Florida 83, Auburn 52: Billy Donovan's Gators growl louder and louder

USA TODAY Sports

No SEC team can touch Florida unless the Gators live a nightmare. Auburn couldn't make that happen on Saturday.

Another SEC contest, another 30-point victory for Florida. The Gators have made things like their 83-52 win over Auburn on Saturday routine.

Mike Rosario scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half. Freshman Michael Frazier sank six of seven threes and had 18 points on seven shots. Erik Murphy had 11 points on six shots. Kenny Boynton made four threes and scored 16 points, his highs since dropping four threes and 18 points on Mississippi State in January. Scottie Wilbekin had 10 assists, his third game with double-digit assists on the season.

And Patric Young had just two points and three rebounds in a 31-point Florida win, its largest over Auburn in the 162nd game in a rivalry that dates back to 1927.

Florida's dominance is based on balance and unselfishness, just like it was in the glory days of the Gator Boys, when Taurean Green or Lee Humphrey or Corey Brewer or Al Horford or Joakim Noah could be the team's leading scorer on any particular night. Young was the best player on the floor against Kentucky on Tuesday; he was quiet as a library that is not Library West on Saturday, as Rosario and Frazier stepped up.

Boynton slumped in December; Murphy, Rosario, and Wilbekin came on to help Florida extensively. Murphy missed his homecoming game at Yale; Boynton scorched the Elis for 28 points. Will Yeguete has missed Florida's last three games in full; Casey Prather has been excellent in those games.

Man down, man up? Sure, that explains some of Florida's success, and it's to Billy Donovan's credit that he's recruited players talented enough to make the nicks and bruises Florida has suffered all year (the only Florida start not to leave a game or miss time with injury this year is Young) just nicks and bruises.

But it's got more to do with a culture of interdependence and selflessness that Donovan has installed at Florida. His system has never been one that produces 20-point scorers, or allows ball-dominating guards to take 20 shots per game (at least not for very long), or feeds one player above all others. Instead, it prizes good shots that get every Gator on the floor his chances to score in the flow of a game, and teaches players that playing defense well and together can fuel big, fun wins.

For anyone who doesn't remember Lon Kruger — and the University of Florida's incoming class of 2017 was probably born mostly after Kruger took his 1993-94 Gators to the Final Four — Donovan is Florida basketball, to the point that any other coach on the sideline would seem sacrilegious.

However: I'm not just speaking as a Florida fan when I say that there is no coach in America I would rather have than Donovan, who has built a program that was lowly before his arrival into one with trophies in its penthouse. Put his name on the court. Put his name on the arena. Put his name first on the list of the greatest coaches Florida has ever employed, if you want, and you might have an argument.

And put the 2012-13 Gators — the ones that have beaten 21 of their 24 opponents by double digits, the ones that utterly vanquished a talented Kentucky squad on Tuesday night, the ones that have only lost three games on three nights when three-pointers fell for the other team and not them, the ones that play defense like demons and offense like assassins — right up there with the finest teams Donovan has had.

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