Postseason Starts Today

It's a bit too much to call Thursday's game with Auburn a "must win" for the Florida basketball team, but it's as close as it gets. It is virtually impossible to construct a realistic scenario that gets the Gators into the NCAA Tournament that doesn't include a win over the Tigers.

Auburn comes to the O'Dome with a 12-13 overall record and 3-7 mark in SEC play, but they are a difficult group to prepare for. Auburn plays with three guards almost all the time and "power" forward Lucas Hargrove (14/7.4) is built like a guy who plays on the wing and has that kind of quickness.

Auburn shoots a ton of long range shots averaging 8-for-25 from behind the arc. Frankie Sullivan (13.2/4, 39%) is the most accurate of the bomb squad, but DeWayne Reed (15.7/4.3 asst, 32%) and Tay Waller (13.5/3.5, 37%) will pull the trigger as often as they like.

The 6-8 center Johnnie Lett is there to set picks and grab some rebounds (3.6). In fact his backup, 6-10 Brendan Knox (8.2/4.0) plays more minutes and is more productive. Like the Gators, Auburn doesn't go very deep with the six guys I mentioned the only ones who play more than ten minutes a night.

Florida coach Billy Donovan shared his thoughts about the matchup.


On Auburn's back court:

"(They have) exceptional team speed. In a lot of ways they have three point guards on the floor at a time with Reed, although Waller is a shooting guard, but he has great explosiveness and Frankie Sullivan basically is a point guard. So you have three really fast, tremendous three point shooters."

On forward Lucas Hargrove:

"Hargrove at the power forward is probably the biggest single match up problem for every team. In a lot of respects his size is that of a small forward, but his toughness, skill level, the way he can post and the things that he can do he can play the "three" or the 'four'. When they play him at the four he's a match up problem for everybody because he can do so many things.

"Those four guys (Hargrove and the guards) are an unbelievable challenge because they have great speed, they have great 3-point shooting range and they take more threes than anybody else in the league. It's really hard to guard them because the floor is really spaced. They do have the ball and get to the front of the rim, and when you do give help they have a great ability to kick it out for an open three."

On the likely tempo of the game:

"I think both teams will want to run and go up and down the floor. I do think that at this time of year when teams don't have things in transition the game can get played in the half court. They want to play fast. We would want to play fast. But if we're playing fast, (it) can not lead to having a wide open floor for them. I think teams getting back, shrinking the floor and cutting down those lanes and gaps will be really important in the game."


The Gators will be taking their third shot at trying to earn their 18th win of the season. Florida is trying to reach the 20-win mark for the 12th consecutive season.


Vernon Macklin (12/10) is coming off his first double-double of the year in the loss to Xavier. Chandler Parsons (15/8) came up two boards shy of his third straight double-double against the Musketeers.


There's no debate that rebounding remains a key stat for this team. Florida has won the battle of the boards in all six of their SEC wins. In the last two games they have given up 34 offensive rebounds and lost both times. In those games the Gators also managed to make just 22 of 46 free throws.


Just about everyone is rooting for senior forward Dan Werner to rediscover his game down the stretch. In the last nine games, Werner has scored a total of just 14 points (1.6/g) and grabbed only 31 rebounds (3.4) after averaging 6.6/4.6 in the first 16 games of the season.


Alex Tyus (921) and Chandler Parsons (904) both have a chance to join the 1,000-point club before the end of the season. Florida will play at least eight more games so Tyus needs to average 10 the rest of the way while Parsons will have to produce about 12 points a night to reach that milestone.

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