Gators Grab Ugly Win

For year coaches have told me there's no such thing as a bad win. I've learned to accept that as fact, but the Florida Gators challenged that theory Wednesday night at Auburn. The Gators managed just eight points in the first 12 minutes of the second half and let a double-digit lead get away, yet escaped Auburn with a 68-65 win over the Auburn Tigers.

The win improved Florida 15-2 on the year and gave the Gators two wins to start the SEC schedule. The Gators led almost the entire game, but trailed twice in the second half on their way to their ninth straight win overall.

Florida started out well, grabbing a 13-4 lead in the early minutes and had their biggest lead of the night at 38-28 late in the first half. The Gators got sloppy late in the half, allowing Auburn a 6-2 run to close the gap to 40-34 at intermission.

That sloppiness was a harbinger of things to come as the Gators were simply awful for much of the second half. Florida alternated between poor shot selection and turnovers until Auburn took their first lead of the night at 50-48 on a layup by Rasheem Barrett with 7:32 to play. That seemed to finally light a fire under the Gators who scored 20 points the rest of the way.

Erving Walker hit a pair of three-point baskets; the second giving the Gators a 57-55 lead setting up the key to the Florid win. After about two and a half minutes with the score remaining the same Florida senior Walter Hodge ended the stalemate with a three-point basket with 1:11 left to play. Florida pushed their advantage to 67-59 before a pair of meaningless long range baskets made the final score 68-65.

As usual Nick Calathes led the way for the Gators with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists. However the sophomore also committed six turnovers in the second half to help Auburn rally. Alex Tyus, who had been all but invisible in the last three games contributed a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Kenny Kadji had a nice game for the Gators as well with 11 points and 8 rebounds in just 16 minutes on the floor.

The Gators were just 5-for-23 from beyond the three-point line. But Auburn was even worse at 5-for-27 including two meaningless buckets in the final ten seconds. Florida was plus-ten on the boards to help offset 17 turnovers.

The Gators return to action Saturday afternoon when old friend John Pelphrey and the Arkansas Razorbacks come to town.

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