AUBURN, Ala. — Nick Calathes had 17 points and made three free throws in the final seconds to lift Florida to a 68-65 win over Auburn on Wednesday night, the 300th career victory for coach Billy Donovan with the Gators.
Calathes also had nine rebounds and five assists for Florida (15-2, 2-0 SEC), which has won nine straight games. He made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 19 seconds to overcome a late Tigers surge.
"I thought they made a huge comeback at the end," Calathes said. "They have a lot of seniors and juniors on their team, so they weren't going to let us get a win like that. I thought they made a great comeback, but I thought we persevered. We got the win and that was huge for us."
Alex Tyus had 14 points and 12 rebounds, his third double double of the season, and Kenny Kadji scored 11 for the Gators.
Donovan, 300-117 in his 13th season with Florida, is the first Gators coach to reach 300. He's 335-137 overall, including two seasons at Marshall.
Florida has won the past 10 meetings and salvaged this one despite going cold for a long stretch starting late in the first half. The Gators, who had an uncharacteristic 11 assists and 17 turnovers, managed three field goals in a span of more than 15 minutes after building a 10-point lead.
The Tigers finally took advantage by scoring seven straight and tying it at 48 on Rasheem Barrett's free throws with 9:34 left. Barrett, who scored nine straight for Auburn, gave it its first lead with a drive ttwo minutes later, but Calathes hit a 3 to snap a string of seven missed shots by Florida.
Erving Walker made back-to-back 3s with 4:12 left to give the Gators the lead for good. Then he passed to Walter Hodge in the right corner for an open 3 with 1:11 to play and Dan Werner hit two free throws for a 62-55 lead.
DeWayne Reed hit two 3s in the final five seconds for Auburn (10-6, 0-2).
"We answered a couple of times," Donovan said. "When you're playing on the road, you've got to find a way to answer when the crowd gets into the game."