Gainesville, FL – The 12th-ranked Florida Gators will try to remain in second place in the Southeastern Conference standings as they host the Auburn Tigers in a league battle at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Tigers hold an 87-71 lead in the all-time series with Florida. The Gators have a 44-29 record versus Auburn in games played in Gainesville. Billy Donovan has dominated the Tigers since taking over at Florida, as he is 16-4 and 7-0 at home against Auburn with the Gators. Florida won last year's only meeting 45-40 in a low-scoring affair.
Auburn enters tonight's bout with a 14-12 overall record after it knocked off Mississippi State 65-55 on Saturday. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and improved the Tigers' league record to 4-8. Head coach Tony Barbee had to be pleased with his team's offensive performance against the Bulldogs, as its 47.2 percent shooting from the floor was its best connection rating since its January 2nd game versus Bethune-Cookman. Auburn is being outscored by its opponents by 0.5 ppg, which makes it one of just three teams in the league with a negative scoring margin.
The Tigers are led by the duo of Frankie Sullivan and Kenny Gabriel. Sullivan is a talented point guard with a team-best average of 12.7 ppg. Sullivan has averaged 15.8 ppg and made 17 free throws in his last four games. Gabriel carries averages of 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest after netting 15 points and grabbing nine boards versus Mississippi State. Varez Ward came up big off the bench versus MSU with 10 points and nine assists in 26 minutes of play.
Donovan has one of his best squads since Joakim Noah and Al Horford were dominating the SEC. The Gators are 21-6 overall and 9-3 in league action after their 98-68 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Florida set a new season-high by shooting 58.3 percent from the floor versus Arkansas, which helped it score above 90 points for the first time in 2012. The Gators are 15th in the country with an average of 78.9 ppg, but they are allowing 65.5 ppg, which ranks 8th in the 12-team SEC. One reason for Florida's excellence on the offensive end is it marvelous ball movement, which gives it a league- leading average of 15.6 assists per game.
The rich will get richer tonight as Donovan will have guard Mike Rosario available after he missed the last three games with a hip pointer. Rosario will most likely be the least of Tony Barbee's worries, as five Gators are have scoring averages in double figures. Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, and Bradley Beal all put their talents on display in the win over Arkansas on Saturday. Walker led the way with 31 points and five assists, while Boynton had 25 points and Beal chipped in 21 points and nine boards. Patric Young and Erik Murphy provide inside toughness that combines with the three-guard attack to make the Gators a legitimate title contender this season.