Florida vs. No. 2 Auburn score, takeaways: Gators survive for highest-ranked home win in program history

By Adam Silverstein
February 19, 2022
Florida vs. No. 2 Auburn score, takeaways: Gators survive for highest-ranked home win in program history
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

It was a historic afternoon inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as Florida Gators basketball picked up the highest-ranked win on its home court in program history, surviving late in a 63-62 win over the No. 2 Auburn Tigers. Florida evened the season series with Auburn, one of the top teams throughout the 2021-22 season.

The Gators had never defeated a team ranked as high as No. 2 on Billy Donovan Court, though they had previously beaten a No. 2 team in the regular season back in 2002 and 2009. While Florida does have a pair of wins over No. 1-ranked opponents, both came in NCAA Tournament play.

Seniors guard Tyree Appleby and forward Colin Castleton were clearly the stars of the show, combining to score 45 points or 71.4% of their team’s total. The Gators also got themselves firmly back on the NCAA Tournament bubble with their biggest win of the season despite seeming to completely play themselves off of it with consecutive losses over the last week.

What went down on Saturday afternoon in this shocking win? Let’s take a look with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … Florida played stellar defense on the game’s final possession, holding Auburn without a shot attempt despite the Tigers starting the possession down a single point with 7.1 seconds left. This came despite the Gators leading by as many as eight with 2:16 left. Aside from those final 7.1 seconds, Florida made one mistake after another across the last 2 minutes of the game.

First, the Gators fouled a 3-point attempt on a key possession for the second consecutive game. Then, redshirt senior guard Brandon McKissic turned the ball over out of bounds under Auburn’s basket, allowing it to score five straight points. Florida missed a free throw on the other end, and after getting a stop on defense, retained possession with the clock ticking down. Head coach Mike White called a timeout with 9.9 seconds remaining only for redshirt senior G Phlandrous Fleming Jr. to commit another UF turnover out of bounds, this time under its own basket. That gave AU its final opportunity.

Auburn used a 17-2 stretch spanning halftime to lead Florida by seven just 4 minutes into the second half. The Tigers eventually increased their advantage to nine, but the Gators began chipping away and used an extended 12-2 run to retake the lead, which they ended up holding for the final 5:10.

First half focus: Auburn scored the final seven points of the opening period as Florida once again suffered a scoreless streak entering the break. However, the Gators succeeded in maintaining a 22-21 advantage by playing strong defense and limiting the Tigers’ scoring opportunities. In a reversal of its normal play, UF struggled massively scoring inside the arc, hitting just 4 of 15 shots in the opening 20 minutes as Castleton did most of the scoring with 10 points.

Exceptional efforts: Castleton owned the first half, while Appleby took over in the second. Appleby finished with 26 points (20 in the second half) on 5 of 10 shooting from downtown; while he only had two assists to four turnovers, he made 7 of 8 free throws. Castleton split his points between both periods but finished with 19 on 7 of 13 shooting along with eight boards.

Odds and ends: Florida defeated a top-two team in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2009 … the Gators matched their highest-ranked regular season victory of all-time with three victories over No. 2 teams … this was UF’s 10th all-time win against a top-three team but just its seventh in the regular season … Florida improved to 2-7 against top five, 6-15 against top 10, 10-20 against top 15 and 20-35 against top 25 teams under White; it is 0-4 against No. 1-ranked teams … the Gators are now 2-5 against AP Top 25 teams this season but 1-7 against top 15 teams

More to come. Stay tuned.

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