After closing out January by scoring an upset over highly ranked West Virginia on the road, Florida went three weeks without feeling the thrill of victory.
The Gators ended their drought at home on Saturday by riding a hot early start to a 70-63 victory over Georgia.
Florida (11-6, 7-5 Southeastern Conference) will try to build on that much-needed recovery Tuesday night, facing Auburn in Auburn, Ala.
Since their victory over the then-No. 11 Mountaineers, the Gators had lost at home to South Carolina, had games against LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and fell on the road at Arkansas.
But things changed on Saturday as their main scoring quartet of Tre Mann (14.1 points per game), Colin Castleton (13.2), Noah Locke (11.1) and Tyree Appleby (10.6) led the way against the Bulldogs.
Castleton finished with 14 points while Mann and Appleby each had 13 against Georgia, and Appleby hit a clutch pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to seal the outcome.
Florida led by as many as 18 points in the first half and held off Georgia in the second half to sweep the season series.
But after shooting 50 percent from 3-point range in the first half, Florida shot just 1-for-13 from beyond the arc in the second half, which allowed the Bulldogs to pull to within two possessions down the stretch.
Castleton took only five shots, but made them all, scoring 12 of his points after halftime and totaling six rebounds and three blocks in the second half.
“I wish we would’ve gotten Colin deeper touches and more touches,” Florida coach Mike White said. “I thought Georgia did a very good job negating, and the fact that he only took five shots fell in their favor.”
Auburn (11-12, 5-9) has dropped five of its past six games, with its only victory since Jan. 26 coming against last-place Vanderbilt.
In Saturday’s 104-80 loss to LSU, Sharife Cooper led Auburn with 26 points. It was the highest point total allowed by Auburn since allowing 114 to Florida in 2017, and LSU’s most against an SEC opponent since 1992.
LSU shot 53.4 percent for the game (39-of-73) and made 11-of-22 three-pointers. LSU also outrebounded Auburn 47-39 and finished with a 50-38 advantage in the paint.
“I’m disappointed,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “I thought we had a great game plan. I thought we had a good week of preparation. I thought we were excited about playing. We just didn’t have that edge. That’s a problem. As a result, we got whooped.”
–Field Level Media