Gators Pull Away Late To Stay Unbeaten

Auburn hung with No. 2 ranked Florida for most of the game on Saturday in Gainesville.

Gainesville, Fla.--Auburn's bid for an upset of unbeaten Florida faded down the stretch with too many turnovers and too many foul shots for the Gators, who extended their school-record winning streak to 16 games with a 69-57 victory Saturday evening.

The Tigers led much of the first half and stayed in striking distance until the final minutes, however, 23 turnovers were fatal to the upset bid, especially with the Gators turning the ball over just 10 times.

Sophomore guard Frank Tolbert led the Auburn scoring attack with 21 points, but he struggled taking care of the ball. He had more than one-third of Auburn's turnover total with eight.

Tolbert hit 8-14 field goals and was 4-5 on three-pointers, 1-2 at the free throw line and added five rebounds. AU only got five foul shots the entire game while Florida hit 20-27 free throws.

For the game Auburn made 23 field goals to 21 for the Gators and shot 41.8 percent from the field while holding UF to 39.6 percent shooting.

Auburn hit 8-17 treys while the Gators were 7-22.

Another plus for the visitors was a 33-27 rebounding edge. That part of the game has been a struggle at times for the Tigers.

Freshman point guard Quantez Robertson led everybody on the boards with 10 rebounds. He added five assists, five points and just two turnovers.

Auburn point guard Quantez Robertson shoots vs. the Gators.

Taurean Green matched Tolbert's 21 points to tie for game-high scoring honors. The Florida guard hit just 3-10 field goals, but was 12-12 at the free throw line. Al Horford added 14 for Florida and Joakim Noah scored 10.

The Tigers got 12 points from freshman forward Josh Dollard, who was 6-11 from the field with six rebounds. Another freshman, Rasheem Barrett, scored 10 points for the Tigers and added five rebounds.

The Tigers fall to 8-6 overall and 0-3 in the SEC. Auburn is off until next Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play Arkansas at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on "throwback jersey" day.

The Gators leave the conference for their next outing, a Tuesday night home game vs. Savannah State.

"To win on the road, you have to have some breaks and we didn't have that," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, who added, "Our kids played awfully hard."

Lebo said the discrepancy in fouls shot and the turnover margin were the difference in the game.

Florida jumped to a quick 8-0 edge before the Tigers got a basket from Tolbert.

Frank Tolbert stuffs the basketball for the Tigers.

It didn't take long for the Tigers to catch up and take the lead as Tolbert made one of two free throws at the 13:08 mark to put Auburn ahead 14-13.

A three-point basket from the corner by Rasheem Barrett at the 8:14 mark put the Tigers up by four. However, the Gators regained the lead on the last play of the half as Horford's rebound basket to beat the buzzer gave the home team a 34-33 halftime edge.

The Gators stretched the lead to six points less than three minutes into the second half and led by seven with 13:24 to play on a three from the corner by Lee Humphrey.

Auburn hung tough, though. A three from the corner by Ronny LeMelle followed by a tip-in from Tolbert cut the lead to 49-47. However, that was as close as the Tigers would get as the Gators went on an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 10 points with 8:41 to play.

Barrett's three-pointer at the 7:55 mark ended the AU scoring drought and cut the Florida lead to 55-50.

However, Auburn's turnover problem, which was the reason the Gators were ahead, got worse in the next three minutes allowing the home team to take control. At the 5:03 mark Green's two free throws pushed the lead to 65-52 and Auburn never seriously challenged Florida after that.

Neither team did much offensively down the stretch as the Gators took their seventh straight victory over the Tigers by a score of 69-57.

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