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NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17 - Auburn’s Chaney Johnson (31) during the game between the #12 Auburn Tigers and the Florida Gators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on Sunday, March 17, 2024. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

Auburn captures second SEC Tournament Championship under Bruce Pearl

NASHVILLE (EETV) - Before this year, Auburn hadn’t won an SEC tournament game since 2019 when they last cut down the nets. After three wins this weekend in Nashville, the Tigers cut down the nets yet again; Auburn defeated Florida 86-67.

A game marred by an early, devastating injury to Florida center Micah Handlogten in the first three minutes proved to be an instant classic for Auburn fans. 

The Tigers never trailed in the game taking an 8 point lead at halftime, but as Florida has done all tournament, the Gators rallied. Behind all-tournament teamer Walter Clayton Jr. Florida went on a 12-4 run to cut Auburn’s lead to one. 

The Tigers responded with a 10-0 run of their own behind two 3-pointers from Tre Donaldson in just a minute and a half. Donaldson controlled the bench unit with eight points, six assists and three steals. 

Tournament MVP Johni Broome led the game in scoring and surpassed 2,000 career points after 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Broome dominated in this game with a 133.3 offensive rating on a team-leading 20.5% usage and a 64.6 defensive rating. The ratings are based on how many points a player produced or allowed extrapolated to 100 possessions. 

Chad Baker-Mazara joined Broome on the All-Tournament team after an electric tournament run. 

The Auburn defense suffocated the opponent offense once again blocking ten shots and stealing the ball nine times. Tigers also held the Gators to shooting an abysmal 8% from beyond the arc (1/13). 

“They're very aggressive. In passing lanes, they push you off your spot.,” Tyrese Samuel. “It disrupts offense.”

Auburn fans packed Bridgestone Arena and played a big role in the win.

“I mean, that wasn't Neville, but if you look around, that was Neville. The Auburn family, they're going to come support. That's what they did,” Broome said. “...We have the best fans in the country. I believe that. I thought we showed that today.”

Across the tournament and the regular season, Auburn proved that they can win in a plethora of ways.

“You want to rough it up, we can, because we have the pieces to do that,” Baker-Mazara said. “You want to have a shootout, everybody on our team can shoot. We dictate the game for us.”

Auburn will play Yale in Spokane, Washington in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64. For more on that matchup, read our article here.