Auburn, Ala (EETV)-
Auburn welcomed in-conference opponent Florida into Auburn Arena Tuesday night having not won at home against the Gators since 1999. After Jared Harper seemed to get banged up in the opening minutes Samir Doughty made sure the Tigers would end that losing streak.
The Gators proved they could hang with the Tigers who entered tonight on a two-game winning streak after dropping three straight to the dismay of Coach Bruce Pearl. "“I hope our fans got their fill of some great college basketball this week, we sure needed their help. Coming off the road 2-4 (in the SEC), we needed to win these games. And we did. We just beat a good basketball team."
Malik Dunbar, who finished with 9 points, summed up Auburn's night with one play as with 11:43 left in the game he rose up for three and was fouled. Holding his follow through as he waited for his teammates to give him a reason to put it down. Auburn would complete a five point play as on Dunbar's free throw attempt Danjel Purifoy was fouled and converted both of his free throws. This play did not only sum up the night for the Tigers, who shot 25-52 from the field and 17-27 from the free throw line, but it also sparked a game defining 14-4 run that seemed to put the Gators away for good.
Bryce Brown lead the way on the stat sheet with 14 points but it was a very balanced attack as five Tigers finished with 8 or more points.
Doughty finished with 12 points to go along with 5 rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of play. After Harper went down early with an ankle sprain and Chuma Okeke took a hard fall that left him with a limp Coach Pearl described as a hip injury and a small cut above his eye, Doughty stepped into a larger role in the offense, "I was just playing. Whatever I had to do, I just did it. I was just playing my game, honestly. I knew they were going to be alright. They told me they were coming back, so that wasn't really a big focus of mine. I was just taking what the defense gave me, honestly."
The Auburn defense was able to force a normally ball dominant team to one that was littered with turnovers as the Tigers were able to force 17 on the day. Florida Head Coach Mike White said, “Seventeen turnovers at Auburn; number one in the country at turning you over. Could talk about it until we are blue in the face. We got rushed, jumped up in the air and made a few crazy passes. We actually made more of those that we got away with that bounced our way they deflected. They have elite team speed, active hands, and we helped them a few possessions, but we were playing a little bit hurried."
Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke both continued to play after their injuries but Coach Pearl said they would both be sore tomorrow but he was glad the players would have a day off tomorrow.
The Tigers (16-6, 5-4 SEC) travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU (17-4, 7-1 SEC) this Saturday at 1 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN2.