Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#7959 Florida vs.
#7960 Auburn
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Blake V.

Florida will be looking to remain in the top four of the SEC standings when it travels to Auburn on Tuesday night. The Gators snapped a two-game skid with a win over Georgia on Saturday. Auburn has been slumping of late, losing five of its last six games. The Tigers are coming off a 104-80 blowout at LSU.

Gators looking for strong finish to regular season

Florida got off to a 6-3 start in SEC play before dropping consecutive games to South Carolina and No. 24 Arkansas. The Gators bounced back with a 70-63 win over Georgia on Saturday afternoon. They took the lead with 12 minutes to play in the first half and never trailed again. Florida held a 30-12 advantage at one point in the first half and maintained that lead for most of the second half. Georgia put together a late run in garbage time to make the final score look closer than it really was. Florida’s offense has shot the ball fairly well and has done a nice job on the offensive glass, but turnover issues have held them back from being great on that end of the court.

The Gators will be facing an Auburn defense that has been mediocre, listed at No. 166 in effective field goal percentage and No. 167 in turnover rate. The Tigers have really struggled with defensive rebounding, so that should be an advantage for Florida. Sophomore guard Tre Mann leads the Gators with 14.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. Junior forward Colin Castleton has emerged into one of the best big men in the SEC, averaging 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. He is shooting a blazing 60.7 percent from the floor. Junior guard Noah Locke is adding 11.0 points and Tyree Appleby is also in double figures with 10.8 points.

Auburn ineligible for postseason

Auburn lost its first three SEC games of the season before five-star freshman guard Sharife Cooper was ruled eligible by the NCAA. He provided an immediate spark, as the Tigers would win four of their next six games. They have fallen back into their losing ways, though, dropping five of their last six games. Their most recent outing was probably their worst of the season, as LSU dominated from start to finish in a 104-80 blowout. Auburn’s offense is listed at No. 35 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. The Tigers, like Florida, have been held back due to turnover issues.

Florida is No. 35 in KenPom’s defensive ratings, so it is shaping up to be an important matchup. The Gators do a good job of creating turnovers and forcing tough shots, but their defensive rebounding has not been great. Cooper leads Auburn with 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game. He is projected to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Sophomore guard Allen Flanigan is scoring 14.2 points and is grabbing 5.2 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in each of his last eight games. Freshman guard Justin Powell was adding 11.2 points, but he is out indefinitely with a concussion.

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These teams are trending in opposite directions and I have been concerned about Auburn’s level of motivation down the stretch for several weeks. The Tigers are not eligible for the postseason this year, so a lackluster effort is always in the cards. Cooper will likely start looking towards the NBA draft sometime soon. Meanwhile, this is a crucial game for Florida in the SEC standings. The Gators could jump as high as No. 2 or fall to as low as No. 8 in the final few games before the SEC Tournament. They have dominated Auburn in recent years and have the better team again this season.

Prediction: Florida -1.5

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Auburn’s potential lack of motivation that we have seen over the last few weeks and will likely see down the stretch correlates with the over. Cooper and his teammates want to put on an offensive clinic every time they are on the court, but their defensive intensity has been lacking. Florida is a good enough offensive team to take advantage. Both of these teams want to play up-tempo, with the Gators at No. 46 in average possession length and Auburn at No. 52. The Tigers have gone over in seven of their last eight games. Florida has gone over in six of its last seven road games.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Blake Von Hagen , "Blake V."

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and hoops junkie. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with the knack for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.