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No. 12 Auburn goes wire-to-wire to beat Florida for SEC Tournament title

Auburn Johni Broome - The Canadian Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Johni Broome scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as No. 12 Auburn won the Tigers' third Southeastern Conference Tournament championship by beating Florida 86-67 on Sunday in a game marred by a gruesome injury to Gators center Micah Handlogten.

The Tigers (27-7) avoided the upset bug that took out the SEC's top three seeds in Friday's quarterfinals, leaving them as the highest seed still standing. They never trailed in the final, adding titles to those won in 1985 and 2019 and earning a second under coach Bruce Pearl.

Denver Jones scored 11 points for Auburn. Chad Baker-Mazara added 10 before going to the bench along with Broome and getting a standing ovation with two minutes left.

The sixth-seeded Florida Gators (24-11) were playing their fourth game in as many days and trying to win the program's fifth SEC Tournament title and first since 2014. But they lost Handlogten, who was taken off the court on a stretcher, to a broken lower left leg within the first three minutes.

Zyon Pullin led the Gators with 15 points. Walter Clayton Jr. added 13, Tyrese Samuel had 12 and Thomas Haugh 11.

The Gators tried to post another rally to earn the title and the automatic NCAA Tournament berth. They trailed by as many as 12 points before pulling to within 38-30 at halftime.

Florida got to within 45-44 with 17 minutes left on a Clayton 3-pointer.

But Auburn answered each spurt in a game where Pearl went up against his former assistant in Florida coach Todd Golden. Pearl notched his 200th career win at Auburn.

The Tigers' offensive firepower showed when they scored seven straight points within 55 seconds, capped by a high-flying dunk from Jones with 14:08 to go.

Auburn increased its lead to as many as 21 points in the final minutes with Tigers fans standing ready to celebrate.


Florida: Freshman Alex Condon replaced Handlogten after his injury. He scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Auburn: The Tigers got revenge for their biggest loss this season. They fell to the Gators 81-65 in Gainesville on Feb. 10 and were coming off their only win by single digits, a 73-66 semifinal victory over Mississippi State. ... They shot 64.3% (18 of 28) in the second half.


Bridgestone Arena fell silent as Handlogten was being treated with 17:39 left in the first half. Handlogten had two rebounds in two minutes and was trying to come down with a third when he landed awkwardly on his left foot. He immediately went down in pain and rolled onto his side, putting his hands to his face.

The sound of bone apparently breaking could be heard on TV, and blood immediately was visible on the back of his calf.

Play had continued as Aden Holloway took a pass and finished a layup on the other end for Auburn. Play then stopped as trainers rushed out to tend to Handlogten, with his parents coming down from their seats to be by his side on the court.


Auburn will take a six-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament.