Fighting off a stout Auburn offense, the Gators moved into the SEC Quarterfinals with a 78-69 win over the Tigers. While this will not be considered a quality win, it did help the Gators' (21-11) case to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Auburn (15-17) matched UF shot for shot in the second half. The Gators did have their usual second half breakdown, but it came at the start of the half, when UF's nine point lead became one. The lead became 13 and Florida made enough shots to make the lead permanent.
Against the smaller Tigers, the Gators had success inside by going to the goal and several dunks. Alex Tyus had one of the strangest 24 point, 11-16 shooting nights I can remember. His misses were awful left handed shots and his baby soft hands were stripped of the ball at least four times. But you take the good with the bad with Tyus. Just like his awesome dreads and hairline that starts at the top of his head.
Chandler Parsons was the other Gator standout, with his three first half 3-pointers sparking the Gators early. Parsons finished with 21 points and six rebounds. He got his points because he moved around the floor so well, which probably won't happen against a rugged Mississippi State Friday night. Vernon Macklin was the other Gator in double figures with 10 points. UF shot 49% as a team.
UF did not shut Auburn down completely, with the Tigers shooting 45%. But they were only 4 of 25 from the arc, while usually making nine 3-pointers per game. Frankie Sullivan scored 25, DeWayne Reed had 18, but the third guard, Tay Waller went missing. Waller finished with zero points and was 0-6 from the field. He had been averaging 17 points in SEC play.
Florida faces Mississippi State tomorrow at 7:30pm EST. If Florida defeats the Bulldogs, the Gators are definitely in the NCAA Tournament. If Miss State wins, they could steal the fourth SEC bid.