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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Final: Florida 78, Auburn 69

By Chris Low

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Has Florida done enough?

Beating Auburn won’t gain the Gators a lot of points with the NCAA tournament selection committee.

But a loss to Auburn probably would have been fatal to the Gators’ hopes.

They had trouble putting the Tigers away Thursday, but finally got it done in a 78-69 first-round SEC tournament victory at Bridgestone Arena to break a three-game losing streak.

The Gators (21-11) move into the quarterfinal round against Mississippi State feeling better about making their first trip to the NCAA tournament in three years. But they need to keep winning to be sure.

Meanwhile, the Jeff Lebo watch begins. There’s growing speculation around the Auburn program that he won’t be back as coach. Lebo and Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs are scheduled to meet soon.

Auburn would owe Lebo $1.5 million to buy out his contract. But the feeling among a lot of the Auburn faithful is that $1.5 million is a drop in the bucket when you’re building a brand new $90 million arena.

One other sidelight: The West is now 0-26 this season against the top four teams in the East -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Florida.