That Oughta Do It

The Gator basketball team may well have punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with its 78-69 win over Auburn at the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Florida picked up its 21st win of the season, ended a three game losing streak and took advantage of a number of other "bubble" teams having difficult days on Thursday.

Florida entered the game knowing that they had gotten a couple of breaks earlier in the day with losses by Memphis and UAB. Florida's NCAA resume also got a boost form Alabama's comeback win over South Carolina. That win may push ‘Bama into the top 100 in the RPI and the top 100 is what the NCAA Selection Committee traditionally focuses on in evaluating the final teams being considered for invitations to the Big Dance.

Next up comes a Friday night game against Mississippi State, and it's clearly in Florida's best interests to beat the Bulldogs and advance to the SEC semifinals. There are several reasons for that.

Build momentum ---- The Gators entered the SEC Tournament with a three game losing streak and while the win over Auburn put an end to that slide, another win would be a major positive in building the team's confidence for whatever might come next.

Ease committee's burden ---- While I may personally believe the Gators have earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament (and I do), the Gators cannot be 100 percent convinced that their spot in the dance is assured. Rather than hope the committee shared our view of the improved SEC and the significance of the Gators' non-conference wins, Florida can eliminate any and all doubt by continuing to win.

Improve seeding ---- A win over Mississippi State might be enough to push the Gators up to a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The higher you can get the better the chances are that you can win a game (or two?) in the tournament.


Chandler Parsons needed six points against Auburn to reach the 1,000 point mark for his Gator career. He scored 21. The junior forward is the 17th Donovan era player to reach that milestone. The 18th will be Alex Tyus who is now just four points shy of that standard. Tyus scored 24 Thursday night to put an end to a mini slump.


The Gators are now 7-0 against SEC Western Division teams this season. Florida swept the West during the regular season. That dominance should serve Florida well if the committee is trying to decide between the Gators, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.


Erving Walker scored six points Thursday night and he got them all at the free throw line. In two games against Auburn Walker was 0-10 from the field, but made 20-of-22 free throws. Walker was 0-for-10 from the field against Georgia Southern in the second game of the season. That's the only other time this season he has failed to score from the field.


There are many who believe Auburn coach Jeff Lebo (96-93) will be fired after this campaign, his sixth on the Auburn campus. Lebo has failed to raise the profile of the Tigers program, though he is playing in one of the worst arenas in the SEC. Auburn is set to open a brand new facility next season and it will be interesting to see if the school gives Lebo a chance to recruit now that he has a brand new facility to show off.

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