Takeaways From Florida’s 69-47 Drubbing of No. 4 Auburn

VictorPrieto

Florida had controlled the game for most of the 30-plus minutes it had played against No. 4 Auburn early Saturday afternoon, but it never felt like the Gators were dominating. Turnovers, strange foul calls and missed shots inside kept the Tigers in striking distance for the most part. 

That is, until the O’Dome finally exploded with just under three minutes remaining. Three straight possessions resulting in three straight triples from three different players. 

Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackshear Jr.’s threes were the cherry on top of a 20-4 run where Florida closed out a 22-point victory over Auburn, marking the second largest win over a Top-5 team in program history.

Here are three takeaways from the victory: 

Omar Payne’s paint

The freshman showed out in arguably Florida’s toughest test thus far. The Tigers entered Saturday with a 15-1 record, only losing its past contest to Alabama on the road. Payne received the nod from coach Mike White to start for the fourth consecutive game and he made it count early. 

Four quick points from Payne led to a 7-0 lead for the Gators out the gate. Payne continued the ferociousness on the glass, grabbing 11 total rebounds with seven of those being offensive. Payne’s putbacks were a problem all day long for coach Bruce Pearl and company, notching a career-high 19 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting. 

Payne’s presence in the paint was felt on both sides of the floor throughout the game, helping Florida secure its biggest victory of the season.

Defense wins games

Auburn never found its groove at any point during the game against Florida, and a lot of the credit is to White and Florida’s defense. Despite the sunny 74-degree weather in Gainesville, Auburn came out frozen, tallying just five points in the first nine and a half minutes. Though the Tigers found a way to stick around in the first half trailing by just five after shooting 20 percent, these scoring droughts only continued into the second. 

Florida held Auburn to just 25 percent to finish the game and didn’t allow a basket for the final seven minutes. White did an excellent job integrating zones and man defenses, limiting the Tigers opportunities inside. 

The Tigers finished with only 18 points in the paint and turned it over eight times.

Take care of the basketball

Despite Florida’s impressive offensive second-half where it outscored the Tigers by 17, the Gators have a lot to learn from their first half. Auburn played very poorly, yet only trailed by five in large part due to Florida’s 12 first-half turnovers. 

The Gators’ guards especially struggled with Andrew Nembard and Tre Mann accounting for a third of the team’s total turnovers. The Tigers did a great job of capitalizing off Florida’s mishaps, scoring 12 of its 23 first-half points off turnovers.

The Gators did a much better job of controlling the ball in the second half and it showed. Less turnovers led to more halfcourt sets for Auburn, which they struggled mightily in today, resulting in more runaway opportunities that Florida finally struck. 

The Gators turned it over just three times in the second half and will need to protect the basketball similar to how they did in the second half of today’s win moving forward. 

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