Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rout short-handed Auburn on road

By Jake Winderman
February 23, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rout short-handed Auburn on road

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball bounced back from an up-and-down week to pound the Auburn Tigers 74-57 in Auburn, Alabama, on Tuesday night. Florida (12-6, 8-5 SEC) displayed one of its most dominant two-way performances of the season, controlling the contest on both ends from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

The Gators picked up their fourth SEC road win in seven opportunities and have now won six of their past eight games with just a few contests remaining in the regular season.

What went down in Florida’s inspiring double-digit win over Auburn? Find out more in our Fastbreak takeaways.

It was over when … the Gators took a 44-20 lead, their largest of the game, with 36 seconds left in the first half on an easy layup from sophomore forward Omar Payne. The bucket capped an extended 44-17 run for Florida, which maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way. UF trailed Auburn for just 1:41 of the contest. After a game-opening three, it was all downhill for the Tigers. Florida followed that basket with a 21-5 run spanning 11+ minutes as the Gators held the Tigers scoreless for multiple four-minute stretches. UF forced 13 first-half turnovers, converting those giveaways into 13 points.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore point guard Tre Mann was the best player on the floor. Mann took it upon himself to get the Gators back on track with a second straight win, and he did it exceptionally well. Florida’s floor general posted 19 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals on 8 of 14 shooting for his first career double-double. Mann’s at his best when he’s selfish, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a score-first mentality when you’ve got such a versatile bag of scoring tricks.

After a rough nine-game stretch in which he missed four (due to COVID-19 protocols) and struggled to regain his footing, sophomore guard Scottie Lewis finally looked like himself again. Lewis posted 16 points — the most since his 17-point performance vs. LSU on Jan. 2 — and a career-high five steals. The former McDonald’s All-American played like the athletically-gifted two-way player he’s known to be against Auburn and was a major factor in the Gators’ 17-point blowout win.

Odds and ends: Florida forced an SEC-high 21 turnovers and are now 7-1 when forcing 16 or more giveaways this season … the Gators improved to 11-0 when scoring 72+ points … Florida is 11-0 when holding teams to 44% shooting or worse UF is 9-3 when shooting 35% or better from beyond the arc … Florida outscored Auburn 40-20 in the paint, 22-6 off the bench and 11-3 on second-chance opportunities … the Gators made at least seven three-pointers for the 11th time this season and the seventh time during SEC play … Florida led by 15+ points for the entire duration of the second half … UF head coach Mike White improved to 5-2 all-time against AU’s Bruce Pearl … freshman guard Sharife Cooper — Auburn’s leader in scoring, assists and steals — was a late scratch for the Tigers … Florida improved to 81-89 all-time against Auburn, 27-56 away from home

What it means: Florida bounced back in an impressive and inspiring way during its third game back from a 13-day COVID-19 pause. The Gators finally looked like the squad that had gotten off to a strong 6-3 start to SEC play. UF followed the game plan that had been so successful with its current personnel this season. Florida hedged passing lanes heavily, creating ample transition opportunities for its athletic, guard-heavy lineups that made the Tigers uncomfortable from the jump.

When the Gators are able to keep opposing teams off of the offensive glass, get into their fastbreak offense quickly and knock down shots from beyond the arc, there’s few teams that can beat them on their best days. Tuesday night had to be rewarding after Florida failed to complete a near-incredible second-half comeback against Arkansas in their second-to-last game.

Entering Tuesday, Auburn was ranked 73rd in the NCAA’s NET rankings. If the Tigers finish the season within the top 75, the victory will count as a Quadrant I win.

What’s next? Florida will get four days off before taking on Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on CBS. The Gators dropped their first meeting with the Wildcats, 76-58, earlier this season.

Kentucky was scheduled to play Texas A&M on Tuesday night, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Aggies program. The Wildcats are 8-13 overall and 7-7 in SEC play this season.

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