Florida men’s basketball (11-6) takes a trip to visit the Auburn Tigers (11-12) for a Tuesday night SEC matchup.
The Gators are (7-5) in SEC play after Saturday’s 70-63 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. Florida looked back on track with a solid defensive performance that pushed them past Georgia. However, Florida couldn’t contain the explosive play of Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler who dropped 27 points.
Florida faces another defensive test against the Tigers’ freshman guard Sharife Cooper.
Auburn Tigers Under Cooper
The Auburn Tigers have been in a slump in their past few outings. The Tigers have dropped five of their last six and are coming off of a 104-80 loss against the LSU Tigers.
However, this doesn’t mean that Auburn doesn’t enter Tuesday’s game with some offensive weapons. Auburn guard Sharife Cooper has been the life of the Tigers’ offense and is currently averaging 20.2 points per game.
With the Florida defense struggling to contain opponents in the man-to-man defense, this does leave a question mark for how the Gators will matchup against Cooper. The freshman is quick to get to the rim and is a generous ball-handler, averaging 8.1 assists per game.
In combination with Cooper, the Tigers’ guard Allen Flanigan and forward Jaylin Williams pose a challenge to the Gators. Flanigan is one of Auburn’s top shooters and the team’s leading rebounder. Defensively, Williams poses a strong presence at the rim.
Florida head coach Mike White commented on the talent Cooper brings for this Tigers team.
Coach White highlighted in a press conference on Monday that Auburn is a team that is great at the offensive glass and has the ability to make an impact at the foul line.
In addition, White mentioned the speed and length Auburn brings to the court.
Keys to a Florida Victory
In order for Florida to edge past the Tigers, they will have to work on improving their man-to-man defense. In Tuesday night’s matchup, this means containing Cooper.
According to White, the Gators didn’t press once against the Bulldogs this past weekend. The focus on man-to-man coverage gave Florida the ability to cover a strong Georgia team.
Offensively, the Gators are going to have to take unselfish, quality shots. It’s been an issue throughout the season, but White highlighted the need for Florida to focus on their shot selection in his Monday presser.
Coach White isn’t afraid to substitute his players if he doesn’t see smart shot selection. Guard Tre Mann, the team’s leading scorer, highlighted how this helps Florida players quickly learn how to fix their mistakes.
One area that has plagued the Gators this season is the turnovers. The Gators saw this problem early in their contest with the Bulldogs. Florida guards, Tyree Appleby and Mann are some of the best ball handlers on the Gators’ roster. However, the pair will have to make smart decisions in order to avoid turnovers as Mann mentioned in Monday’s presser.
Gator forward Colin Castleton will have to continue to be a presence at the rim.
Florida Moving Forward
With the NCAA tournament on the horizon, every victory counts for this Florida team. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. in Auburn.