AUBURN
FLA

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Allen bounces back, Florida beats No. 12 Auburn 72-66

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) KeVaughn Allen finally got the message. It took a scoreless game and long chats with coach Mike White and two teammates to sink in.

Allen bounced back from his worst game in more than three years with 24 points, including a 60-footer before the halftime buzzer and two huge 3-pointers in the closing minutes as Florida beat No. 12 Auburn 72-66 on Saturday night.

Allen missed his first five shots against the Tigers before hitting six in a row.

''He's so capable of that,'' White said. ''I'm going to tell him again, and I wish everyone in this room would tell him that. If any of our students are watching this, when you see KeVaughn on campus Monday, tell him to shoot the basketball.''

Jalen Hudson added 19 points for the Gators, including a pivotal three-point play with 26.8 seconds remaining. Chris Chiozza hit Hudson with a bounce pass on a back-door cut. Hudson got fouled making the layup and then sank the free throw to put Florida up for good, 69-66.

Auburn's Jared Harper and Bryce Brown missed off-balance 3-pointers in the final minute, and the Gators closed it out from the charity stripe.

It was Florida's 11th consecutive win in the series and a huge boost to the team's NCAA Tournament resume.

The Gators (18-11, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) had dropped three straight and six of eight in league play. They had been free-falling since early January, and a fourth loss in a row probably would have left the Gators needing help down the stretch to make the NCAAs.

The win over the Tigers (24-5, 12-4) could be enough to put Florida in the 68-team field for the second straight season.

''I hope it makes us feel good for about an hour,'' White said. ''This current Gator team has not handled success very well. Obviously, we haven't been very consistent. ... We've got to move on quickly.''

Chiozza finished with eight points, five rebounds and 12 assists, none bigger than the pass to Hudson. Florida freshman Dontay Bassett added a career-high 12 points and six boards.

Auburn's loss came just a few hours after photos surfaced on social media sites of coach Bruce Pearl lounging by a hotel pool in Gainesville. It's common for coaches and players to relax on game day, especially with a late tip, but it surely wasn't the best look when the Tigers started the game flat.

Pearl said his parents and sister came up from South Florida, and they enjoyed the spring weather.

''I'm in Florida. That's what you're supposed to do,'' Pearl said.

Florida led 10-2 in the opening minutes and was up 33-24 at the break after Allen beat the halftime buzzer from long range.

''When I shot, it, it looked like an air ball,'' Allen said. ''But at the last second, it curved right and went in. I don't practice that at all. It's just luck.''

Allen shot 8 of 15, including 6 for 10 from behind the arc. His big night came a few days after White and teammates Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes tried to reinforce the need for the junior guard to be more aggressive.

''It's a big confidence boost for me knowing that I've been struggling a little bit,'' Allen said. ''I've just got to stay aggressive.''

Mustapha Heron, who missed Auburn's previous game because of a stomach virus, led the Tigers with 22 points.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers had scored at least 75 points in 10 straight games, but fell well short at Florida. They shot the ball well enough, hitting 44.6 percent, but 16 turnovers and allowing 13 treys proved to be a bad combination.

''Game plan: Don't turn it over and don't let them beat you from 3,'' Pearl said. ''Pretty simple.''

Florida: The Gators needed the victory, especially after giving up a 14-point lead in the second half. Losing this one would have been the third time in Florida's last four games that it squandered a double-digit lead after the break and lost.

LINEUP TWEAK

Allen, Hayes and Stone were out of the starting lineup after showing up late for a video session Friday night.

WELCOME BACK

Florida great Mike Miller was in the O'Connell Center for the first time in years and was recognized during a timeout in the first half. The 36-year-old Miller retired last year after 17 seasons in the NBA.

UP NEXT

Auburn: Plays at Arkansas on Tuesday night.

Florida: Plays at Alabama on Tuesday night.

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Key Players
J. Harper
1 G
C. Chiozza
11 G
32.0 Min. Per Game 32.0
11.4 Pts. Per Game 11.4
6.0 Ast. Per Game 6.0
4.4 Reb. Per Game 4.4
38.0 Field Goal % 42.9
39.0 Three Point % 36.8
82.8 Free Throw % 78.8
  Defensive rebound by KeVaughn Allen 0.0
  Jared Harper missed 3-pt. jump shot 1.0
+ 1 KeVaughn Allen made 2nd of 2 free throws 5.0
+ 1 KeVaughn Allen made 1st of 2 free throws 5.0
  Personal foul on Jared Harper 5.0
  Defensive rebound by KeVaughn Allen 5.0
  Bryce Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot 6.0
  Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke 15.0
  Egor Koulechov missed 2nd of 2 free throws 15.0
+ 1 Egor Koulechov made 1st of 2 free throws 15.0
  Personal foul on Bryce Brown 15.0
Team Stats
Points 66 72
Field Goals 25-56 (44.6%) 26-59 (44.1%)
3-Pointers 8-23 (34.8%) 13-28 (46.4%)
Free Throws 8-10 (80.0%) 7-16 (43.8%)
Total Rebounds 41 31
Offensive 9 8
Defensive 27 19
Team 5 4
Assists 13 17
Steals 3 8
Blocks 3 5
Turnovers 16 6
Fouls 18 13
Technicals 0 0
22 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST
24 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST
12T
away team logo 12 Auburn 24-5 244266
home team logo Florida 18-11 333972
Team Stats
away team logo 12 Auburn 24-5 81.9 PPG 40.9 RPG 14.1 APG
home team logo Florida 18-11 75.8 PPG 38.2 RPG 13.1 APG
Key Players
5
M. Heron G 16.4 PPG 5.3 RPG 0.9 APG 43.9 FG%
5
K. Allen G 11.0 PPG 2.4 RPG 2.4 APG 36.1 FG%
Top Scorers
M. Heron G 22 PTS 6 REB 1 AST
K. Allen G 24 PTS 4 REB 2 AST
44.6 FG% 44.1
34.8 3PT FG% 46.4
80.0 FT% 43.8
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Heron 29 22 6 1 1 0 3 3 8/11 4/5 2/2 1 5
D. Murray 31 10 6 1 0 0 2 2 3/5 0/1 4/5 0 6
J. Harper 32 8 1 2 0 0 3 3 3/10 0/3 2/2 0 1
B. Brown 33 6 0 5 0 0 1 3 2/8 2/6 0/0 0 0
H. Spencer 22 6 8 2 0 3 2 3 3/5 0/0 0/1 4 4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Heron 29 22 6 1 1 0 3 3 8/11 4/5 2/2 1 5
D. Murray 31 10 6 1 0 0 2 2 3/5 0/1 4/5 0 6
J. Harper 32 8 1 2 0 0 3 3 3/10 0/3 2/2 0 1
B. Brown 33 6 0 5 0 0 1 3 2/8 2/6 0/0 0 0
H. Spencer 22 6 8 2 0 3 2 3 3/5 0/0 0/1 4 4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Okeke 27 12 10 0 0 0 1 1 5/11 2/5 0/0 3 7
M. Dunbar 11 2 5 0 0 0 1 2 1/4 0/2 0/0 1 4
D. Mitchell 15 0 0 2 2 0 3 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 0
P. Keim - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Blackstock - - - - - - - - - - - - -
W. Macoy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Purifoy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Easterling - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Collier - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 66 36 13 3 3 16 18 25/56 8/23 8/10 9 27
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
J. Hudson 31 19 3 2 0 2 0 1 7/14 4/6 1/4 0 3
D. Bassett 24 12 6 0 2 1 0 3 5/6 0/0 2/3 5 1
C. Chiozza 37 8 5 12 1 0 2 1 3/5 1/2 1/5 0 5
E. Koulechov 32 7 6 0 1 0 2 2 2/12 2/8 1/2 2 4
M. Okauru 13 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
J. Hudson 31 19 3 2 0 2 0 1 7/14 4/6 1/4 0 3
D. Bassett 24 12 6 0 2 1 0 3 5/6 0/0 2/3 5 1
C. Chiozza 37 8 5 12 1 0 2 1 3/5 1/2 1/5 0 5
E. Koulechov 32 7 6 0 1 0 2 2 2/12 2/8 1/2 2 4
M. Okauru 13 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 1
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
K. Allen 33 24 4 2 1 0 1 1 8/15 6/10 2/2 0 4
K. Hayes 16 2 0 0 1 2 1 2 1/3 0/0 0/0 0 0
K. Stone 11 0 2 1 1 0 0 2 0/2 0/1 0/0 1 1
D. Ballard 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0
J. Egbunu - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Gak - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Stokes - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Fava - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Krause - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 72 27 17 8 5 6 13 26/59 13/28 7/16 8 19