The Gators' 73-58 win over Arkansas Thursday in the SEC Tournament First Round was expected. It should not be looked at as anything more than that. Florida (23-9) has to do a lot more than defeat a SEC weak sister and they can do that Friday night against Auburn (21-10).
Against the Tigers, Walt Hodge will have to keep going to the basket and drawing fouls. Hodge was a man possessed against Arkansas. He led all scorers with 16 points and added 3 assists and 3 steals. Hodge was also willing to bang down low with Arkansas' Michael Washington, who had 15 points and 18 rebounds.
Florida will have to do much better inside against the Tigers, the SEC's best defensive squad. The Gators are still too willing to take deep shots early in the possession, rather than be patient and look to moved the ball around. When Florida opened it up against the Razorbacks, it was when plays developed and guys moved without the ball. Nick Calathes is still struggling a bit (11 points on 5-10 shooting, 5 turnovers) but finding ways to get stuff done (7 assists, 6 rebounds). Calathes needs to get over the slump because Auburn does not have the offense to match their defense. Not only will Auburn control Florida's best player, they will drag the Gator offense down to their level. Florida cannot win 58-55 games.
This might be a win-and-in game for both Florida and Auburn. It will be interesting to see how each team responds with their backs to the wall.