Scottie Lewis comes through to assist in Gators' must-win game
AUBURN, Ala. — Maybe Florida's 74-57 win Tuesday night at Auburn is the spark sophomore Scottie Lewis needs to pick up his production just as the Gators eye the postseason.
Lewis, a backup guard, scored 16 points and made five steals off the bench to team with Tre Mann in handing the Tigers their worst loss of the season.
After several games where he just couldn't stay out of foul trouble, Lewis returned to have an impact on both ends of the court, on his way to just his second double-figure scoring output in eight games. In the seven games before Tuesday, Lewis totaled 30 points while fouling 19 times and committing 13 turnovers.
Against Auburn, he was 7-for-12 from the floor and hit two of his six 3-point attempts.
"Scottie Lewis, I thought had arguably his best game of the year," UF coach Mike White said. "I thought his energy was fantastic, five steals, got some tips, was pretty sound defensively, made some improvements, played with some maturity, made some shots. I thought he was really good."
The last time Lewis scored in double figures was Jan. 5 when he had 17 points in the loss at Alabama.
"It started last week in practice," Mann said. "I could just tell he was more locked in, more engaged and everything. He was trying to be a better teammate, a better person. I could just tell from then that he was locked in. Before the game, he didn't really talk much. Usually we talk, but I let him stay in the zone and he came out aggressive just like I did. It was big, we definitely needed that. Huge for Scottie, huge for the team."
Mann used his first career double-double Tuesday to lead Florida. Mann finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Who: Florida (12-6, 8-5 SEC) at Kentucky (8-13, 7-7)
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
"I was pleased that Tre continued to be aggressive," White said. "He's such an unselfish kid, to a fault. I've said it for two years, and I'll continue to say it to him. The numbers he had at halftime, I was concerned that he'd come out floating a little bit. 'Hey, let me get my teammates shots.' There's something to be said for that, for him to want teammates to have success and all that type of stuff and want to have ball movement, but when he's open we want him to shoot it."
Auburn scored first on a 3-pointer by Jamal Johnson. Florida then began taking control by going on an 18-3 run with 11:44 remaining. The Gators kept building their lead from there.
In a little more than the first 12 minutes, Mann was 6-of-8 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers, scored 14 points and collected five rebounds and Florida led 21-8.
"I knew it was a must-win so I came out aggressive," Mann said. "My teammates kept finding me, they gave me the ball. Had some great seals by Osayi (Osifo). (That's) something we were working on all week in practice — holding seals better to get us guards a lot of open layups. Yeah, I came out more aggressive for sure."
Gators in control
The Gators (12-6, 8-5 SEC) had a commanding 44-22 lead at the half, as Mann (16 points) and Lewis (14) combined to score 30 points on 13-of-17 shooting (4-for-7 from 3). Lewis finished with 16 points and five steals.
Florida held Auburn to 30-percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers, which led to 13 points, 10 of those came in the game’s first 13 minutes, during which the Gators jumped out to that 17-point cushion. UF outscored Auburn 26-6 in the paint. For the game, the Tigers committed 21 turnovers, which Florida turned into 19 points. And UF had outscored Auburn 40-20 in the paint for the game.
Auburn (11-13, 5-10) was playing without starting point guard Sharife Cooper (injured ankle), who was averaging 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game.
The Gators held sway in the second half, as the teams played it out. Florida led by 15+ the entire second half.
UF is 11-0 this season when scoring 72-plus points. Florida has won 13 of the last 15 in the series, including a 69-47 blowout victory on Jan. 18, 2020 when the Tigers came to the O’Dome ranked fourth in the country.
The 57 points mark Auburn's fewest in an SEC game this season. The 17-point margin of defeat at home marks its largest since a 114-95 loss to Florida in 2017.
The win marked White's 120th at Florida, moving into third all-time in Florida history by passing Sam McAllister (119, 1937-42, 1946-51), trailing only Billy Donovan (467, 1996-2015) and Norm Sloan (232, 1960-66, 1980-89). ... Mann's 13 rebounds also marked a career high (10 at Vanderbilt, 12/30/20).
Florida 74, Auburn 57
FLORIDA (12-6, 8-5 SEC)
Castleton 2-6 3-4 7, Duruji 3-9 1-2 7, Appleby 2-7 6-7 11, Locke 3-7 0-0 8, Mann 8-14 1-1 19, Lewis 7-12 0-1 16, Payne 2-3 0-0 4, Osifo 1-2 0-1 2, Glover 0-3 0-0 0, Ruzhentsev 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-63 11-16 74.
AUBURN (11-13, 5-10)
Thor 3-5 4-7 10, Williams 5-12 0-0 11, Cambridge 5-13 1-3 14, Flanigan 0-6 6-6 6, J.Johnson 3-11 1-2 10, Moore 0-1 2-2 2, Cardwell 1-1 0-2 2, Akingbola 1-1 0-0 2, Franklin 0-0 0-0 0, Berman 0-1 0-0 0, Cook 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-51 14-22 57.
Halftime_Florida 44-22. 3-Point Goals_Florida 7-20 (Locke 2-5, Lewis 2-6, Mann 2-7, Appleby 1-1, Glover 0-1), Auburn 7-31 (Cambridge 3-8, J.Johnson 3-10, Williams 1-7, Berman 0-1, Moore 0-1, Thor 0-1, Flanigan 0-3). Rebounds_Florida 37 (Mann 13), Auburn 32 (Flanigan 9). Assists_Florida 13 (Appleby, Mann 3), Auburn 13 (Flanigan 4). Total Fouls_Florida 20, Auburn 16.