John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Feb.15

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

Florida’s defense took the night off Tuesday at Auburn. Fortunately, the Gators didn’t need their in your shorts for 90 feet calling card because the offense was lights out.

Led by Canyon Barry’s career high 30 points, the 13th-ranked Gators (21-5, 11-2 SEC) had seven double figures scorers and missed by a single point of making it eight as they ran Auburn (16-10, 5-8 SEC) into the ground, 114-95.  In addition to Barry, KeVaughn Allen scored 17, followed by Devin Robinson with 14, Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza with 11 each and John Egbunu and Justin Leon with 10 each. Kevarrius Hayes scored 9.

Coming into the game, the Gators were giving up only 65.2 points per game, but this was a night when defense had to take a back seat to the best offensive game of the season. In winning their seventh straight game, the Gators broke out of a 50-50 halftime stalemate with a 64-point second half. It marked the second straight game Auburn has given up more than 60 points in the second half. After shooting 53.8% from the floor in the first half, the Gators shot 58.1% in the second half to finish the game 33-59 (55.9%). The Gators were 57.9% (11-19) from the 3-point line and 88.1% from the foul line on 37-42 shooting on a night when the two teams were called for 53 personal fouls (28 for Florida, 25 or Auburn).

Barry scored 19 in the first half and added 11 in the second while hitting 8-17 from the field and 3-5 from the 3-point line. Barry did see his consecutive free throw streak end at a school-record 42 with a first half miss but he atoned for he miss by starting a new streak of 8 straight to finish the night 11-12 from the line.

Point guard Kasey Hill put together one of his best games of the season with a double-double – 11 points and 12 assists.

Allen, Florida’s leading scorer on the season, was held scoreless in the first half, but he lit up the Tigers for 17 in the second half, hitting both his 3-pointers and going 9-10 from the foul line.

If there was one concern, it was Egbunu, who hurt his knee in the first half and didn’t return to the game. If Egbunu is out for any extended period of time, the Gators will put a much shorter team on the floor and lose Egbunu’s ability to command the paint with his shot blocking.

This was the most points the Gators have given up all season and it marked only the second time all year that a team has exceeded its scoring average. Auburn came into the game averaging 80 points per game. Florida wasn’t totally devoid of defense, however. The Gators held Auburn’s leading scorer Mustapha Heron scoreless in the first half and to just 9 in the second, marking the first time all season Heron has been held below double figures.

Although Auburn put 95 points on the scoreboard, the Tigers shot only 42.5% from the field overall (31-73) and just 6-21 (28.6%) from the 3-point line. The Tigers were 27-39 from the foul line.

Amazingly, in such a fast-paced game in which the two teams combined for 209 points, only 6 were scored off fast breaks – 4 by the Gators and only 2 by Auburn.

The Gators scored 52 points off the bench.

Next up for Florida is Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday at 2 p.m.

OTHER GATOR SPORTS NEWS

Softball: Florida’s 5-0 start earned the Gators the #1 spot in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll. The Gators will go for their sixth win of the season tonight against JU in Jacksonville.

Women’s Tennis: Florida’s #1-ranked women’s tennis team won the ITA National Indoor Team Championship in Norwalk, Connecticut with a 4-2 win over North Carolina. This was the Gators’ first championship at the annual event since 1999.

Gymnastics: Alicia Boren was selected SEC Gymnast of the Week and Alex McMurtry was selected Specialist of the Week after #3 Florida’s win over then #9 Georgia.

Women’s Golf: Taylor Tomlinson tied for the individual championship at the Northrup Grumann Regional Challenge in California with a 4-under, 209 for the 3-day event. The Gators finished fourth, eight shots behind Southern Cal. 

Men’s Indoor Track: The Gators remain in the #1 position in the latest poll with a 27-point lead over #2 Oregon. Arkansas, Texas A&M and LSU round out the top five.

Women’s Indoor Track: The Gators dropped five spots to #10 in the most recent poll.

SEC SPORTS NEWS       

Alabama: Alabama’s helter skelter search for a new offensive coordinator has taken another twist. Nick Saban met with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich but Yurcich has elected to remain in Stillwater, which is strange. Compared to Stillwater, Tuscaloosa is a resort. Stillwater is not the end of the earth but you will find signs there that it’s nearby.

Arkansas: Power hitting first baseman Jared Gates, a juco transfer from Iowa Western broke his hand in a Sunday scrimmage and will be out at least five weeks.

Auburn: Oh, the saga of the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner continues. First, Alabama mega-idiot Harvey Updike poisoned the trees in 2010 so they had to dig up the legendary oaks, treat the soil and then bring in replacements. One of the replacement oaks was set on fire after Auburn’s win over LSU, so now the corner is getting another makeover as brand new oak trees are being planted. 

Georgia: Georgia, which officially opened its new indoor practice facility this week announced it will spend $63 million at Sanford Stadium to upgrade the UGa locker room and build a recruiting lounge inside the stadium … Georgia basketball improved to 15-11 overall, 6-7 in SEC play, with a 79-72 win over Mississippi State Tuesday night in Athens behind 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots by Yante Maten.

Kentucky: The Wildcats (21-5, 11-2 SEC) avenged their loss to Tennessee (14-12, 6-7 SEC) a couple of weeks ago by blowing the doors off the Vols at Rupp Tuesday night, 83-58, as five UK players scored in double figures led by Malik Monk with 20 and Derek Willis with 16.

LSU: New Orleans Saints special teams coordinator Greg McMahon has joined the LSU staff as an analyst. Expect him to be promoted to special teams coordinator as soon as the NCAA officially approves the 10th assistant coach ... The misery continues for LSU basketball. The Tigers (9-16) dropped to 1-12 and deeper into last place in the SEC Tuesday night when they were blown out by Ole Miss, 96-76, in Oxford.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs got to the foul line only 9 times Tuesday night in their 79-72 loss to Georgia in Athens. While Mississippi State (14-11, 5-8 SEC) managed only 7 points from the line, Georgia lived there, hitting 28-32 shots.

Missouri: Former D-lineman Josh Moore not only has transferred to Sam Houston State, where he will be eligible immediately, but he’s changing positions to tight end.

Ole Miss: The Rebels improved to 16-10 and 7-6 in the SEC by taking out LSU, 96-76, Tuesday night in Oxford behind 33 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists by sophomore guard Terrence Davis

South Carolina: The 19th-ranked Gamecocks (20-5, 10-2 SEC) are the best 3-point defenders in the country, giving up just 27.4%. This week the Gamecocks face the two best 3-point shooting teams in the SEC in Arkansas (37.5%) tonight in Columbia and Vanderbilt (38.3%) Saturday in Nashville.

Tennessee: Former UT All-American and College Football Hall of Famer Steve Kiner says the Vols should hire former HBC Phillip Fulmer as the AD. “If the university is going to do what is best for the athletic program, Phillip Fulmer should be the athletics director … end of conversation,” Kiner told Saturday Down South. The Vols have been searching for a new AD to replace retiring Dave Hart for six months now … In dropping to 14-12, 6-7 SEC Tuesday night, the Vols shot a miserable 34.6% overall from the field and just 18.8% from the 3-point line against Kentucky.

Texas A&M: Defensive end Myles Garrett, projected by most experts to be the first player taken when the NFL drafts in May, made a video urging the Dallas Cowboys to trade up to take him. Now Garrett is saying he was just fooling around and didn’t mean to diss the Cleveland Browns, who have the #1 pick. There are whispers that the New England Patriots are dangling backup QB Jimmy Garopolo to Cleveland for the #1 pick.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores announced they won’t play a spring football game. Instead of a spring game there will be a non-televised scrimmage on March 25. For a school with as many recruiting disadvantages as Vandy, you would think any chance to get on TV – even if it’s a spring game – would be welcomed.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

The SEC brought in $584.2 last year and distributed $40.4 million to its 14 member schools. That’s almost as much money per school as the entire Group of Five schools (MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, American and Conference USA) made collectively in TV money, a paltry $46 million. Group of Five members do get to divide up $90 million of crumbs from the College Football Playoff. The Group of Five schools believe they could have their own playoff and it would generate $160 million. Only problem is, no network is lathering at the thought and pushing a contract in front of someone to sign.

The NCAA is considering tweaking its targeting rule. Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com reports that the NCAA is considering if replay shows the contact above the shoulder had more to do with a player adjustment and not a deliberate attempt that the player deserves to stay in the game. Last year the SEC had more targeting ejections (26) than any other conference and had only three targeting calls overturned by replay. That there were 51 overturns on 144 targeting calls nationwide tells us this might also be an SEC issue.

The Orlando Magic have already given up on this season. Tuesday they traded Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Ruptures for Terrance Ross and one of the two Ruptures’ first round picks in the 2017 draft.

Jerry Sandusky’s 41-year-old son has been arrested and charged with 14 counts of sexual offenses with children. Charged with criminal solicitation and corruption of minors, his bail has been set at $200,000.

And while we’re on the subjects of criminals, O.J. Simpson could be paroled from Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada this summer after serving just 8 years of a 33-year sentence.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Put yourselves in the shoes of the hapless Cleveland Browns for a moment and play GM. You have the #1 pick and everybody wants to make a deal so they can draft Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett. Do you make a trade with Dallas for Tony Romo and draft choices? Do you make a deal with New England for backup QB Jimmy Garopolo so Bill Belichick can have Garrett? Or do you draft Garrett and offer the bank for a free agent QB like Kirk Cousins?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

One of the better live albums of recent years was ZZ Top’s “Live from Texas” which went double platinum.  The band will make three Florida stops on its current tour – March 16 in Estero, March 17 in Miami Beach and March 18 in Orlando.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dulBqXBDfqM


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