Florida could not have started its Southeastern Conference opener against Auburn any better and it could not have finished it any worse, as the Gators dropped an 84-55 decision at Auburn Arena on Sunday in the league openers for both schools.
The Gators jumped out to an 18-2 lead to start the game and the Tigers outscored Florida, 30-4, in the fourth quarter.
Junior Funda Nakkasoglu led Florida with 15 points, while Paulina Hersler scored 12 with a team-high nine rebounds.
Three Tigers reached double-digit scoring, paced by Janiah McKayâ€™s 25 points.
Runs, Runs and more Runs in First Half
Florida (8-6, 0-1 SEC) scored the first nine points of the game and raced out to an 18-2 lead, before Auburn stormed back with a 15-4 run to end the frame and the Gator lead was down to 22-15 by the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers (10-3, 1-0 SEC) continued their torrid scoring pace and opened the second with a 9-2 march and tied the game at 24 with 8:02 on the clock.
Funda Nakkasoglu broke the tie with a long three that sparked an 11-2 Gator run and their lead swelled back to nine points, 35-26. Andersonâ€™s second three-pointer of the game capped the run with 4:28 remaining in the quarter. That bucket, however, would be Floridaâ€™s final one of the frame, as the Tigers closed the half with a 9-1 run and the Gators entered the locker room with a 36-35 edge.
More of the Same to Start the Third Quarter
Auburn scored the first six points of the second half and took its first lead of the game, as well as a 41-36 edge just 2:21 into the third quarter. Florida regrouped with the next seven points for a two-point lead with Nakkasoglu, Delicia Washington, Sydney Searcy and Mikayla Hayes each getting on the board.
The Tigers kept adding to their total and Florida continued to reel them back in and closed within one point, 52-51, with 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Auburn scored the final bucket to close the third and took a 54-51 advantage entering the final period, where the Tigers dominated, outscoring the Gators, 30-4.
Nakkasogluâ€™s three-pointer at the 8:19 mark of the quarter was Floridaâ€™s lone field goal, as Anderson added one free throw with 2:39 remaining as the Gatorâ€™s lone points of the period.
Numbers of Note
Â·Florida committed a season-high 28 turnovers that resulted in 33 Auburn points.
Â·Auburn collected 24 offensive rebounds, the most by a Gator opponent this season.
Â·The Tigers committed just five turnovers in the game.
Â·This was UFâ€™s second true road game of the season.
Â·Florida led by as many as 16 points during the first quarter. This is the most the Gators have led in a loss since holding a 17-point, second-half lead against Charlotte on March 24, 2011.
Â·Paulina Hersler scored her 400th career point during the game
Â·Dyandria Anderson scored her 600th career point
Â·Haley Lorenzen, who did not score for the first time in 104 career games, dished her 100th career assist and finished with a team-high four
Â·Auburn missed first seven shots from the floor, as the Gators went 3-of-4 and jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, forcing the Tigers to call a timeout just 3:18 into the contest.
Â·Anderson scored five points and Washington four during opening moments.
Â·Auburn then missed next three shots, all off offensive rebounds and finally found its way to the free throw line, where Janiah McKay got AU on the board at the 6:12 mark with a pair from the line.
Â·Florida lost its last four SEC openers, as well as six of its last seven league debuts
Â·The Gators have lost four of their last five against Auburn.
Quotes from the Court â€“ UF Head Coach Cameron Newbauer
General thoughts on the game:
â€œAny time you have 28 turnovers and give up 24 offensive rebounds â€¦ they average 26 points in the point and had that in this game. This is the SEC. Thatâ€™s what this is and our toughness just isnâ€™t where it needs to be yet. We talked about that. We canâ€™t just fight and go on winning and thatâ€™s what happened to start. All of the sudden, they started to chip away at it (the lead) and we started to collapse and cave in a bit. Weâ€™ve just got to have more of a resolve about ourselves and someone has to pick us up. Someone has to step up and talk and get some chirping and have some confidence and toughness about us because we have people turning down open shots. We took the shots they wanted us to take and then we get too deep and make passes weâ€™re not use to making. What happened was that the Auburn Tigers showed up in the second half and we just didnâ€™t play with confidence.â€
On Auburnâ€™s 24 offensive rebounds:
â€œThatâ€™s been our Achilles heel all year long. Itâ€™s what they thrive off of. Janiah McKay, a Gainesville product, she had an unbelievable game on us and thatâ€™s frustrating because we had certain ways we wanted to guard her and we didnâ€™t do that. All in all, we started good because we made shots, but we still werenâ€™t sticking to the game plan. Some of that has something to do with playing bigger, better, stronger people. Weâ€™ve got to be more together if we want to play better and have any sort of chance whatsoever in an SEC contest.â€
Whatâ€™s Next for the Gators
Â·Florida plays host to Alabama (10-4, 0-1 SEC) on Thursday in the Gatorsâ€™ SEC home opener, with tip-off from Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. Oâ€™Connell Center scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Â·The Tide launched its SEC slate at home against No. 16 Missouri on Sunday with a 62-56 loss.
SEC Opening Day Results
Â·#4 SOUTH CAROLINA d. #22 Texas A&M, 61-59
Â·#7 Tennessee d. KENTUCKY, 63-49
Â·ARKANSAS d. Ole Miss, 73-72
Â·#16 Missouri d. ALABAMA, 62-56
Â·LSU d. Vanderbilt, 85-65
Â·#5 Mississippi State vs. GEORGIA – late
Gator Pronunciations for this Release:
Â·DYANDRIA Anderson: dee-ANN-dree-uh
Â·MIKAYLA Hayes: mih-KAY-la
Â·FUNDA NAKKASOGLU: FOON-da knock-ah-SO-glue
Â·Sydney SEARCY: SIR-see
Â·DELICIA Washington: duh-LEE-shuh