The no. 2 Florida Gators got more than they bargained for against one of the bottom-feeders of the SEC, the Auburn Tigers. Florida was able to escape with a 71 -66 victory, but the fans shouldn’t be worried and the team shouldn’t lose any confidence moving forward.
Auburn isn’t a pushover team. Chris Denson, who is the no. 1 scorer in the SEC, and K.T. Harrell, who is the no. 5 scorer in the SEC, could start for any team in college basketball. The problem for the Tigers is that they don’t have anyone else who can chip in offensively. In this game, however, the Tigers got a 17-point boost from Tahj Shamsid-Deen, and Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith was dreadful from the floor, going 0-of-5. Florida was lucky to escape Auburn with a victory.
However, a win is a win, and their poor play will be corrected by Billy Donovan without any long-term consequences. In fact, Florida was rewarded after their poor performance. The Gators will be delighted that after their close win, the no. 1 undefeated Syracuse Orange fell to one of the worst teams in the ACC, Boston College. Syracuse’s loss to such a weak team means that Florida should jump the Orange in the national rankings. With just five games remaining, the Gators shouldn’t lose.
However, the Ole Miss Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores, LSU Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats are not going to be “gimme” wins. The SEC is not an easy conference; that’s why so many teams are considered on the bubble or just outside the bubble.
Florida is hands-down the best team in the SEC, but they cannot afford to slip up at Memorial Gym in Nashville against Vanderbilt or at home against Kentucky. If the Gators finish the remainder of the season undefeated, they should be a lock for at least the Elite Eight. Florida is just that good.