AUBURN, Ala. -- Billy Donovan cautioned his Florida Gators before the game not to assume Casey Prather would instantly return to form after a two-game layoff. Prather scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half in his comeback from a badly bruised right knee and helped No. 7 Florida survive a scare from Auburn in a 68-61 victory on Saturday. Donovans warning proved unnecessary. "That rule went out the window after the first half, when he had 16," the coach said. "He was clearly going to play a lot more since he played so well. "Im not so sure if hes hurt again this game, that this is a game we could pull out." Prather made eight of 10 shots for the Gators (15-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who have won nine straight games and eight in a row at Auburn (8-7, 0-4). Donovan said Prather looked just OK in practice Thursday with no contact, but fared better the day before the game. "He was like, When you come back to practice, are you going to baby it or are you going to play?" Prather said. "I said I was going to play." Tahj Shamsid-Deen hit a jump shot with 1:59 left to cut Floridas lead to 62-61, but Scottie Wilbekin answered with a fadeaway jumper. "We didnt really have anything going on that possession," Wilbeken said. "My first drive, I didnt have anything so I tried to give it to Casey Prather coming around behind me. His man denied him, so I had to make another move and I just made it." Wilbekin, who scored 16 points, made two of four free throws over the final 48 seconds. Patric Young blocked KT Harrells attempt to bring Auburn to within two points in between those trips to the line. Kasey Hill made two late free throws for the final margin. Young scored 13 for Florida, which outrebounded Auburn 31-23. Chris Denson, the SECs leading scorer, had 15 of his 21 points in the second half to help keep the Tigers close. Harrell added 18 points and made 4 of 7 3-pointers. Allen Payne finished with 11 points. "They made the plays down the stretch and we didnt," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. Auburn has lost its first four SEC games by a combined 23 points. The Tigers have dropped their last 14 against league teams overall. The Gators, who lost a 13-point lead in the first half, made 21 of 39 shots (53.8 per cent). Florida made 23 of 33 free throws while Auburn was 14 of 22. The Tigers point guards, Shamsid-Deen and Malcolm Canada, both fouled out. Prather got right into his offensive rhythm after the layoff. He came in with 16:58 remaining, hit two quick jump shots and made his first five attempts, including a fast-break dunk off a nice bounce pass from Hill. The Gators reeled off a 14-1 run for a 23-10 lead while the Tigers missed their first 10 attempts from inside the 3-point line. Walk-on Alex Thompson finally scored on a putback 13 minutes into the game for Auburns first basket since making a third consecutive 3-pointer with 14:28 left in the half. Auburn hit all five of its 3-point attempts in the first half and finished 7 of 13. Despite Prathers surge, the Gators barely led at halftime. Wilbekin made two free throws with 3 seconds left to give Florida a 33-32 halftime lead. Auburn had scored 14 consecutive points to briefly take the lead. "Florida has the best defence I have ever seen," said Denson, adding that the Gators altered a number of shots. "I was the one in the first half that missed a lot of layups, but I think it was a little bit of nerves. Playing the No. 7 team in the country, and I was just anxious. We got the nerves out and then started getting in the grooves offensively." Florida pushed the lead as high as 48-40 in the first seven minutes after the half, but couldnt pull away. Auburn announced before tipoff that reserve guard Chris Griffin has left school and is transferring. Griffin averaged 5.7 points in seven games as a junior before he was indefinitely suspended for violating school policy on Jan. 11. Durham Smythe Jersey
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. PETERSBURG, Fla. MINNEAPOLIS -- Sometimes the game can shift with one swing. Carlos Beltran took a big cut, sent a fastball soaring into the seats in right field and snapped the foundering New York Yankees out of their funk. Beltrans three-run homer Thursday night lifted Masahiro Tanaka to his majors-leading 12th win and helped the Yankees stop a season-worst five-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. "We have to find a way to score more runs. Theres no doubt about that. We played very poor at home," Beltran said. Zelous Wheeler homered in his big-league debut after nearly eight years in the minors. David Robertson notched his 19th save by striking out the side in a hitless ninth inning, and the Yankees started an 11-game road trip with a sigh-of-relief performance that put their record back at the .500 mark. "It felt great. Ive been waiting for this moment for a long time, and hopefully I can take advantage of it," Wheeler said. Phil Hughes (8-5) was rolling along against his former team, leading 2-0 until Beltran cleared the tall wall in right following consecutive singles to start the fifth. Wheeler went deep two batters later. "Not knowing much about him, in a 3-1 count, Im going to challenge him," Hughes said. "He put a good swing on it." Wheeler had a big smile on his face afterward. "Every time you see a story like that, a guy thats spent a lot of time in the minor leagues and all of a sudden comes to the big leagues and being able to do what he did today, its just special," Beltran said. So was Beltrans big hit, considering the slump the Yankees brought with them on the road. "Those are the type of things we need to be successful in the American League," manager Joe Girardi said. Tanaka (12-3) allowed a season-high four runs. He finished seven innings with nine hits and no walks while striking out a season-low three. "Theyre not going to be perfect every time. Hes been about as consistent as you can be as a starting pitcher. He just wasnt quite as sharp," Girardi said. Through his interpreter, Tanaka said this was one of his worst starts of the season.ddddddddddddThrowing only 85 pitches, at least, allowed the star Japanese rookie to maintain some freshness for the next turn. "Not too much pressure, but I obviously understood where the team was," Tanaka said. With Eduardo Escobar on first after an RBI single in the seventh, Tanaka dodged serious trouble. Sam Fulds screaming line drive went straight to Mark Teixeira, who easily stepped on first base for the double play to preserve the three-run lead. Chris Parmelee drove in a run with a double in the first and Kurt Suzuki and Kendrys Morales had RBI groundouts, but the sputtering Twins missed their opportunities to put bigger numbers on the board like the Yankees did against Hughes. The Twins have lost eight of 10 and fell a season-worst eight games under .500. Wheeler had a single to help spark the three-run rally in the seventh, too, scoring on Brett Gardners single after a one-out RBI double by Brendan Ryan chased Hughes. Derek Jeter drove in a run with a groundout. The Yankees havent been nearly as potent at the plate as they are paid to be, ranking 12th in runs and 10th in homers in the American League. They totalled one run over Tanakas last two starts, both losses, but this was the breakout they needed. "Hes very competitive. Hes in control of the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. NOTES: Beltran passed Lance Berkman for fourth place on the career list for home runs by switch hitters. With 367, hes behind Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504) and Chipper Jones (468). ... Parmelee stretched his hitting streak to 13 games. Hes hitting .440 (22 for 50) during the run. ... Yankees assistant GM for pro personnel Billy Eppler interviewed Thursday for San Diegos vacant GM spot. ... The Yankees will send Chase Whitley (3-2, 4.70 ERA) to the mound Friday afternoon for the 10th start of his rookie season, and Kyle Gibson (7-6, 3.77 ERA) will pitch for the Twins. The Yankees are 5-1 in Whitleys six turns on the road. Gibsons 1.54 ERA at home is the best among qualifying AL pitchers. Cheap Jerseys Online Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys Youth NFL Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping
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