If you’re a casual college basketball fan and decided to watch today’s game, you probably would not have known that Casey Prather is not 100% healthy.
Prather scored a team-leading 21 points and added six rebounds, helping #7 Florida to a 68-61 win at Auburn and a spot atop the Southeastern Conference standings.
Florida (15-2, 4-0 SEC) has started SEC play 2-0 for the second consecutive season and seventh time overall and are now in first place in the SEC, thanks to Texas A&M’s loss at Mississippi State today. The Gators also have seven wins in nine games when the score differential was in single digits. Florida was 0-6 in such games last season.
The Gators’ largest lead was by 13 points with around seven minutes to go in the first half, and that was as much as they could pull away from Auburn (8-7, 0-4 SEC). The Tigers hit a surge and went on a 14-0 run toward the end of the first half, going into the locker room with the Gators’ lead cut to one.
Although the score was close and the Auburn crowd hostile, Florida led the entire second half and Auburn failed to score in the final two minutes of the game. The Gators made some key plays to hold their lead, including a Patric Young block with 25 seconds left and four free throws from Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin to close out the game.
Prather was expected to be limited, since this was his first game back from his bone bruise injury against South Carolina on Jan. 8, but remained involved after scoring 16 of his 21 points in the first half.
Wilbekin was second for the Gators in scoring with 16 points, and Young added 13 points and six rebounds. Chris Denson led Auburn with 21 points.
Florida will next travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama (8-9, 0-4 SEC). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.