Auburn Basketball Faces Tough Test in Florida Tuesday Night
Ronnie Johnson (35) shooting in the 84-64 win over Alabama on January 21 (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Auburn Men’s Basketball (16-9, 6-7) suffered a grueling loss last Saturday to Ole Miss, 90-84. The game saw Auburn lead by as much as 23 points in the second half, but the Rebels stormed back to take the lead with 5:06 remaining in the contest. Ole Miss outscored Auburn 63-37 in the second half to pull out the win. Head Coach Bruce Pearl called this game “the most disappointing” loss of his three-year career at Auburn, which snapped a two-game winning streak. In order to bounce back, Auburn must go through the Florida Gators on Tuesday night. With the Gators entering the game ranked as high as 13th in the USA Today poll with a 20-5 record, Head Coach Bruce Pearl knows that stopping them will be a tall order. “They’ve won their last five by an average of 25, and they’re playing really well,” Pearl said during his pregame press conference on Monday afternoon. “They’ve got great depth, they’ve got great athletes, they’ve got great length and they’re very engaged defensively. They’re all bought into their roles and what they’re doing.” Florida has won 13 of its last 15 games, six of those wins being in consecutive order. Their last loss came at the hands of Vanderbilt, 68-61 on January 21. Most recently, the Gators defeated Texas A&M, 71-62 on Saturday. Four players reached the double-digit mark, led by Justin Leon’s 18. John Egbunu earned a double-double in the game, he did so by scoring 11 and bringing in 10 boards. The nine-point win over Texas A&M was the closest deficit that Florida has played since the Vanderbilt loss. Some of their bigger wins since January 21 have been a 39-point decision over Missouri (93-54), a 32-point win over a Final Four team from last year, Oklahoma in the SEC/Big XII challenge (84-52), and a 20-point win over Kentucky in Gainesville (88-66). The Gators bring a handful of key players with them to Auburn Arena. They are led by Kevaughn Allen, who averages 13.1 points per game. Devin Robinson also averages double-figures a game with 11.4. Canyon Berry off the bench will be a problem if the Tigers find themselves in foul trouble, as he has been successful on 35 straight free throws, and is 87 of 97 for the year. Not only will Auburn have to knock off a top-15 team in order to hop back on the winning track, they will have to do so without a key bench contributor in Horace Spencer. It was announced Monday that the sophomore will have his second season-ending surgery of the season on Thursday, as Dr. James Andrews will repair the shoulder he injured on January 31 against Tennessee. Spencer had three games where he exceeding double-figures and averaged 4.8 points per contest before his injury. Anfernee McLemore and Ronnie Johnson have been the key guys off the bench over the last few games in Spencer’s absence. Johnson led the team in scoring with 18 against Ole Miss, while McLemore picked up eight rebounds. Over the last four games, Johnson has reached double-figures three times, averaging 13.5 points per game, while McLemore has been a key on the boards, averaging 7.75 rebounds in that same time frame. His highest total came against Tennessee, where he picked up 11. Auburn Basketball hosts Florida Tuesday evening, tipoff scheduled for 6:00 P.M.