from becoming a bigger blowout. Harrington finished the game with 11 points to lead Auburn in scoring while Killingsworth and Daniels added 10 each.

For the Gators, Bonner added 13 points and eight rebounds while Orien Green chipped in with 12 points and David Lee added 10.

Auburn shot just 39.7 percent from the floor, but that includes an 11-for-33 performance in the first half when this game was lost. Perhaps more frustrating is the continued struggle at the free throw line where the Tigers made just 5-of-14 for the game for 35.7 percent. Florida shot a blistering 51.5 percent from the floor for the game and outrebounded the Tigers 45-34 for the game.

The Tigers return to action Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks. There is no television for that game.

Box Score

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