January 14, 2009

Tigers host Gators in key SEC matchup

After dropping its SEC opener at South Carolina, Auburn returns to action this week for two big home games against Florida Wednesday and Alabama Saturday.

"You want to be able to take care of your homecourt. It is so hard to win on the road," AU head coach Jeff Lebo said. "We've been playing pretty well. I don't think we played nearly as well offensively at South Carolina. I don't think we have had a game where we have all clicked in, especially offensively. I think we have had some games defensively where we did some good things.

"Our defense is really going to be tested in this game because (Florida) can exploit you in a lot of different areas."

The Gators are riding an 8-game winning streak, opening SEC play with a 78-68 win over Ole Miss. Sophomore guard Nick Calathes led Florida in their win over Ole Miss with 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Calathes leads UF averaging 17.1 points, 6.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

"They have the ability to shoot the basketball at a variety of different spots," Lebo said. "They have terrific skilled players. They can pass and execute and are in the top 20 in the country in scoring. How to defend them is something that is going to be a priority for us, and it's hard.

"Calathes is just having a terrific year. He has size at the point guard position. They do a lot of ball screen stuff for him. That is why he is going to be such a good pro because he can flat out play off of a ball screen and make you pay no matter how you defend it."

Sophomore forward Alex Tyus averages 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds and junior forward Dan Werner averages 9.9 points for a Gator team that's won nine consecutive games against the Tigers, including four straight in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

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