Florida Coach Still Likes the Tigers

Despite his team's impressive victory at Auburn, Billy Donovan says he still likes the Auburn basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--Florida coach Billy Donovan says he was impressed with Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn's basketball team before the No. 1 ranked Gators played the Tigers. Donovan notes that his team's 91-66 victory on Saturday doesn't change his opinion.

"I think Jeff has done a terrific job," Donovan says. "I love his team. I love the way they play. When you watch film, you enjoy watching them play. I enjoy watching Auburn play.

"I think there is a lot to be excited about here," Donovan notes. "It was great to see so many people come out for the game this afternoon. We were happy with the win. We feel fortunate to be able to move through the week with two road victories."

A standing room only crowd of 11,700, the biggest Auburn home crowd in more than a decade, was hoping to see the Tigers knock off a third Top 25 opponent this month. However, the defending national champions played outstanding basketball from start to finish.

Auburn shot a respectable 46.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over a season-low 10 times, but couldn't match the Gators who hit a sizzling 58 percent from the field, including 64.3 percent from three-point range.

The Tigers made just 1-13 threes and were outscored at the foul line 24-11. Both were huge factors.

"I think that coming in here Auburn is playing very, very good basketball," Donovan says. "They had, obviously, three great wins here at home against three real good quality teams. Two of the three were ranked.

"We knew it was going to be a great environment coming in. I think maybe the Mississippi State game helped us a little bit on Wednesday getting prepared for a small lineup because we knew at some point they would switch up and play with their small lineup by moving (Quan) Prowell to the small forward spot and play at times with five three-point shooters on the floor."

Donovan notes that Auburn's inability to hit three-pointers was a big factor as his team improved to 19-2 overall and 6-0 in the SEC. He says defending the threes was a major point of emphasis for the Gators heading into the game. "They were 1-13," Donovan says. "I can't sit there and say it was all our defense, but what we did give up is we gave up hard drives to the basket and I thought with our length around the basket with (Al) Horford and (Joakim) Noah and Chris Richards we were able to alter some shots. We were prepared to live with two-point shots rather than three-point shots. I think the large margin of victory, if you look at it, is the fact that we got to the free throw line 35 times and we made eight more three-point shots than they did."

Despite the loss, the Tigers are very much in the SEC West race with a 3-4 record. LSU, which is 2-3, plays at Georgia on Sunday. Arkansas won at Alabama on Saturday to improve to 3-4 in the SEC while the Tide falls to 2-4. Mississippi State was upset at home by South Carolina and is now 2-4 in the league.

Auburn will travel to Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday to play the Gamecocks before returning home next Saturday to play Ole Miss.


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