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#15 Florida vs. Auburn (M Basketball)

Auburn (16-9, 5-7) vs. Florida (20-5, 10-2)

  • Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
  • 6:00PM CT
  • SEC Network / WatchESPN

A program that seemed poised to take a big step forward into the NCAA tourney discussion, let a key opportunity slip away over the weekend. Since the Tigers blew a 20+ point lead to lose to Ole Miss on the road, there has been questions about Bruce Pearl, softness of the team and whether we were ever a bubble team to start with. However, at 16-9 (5-7) and with 6 games to go, Auburn certainly has much left to play for.

Auburn is currently tied for 8th in the league and 4th is only two games out in front of them. We have seen some over reaction in the past when we let one get away.  For me, this loss hurt more than others due to the timing, as we have very little time to make up for this one. Of our remaining games, only 2 opponents are ranked higher than us in the league and we get them both at home (Arkansas and Florida). There are some very winnable games in this stretch and it is crucial to our program to pick up a few and earn some postseason play. 

The best thing for any postseason resume is beating good teams. We have such an opportunity tonight, as we welcome Florida to the Plains. Florida is a 9.5 favorite, and they deserve to be. They play good offense and good defense,and generally stay within their system and roles. Statistically they have the advantage all over the floor. Their worst statistical category is asst/fg ratio, which is only marginally better than ours. Which means they don't get a lot of assists, compared to the number of overall field goals. The scary thing is they are the best in the country at limiting assits and opposing asst/to margin. Considering we just blew a 20 point second half lead, largely in part to 26 points off of turnovers, I'd say this is a bad match up for us at a bad time. 

Harper and Johnson will have to play lights out (protecting the ball) for us to have any chance. There is no secret here, we have to be first half Auburn for the full game. Is that achievable, probably not, but it is possible. I wouldn't be surprised to see some runs in this game, good and bad. Florida isn't a perfect team, they are very average in their shooting percentages, it is their defense that is above average, and their defense that wins them games. They have only allowed 80+ points twice all season, back in December, and the lost both games.  They held UK to 66 three games ago and Gonzaga to 77 earlier in the year. If we have any shot, we have to be the third team to get into the 80s because our defense is not good enough to hold them under their season average of 79 points per game. 

So we need to go off on offense, and limit them as much as possible in transition. 

Win or lose, how we respond to the disappointment of the Ole Miss game is the secondary story-line here. Do we fold up shot and call it a season, be happy we made any bubble projection and call it a good year, or do we rally for a strong finish to the year, get to 20 wins, and some post season play? 

I think this is a resilient bunch that has shown the ability to bounce back more than once. We have only lost back to back games one time all season, when we started SEC play 0-3. We responded vs TCU after a bad loss to SC, we responded vs bama after a bad loss to UT, it's time to respond again. 

War Eagle!

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