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Florida guard KeVaughn Allen (5) is fouled by Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy (3) as he takes a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Gators Ready for Road Challenge Against Auburn

The Gators will face a tough test in Auburn as they take on the 15-6 Tigers on the road.

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The Match-Up

This is going to be a very tough game for the Gators. The Tigers possess one of the best backcourts in both the SEC and the country in Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown, a senior, is the Tigers’ leading scorer with 17.1 points per game. He is the fourth leading scorer in the SEC. Junior Jared Harper is a very effective scorer and playmaker. He’s averaging 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. Harper’s 6.4 assists is good for second-highest in the SEC. Behind their star backcourt, the Tigers are ninth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com. They are a dynamic backcourt, and much of the game will be decided on how well the Gators can defend this duo.

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The Gators have the ability to give the elite Auburn offense some trouble. They have been a dominant defensive team this season, coming in as the 11th best rated team in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Kevarrius Hayes continues to be a dominant force in the interior. KeVaughn Allen has proved to be a solid defender with a knack for picking up steals. Freshman Andrew Nembhard has improved on the defensive end as the season has progressed. Nembhard has 8 steals in his last three games. The Gators have shown the tendency to try and quickly double-team opposing teams around the half-court line and to trap opposing guards. They will likely try this throughout the game at Auburn, and they will undoubtedly force players aside from Brown and Harper to try and beat them on the offensive end.

Wiley’s Possible Return

Another key factor in how the Gators match up with the Tigers is centered around Austin Wiley. Wiley is a 6-11 center for the Tigers, and he’s had a very effective year as a paint presence. Wiley has averaged 10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game so far this season. However, he has been injured for Auburn’s last five games due to a lower leg injury. 247 Sports reported that Wiley has a chance to return to action against Florida. If he does play, his role will be reduced to limited minutes off the bench. Still, those limited minutes from Wiley could have a drastic impact on the game.

Can the Gators Keep Up Offensively?

It’s been a season full of struggles on the offensive end for Mike White and his team. The Gators are just 109th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have been respectable from beyond the arc, shooting 35.2% from three on the season. However, they have been horrendous from inside the arc at just 47.5% on two-point attempts. The Gators don’t have a reliable scorer in the paint, and Florida’s guards haven’t been able to attack the basket and finish inside at an effective rate. Much of the offensive relies on the three-point shooting of KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke. To come out with a win, the Gators are going to have to find a way to score inside or hope that their perimeter shooters have success.

Tip-Off

The Gators and Tigers will tip off their big SEC match-up on Tuesday, February 5th at 9:00 p.m. eastern.

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