Auburn Grabs 85-73 Win over Florida for Bruce Pearl's 150th win for the Auburn Tigers

Jan 8, 2022; Auburn, AL, USA; K.D. Johnson (0) shoots a three during the game between Auburn and Florida at Auburn Arena . Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics
Jan 8, 2022; Auburn, AL, USA; K.D. Johnson (0) shoots a three during the game between Auburn and Florida at Auburn Arena . Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

  Coming on the back of a 10-game win streak, the Auburn Tigers (14-1) (3-0 SEC) came back home to Auburn Arena to take on the Florida Gators (9-5) (0-2 SEC). Bruce Pearl was looking for his 150th win as a Auburn Tiger, and he would go on to get it in a 85-73 win. Although it was not a perfect game for the Tigers they were still able to get it done thanks to a raucous Auburn crowd, and a combination of K.D Johnson’s 23 points and Walker Kessler’s eight rebounds.

Despite losing jump ball, it was Florida who got the ball running with a Tyree Appleby three scoring the first points of the night, but Auburn was able to score on the very next possession with Jabari Smith getting the first points of the night for the Tigers with a jumper. Auburn seemed to be in control for the first five minutes of the game encapsulated by a huge slam by Kessler and a fast break layup by Allen Flanigan to put the Tigers up 15-5 with 15 minutes left in the first half. 

Although Florida’s Myreon Johnes was able to break up this momentum a little bit with a jumper, Auburn's K.D. Johnson made sure to grab it back with a big time three. Coming out of a media timeout the Gators seemed to switch up their defensive schemes by adopting a full court press, although this led to a Jaylin Williams fastbreak three. After even more Auburn scores including a Zep Jasper layup, Florida was forced to call a timeout with 11 minutes and 46 seconds left to try (and fail) to get the Auburn Tiger faithful to quiet down, with the score being 24-11 Auburn.

Coming out of the timeout Florida was the first to act with a Colin Castleton second chance layup. This seemed to spark a little bit of fight in the Gators as they started to climb back and go on a 6-0 run, eventually being broken up by a Kessler layup, and a big time Jabari Smith three to put momentum back in Auburn’s hands, with five minutes left and 15 seconds left with Auburn still up 29-21

Auburn’s offense was further kickstarted by a Wendell Green Jr. three that made every single person in a packed Auburn Arena stand, which sparked another Florida timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Florida’s Colin Castleton sank two at the free throw line which  slowed the bleeding of that Green Jr three, but it was not enough as Auburn’s K.D. Johnson hit a massive three, and a fantastic block by Jaylin Williams sent Auburn Arena’s roof into the stratosphere. Although Florida would have the last laugh of the half with an Anthony Du three, Auburn was still up 39-30 going into the second half. 

Florida would get the first points of the second half, with Tyree Appleby getting fouled from outside the three-point line and sinking all three free throws awarded to him. This thread of free throws for Florida continued as Jones was awarded two free throws in which although he missed both did lead to Auburns fans voicing their concern for the ref’s ability to officiate a game. However, those jeers were soon turned into cheers as Devan Cambridge landed one of the most bombastic alley-ups one will see in their lives, making the score 45-40 with 17 minuets left to go in the game. 

Coming out of a timeout around the 15-minute mark both teams were going blow for blow, in which Florida had seemed to adopt the strategy of getting to the free throw line with 14 of Florida’s 48 points coming in the way of a free throw with 13 minutes too go in the second half. However, that would not stop Auburn from playing aggressive basketball, even though Florida was already in the bonus. Auburn would soon also enter the bonus around 30 seconds after Florida with Zep Jasper sinking two free throws to put the Tigers up 56-48 with 12 minutes left to go. 

Coming out of a timeout Florida’s Colin Castleton hit a physical and-one, and post jumper to cut Auburn’s lead to two, but Allen Flanigan hit two layups of his own to grab momentum for the Aigers and force a Florida timeout. Auburn Arena was Jumping for joy, and continued to jump as Jabari Smith hit an almost magic three, to keep the Tigers in the lead, 63-59 with seven minutes and 40 seconds left.

Following another Florida timeout, K.D Johnson was able to hit a three to further the arena’s excitement, with Florida’s Castleton hitting a jumper to continue the blow for blow type nature of this game. However, following a three-point foul on Jabari Smith, Auburn seemed to be knocking on the door of a victory especially with another Green Jr three to put the Tigers up 73-63 with three minutes and 31 seconds of play remaining. 

Following a timeout, Bruce Pearl very clearly wanted to bleed clock, which forced Florida’s hand to start fouling with two minutes and 30 seconds left. Auburn’s Walker Kessler would foul out during this period, and earned a standing ovation from the crowd. Florida’s Jones hit a three pointer to provide a scare for the Auburn fans but would prove to be obsolete with K.D Johnson hitting a last second dunk to cover the spread andTiger fans were sent home happy with Auburn winning 85-73.  

Auburn led a lot of the stats for the game including field goal percentage with 53% to 41%, three-point percentage at 44% to 27%, and rebounding at 39-30. Florida meanwhile did lead the game with free throw attempts with 28 even though they only converted 67% of them. 

When asked about preparation for there next matchup against Alabama (11-4) (2-1 SEC), Bruce Pearl said that he would “be taking it light” on the players to allow them to get their legs underneath them in order to play on Tuesday, a response that did not come as a surprise as it did appear that both sides were feeling the effect of the heavy grind of the season. Either way Auburn will be looking to further the 11 game win streak in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide, on the 11th of January late at night at 8:00pm. 

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