College Basketball: Florida Gators at Auburn Tigers – Tigers Favored
The Gators (18-2, 5-0) won 70-67 at Mississippi State on Wednesday, ending the Bulldogs’ home winning streak at seven.
It marked just the seventh time in 33 SEC games this season the road team has won. Billy Donovan’s team has two of those seven victories, and the coach of the reigning NCAA tournament champions was pleased with his team’s poise down the stretch.
"Sometimes on the road it’s not always going to be pretty," Donovan said. "I did not come here today thinking this game was going to be easy, or that Saturday’s game is going to be easy. No single game is easy in this league."
Corey Brewer and Lee Humphrey combined for 13 points in a key 17-2 second-half run that helped Florida open an 11-point lead, and Taurean Green made a late 3-pointer that gave the Gators the lead for good and helped secure their 11th consecutive victory.
"I think Corey’s energy took our team to a different level," Donovan said of Brewer, who finished with 20 points.
Brewer, who averages 12.8 points, went 3-for-5 from 3-point range after making just 12 in his first 16 games. The 6-foot-9 forward had totaled 15 points in his previous two contests.
Auburn (13-8, 3-3 West) may finally be reaping the benefits of playing a brutal non-conference schedule that included losses to current top 10 teams Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. The Tigers have beaten ranked teams in their last two home games, including an 81-57 rout of No. 12 Alabama on Tuesday.
Korvotney Barber scored 18 points and Frank Tolbert added 17 off the bench for Auburn, which had lost 15 straight against ranked squads before beating then-No. 22 Tennessee 83-80 on Jan. 17.
"We finally did it," said Tolbert, rating the Tennessee victory No. 2 and Alabama No. 1 among his biggest wins at Auburn. "We’ve just been working so hard. We just worked so hard and it’s finally starting to show and pay off."
Junior forward Quan Prowell has added an offensive presence in the frontcourt for coach Jeff Lebo, averaging 14.8 points and 8.0 rebounds in four games since joining the starting lineup. Prowell has recorded double-doubles in his last two games after doing so once in his previous 37.
"He has some athletic ability. He is a hard matchup," Lebo said. "He is a tough matchup because he can put it on the floor. He’s a good passer. You have to defend him from the 3-point line also. That is a hard matchup for a lot of teams to make."
Florida has won seven straight in this series, including three at Auburn, since a 78-70 loss in the 2000 SEC tournament. Brewer had 14 points in Florida’s last game at Auburn, an 84-78 overtime victory on Jan. 12, 2005, while Green sank all 12 of his free throws en route to his 21 points in a 69-57 home win over the Tigers last season.
Auburn leads the all-time series 86-65, and is 56-20 at home.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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