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K.D. Johnson (23 points) leads No. 9 Auburn past Florida

Sportsnaut
Jan 8, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Florida Gators forward Anthony Duruji (4) takes a shot against Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Florida Gators forward Anthony Duruji (4) takes a shot against Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

K.D. Johnson hit for 23 points as No. 9 Auburn used a late-game run to hold off visiting Florida 85-73 on Saturday to capture its 11th consecutive victory.

The Tigers (14-1, 3-0 SEC) led by nine points at halftime but were up just 60-59 after a 3-pointer by Florida’s Anthony Duruji with 8:37 to play.

Auburn then took control via a 13-4 run capped by a 30-foot 3-pointer from Wendell Green Jr. with 3:57 remaining. The Tigers were never seriously challenged again.

Jaylin Williams scored a season-high 14, and Jabari Smith and Green Jr. added 13 points each for the Tigers.

Colin Castleton led Florida with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Duruji scored 14 points, Myreon Jones had 13 and Tyree Appleby added 11 points for the Gators (9-5, 0-2), who dropped their second straight game.

Florida’s first three conference games (including its upcoming game at home against No. 21 LSU on Wednesday) are against ranked teams, a first for the Gators in SEC play since February 2001.

The Tigers trailed only in the opening minutes, sweeping from a 3-0 deficit via a 6-0 run and never looking back. Auburn pushed its lead to as many as 13 points after a layup by Zep Jasper at the 11:46 mark of the first half.

The Gators pulled to within 32-25 on a layup by CJ Felder with 2:59 to play in the half.

Auburn answered with a 7-1 surge to establish its 13-point lead, but the Gators finished the half with the final four points to close to 39-30 at the break.

Johnson and Williams led the Tigers with eight points each in the first half as Auburn outshot Florida 50 percent to 41.7 percent and earned a 19-11 rebounding edge over the first 20 minutes.

Appleby paced the Gators with eight points in the half. Florida stayed close by forcing nine Auburn turnovers that it turned into 15 points through the first half.

–Field Level Media