Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The second-ranked Florida Gators take aim at their 30th straight home victory, as they welcome the Auburn Tigers to the O'Connell Center for an SEC showdown on Wednesday evening.
It has been a season of streaks for Billy Donovan's Gators, who sport the third-longest active homecourt win streak in the nation at 29 games. Florida has also gone a perfect 12-0 in the SEC this season and has won 17 straight games overall to amass a 23-2 record thus far. One of the biggest wins of the season came last weekend in Lexington, as UF downed powerhouse Kentucky (69-59) to create further room in the SEC standings.
Tony Barbee's Tigers are hovering just over the .500 mark at 12-11, but almost all of the success for Auburn has come at home (11-4). The road has been a totally different story, with the Tigers a mere 1-7 between true road and neutral court affairs. Auburn does enter this game off a 92-82 shootout win over Mississippi State last Saturday, moving the team to 4-8 in conference play.
Auburn holds an 87-74 series advantage over Florida, but the Gators have won five straight and 15 of the last 16 meetings overall. Florida seeks a regular- season sweep of Auburn after posting a 68-61 road victory back on Jan. 18.
Chris Denson and KT Harrell combined for 56 points and Auburn shot a sizzling 51 percent from the floor overall, to power past Mississippi State on Saturday at Auburn Arena. Denson was 10-of-17 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line to lead all scorers with 30 points. Harrell was 6-of-11 from the floor and 13-of-14 at the charity stripe, pouring in 26 points in the win. Allen Payne and Tahj Shamsid-Deen got into the act as well, adding 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The offensive outburst by Denson and Harrell is nothing new for Auburn, as the two represent one of the nation's most explosive duos. Denson is delivering on 48.9 percent of his shots and ranks first in the SEC at 20.9 ppg. Harrell isn't far behind, ranked fifth in the league at 19.2 ppg. No other Tiger is currently in double figures, although Shamsid-Deen is just under that mark at 9.4 ppg.
Auburn's potent one-two punch will be put to the test on Wednesday, as Florida's success this season has been fueled by its stifling defensive play. The Gators rank sixth in the nation in scoring defense (58.0 ppg), while holding foes under 40 percent shooting (.395). The team also enjoys positive margins in both rebounding (+5.5) and turnovers (+2.6). Scoring depth comes as four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures. Casey Prather leads the charge at 15.7 ppg, as he drains 62.4 percent of his shots. Scottie Wilbekin is next in line at 13.5 ppg, followed by Michael Frazier and Patric Young at 12.2 and 10.5 ppg, respectively.
The Gators trailed in Lexington by three points at halftime, but shot a scorching 60 percent from the floor after the break to earn a 10-point win at Rupp Arena on Saturday. Prather had a strong game, going 8-of-9 from the floor and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line to lead all scorers with 24 points. Wilbekin poured in 23 points of his own, while Young tacked on 10 points in the win.