02/24 21:52 CST Allen bounces back, Florida beats No. 12 Auburn 72-66
Allen bounces back, Florida beats No. 12 Auburn 72-66
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) --- KeVaughn Allen bounced back from his first scoreless
game in more than three years with 24 points, including two huge 3-pointers in
the closing minutes as Florida beat No. 12 Auburn 72-66 on Saturday night.
Jalen Hudson added 19 points for the Gators, including a pivotal three-point
play with 26.8 seconds remaining. Chris Chiozza hit Hudson with a bounce pass
on a back-door cut. He got fouled making the layup and then sank the free throw
to put Florida up 69-66.
Auburn's Jared Harper and Bryce Brown missed off-balance 3-pointers in the
final minute, and the Gators closed it out from the charity stripe.
It was Florida's 11th consecutive win in the series and a huge boost to the
team's NCAA Tournament resume.
The Gators (18-11, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) had dropped three straight and
six of eight in league play. Coach Mike White's team had been free-falling
since early January, and a fourth loss in a row probably would have left the
Gators needing help down the stretch to make the NCAAs.
The win over the Tigers (24-5, 12-4) could be enough to put Florida in the
68-team field for the second straight season.
Gators freshman Dontay Bassett added a career-high 12 points and six rebounds.
Auburn's loss came just a few hours after photos surfaced on social media sites
of coach Bruce Pearl lounging by a hotel pool in Gainesville. It's common for
coaches and players to relax on game day, especially with a late tip, but
surely wasn't the best look when the Tigers started the game flat.
Florida led 10-2 in the opening minutes and was up 33-24 at the break after
Allen beat the halftime buzzer with a shot from about 60 feet.
Allen shot 8 of 15, including 6 for 10 from behind the arc. Hudson went 7 of
14, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range.
Mustapha Heron, who missed Auburn's previous game because of a stomach virus,
led the Tigers with 22 points.
Auburn: The Tigers had scored at least 75 points in 10 straight games, but fell
well short at Florida. They shot the ball well enough, but all those turnovers
Florida: White had a long conversation with Allen earlier in the week and even
asked teammates Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes to reinforce the need for the
junior guard to be more aggressive. Whatever was said seemingly worked. Allen
scored Florida's final nine points of the first half, including a 3-pointer
from about 60 feet, and reached double figures for the second time in six games.
Florida great Mike Miller was in the O'Connell Center for the first time in
years and was recognized during a timeout in the first half. The 36-year-old
Miller retired last year after 17 seasons in the NBA.
Auburn: Plays at Arkansas on Tuesday night.
Florida: Plays at Alabama on Tuesday night.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and