After handling SEC foe Auburn at home, the Florida Gators expected tosnap their nine-game losing skid by slowing the tempo on the road in a battle of the league's smallest and youngest squads.
The teams started a total of six underclassmen. But the only senior on the floor, Auburn's Derrick Dennison, stole the show, scoring 22 points as Auburn beat the Gators 75-55.
With a revamped starting lineup, the Gators (6-15 overall, 2-11 in the SEC) attempted to milk the 45-second shot and lull Auburn (10-14, 6-7) to sleep, but it was the Gators who got the rude awakening when the Tigers cranked up the transition game.
"We did a good job of controlling the ball and an even better job with our patience," said Florida coach Don DeVoe. "But Auburn came after us when the shot clock was winding down. They capitalized on our mistakes."
Florida kept the game close early and trailed 13-12 with 10:30 left in the half following a Stacey Poole slam dunk.
But the Gators went ice cold and scored just six points in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Auburn was hot - shooting 68 percent from the floor in the first half and pushing the tempo with strong inside play from Dennison.
"We weren't sure what kind of style Florida would come out with,"said Auburn coach Tommy Joe Eagles. "When they came out with the slowdown offense, I think we adjusted well."
Florida's seven first-half turnovers, coupled with 35 percent shooting from the floor, allowed Auburn to build a 37-19 halftime lead.
The lead bulged to 23 in the second half when Dennison took control, rambling across court cashing in steals and Florida turnovers for reverse layups and slam dunks.
"When Derrick is able to harness that tremendous athletic ability, he is one of the best players in the conference," Eagles said.
"They got the ball down the floor and conducted a layup drill," DeVoe said. "They did a great job of laying the ball in on the break."
Florida stuck with its plan to drain the shot clock, but was foiled with 11:29 remaining in the game when a Poole layup was erased because the 45 seconds had elapsed.
"I think our style of play was conducive enough to where we could stay in our game plan," DeVoe said. "We took a few shots, but none of them were uncalled for.
"They dictated the tempo and they got the ball inside."
The Gators eventually broke the shooting slump when guard Renaldo Garcia warmed up from three-point range, and cut the lead to 12 with 1:42 left.
But Auburn guard Champ Wrencher came off the bench and nailed seven of eight free throws to seal the Florida defeat.