- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida recovered from a sloppy first half and put itself in position to clinch a first-round bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Gators shot 62.5 percent in the first half but trailed 30-27 at the break because they committed 12 turnovers. UF only turned it over four times in the second half and outscored Auburn 36-17. The 17 points were the fewest the Gators have allowed in a half this season.
The 11th-ranked Gators (22-6, 10-3 SEC) can clinch one of the top four seeds and the accompanying first-round bye in the SEC Tournament if Tennessee loses to Ole Miss on Wednesday.
Player of the game: Kenny Boynton scored 20 points and made 6-of-9 3-pointers. He has scored 45 points and made 9-of-17 3-point attempts in the past two games.
Stat of the game: Florida had more turnovers (12) than field goals (10) in the first half. The 12 turnovers were more than the Gators have had in 15 games. UF finished with 16 turnovers and the Gators are 2-5 when turning the ball over 15 or more times.
What did we learn: Florida's backcourt responded in the second half. Bradley Beal, Boynton and Erving Walker combined for eight of UF's 12 first-half turnovers but the trio had just two in the second half. Those three also combined to score 12 points in UF's decisive 15-5 run that allowed the Gators to take a double-digit lead with 7:28 remaining.
Noteworthy: Florida has won four in a row and 14 of the last 15 meetings against Auburn 14-13, 4-9). UF coach Billy Donovan has never lost to the Tigers at the O'Connell Center (8-0). ... UF held Auburn to 7-of-23 shooting in the second half. ... The Gators out-rebounded the Tigers 39-24.
2dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf
8dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough