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Gators use different look and get a different result

On a two-game conference losing streak and struggling to find a consistent offense, the Florida men's basketball team needed something.

So it tried something new Saturday.

Coach Billy Donovan started sophomore forward Adrian Moss so senior Bonell Colas could come off the bench and provide leadership to inexperienced substitutes. Donovan threw in a few new plays to take pressure off his backcourt.

And when its offense wavered, Florida flourished on defense.

Led by sophomore guard Anthony Roberson's game-high 21 points, No. 17 Florida defeated Auburn 68-52 in front of 11,988 at the O'Connell Center.

Florida (12-4, 3-2 SEC) is the second to score more than 60 on Auburn (11-6, 2-4) this season.

Roberson had 16 of Florida's 30 first-half points and was 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Donovan said it was what didn't show up on Roberson's stat sheet that was most significant.

"He kept us in the first half. He was great," Donovan said. "But this was by far his best job defensively. He was awesome in the press. He was picking guys up. I thought his passion and will to win really pulled our team."

In the opening 20 minutes, Auburn committed 16 of its season-high 22 turnovers, which led to 17 Florida points in the half (28 for the game.)

"We were rushing it too much," said Auburn junior forward Marco Killingsworth, who had a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. "Their fans got into it and some of the guys haven't been here before and they weren't used to that hostile environment."

Trailing 30-22 at the half, (Florida shot 37 percent), Auburn opened the second half with an 11-6 run and Ian Young's basket with 12:04 left pulled Auburn to 44-42. But the Gators went to its zone defenses, causing the Tigers to struggle.

Florida went on a 16-2 run, capped off by a 3-point basket from Christian Drejer with 5:02 left, to take a 60-44 lead. Auburn had a seven-minute stretch in which it had two points. Coach Cliff Ellis said the team's strategy was to get the ball inside as much as possible, which it did, but its shots just weren't falling.

"We missed shots and turned it over too much, that's the bottom line," Ellis said.

Florida shot 43 percent and was 5-of-10 from 3-point range, the second time this season it shot better than 50 percent from there. Forward David Lee had 10 of his 12 points in the second half and Moss added 10 points and six rebounds.

"I'm very, very happy with our guys' effort," Donovan said. "We made some strides in the right direction."

Roberson was outspoken about his disappointment in the team after the home loss to Mississippi State on Wednesday. He challenged teammates to improve their game and attitude for the remainder of the season, and he believes they responded.

"This is a game and a step where we can make a run and keep winning from here," Roberson said. "This could be a stepping stone for us to win from now on and have a different mind-set when we step on the court."