Things have not looked good lately for the Gators. Not only have they lost 3 of 5 games, they have scored an average of five points below their season average of 71.9 points per game. Teams will get worn down late in the season, but Florida (17-8, 6-4 SEC) cannot afford that. Tonight against Auburn (12-13, 3-7), Florida has to find a way to develop their bench before a murderous final five games.
UF's right man rotation includes forwards Erik Murphy, Dan Werner and guard Ray Shipman. Murphy has scored 16 points in the last five games as he continues to show growth in his freshman year. Werner and Shipman are the guys who really need to step up as they have combined for 16 points in those same five games. Werner's inability to do anything positive on offense has been talked about so much that there is nothing else to say. Shipman though is becoming a younger, smaller and darker version of the much maligned Werner. Shipman has made no progress from his freshman season to now. Perhaps it is a result of playing behind Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, who are Florida's leading scorers and play 30 minutes a night. But Werner and Shipman put Florida at a huge disadvantage when they are on the floor, as Florida plays shorthanded without the ability to dump the puck.
Florida's depth could be tested tonight as Auburn has four guys in double figures, including three guards. Those guards; DeWayne Reed (15.7ppg), Tay Waller (13.5ppg) and Frankie Sullivan (13.2ppg), will give the Gators fits. The Gators have consistently struggled with guards, from John Wall and Devan Downey to Xavier's Jordan Crawford and South Alabama's Tim Williams. If Walker and Boynton struggle, Shipman will be called, Chandler Parsons will go into the backcourt, with Werner and Murphy logging more minutes. Florida can and should win tonight, but they need to start developing their bench if they want to get closer to the Tournament.