War Eagle Extra

Florida-Auburn preview; football staff addition

AUBURN, Ala. – Florida has risen to the No. 7 ranking in the country and the unquestioned leader of the SEC pack, simply due to consistency on both ends of the floor.

The Tigers’ host on Saturday is still searching for steadiness, unable to string any kind of momentum together during this aging conference season. Florida and Auburn will tip off at 1:47 p.m. ET, with SEC Network carrying the action from Auburn Arena.

The Tigers’ most consistent scorer has been junior guard Chris Denson, and that says a lot considering the Shaw product has only played 13 games due to academic suspension and injury.

Denson is shooting 49 percent from the floor, averaging 12.2 points – and that includes two games where he only totaled one free throw as he shook off the rust from a stress fracture in his foot.

Even Denson’s minutes have been consistent, logging between 25 and 29 minutes in each of his past six games even while he bounces back and forth between a starting and reserve role. During the stretch, he’s averaged 13.7 points to lead the Tigers through a disappointing few weeks.

Leading scorer Frankie Sullivan saw his permanent starting spot slip away Wednesday vs. Arkansas, as he’s failed to score more than 14 since Jan. 16.

Head coach Tony Barbee benched his only two experienced big men – Rob Chubb and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum – for the final 10 minutes of Wednesday’s loss to the Razorbacks, going with rookie Jordon Granger in crunch time. He hasn’t ruled out changes to the lineup.

Meanwhile, Florida (20-3, 10-1) keeps churning along toward an SEC regular season title, with each starter averaging between nine and 13 points this year. It’s an experienced lineup of just juniors and seniors, guided by senior guard Kenny Boynton (12.9 points, 3.3 assists) and senior forward Erik Murphy, who makes 49 percent of his threes.

Billy Donovan’s squad ranks fourth in the nation defensively, allowing just 52.7 points per game.

Historically, Auburn does lead the all-time series 87-72, including 54-23 in Auburn. However, the Gators have won four straight in the matchup, and 14 of 15 going back to 1999. Barbee has never beaten Florida.

Front-office move: Spain Park High School coach Chip Lindsey will accept a position on the Auburn football team’s support staff, according to multiple reports. Lindsey will not be an Auburn coach.

Lindsey had coached Spain Park the past two seasons, and is expected to assist with recruiting efforts.