Tyus, Parsons Lead Gators Past Auburn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Facing an NCAA must win game to open the SEC Tournament, Florida took care of business. The Gators jumped out to an early 14 point on the strength of Chandler Parsons 3-point shooting and rode the momentum to a 78-69 win over Auburn. The Tigers once closed to within one with a hot start to the second half, but were never able to take the lead.

Chandler Parsons hit all three of his first half attempts from long range, and was sharp with passing as well which helped get Alex Tyus going. Tyus led Florida with 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Parsons hit for 21 and pulled down six rebounds as well.

"We tried in the first half to get the ball into Chandler's hands," said Florida coach Billy Donovan.

"We wanted to get off to a good start," said Parsons. "We wanted to come out there and throw the first punch, not go out there and feel how they're playing but go out and be aggressive from jump."

Tyus credited Parsons with finding him as well as opening up possibilities inside.

"We just did a really good job of finding each other and getting open."

Kenny Boynton picked up the 3-point momentum in the second half, draining three of them to key a Florida run which built the lead back out fourteen after Auburn had closed the gap to one. On defense Florida was able to keep Auburn's Tay Waller scoreless. The gunner was averaging sixteen points a game for the season. For the game Auburn limited to 4-of-25 shooting from behind the arc.

"I think we did as good a job as we could have done defending the three," said Donovan.

Parsons says Florida isn't worrying about where the stand with regard to the NCAAs, because their goal is to "play on Sunday" here in Nashville. If that happens, the NCAA bid will take care of itself.

"I know we're one of the best 65 teams in the country, but I'm not on the committee." said Parsons.

Florida gets Mississippi State Friday at 7:30. MSU won the West, which gave them the luxury of a first round bye. Donovan described MSU as a challenging team to get ready for in just one day.

"They're a team that really has great speed and athleticism. They really stretch you on defense because they have guys who can shoot the three from four positions, and then they have the all time shot blocker in NCAA history on the backline."

Tyus believes Florida will benefit from their Thanksgiving weekend tournament experience earlier this season as they have to get ready for games on short rest going forward.

"We've been in this situation before, and we really do a good job of scouting. We're just going to go over what Mississippi State does and be ready tomorrow."

Florida defeated the Bulldogs 69-62 in Gainesville earlier this season, and the Gators are still undefeated against the West Division.

Florida's record overall now sits at 21-11.

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