Gators won't overlook Auburn

Gators won't overlook Auburn

No. 7 Florida finished practice on Thursday afternoon with a message. The Gators put in their game plan for Saturday's trip to Auburn, but before the team went back to the locker room, strength coach Duke Werner wanted to make sure the players understood the opportunity on Saturday. They can't afford to overlook the Tigers (0-3 SEC) and regret it later in conference play.

"Duke was talking about how when it comes down to those last four or five games in the SEC when you're trying to close it out, we're not going to want to look back and say, 'Oh, man we should have pulled out that game. We know we could have won it,'" Florida center Patric Young recalled on Friday. "Auburn is a good team. All the games they have lost this year in conference have been close. It's not as though they have been blown out. It could have gone either way for those guys. We have to go in there with a humble mindset knowing we have a fight on our hands."

The hope of the Florida coaching staff is that the veteran roster will help pull through any chances of overlooking Auburn. The Gators will start a lineup with three seniors on Saturday that have been through the conference three times before. They know that any less than complete focus can turn into a loss on the road, even against an Auburn team that hasn't won in the SEC.

Florida will likely bring a fourth senior off the bench in leading scorer Casey Prather, who is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee. Prather was cleared for contact on Friday, but Donovan wasn't sure how much he would play.

It might be easy for the Gators to overlook the Tigers with their struggles this season and Florida's seven-game winning streak at Auburn. The Gators have also won five straight against Auburn and 15 of the last 16, including a 31-point win in Auburn last year.

"They lost a lot of guys from last year's team. I think there are only three guys returning from that team," Donovan said. "This is a totally different team and I think our guys have to realize it's a totally different team we're playing this year. I think Auburn is clearly much, much better this year than they were last year. "

Donovan knows the challenge Florida faces on Saturday at Auburn Arena. The Auburn guards make the offense go, and the three starting guards average 46.8 of the team's 74.5 points per game.

Leading scorer Chris Denson averages 19.4 points per game with junior K.T. Harrell just behind him at 19.0 points per game. Freshman guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen is third on the team with 8.4 points per game.

The Tigers will use all three to their strengths. Denson gets most of his points while attacking the basket -- making only eight three-pointers in 14 games this season --while Harrell leads the Tigers with 38 three-pointers on the season.

Denson's ability to get to the basket will change Florida's interior defense.

"He's going to drive it," Donovan said. "He's really good at making shots and getting fouled and he's also good at getting the ball up on the glass so you've got two guys committed to the ball. We've got to have a good awareness in terms of where to rotationally block out and provide help."

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