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Tip-Off Countdown: #31 Auburn 65 Florida 62

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Auburn vs Florida Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

March 16, 2019 - Bridgestone Arena: Nashville

SEC Tournament Semifinals

Auburn entered the Semifinals of the SEC Tournament as favorites, something the Tigers hadn’t experienced in this portion of the tournament in 2 decades. Auburn made the semifinals in 2015 after winning 3 games in 3 days but fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in this round ending the feel good story of the 2015 SEC Tournament.

Auburn was looking to advance to the SEC Title Game for the first time since 2000 and faced a Florida team fresh off of knocking off LSU, the regular season champions.

As we saw so many times throughout the year, Anfernee McLemore got things started knocking down a 3-pointer to put Auburn on the board. But the Tigers struggled early as the Gators were extremely efficient from the field, leading 17-8 about 8 minutes into the game.

But Jared Harper wouldn’t let the Gators run away with this and helped get Auburn back into the game with his 3-point shooting. He would get some help from his other Point Guard, J’Von McCormick who knocked a 3-pointer halfway through the half to make it 19-13 Florida. And then Jared would do the rest.

Harper would knock down a trio of 3-points over the next 2:15 and suddenly a 19-10 deficit turned into a 22-19 Auburn lead thanks to the 12-0 run.

Auburn’s lead was short lived and Florida would re-take the lead 90 seconds later and hold the lead through the 1st half, 34-30 at half. Florida shot 70% from the field (14-20) while Jared Harper had 16 of Auburn’s 30 1st half points.

While Harper carried Auburn in the 1st half, 2nd Half Bryce would appear in the second half. Brown, who was scoreless in the 1st half, had Auburn’s first 5 points of the 2nd half including his 1st 3-pointer of the afternoon 3 minutes into the half.

Florida continued to hold the lead and then Bruce Pearl brought in Austin Wiley for a spark which he provided just as he did in the previous game against South Carolina. On his first possession, Auburn would find the big fella for a flush to tie the game at 41. After a 3 from Florida, Wiley would assist on Chuma Okeke’s 3-pointer to tie the game back at 44. After a steal from Jared Harper, Auburn would take the lead courtesy of a 3-pointer from Samir Doughty with 13:22 to go.

With 10 minutes to go and the game tied at 47, Auburn would embark on a 7-0 run which was started by a bucket from J’Von McCormick. Then Horace Spencer, Point God would emerge as his steal and layup would put Auburn ahead by 4. Brown would hit another 3 and suddenly Auburn led 54-47 with 7:39 to go. Brown’s 3rd 3 of the half would give Auburn it’s largest lead of the game, 8, with 6 minutes to go.

Chuma Okeke would knock down a pair of shots in the final 4 minutes but Florida continued to stay close and would cut the lead down to 1, 61-60 into the final minute. The Gators had a chance to take the lead but were unable to do so. The ball would end up in the hands of Jared Harper and after a huge first half, he had a quiet 2nd half until.....

He shot that one from Huntsville folks and he drilled it. Florida would come down and score quickly and fouled Harper immediately. Jared would hit 1-2 setting Florida up for a chance to tie in the closing seconds. It appeared Auburn tried to foul Florida and it nearly cost them dearly. No foul was called and the Tigers survived to advance to the SEC Championship game.

Auburn won this game despite Florida shooting 60.5% (23-38) from the field overall for the game. Auburn took 18 more shots than the Gators and made 13 3-pointers compared to Florida’s 6.

Jared Harper made 5 of those 3s and led Auburn with 20 points and had 4 steals. Bryce Brown had 11 points, all in the 2nd half. Chuma Okeke had 9 points and 7 rebounds and Samir Doughty and J’Von McCormick each added 8 off the bench.

And after failing to beat Florida for 10 years, Auburn knocked off the Gators twice in a little over a month during the 2018-2019 season.

Here are the highlights!