Jan 31, 2024; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Florida Gators forward Tyrese Samuel (4) celebrates with guard Walter Clayton Jr. (1) during overtime against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Gators Look to Upset No. 12 Auburn

After their one-point loss to Texas A&M last weekend, the Gators men’s basketball squad aims to bounce back against a dominant SEC opponent in the Auburn Tigers this afternoon in the O’Connell Center.

The No. 12 Tigers (19-4, 8-2 SEC) are coming off of their massive win over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Not only did they beat the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide, they almost hung up a 100 points and beat them by 18 points.

As for the Gators (15-7, 5-4), the squad was on a four-game winning streak, which included a Quad-1 win against Kentucky.

The Rowdy Reptiles and the O-Dome will be rocking in this SEC Showdown on the SEC Network, Gainesville ESPN 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF starting at 3:30 p.m.

Shutting Down Johni Broome

There is no doubt Broome is the leader of this Tiger squad. The Gators’ big men will have to get physical and shut him down. Broome has scored double-digit points in every game but two this season.

Broome is also their leading rebounder. Luckily the Gators have two big men in Tyrese Samuel and Micah Handlogten who will be a big factor in the paint.

On the bright side, Broome is not a great free-throw shooter. He has a 64.3 free throw percentage, and it’s even worse on the road.

Gator Guards

The depth and productivity of the Gators’ guards is impressive. Any given game, any given guard can pop off, which will bode well for the Gators in this game. The Gators’ leading scorer does not stand at 6-foot-10 like Broome. He stands at 6-foot-2, and his name is Walter Clayton Jr.

Clayton Jr. averages 15.9 points per game. Zyon Pullin and Riley Kugel both average double-digit points. Clayton Jr., Pullin and Kugel are the gel that holds this Gators team together.

When all three are contributing, the offense can be scary. All three bring such different skill sets to the court, but each find a way to feed and find each other on the court. If they plan to upset the Tigers, all three will need to get rolling.

Home-Court Advantage

The Gators has only one loss in the O-Dome this season. Home-court advantage plays a big role in college basketball, especially in the SEC. Ask the Tigers, who are 12-0 at Neville Arena back in Auburn, Ala.

All four of the Tigers’ losses this year have came on the road or in neutral territory. This plays in the Gators’ favor as they arguably have one of the best environments in college basketball.

Going back a couple of decades, the Tigers have not beat the Gators in Gainesville since Feb. 10, 1996.

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