Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The Florida Gators have a major opportunity to make a statement, both in terms of conference standings and NCAA Tournament seedlings, when they host the fourth-ranked Auburn Tigers in a vital early SEC season contest. Both teams enter the matchup one-game behind conference leader LSU at 3-1. While the Tigers have kind of exceeded expectations with just one loss and a NET ranking of 13, the Gators stumbled have righted themselves after stumbling out of the gate by winning four of five. Prior to the season, Auburn and Florida, along with Kentucky and LSU, were projected to finish in the top four in the SEC.
Tigers Looking To Bounce Back From First LossAuburn (15-1) is coming off its first loss of the campaign falling at Alabama 83-64 on Wednesday. The Tigers trailed the whole game as they shot a season-low 31.7% from the field and committed 21 turnovers, which was a season-high. Austin Wiley compiled a double-double with 13 points along with 10 caroms. Isaac Okoro had a huge all-around game with 13 points, four caroms, three steals, and two blocks. Jamal Johnson added 10 points.
This contest is Auburn's first back-to-back road game of the season. The Tigers are 6-1 away from road and 2-1 in true road games with wins coming at South Alabama and Mississippi State. Samir Dougherty leads the squad with 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. Okoro adds 13.2 points, 4.5 rebounds along with 1.1 blocks while shooting 55.6% from the field goal percentage. Meanwhile, J'Von McCormack is compiling 11.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, as well as a team-best five assists, and 1.1 steals. Wiley has totaled 10.7 points, 9.4 caroms, and 1.9 blocks while shooting 56.5% from the field. Auburn typically uses a nine-man rotation, and the Tigers are versatile enough to use a variety of types of lineups with best either being a two-guard from along with either a center and two forwards or three forwards.
Gators Looking To Catch A TigerFlorida (11-5) is coming off an excellent bounce-back performance after losing to Missouri in its previous outing, as the Gators defeated Ole Miss 71-55 on Tuesday.
UF turned in one of its best performances of the season as the Gators shot 54% from the field and forced 18 turnovers. The 55points that they permitted were a season-low. Keyontae Johnson led the way with 15 points on six of seven shooting, while Kerry Blackshear added 13 points along with nine caroms. Andrew Nembhard contributed 10 points and six assists.
Florida has won five in a row at Exactrach Arena and is 6-1 at home overall with a +10.2 scoring margin. Blackshear leads the Gators with 15 points and 8.6 rebounds a game for the season. Johnson adds 13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 54% from the field as well as 35.1% from long-distance. Nembhard is the only other player in double-figures with 11.1 points, a team-high 5.9 assists, and 1.3 steals. Noah Locke tops the team with 2.3 triples while shooting them at a 40.2% clip. UF typically uses a nine-man rotation with three-guards along with two forwards being the most used lineup.
- Gators are 8-20 ATS in their last 28 home games.
- Gators are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight-up win.
The following trends are courtesy of Covers.com:
- Tigers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 road games.
- Tigers are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Tigers are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Tigers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a road favorite.
- Tigers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS loss.
- Tigers are 8-3 in their last 11 contests versus an SEC foe.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am going to go with Auburn to win in Gainesville for the first time since 1996 as the Tigers are in better form and are the more well-balanced team. Auburn has played well away from home this season and is a better three-point shooting team -- with five players capable of knocking down triples -- as well as a better rebounding squad than UF. The Tigers also have the edge on the defensive end. Additionally, the Gators could be without Nembhard, who is dealing with the flu, for the game.
Prediction: Auburn +1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I am going with the under in this one. Not only will Nembhard's absence, assuming that he will miss the game, shorten the Gators rotation, but it also hurts UF on the offensive end. As freshmen, Tre Mann and Que Glover -- one of whom is expected to replace Nembhard in the starting lineup -- have struggled offensively as has classmate Scottie Lewis. Moreover, Auburn has limited conference opponents to 40% shooting from the field this year, and the under has hit in six of the Tigers seven contests away from Auburn. The under is also is 6-2 in Auburn's last eight games overall.
Prediction: Under 140