Now that's how a #1 is supposed to play.
After barely squeaking by Mississippi State on Wednesday night, the Gators crushed Auburn 91-66 in their second straight conference road win. The victory gave the Gators a 19-2 record, having won all 6 of their conference games thus far.
Suffering through shooting struggles in their previous game, the Gators came out strong against the Tigers yesterday - shooting 58% from the floor and going 9-14 from beyond the arc. The Gators came into the game making nearly 8 3-pointers a game, so this performance exceeded the average by a small margin...thanks to Lee Humphrey shooting a perfect 4-4 in that category.
In addition to a strong shooting performance from the field, the Gators also got several opportunities from the FT line - shooting a total of 35 - and scored 24 points from the charity stripe. Once again the Gators found a way to draw fouls and get the opposition into foul trouble throughout the game. If they can find a way to slightly improve their FT shooting on a consistent basis, this could become a huge strength for this team.
A category in which the Gators were surprisingly strong in yesterday was the performance of the bench players. In several games this season the Gators bench has not come in and provided a lot of scoring, despite having some guys who have logged important minutes. Yesterday, however, the Gators bench outscored Auburn's 21-5 in what I hope becomes a trend for this group. Walter Hodge and Chris Richard both scored 8 points in backup roles.
Scoring balance was once again a positive for this team, as 4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures. 3 Gators starters scored 17 points on the game including Humphrey, Al Horford and Taurean Green. This team is continually finding ways to play unselfish basketball, something that compelled them to a National Championship run last season...And I fully expect them to keep it up throughout the remainder of this campaign. It's what the good teams do.
Really, there were no negatives that came out of yesterday's performance. After they struggled in Starkville on Wednesday, the team needed a good performance to bounce back before the next stretch of the schedule - a schedule that includes tough games against Vandy, Tennessee and at Georgia. I'm very happy with yesterday's performance not only in the context that it continues the winning streak, but because it showed us once again why these guys won it all last season.
AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst