Jacksonville Sports Day

SEC: No. 4 Auburn Drops Second Game of Season on Road at Florida

Pjhoto by Matt Pendleton/Auburn Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The higher you’re ranked, the more opponents are gunning to knock you off. No. 4 Auburn found that out the hard way Saturday, losing 69-47 on the road at Florida.

For the second time in 5 SEC games, the Gators had multiple players earn a double-double, with Omar Payne tallying the first of his career (19 points, 11 rebounds, both career highs) and Kerry Blackshear picking up his 8th of the season (11 points, 16 rebounds).

Noah Locke added 11 points, shooting 3-for-6 on 3-point tries, his 14th straight game with multiple 3s made. Locke made his final three 3-point attempts after missing his first three.

“I’m disappointed with our play,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not. Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

The Tigers started ice cold from the field but still stayed with Florida in the first half thanks to solid defense and much-improved shooting at free-throw line.

They forced 12 turnovers, which led to 12 points, and made all 10 of their free throws in the first 20 minutes.

At the half, Auburn trailed 28-23 despite shooting 21 percent from the field.

Senior Danjel Purifoy, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Anfernee McLemore, scored a team-high 10 points off the bench and also added four rebounds, two assists and a steal. It was Purifoy’s ninth game in double figures and his third in SEC play.

Fellow senior Austin Wiley finished with nine points, a team-high six rebounds and two blocks. He now has nine multi-block games over his last nine contests.

One encouraging sign for this Auburn team was the play of Samir Doughty in the second half. Coming off a season-low seven points at Alabama, Doughty failed to score in the first half Saturday. But the senior found a rhythm in the second half, knocking down back-to-back 3s at one point. He also threw down a dunk and finished with eight points, all coming after halftime.

With the loss, Auburn moves to 15-2 on the season and 3-2 in a wide-open SEC race.

“This is as competitive as I’ve seen the SEC,” Pearl said. “The teams that keep their locker room are going to finish in the upper division of the league and make the tournament because teams are going to get beat.”

GATOR NOTES: The Gators earned their 22nd all-time win vs. an AP top 5 opponent and first since a 77-74 win vs. #2 Michigan State on a neutral court on 11/27/09 (22-61 all-time record vs. AP top 5)…..the 47 points allowed today are Florida’s 2nd-fewest vs. a top-5 team, previously defeating #4 Tennessee 59-46 on 1/20/68….he 22-point margin of victory was also UF’s 2nd-largest vs. a top-5 team, downing #3 Ohio State, 86-60, on 12/23/06. That Ohio State win was also the Gators’ last top-5 win on their home floor…it marked the third time this season a top-five team has been held in the 40s: No. 4 Michigan lost to No. 1 Louisville, 58-43, on 12/3/19; No. 5 Virginia lost to Purdue, 69-40, on 12/4/19.

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