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February 16, 2013

Auburn runs into 'buzz saw' in No. 7 Florida

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Auburn had no answers for No. 7 Florida Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers made a three-pointer? The Gators would make two in a row.

Auburn pulls its center to match up better on the perimeter? Florida gets every rebound on the rare occasion it missed a shot.

The student section performs the popular Internet sensation "the Harlem Shake" in the first half? Cheers for each Florida three-pointer by the Gator faithful took over Auburn Arena in the second half.

"We just ran into a buzz saw," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said.

When it was finished, Auburn had lost 83-52.

It was the worst home loss in 61 years, since Kentucky defeated Auburn 88-48 in 1952.

It was also the worst loss, in more ways than one, for the Tigers this season.

Florida matched Illinois' first-half output of 47 points to tie for the highest first-half scoring output for an Auburn opponent this season. The Gators shot 15 three-pointers and made 30, both season-highs against Auburn. Several of those three-pointers were on 25 assists, which set a season-high for an Auburn opponent as well.

Kentucky held the largest margin of victory against the Tigers this season with a 22-point victory before today's game. Led by senior guard Mike Rosario's 22 points, Florida bested that margin at halftime and defeated Auburn by 31 points in Auburn Arena.

What changed from last season's 14-2 home record to this season's 7-7 mark?

"Don't know," Barbee said.

Senior guard Frankie Sullivan couldn't put a finger on what caused Auburn to lose its nine of its last ten games either.

"I wish I could," Sullivan said. "If I knew the answer, I would try and fix it."

Barbee questioned his team's fight after an 83-75 loss at home to Arkansas earlier this week. Some members of the team altered their approach, but not all.

"We've got some guys that are fighting their butts off," Barbee said. "I've got to figure out which guys that are still fighting, and I'm going to go with those guys - even if it's all of the freshman."

Barbee's veterans didn't provide much argument against a youth movement Saturday afternoon.

Auburn's four seniors scored only 12 points combined.

Sullivan, who came off the bench for the second consecutive game, committed two turnovers against the press in his first two minutes in the game.

Barbee didn't cite senior Rob Chubb for lack of effort, but provided a more direct analysis of his current play.

"He's just now very good right now," Barbee said. "What more can you say?"

The only silver lining in the second half was seeing Auburn's four freshmen all on the floor at once.

Going up against several of Florida's starters, who coach Billy Donavan didn't pull until his team reached a 32-point margin with 3:32 left in the game, the majority of Auburn's latest recruiting class finished out the game.

Barbee was reluctant to praise the play of the freshman without reviewing intricacies of the game-tape, but he was upbeat about the future of the program.

"I think the future is bright," Barbee said. "I think we have some talented, yet inexperienced guys in this program. And I'm really excited about the group we've got coming in. Where we're starting and where the top of the league is, there's a big gap. And we're trying to close that gap."

That gap hasn't shortened since Barbee's arrival in 2010. But he said he knew the situation he was entering beforehand.

"It's no secret that this was a severe rebuilding job when I took it," Barbee said. "And I knew that. When you take one of those jobs in a league that is this good and this deep, it isn't an overnight fix.

"It is what it is."

Auburn resumes play against Texas A&M Wednesday night at 7 p.m.



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