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January 18, 2014

Gator Gameday: No. 7 Florida at Auburn

GAME DAY LINKS: Prather available off the bench | UF-AU Game Day Thread

No. 7 Florida at Auburn
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 - 4:00 p.m. EST
TV: SEC-TV / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 136/200
Auburn Tigers (8-6, 0-3 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Lost 3
Last Game: Lost to Tennessee 78-67
G Tahj Shamsid-Deen (point guard averaging 3.4 APG) Fr.. 5-10 163
G KT Harrell (second in the SEC with 19 PPG) Jr. 6-4 216
G Chris Denson (leads the SEC with 19.4 PPG alongside 5 RPG) Sr. 6-2 181
F Allen Payne (57 of 82 rebounds have come at the defensive end) Sr. 6-6 225
C Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (leads team with 6.2 RPG and 2 BPG) Sr. 7-0 226

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (14-2, 3-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 8
Last Game: Defeated Georgia 72-50
G Scottie Wilbekin (had five assists for first time since 12/10 against UGA) Sr. 6-2 176
G Kasey Hill (Gators start three-guard lineup for second consecutive game) Fr. 6-1 181
G Michael Frazier II (attempted a season-high 16 3-pointers against UGA) So. 6-4 199
F Will Yeguete (coming off a 12-point, six-rebound performance) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (has at least 10 points and six rebounds in last five games) Sr. 6-9 240

Monitor the guards

Auburn's offense comes almost entirely from its backcourt. The Tigers possess the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the SEC when it comes to scoring and averages more than 46 points per game out of its starting guards. In response, Florida again puts Kasey Hill into the starting lineup to properly handle a three-guard matchup. That said, Auburn is shooting just 32.3 percent from beyond the arc and can be forced into bad shots with the right perimeter defense.
Get Dorian Finney-Smith involved

The versatile 6-foot-8 slasher who can also pull up and shoot with range is usually a matchup nightmare, but he'll especially be trouble for the Tigers today. Auburn simply does not have any regular contributors with the combination of size and athleticism to consistently have a body on Finney-Smith. The opportunity is going to be there for the sophomore to have a big day.
Maintain intensity

It is now clear Florida will likely be favored in every SEC game it plays this season. The key is getting up for every game and the biggest question in doing that is games like this. The Gators took a bus to Auburn and are playing a traditional SEC bottom-feeder. But it's still a road game against a team that would love to derail Florida's hot start. Sleep through it and this game could become tougher than it should be.

Coach Billy Donovan on Auburn's guard play:

"Tony Barbee has done a great job of putting those guys in situations to be very, very effective. They put those guys in good places on the court where you can't get a lot of help. They're isolated a lot of times. They're a good enough 3-point shooting team that if you just starting running at them they're going to be able to swing the ball and move it. Because of the spacing and their ability to score, drive, pull-up and make mid-range jumpshots, layups and 3s, the more help you give the more it frees up their frontcourt to offensive rebound. That's what they've done. They've really offensive rebounded well."
Young on the danger of overlooking Auburn:

"We talked after our practice yesterday and (trainer) Duke (Werner) was talking about how when it comes down to those last four or five games in the SEC when you're trying to close it out, we're not going to want to look back and say, 'Oh, man we should have pulled out that game. We know we could have won it.' So we have to go into this game. Auburn is a good team. All the games they have lost this year in conference have been close. It's not as though they have been blown out. It could have gone either way for those guys. We have to go in there with a humble mindset knowing we have a fight on our hands."

Florida 76-42: Wilbekin takes extreme pride in his defense, especially when asked to go up against a backcourt that is putting up the kind of numbers Auburn's group is. Expect the senior point guard to push his fellow guards to a big-time defensive day. If the Gators are able to do that, the Tigers will have no answers offensively. They simply aren't built for scoring to come from anywhere other than the backcourt in substantial numbers. Florida -- as it should -- will roll.

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