Seems like a trend now, to be honest. Auburn’s offense disappeared for the second straight game, and every single time the Tigers threatened to get close, mistakes allowed Florida to run away. For the second time in two games, Auburn fell after a 15-0 start. Today, it was in Gainesville by the score of 69-47 to the Gators.
Omar Payne had his best game ever for Florida with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while just one Tiger (Danjel Purifoy) finished in double digits with 10 points, but the overall offensive woes doomed Auburn from the start in a tepid loss.
Auburn fell behind 9-0 less than five minutes into the game before Purifoy’s first three went home to put the Tigers on the board, but midway through the first half Florida led just 13-7 in a sloppy game. A few minutes later, the Tigers would tie the game on a Devan Cambridge layup, and it would stay tied at 15-all after Anfernee McLemore buried a pair of free throws. However, Florida roped off a 7-0 spurt to go up 22-15, and at the end of the first half it was 28-23 Gators.
In the first period, Auburn went just 6-29 from the field, with a number of antagonizing rim-outs and shots that were halfway down. The only thing keeping the Tigers close was the fact that they were 10-10 at the foul line and had forced 12 turnovers while only committing 5 themselves.
That didn’t continue in the second half. Florida went on a 12-4 run to start the period, and Auburn could never really get any closer than 6 points. Isaac Okoro’s three pointer with 14:34 to go cut the lead to 40-34, and then Samir Doughty hit a pair of threes back to back to pull Auburn within a 49-43 deficit a few minutes later. That’s where it completely fell apart.
In the final 8 minutes of the game, Florida went on a 20-4 run, wherein Auburn didn’t score a single basket. In the end, the O-Dome was rocking and the Gators ended up with a 22-point win. Auburn’s now 15-2, and 3-2 in the SEC, going 0-2 after moving into the top five.
For the pessimistic outlook, this is a tough stretch. Auburn went and got beaten — blown out — twice in four days on the road. While that happens in the SEC, there’s no positive here. There’s no rhythm on offense, and there’s nothing to hang our hats on from either of these two losses. They weren’t close and competitive, Auburn couldn’t do anything. We’ve still got Kentucky twice during this SEC season, and we’ve got to take on some of the other top teams as well. Thankfully three of our toughest road trips are already done.
If you want the optimistic outlook, we started last year 2-4 in the SEC. 2-4 to the Final Four. Remember watching Ole Miss toy with our offense? Then remember watching us dump 97 on the Tar Heels and breaking Roy Williams? Things can change. Before we started the huge winning streak that culminated in the Final Four berth, we got blasted in Lexington, and people were thinking that we might not make the Tournament after all. There’s still a ton of time to work on this team, and there’s still a ton of time for Bruce Pearl to figure out how to get the offense right.
For now, we get to return home for three of the next four. Up next, it’s South Carolina this coming Wednesday at 6 pm CST. Be there and show the team that you’re not jumping off the bandwagon after a couple tough road defeats. War Eagle.