Gators Play Like Champs In Victory at Auburn

Comments from players and coaches are featured after No. 1 ranked Florida defeated Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--Defending national champion Florida put on one of the better displays of basketball in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum history with a 91-66 victory over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday evening.

Gators kept their mistakes to a minimum and put the heat on the home team with terrific shooting. Florida hit 9-14 three-pointers and 58 percent of its field goals on the way to a 12th straight victory.

A standing room only crowd of 11,700 hoping to see the upset watched the Tigers hit a respectable 46.6 percent from the field, but Auburn made just 1-13 three-pointers, a statistic that was a key to the game in the eyes of both Auburn coach Jeff Lebo and Florida coach Billy Donovan.

The other key statistics were free throws and rebounds. The Gators hit 24-35 foul shots while Auburn was 11-20. Florida's taller front line allowed the Gators to take a 37-27 edge in rebounds.

Auburn's Lebo said the Gators looked like one of the best teams he has seen in the past five seasons as they improved their record to 19-2 overall and 6-0 in the SEC. "I don't know what could have been done with the way Florida played," Lebo said. "They were great today.

"(Taurean) Green dominated the game. We've had trouble with point guards. Quantez (Robertson) plays his tail off, but Green is so good running the team. No matter what you do defensively with him, he can take advantage of it."

Green was one of three Gators who scored 17 points. He hit 6-6 free throws and added two assists with two steals. He had four turnovers, half of Florida's total of just eight.

Al Horford and Lee Humphrey added 17 points for the Gators. Humphrey was 4-4 on threes and impressed Auburn's coach with his all-around strong play.

"They are tough," Auburn junior forward Quan Prowell said of the Gators. "They've got the whole package. Even if you are able to get in front of them, they are long and tall enough to get it over us. They have some big players who can really play in the post."

Josh Dollard, who scored 11 points and pulled in nine rebounds, is guarded by Al Horford.

Prowell scored 15 points and added four rebounds and two steals for the Tigers, who fell to 3-4 in the SEC and 13-9 overall. He was the second high scorer for the Tigers behind Robertson, who contributed a career-tying high of 17 points to go with five assists and just two turnovers in 38 minutes. Robertson hit 7-8 field goals.

"Florida has been the best team that we have played so far," Robertson said. "They shot the ball well and capitalized on a couple of our mistakes. They made the extra pass and made the shot."

Auburn didn't make a lot of mistakes. The Tigers had a season-low 10 turnovers in the game. Saturday's game was more a case of the Gators playing well, something Humphrey said he enjoyed seeing. "I think our offense was really good tonight. I think they (Florida) did a good job of taking advantage of what they were given."

Quantez Robertson drives on Lee Humphrey.

With AU officials removing the coliseum's south end partition to make room for more fans, the biggest crowd since a game vs. Kentucky in 1994 watched the Gators race out to a 12-4 lead at the 15:44 mark as Corey Brewer hit one of two free throws. The foul line became a familiar spot for the visitors in the first half as they got the foul line for 21 shots. Fortunately for the Tigers they made just 14.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the shooting from the field and beyond the three-point line was sizzling. The Gators hit 59.3 percent of their field goals in the first 20 minutes and 5-8 threes.

Auburn hit 48.3 percent of its free throws and was 8-15 at the free throw line. The Tigers were 0-6 on threes.

The Gators built the lead to 15 points at the 8:11 mark. Auburn cut the gap to 10, but Florida regained its maximum first half lead by going into the locker room ahead 51-36.

The Tigers stayed within striking range early in the second half, but could never make a run on the Gators, who steadily pulled away with more good shooting. Florida hit 56.5 percent of its shots in the second half to 44.8 percent for the Tigers.

Lebo said despite the disappointment of losing, he wasn't displeased with his team's effort. "They (Florida) played great today. We can't get down about it. We just have to pick up the pieces and move on. It's frustrating, but we have to get better. We have another game on Wednesday."

Florida's Donovan said, "I was very, very pleased with our guys. They did a good job. Auburn is a hard matchup team because they have a lot of skill and a lot of speed. They shoot the three, at times, from five positions. I think the difference was our inside game. They were trying to force us to play a smaller lineup, and we were able to get away with playing a bigger one."

Lebo said he enjoyed the big crowd for Saturday's game. "The buzz was big. It was fun. The fans were out and people were talking about it. That was nice to see. I think our kids enjoyed it. We have to learn how to react better to it."

Lebo added that the Gators were very impressive. "That is the best team in the country," he stated. "I think think we were ready for that, especially with the way they played today."

The Tigers return to action on Wednesday night at South Carolina.

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