UF knows Auburn can be dangerous at home


Florida coach Billy Donovan, left, had help from guard Kenny Boynton, right, as the Gators escaped Auburn Arena two years ago with a narrow 45-40 win on a poor shooting night. (Photos by The Associated Press and Staff photographer Matt Stamey/Photo illustration by Adam West)

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 9:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 12:20 a.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn't have to look too far back to show how dangerous Auburn is at home.

Facts

Saturday's game

Who: No. 7 Florida Gators (20-3, 10-1 SEC) vs. Auburn Tigers (9-15, 3-8 SEC)
When: 1:30 p.m.
Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.
Gainesville-area TV: WOGX (Ch. 13, Cox Cable), WJXT (Ch. 19, Cox Cable).
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

Two years ago, playing its first game at recently built Auburn Arena, the Gators survived a horrendous shooting night to beat Auburn 45-40. Florida needed back-to-back 3-pointers from Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton late to win the game on a night when the Gators shot just 28.3 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from 3-point range.

“It shows that when you are playing in this league, regardless of who you are playing against, if you don't come out and you don't play well, it's really, really hard to win,” Donovan said. “And that was probably a game for us we were pretty fortunate to win.”




Coming off a big win against Kentucky, No. 7 Florida (20-3, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) will look to stay on track today at Auburn. The Tigers (9-15, 3-8) are once again struggling under third-year coach Tony Barbee. But Auburn has been competitive, losing at Arkansas in overtime and at home to Ole Miss by just two points.

“It's hard to win on the road,” Donovan said. “If you don't play well on the road, you don't have that crowd behind you, you don't have that kind of environment behind you, it's hard to win. And I think our guys will understand going into this game that we'll have to play well.”

Florida will be playing its first game on the road since its 80-69 loss at Arkansas in which the Gators fell behind by as many as 27 points in the second half. Arkansas rode its early momentum throughout the game after making seven of its first nine 3-point attempts.

“Teams are going to give us our best shot, and we've got to be ready to take it and give it back,” Florida senior forward Erik Murphy said.

Like Florida, Auburn is an experienced team with three seniors in its starting lineup. The Tigers also bring junior guard Chris Denson off the bench, a left-handed combo guard who is averaging 12.2 points per game.

Donovan recruited Denson, a former standout from Shaw High in Columbus, Ga.

“He's got the ability to drive it to the basket,” Donovan said. “I always think when lefties drive and then get in the lane, it's a little bit more awkward because most players are right-handed. He's very, very crafty when he gets in there. Any level of space that he gets, he's a good 3-point shooter.”

Senior Auburn center Rob Chubb is seventh in the SEC in rebounding (7.3 rpg), and senior guard Frankie Sullivan is third in the SEC in scoring.

“They can come at you with a lot of different lineups,” Donovan said. “They can play four guards, they are quick, they're fast, they change defenses, they shoot 3s, they turn you over. Last year at our place we had 11 turnovers (against Auburn) in the first half. So there's going to be a lot that's going to go into this game in terms of us having to play well.”

Murphy is confident this year's Gator team is mature enough to survive an off-shooting game on the road.

“You just have to do other things to find a way to win — guard, rebound, make plays — that don't involve scoring,” Murphy said. “If the ball is not going in, you've just gotta find other ways.”

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. 12.9 ppg, 3.3 apg

G Mike Rosario 6-3 Sr. 12.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg

G Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Jr. 9.5 ppg, 5.2 apg

F Erik Murphy 6-10 Sr. 12.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg

AUBURN PROBABLE STARTERS

G Frankie Sullivan 6-1 Sr. 15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg

G Josh Wallace 5-10 Sr. 4.0 ppg, 3.8 apg

F Allen Payne 6-6 Jr. 8.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg

F Jordon Granger 6-8 Fr. 1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg

C Rob Chubb 6-10 Sr. 9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg

Notes: Florida is 17-4 against Auburn under Billy Donovan. … The Gators have won four in a row in the series and 14 of the last 15 meetings against the Tigers. … Florida ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 52.7 points per game. The Gators have held 11 opponents under 50 points and 17 opponents under 60 points. … Offensively, the Gators lead the Southeastern Conference in 3-point shooting at 38.9 percent. … Auburn has lost two games in overtime and two more games (Illinois, Ole Miss) by two points. .... The Tigers are forcing 14.2 turnovers per game. … Auburn is 7-6 at home this season. … Donovan's daughter, Hasbrouck, is a freshman on Auburn's equestrian team. “I will probably get a chance to see her,” Donovan said. “I don't know if I will get to see her ride, but I'm sure she will stop by.”

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