AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and No. 7 Florida were brutally efficient.
The Gators made the extra passes, hit a season-high 15 3-pointers and pretty much confounded Auburn’s shooters in a systematic 83-52 rout on Saturday.
Rosario scored a season-high 22 points, Boynton had 16 and the Gators (21-3, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) raced to a 25-point halftime lead.
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“We had 25 assists in the game but you don’t get 25 assists unless the ball goes in the basket, and the ball went in the basket for us,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
It really was just that simple.
The game matched the worst loss for Auburn (9-16, 3-9) in coach Tony Barbee’s three seasons, tying a 90-59 defeat against Mississippi on Feb. 16, 2011. It also was the Tigers’ worst home loss since an 88-48 blowout by Kentucky in 1952.
The Gators have won their last three SEC games by an average of 24 points since their only league loss at Arkansas.
Rosario had 18 points — two shy of his previous high this season — by halftime, when the game was effectively over. Michael Frazier added 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for Florida, which has won seven straight at Auburn.
Erik Murphy added 11 points and went 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
Chris Denson led Auburn with 13 points and Jordan Price had 12.
Barbee said his team “just ran into a buzz saw.”
“We played a veteran, experienced team and they proved why they are one of the best teams in the league and in the country,” Barbee said. “I told our guys I was disappointed in the overall defensive intensity and attention to detail. You have to learn playing against teams like that. They have a veteran group now that has been doing it together for a couple of years, so you see why they play with such chemistry on the offensive and defensive end of the floor.”
It was a precision performance by one of the SEC’s hottest teams against one that is struggling badly, losing nine of 10.
The Gators hit 31 of 54 shots (57 percent) from the floor and held Auburn to 19-of-54 shooting (35 percent).
“We shot a lot of 3s and when we’re shooting like that, it’s hard to beat a team,” Donovan said.
Especially when the stat sheet also includes numbers like this: assists on 25 of 31 baskets and 18 points off Auburn’s 14 turnovers.
Boynton broke Andrew DeClercq’s school record with his 129th career start and hit four 3-pointers in nine attempts. Rosario scored on drives, including a nifty reverse layup, and hit a couple of 3s. He also dished out five assists and Boynton had four.
Scottie Wilbekin had six points, 10 assists and three steals for the Gators.
Rosario and the Gators did pretty much whatever they wanted in the first half and jumped ahead 13-3, making the Tigers look helpless to defend the outside shooters or stop darting drives. They also kept Auburn’s offense off balance as it struggled to find decent shots.
“I feel like going on the road and performing like this is hard for some teams,” Rosario said. “We have a target on us being one of the top teams in the country and the conference No. 1. I just feel like that takes a lot of concentration as a team to go on the road and get a victory like this.”
The final shot of the first half showed how easy it was for Florida. Wilbekin worked the clock down and then pulled up for a long jumper over Noel Johnson with 2 seconds left. Auburn didn’t score in the final 3:56.
The lead surged to 36 with 8 minutes left.
“I think we did a great job setting the tone,” Boynton said. “I think every loose ball we tried to get, and we did a great job of attacking it. Defensively we had a good day. Offensively we had a great day.”
And that about summed it up.
The Tigers got little production from seniors Rob Chubb and leading scorer Frankie Sullivan. Chubb had one point, didn’t play in the second half and missed all four field goal attempts with four turnovers after Auburn went inside to him several times in the opening minutes.
“I think Rob is still fighting,” Barbee said. “He just isn’t very good right now. What can I say? He is not very good. He isn’t getting it done.”
Sullivan, the team’s leading scorer, came off the bench for the second straight game and had eight points in 19 minutes. Charlie Manuel is tired of talking about his contract.
The deal for the Philadelphia Phillies manager expires at the end of this season, along with the deals for Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, and probably the agreement for Roy Halladay, too.
“This is the last time I’ll answer about my deal, OK?” Manuel said Saturday. “I’m very satisfied with the way it is.”
Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies’ Triple-A manager for the last two seasons, earned a promotion to major league third base coach and appears to be the manager in waiting.
Manuel hopes to manage beyond this year and said he’s tired of having to explain why he should be worthy of another deal.
“I shouldn’t have to explain it to anybody, the team or President Obama or anybody. Seriously,” Manuel said. “That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m not worried about my contract. I’ve been in baseball 51 years, and right now I definitely plan on staying in baseball and I plan on managing.”
Before the Phillies worked out on a brisk, windy morning, Manuel spoke to the entire team in the clubhouse, which he does every year before the opening full-squad workout.
Manuel said he reminded players the season is long and to play the right way. The Phillies went 81-81 last year, ending their streak of nine consecutive winning seasons and five division titles in a row.
“We’re definitely planning on being real competitive in our league and having a chance to win at the end,” Manuel said. “Our goal is to win our division, go to the World Series and win. Same as always.”
Utley, Halladay and Ryan Howard appear to be healthy after missing significant portions of last season. Utley and Halladay changed their offseason regimens, and Howard focused on strengthening the Achilles tendon he tore at the end of the 2011 season.
“We have a whole lot of talent,” Manuel said. “We still have a good team with our veteran players. Of course everyone will say they have to stay healthy and they have age on them. We’ll see.”
Philadelphia added setup reliever Mike Adams and center fielder Ben Revere.
“I look in there and we got a lot of options,” Manuel said. “We got some competitions going. Usually there’s ifs on teams every year. You got to turn those ifs into exclamation points. That’s how I look at it.”