By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn matched No. 15 Florida point for point in the first half before the Gators took control in the second half, beating the Tigers 114-95 Tuesday at Auburn Arena.
"Florida's a great team," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "They're engaged on both ends of the floor. They can shoot it from 3. They can play fast.
"We played well offensively for the most part, and we continue to struggle to defend. Most of the guys in our locker room are better offensively than they are defensively."
Anfernee McLemore led Auburn (16-10, 5-8) with a career-high 19 points, on 8-of-10 shooting.
"Bryce (Brown) was finding me on good passes," McLemore said. "He was really looking to drive the ball and dish it off. That connection between me and him was really working tonight."
"I'm always a glass half full," Pearl said. "Florida holds teams underneath their averages, and we were able to score against a pretty good defensive team."
Mustapha Heron, who had reached double figures in Auburn's first 25 games, a freshman record, scored 9.
Florida (21-5, 11-2) scored the first 9 points of the second half, prompting Pearl to call a timeout after 64 seconds.
The Gators made their first four 3-pointers in the half, building a double-digit lead. Florida extended the lead to 92-73 by making 7-of-9 3's in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
The Tigers, by contrast, made just 1 of 10 3's in the second half.
Auburn and Florida played to a 50-50 tie in the first half.
Purifoy gave Auburn early momentum with a 4-poiint play 30 seconds into the game.
Harper added a 3 before the first media timeout, giving Auburn a 15-11 lead.
Auburn made 5 of its first 6 3-pointers. Back-to-back 3's by Johnson put Auburn on top 27-20.
Wiley's slam, off an assist from Bryce Brown, put Auburn up 32-24.
Florida erased the lead and then some with an 11-0 run.
Brown's alley-oop to LaRon Smith energized the crowd and pulled the Tigers within 2, 42-40.
Dunans' scored on back-to-back offensive rebounds to regain the lead for Auburn, 50-48. He led Auburn with 11 points in the first half.
Canyon Barry scored 19 of his game-high 30 in the first half for the Gators, making 11 of 12 free throws, shooting underhanded like his Hall of Fame father, Rick Barry.
Auburn hits the road for College Station Saturday to play Texas A&M at 3 p.m.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer