Gators smash Auburn for 7th straight win
Published on Wednesday, 2/15/17, at 11:05 a.m. Eastern.
Since dropping back-to-back nail-biters at South Carolina and vs. Vanderbilt, Florida has ripped off seven straight wins and in doing so, has looked every bit the part of a legit contender for the national title.
However, last night’s 114-95 win at Auburn might have come at a costly price. John Egbunu went down with a leg/knee injury in the first half and didn’t return.
Egbunu, who is averaging 7.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, will have an MRI today in Gainesville to determine the severity of the injury.
UF’s second-year head coach Mike White told the assembled media, “We’re hoping for the best. He’s very important to the Gators.”
Canyon Barry scored a season-high 30 points for the Gators, who remained atop the SEC standings in a first-place tie with Kentucky, which rolled to a blowout win at home over Tennessee last night.
Barry hit 8-of-17 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, but he missed one free throw in 12 attempts. Barry, the grad transfer from Charleston who is the youngest son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry, had set a school record with 42 consecutive makes at the charity stripe by using his father’s ‘granny-style’ shot before one rimmed out on him in the first half.
UF has beaten Auburn 10 straight times, including nine in a row at Auburn. The current seven-game winning streak is the longest of White’s brief tenure since replacing Billy Donovan.
Seven players scored in double figures, including Egbunu in just eight minutes of playing time. He already had 10 points and four rebounds.
KeVaughn Allen needed only four shots from the field to score 17 points. The sophomore from Little Rock, ARK., made both of his launches from 3-point land and buried 9-of-10 from the FT line. Devin Robinson added 14 points, six boards and a pair of steals.
Justin Leon picked up his work on the glass in Egbunu’s absence. The senior forward finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Kasey Hill contributed 11 points and 12 assists, while junior guard Chris ‘Cheese’ Chiozza had 11 points and a pair of steals.
The difference between a bid on Selection Sunday or not the last two seasons has been about free-throw shooting, but UF connected on 37-of-42 attempts (88.1%) last night. The Gators went 11-of-19 from long distance (57.9%).
Florida is 6-1 against the spread during its seven-game winning streak, winning by margins of nine or more every time out. Six of the seven wins have come by at least 12 and five have come by 19 or more.
The Gators return to action Saturday night at The Hump in Starkville, where they’ll face Mississippi St. The Bulldogs lost a 79-72 decision at Georgia last night, but they took the cash as nine-point road underdogs at Stegeman Coliseum.
Yante Maten paced UGA with 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals. J.J. Frazier tallied 17 points, five boards and six assists compared to just two turnovers. Juwan Parker was also in double figures with 16 points for Mark Fox’s team, which improved to 15-11 overall and 6-7 in SEC play.
Georgia will take on Kentucky this weekend at home in what’s a must-win situation for its at-large hopes. UGA is No. 49 in the RPI Rankings, but it is just 1-6 versus the Top 50. UGA took both UF and UK to overtime on the road and lost by just two at South Carolina, but those near-victories won’t help them on Selection Sunday. A win over the Wildcats is mandatory (unless the Dawgs win the SEC Tournament, of course).
After missing four straight games with an injury, MSU senior guard I.J. Ready made his return in Athens. Ready played 22 minutes, contributing four points, two rebounds, two steals and one assist.
The SEC’s RPI Rankings look like this:
South Carolina (20)
Ole Miss (63)
Texas A&M (88)
Mississippi St. (119)