Auburn vs. Florida basketball preview: SEC win, are you out there?

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn remains winless in conference play. The No. 1 SEC team, Florida, heads to the Plains on Saturday.

Oh my, Tiger fans. I debate on using copy and paste during the basketball season for things like the expected starters and usually for my own notes, because they always say the same things: make free throws, foul less and defend the perimeter. It occurred to me that Auburn enters Game 4 of league play, and I could copy and paste the following phrase that appears in every single preview -- in search of his first SEC win. These are the days of our basketball lives under head coach Tony Barbee.

Florida is currently ranked seventh in the AP Poll and leads the SEC with an impressive 14-2 overall record and a 3-0 mark in conference play. Florida's only losses were early in the season against Wisconsin, 59-53, and UConn, 65-64. The Gators traveled to Madison in early November. At the time, the Badgers were ranked 20th in the country, but they currently sit at No. 3 with a 16-1 record. Florida hit the road again, to Storrs, Conn., in early December to face the then-No. 12 Huskies. Shabazz Napier knocked down a second-chance 15-footer at the buzzer to hand Florida its second loss. The Gators rebounded with back-to-back wins at home against then-No. 13 Kansas, 67-61, and then-No. 15 Memphis, 77-75. Florida, missing Casey Prather, struggled on the road against Arkansas and required overtime to finish off the Hogs 84-82. The Gators then took on a Georgia squad still reeling from an emotional win over Mizzou and basically punched the Dawgs in the mouth with a 72-50 win.

Auburn leads in the all-time series against Florida, 87-73, but has yet to pick up a win against the Gators under Barbee. The Tigers, despite the loss to Tennessee, climb five spots to No. 153 on, and Florida is at 12. Kenpom predicts an Auburn loss by 11 points, 74-63. As mentioned before, Kenpom factors in home-court advantage, but even I find an 11-point loss generous. Kenpom gives Auburn a 15 percent chance at an upset.

Team Numbers at a Glance

Auburn Florida
Scoring Average 74.5 72.6
Scoring Defense 70.9 59.6
Scoring Margin +3.6 +13.0
Field Goal % .454 .464
Field Goal % Defense .422 .394
3-Point % .323 .362
3-Point % Defense .386 .351
Free Throw % .680 .662
Rebounding Average 36.7 36.8
Rebounding Margin +1.7 +5.3
Turnover Average 12.3 11.9
Turnover Margin +0.5



Auburn's starting lineup should come as no surprise: guards Tahj Shamsid-Deen (5'10, 163 pounds), Chris Denson (6'2, 181) and K.T. Harrell (6'4, 216), forward Allen Payne (6'6, 225), and center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (7'0, 226). Off the bench, expect to see point guard Malcolm Canada (6'3, 224), center Matthew Atewe (6'9, 250), forward Dion Wade (6'5, 170) and forward Alex Thompson (6'8, 204).

Billy Donovan will mostly likely put the following on the floor to start the game: forward Will Yeguete (6'8, 230), center Patric Young (6'9, 240), and guards Kasey Hill (6'1, 181), Scottie Wilbekin (6'2, 176) and Michael Frazier II (6'4, 199). Potentially still without Prather (6'6, 212), as he was not listed as an expected starter on Florida's game notes, Donovan will look to Dorian Finney-Smith (6'8, 212). Lexx Edwards 6'2, 225), Devon Walker (6'6, 195) and Jacob Kurtz (6'6, 210) have made recent appearances. Prather is the Gators' leading scorer, averaging 17.0 points in 14 games. He is followed by Frazier (12.4 ppg), Wilbekin (12.4 ppg) and Finney-Smith (11.1 ppg). Finney-Smith and Young lead in rebounds (7.8 and 6.3 per game, respectively); Young leads in blocks with 14 on the season.



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