Gainesville, Fla. – The No. 12 Auburn Tigers (19-5, 8-3 SEC) took an 81-65 loss to the Florida Gators (16-7, 6-4 SEC) on Saturday at Exactech Arena.
The Gators were in control for the entirety of the game and extended their home winning streak over the Tigers to 15 games.
"They played great, they were really well prepared," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "They were more physical, they didn't turn the ball over they took great care of the ball. Defensively, we weren't as effective when we only have one steal."
What are the biggest takeaways from the game?
Auburn never seemed to find its footing
Florida opened up the game with a 9-0 run. Auburn's first points came from a Johni Broome dunk 3:16 into the game.
Auburn nearly broke back into the game multiple times throughout the first half but could never get closer than seven points.
Slow starts on the road have been a consistent part of Auburn's season, particularly during conference play.
Auburn has some challenging road tests remaining on its schedule and will be looking to break this trend.
Florida's guards caused Auburn a lot of problems
Auburn had no answer for Florida guards Walter Clayton, Jr., Riley Kugel and Zyon Pullin.
Kugel led Florida in scoring with 22 points. He also had four rebounds. Clayton had 20 points, six rebounds and one steal. Pullin had 19 points, six rebounds and three assists.
While Florida's frontcourt had a good showing, it was the guard play that set the Gators apart in this game.
Poor 3-point shooting and poor defense is not a good combination
Auburn shot 3-17 or 17.6% from 3-point range, one of its worst performances of the season from beyond the arc.
Additionally, Auburn had one of its worst defensive performances of the season.
The Tigers allow only 66.5 points per game on average, placing them at No. 2 in the SEC. Florida passed that mark with 11:31 remaining in the game.
Florida does have one of the better offenses in the SEC, averaging 84.9 points per game, but Auburn was lost on the defensive end.
K.D. Johnson had a solid performance
K.D. Johnson was Auburn's second-highest scorer with 12 points, closely following Broome who had 14. This was the seventh time this season that Johnson scored in double figures.
Johnson's role does not always involve him being a scorer, but it does involve him providing the team with a spark.
Johnson did his best to do just that in this game despite the result.
Auburn returns to action against the No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks at home inside Neville Arena on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The television broadcast can be found on SEC Network, and the Auburn Sports Network broadcast can be streamed anywhere on the Auburn Athletics app.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.