The Florida Gators basketball team (12-6, 4-2 SEC) is feeling good coming off of two consecutive wins as they head into their next matchup against the Auburn Tigers (9-8, 3-3 SEC) on Saturday, January 23 at 8 p.m. in Gainesville, Florida.
Florida has an 47-29 all-time home record against Auburn, including an active 10-game winning streak in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators have won eight in a row against the Tigers and 18 of their last 19 meetings.
- Dorian Finney-Smith has three consecutive double-doubles, joining Chandler Parsons, Marreese Speights, Al Horford, David Lee and Udonis Haslem as the only Florida players over the past 20 seasons to get three straight.
- In Florida’s 80-71 win against Ole Miss, KeVaughn Allen had 27 points, shooting 9-for-11 from the floor and 6-for-7 from 3-point range. It was UF’s best individual percentage (.857) from beyond the arc since Michael Frazier II hit an identical 6-for-7 at Auburn as a freshman on Feb. 16, 2013.
- Kasey Hill’s booming dunk in transition was one of the highlights from Florida’s most recent win over Mississippi State. Hill has shown explosiveness to the rim this season, tallying six dunks so far after totaling two his entire first two seasons at UF.
- For the second time in recent weeks, John Egbunu shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the critical closing minutes of a home win. Though Egbunu is a .545 free throw shooter overall, he is shooting .750 (15-for-20) in the final five minutes of games.
- During their past 21 SEC games, the Gators have not built a three-game winning streak. Saturday’s game offers the first opportunity at such a streak since the Gators opened the 2015 SEC schedule 3-0 before going 5-10 down the stretch.
The Tigers are coming in hot to this matchup as they are also coming off of two consecutive wins against Kentucky and Alabama. Their leading scorer, Kareem Canty, is a force to be reckoned with on offense averaging 19.4 points per game. In Auburn’s most recent games, Canty was able to put up 26 against Kentucky and 25 against Alabama.
In Gator head coach Mike White’s own words, “Offensively with the ball in his hands, he’s one of the more talented guys in college basketball. He’s terrific, right hand, left hand, floaters, runners, getting guys shots, and then of course his ability to separate and get himself three looks at a high percentage that are really, really difficult shots for most everyone else.”
Cinmeon Bowers also had a jaw-dropping game against the Crimson Tide with a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds. He is also the ream’s leading rebounder averaging at 9.4 per game.
The Gators are not the kind of basketball team that will outscore an opponent, and with an opponent that is this strong offensively it will take a huge effort from the defense to stay alive.
The Tigers know how to create turnovers with the press and get the ball out of bounds at the baseline and sidelines. Florida’s focus is taking care of the basketball and keeping it in their hands as much as possible, but they will have to improve their shot selection in order to produce when they have the ball.
What this game means:
Both teams entering this game are looking to continue their winning streak in hopes that it’ll keep their momentum going as they continue conference play. The Gators are fortunate to be playing the Tigers in the O’Dome with some of the rowdiest fans just a few feet away from the court.
If Auburn is able to pull of the road win, they will have some pep in their step as they take on the rest of their schedule. Especially after already beating a big name like Kentucky recently.
There’s no telling just how the game will go down so be sure to watch it for yourself on SEC Network and as always, be sure to follow along with us right here at GatorCountry.com!