|THURSDAY MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
|Florida 62, Mississippi State 51
|Auburn 74, Alabama 55
Florida Pulls Away From Mississippi State in Second Half
WHAT HAPPENED: As has been their pattern this season, a sluggish first half on the road gave way to a better second and solid finish, as the third-ranked Gators woke up at intermission Thursday night and took out the host Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum. Senior forward Casey Prather led UF with 16 points and seven rebounds, while senior center Patric Young shook off first-half foul trouble to score 12 points and grab eight rebounds. Michael Frazier, who started 0-for-6 from the 3-point line, hit his last six from long distance, including a big one with 2:28 to go that pushed Florida's lead to double digits.
WHAT IT MEANS: UF remained the lone unbeaten team in SEC play, upped its lead atop the league standings to two full games over Kentucky and Ole Miss and won a fourth straight conference road game. Even better, the Gators’ next three games are at home, where they’ve won a school-record 26 straight games.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Chris Walker ... and he wasn’t even here. No explanation necessary.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: The two teams combined to go 7-for-25 from the free-throw line. That's a woeful 28 percent. Fortunately for the Gators, they were on the 8-for-19 side (42.1 percent) to the Bulldogs' 1-for-6 (16.7 percent).
SUBPLOT: The Gators won back-to-back games at “The Hump” for the first time since the 2001 and ’03 seasons and have now defeated the Bulldogs four straight for the first since since winning 12 in a row in the series from 1984-89.
UP NEXT: For the second straight weekend, the Gators (18-2) have a two-day SEC turnaround. They’ll return home tonight and be on the court Friday afternoon prepping for a Saturday game against Texas A&M (12-8, 3-4) at the O’Connell Center. The Aggies have dropped four straight league games, but they did win at Tennessee to open SEC play.
Auburn trounces Alabama 74-55 for first SEC victory
AUBURN, Ala. – Chris Denson went for a career-high 32 points and he combined with fellow guard KT Harrell to equal the output of the entire Alabama team as Auburn snapped a six-game losing streak with a 74-55 win over rival Alabama on Thursday night.
Denson and Harrell came into the game averaging just shy of 38 points per game and broke out for 55 as Harrell dropped in 23. The 20-plus points from both parts of the duo marked the first time since the second game of the season that both had over 20 points in the same game. Denson was 10-for-16 from the field and 11-for-14 from the free throw line while Harrell finished 9-for-18 from the floor.
Harrell also added a career-best and a game-high 11 rebounds, giving him a second double-double on the season.
Auburn (9-9, 1-6 SEC) led from start to finish, racing out to a 12-0 lead over the first 4:41 and never allowing Alabama to narrow the gap to less than five in the first half.
Leading 30-22 at halftime, Auburn increased the lead to 16, 49-33, with 13:11 remaining and never allowed the Crimson Tide to get it under 10 over the final 16:33 of the contest.
Denson scored all but six of his points in the second half while Harrell went for 11 in the first half and 12 in the second half.
Senior Allen Payne finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds, Denson had 7 rebounds and Matthew Atewe had 6 as Auburn out-rebounded Alabama, 37-30.
Trevor Releford led Alabama (9-11, 3-4 SEC) with 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting and Retin Obasohan and Shannon Hale each had nine.
Auburn returns to the court on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. when it plays host to Georgia at Auburn Arena. The game will air live on SEC-TV.