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Florida vs. Auburn, 2019 SEC Tournament, Game Thread: Can the Gators reach for more?

Florida booked its NCAA Tournament passage on Friday. Can the Gators improve their seating on Saturday?

SEC Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What the Florida Gators did on Friday, by knocking off LSU in the quarterfinals of the 2019 SEC Tournament, assures that they will not be sweating out Selection Sunday.

The Gators’ 18th win of the season was also their second over the SEC champion Tigers, and bolsters a resume that was in need of a second bullet point entering this weekend. Now that Florida has that, it’s hard to imagine the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee examining the rest of the Gators’ season — which featured an incredibly tough schedule both inside and beyond the SEC, few bad losses, and a fair few good wins — and omitting them from the NCAA Tournament field.

But Florida is still probably looking at a double-digit seed, likely on the No. 11 line, as of today, and would be matched up against a decent high-major team as a result.

That is, unless the Gators continue their SEC Tournament success.

Saturday’s semifinal game against Auburn (1 p.m, ESPN or WatchESPN) once again finds Florida playing underdog. And it’s justifiable, especially given that Auburn’s 76-62 win over the Gators in early February was maybe not as close as that score indicates. Bruce Pearl’s bunch shot nearly 60 percent from inside the arc and nearly 40 percent from beyond it, and Florida committed a season-high 17 turnovers against the Tigers’ complement of speedy guards and lanky wings led by the pint-sized Jared Harper and versatile Chuma Okeke.

Auburn’s offense has also been firing on all cylinders in nearly every game since being shut down by Kentucky late last month. After being held to a miserable 0.83 points per possession by the Wildcats, Auburn’s put up 1.12 points per trip in six of the seven games since, and has been at 1.17 or better over its last three games.

And while its last two foes — Missouri and South Carolina — haven’t been great, the Tigers closed the regular season by spoiling Tennessee’s chances at winning an SEC title.

So Florida has its hands full today, and will likely need to either execute at a high level defensively or get timely scoring from unlikely sources to down these Tigers.

Of course, they needed to do that yesterday, too.