Somehow, Auburn continues to get things done with a thin bench, and Cinmeon Bowers has finally found some consistency.
Bowers got his starting spot back in last Saturday's win over Kentucky and notched 8 points and 10 rebounds, but it was far from his best effort. On Tuesday night against Alabama, he played like a man on fire with 20 points and 18 rebounds (nearly 43% of Auburn's total rebounds). He was also fairly unselfish with the ball, which has been crucial in transition possessions.
While Bowers might not post as good of a line, he'll be looking for something similar as the Tigers (9-8, 3-3 SEC) travel to the O'Connell Center in Gainesville to face the Florida Gators (12-6, 4-2 SEC), who are 4th in conference play and only have one loss at home this season.
Kareem Canty continues to earn incredible results for the Tigers with 19.4 points per game. He will once again be challenged by a stingy defense in the Gators, but if Tuesday night's game against Alabama was any indicator, he is not afraid to show his range (he hit a long-range three in front of Alabama's Retin Obasohan from the Auburn logo). He'll need a solid supporting cast, though, which is why Bowers' sudden elevation of play couldn't have come at a better time. Auburn will also need Bryce Brown to get the hot hand early. TJ Lang has struggled to find a good rhythm in the last few games, so a few three pointers from him throughout the game can only help.
Auburn made the most of their free throw shooting on Tuesday night against Alabama, going 70% at the line. This must continue in a hostile Florida environment tonight. Early drives to the basket that lead to trips to the line and potential and-one situations will be a key factor for success.
Florida is playing good basketball as they reach the mid-point of SEC competition. In conference play, the Gators have beaten 5th-ranked LSU and 6th-ranked Georgia (both at home). In their last two games (also at home), Florida took down the state of Mississippi, beating Ole Miss 80-71 and Mississippi State 81-78. Senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has led the Gators with 13.9 points and 8 rebounds per game. Dynamic freshman guard KeVaughn Allen is averaging 11.3 points per game.
It's business as usual in a tough road environment for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers. If Auburn can pull the upset tonight, it'll be the team's third consecutive SEC win in a week's time, which will certainly be a historic marker for Pearl and provide a much-needed boost for the Tigers in conference standings. In order for Auburn to keep up its newfound winning ways, Bowers must play with consistency, Bryce Brown and Tyler Harris need to stay out of foul trouble, and TJ Lang will need to find some inspiration behind the arc. Free throws will also be a game-changer for both teams, so Auburn must continue to score at the line. If Canty continues to play with the same fire he's stoked all season, the Tigers have a good chance at surprising a very good Gators team tonight in Gainesville.
War Damn Eagle.
How to Watch:
Auburn vs. Florida
When: 7:00 PM CT
Watch: SEC Network
Listen: Auburn IMG Network
Live Tweets (at your own risk on that middle one, as usual): @CollegeandMag, @bobby_barkley, @AuburnMBB
Radio Affiliates: 100.5 FM (Birmingham), 94.3 FM (Auburn), 1230 AM (Huntsville), 106.5 FM (Mobile), 92.3 FM (Montgomery)