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No. 15 Florida Gators basketball (21-5, 11-2 SEC) started slow but blew the doors off the Auburn Tigers (16-10, 5-8 SEC) in the second half on the way to a dominant 114-95 victory on the road Tuesday in Auburn, Alabama. Unfortunately for the Gators, the victory was not all good news as they lost a starter, potentially for an extended period of time.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest win below.
It was over when … Florida scored nine straight points out of halftime to pull away from Auburn and closed the doors on the Tigers a few minutes later with a 10-4 run that put the Gators up a game-high 19 points with eight minutes to play. Try as they might to match UF shot for shot, AU was unable to do that and had no choice but to watch their strong first-half effort get obliterated by a more talented team. Florida ultimately posted 114 points on the night, its highest total in an SEC game in program history and the second time it has eclipsed 100 in a league game this season.
First half focus: Auburn led by as many as eight in the first half as it looked like a brutal schedule was starting to get to Florida. However, just as one of the Gators’ top players got sidelined with an injury (more below), the visitors erupted on an 11-0 run to take a 35-32 lead. The Tigers were able to close the opening 20 minutes on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 50 as the teams entered the locker room. Even though UF was efficient in the opening half, AU’s 10 offensive rebounds and the 10 turnovers by the visitors resulted in 12 more shots for the home team.
Important injury: Redshirt junior center John Egbunu was dominating the early going Tuesday with 10 points and four rebounds in just eight minutes. He would not continue that roll after landing awkwardly on his left knee and falling to the floor midway through the half. Egbunu limped to the bench with some assistance and was reportedly able to walk to the locker room; however, he could not jump and land on the leg. He was ruled questionable to return at half and out just moments into the latter period.
Exceptional effort: Graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry had himself a night with a season-high 30 points on 8-of-17 shooting (one point shy of matching a career-best). Barry made 11-of-12 free throws, extending his program-record streak to 42 made consecutively before his lone miss, and hit 3-of-5 threes on his way to his best performance in a Gators uniform.
Significant stats: The Gators got outscored 50-34 in the paint and outrebounded 35-34 but managed to beat the Tigers with incredibly efficient shooting (11-of-19 threes, 22-of-40 twos, 37-of-42 free throws) and by limiting their second-half turnovers (three).
Odds and ends: The win was Florida’s 10th straight over Auburn dating back to March 13, 2009 … redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone had an awful night, fouling out in just six minutes of action without recording another statistic … senior point guard Kasey Hill posted a double-double of 11 points and 12 dimes; he was +23 on the evening … sophomore G KeVaughn Allen (17 points, 9/10 FT) and junior F Devin Robinson (14 points, 3/5 3PT) each started the game slow but blew up in the second half to help UF cruise to victory … senior F Justin Leon put together another consistent performance by hitting 2-of-3 triples for 10 points with eight rebounds … 2016-17 is the first season in which Florida has posted 100+ points in two SEC road wins, the first time it has scored 100+ in two SEC games in regulation time, and the third time it has scored 100+ in more than one SEC game in a single season …
What it means: The Gators did not just win on Tuesday, they dominated a well-coached Tigers team. As such, Florida extended its winning streak to seven games and kicked off its last six regular-season games, four of which are on the road, in splendid fashion. UF is impressing on the court, proving it is one of the most underrated teams in the nation and making a legitimate case for Mike White as the SEC’s best coach this season.
Up next: Florida will remain on the road when it takes on Mississippi State on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will air live nationally on ESPN.