After losing three straight to end the regular season, the Florida Gators needed a win or two in the SEC Tournament to ensure a bid in March Madness. With their 78-69 victory over Auburn, UF may be dancing once again after two years in the NIT.
Florida was hot in the first half, leading comfortably throughout most of it. The Gators led by as many as 14, but the Tigers pulled within nine at the midway point. Auburn kept up its surge after intermission, as a Lucas Hargrove layup with 15:21 to go cut the UF lead to just a point. That was the best the Plainsmen could muster, however, as the SEC East's fourth seed extended the lead from there and never looked back.
The top scorer in the game was Auburn's Frankie Sullivan, who put in a career-high 27 points. DeWayne Reed backed him up with 18 points and five assists. The undersized Tigers had no answer for Florida's frontcourt though, as Alex Tyus scored 24 and Chandler Parsons contributed 21. Vernon Macklin also broke into double digits with 10 for the Gator cause.
Thanks to losses today by fellow bubble teams like Wake Forest, UAB, Memphis, and Arizona State, Florida appears to be in good shape for the Big Dance. A win tomorrow over Mississippi State would remove all doubt.