DULUTH, Ga. - Auburn junior Alli Smalley tied her career high with five 3-pointers en route to a career-high 29 points as the No. 10 seed Tigers
(15-15) upset No. 7 seed Florida (14-16) in the first round of the 2010 SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. The Tigers will take on No. 2 seed Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. CT, Friday in the tournament quarterfinals.
"We shot the ball really well today, that definitely makes a difference in the ballgame," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner.
"Alli Smalley had a career day and Jordan Greenleaf continues to be a warrior for us. In the big minutes she plays, she just anchors us down."
Auburn, a team that relied on its defense to win two of its last three regular-season games, shot 51.9 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range. It marked Auburn's highest field goal percentage since it shot 52.6 percent at North Carolina A&T on Dec. 1 and it was the highest 3-point percentage since a Nov. 24 home game against Georgia Southern.
Greenleaf pulled down her first double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Freshmen Blanche Alverson and Morgan Toles also scored in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively, giving Auburn four players in double figures for the first time since the Dec.
1 North Carolina A&T game.
Toles also dished out a game-high seven assists in the game, her highest assist total since she tallied 10 against ninth-ranked Georgia on Jan. 31.
Smalley and Alverson combined to give Auburn eight 3-pointers in the game, tying a season-high. The Tigers hit one more than Florida, despite taking eight fewer 3-point attempts.
"I did have some good, open looks today," said Smalley. "That can be attributed to Jordan (Greenleaf). She set some great screens for me.
I was able to come off, I had a lot of open looks and a lot of air. I was able to get the shot off."
Auburn opened the scoring in the game, jumping to a quick 7-0 lead.
However, the Gators responded with an 8-0 run of their own to take a one-point advantage at the 15:30 mark. That one-point advantage was the only lead Florida would see all afternoon as a layup from freshman Morgan Toles and a pair of 3-pointers from Smalley and Alverson gave the Tigers a 15-8 lead with 11:55 on the clock.
Florida guard Steffi Sorensen slowed down the Auburn offense with a pair of 3-pointers as the Gators clawed back to within one-point at the
8:14 mark. Again, the Tigers were able to re-build their lead to 29-21 with just under five minutes left in the half.
Smalley connected on another three before the close of the half, increasing her total points to 12 and the Auburn lead to 32-26.
Both teams were able to find the net in the early minutes of the second half with Auburn gaining the upper hand. The Tigers were able to extend their six-point halftime lead to 11 at the 13:48 mark as senior KeKe Carrier connected on a layup off a dish from Toles.
Florida found itself within four of the Tigers at 50-46 with 10:13 to go, but Auburn separated itself with an 8-2 run. Auburn built its lead to as many as 15 before the final horn.
The Auburn defense held Florida to 36.1 percent (22-of-61) shooting from the field and 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from 3-point range. The Tigers dominated the boards, winning the rebound battle by a 41-30 margin.
Sorensen led the Gators with 14 points, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Sharielle Smith tallied 11 points while Jennifer George came off the bench for seven points and a team-high five rebounds.
A pair of Tigers also moved up the career rankings in the game.
Smalley's 29 points gave her 1,196 on her career, moving her from 22nd all-time to 18th, jumping over players such as Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Sharon Stewart, Lauretta Freeman and Monique Morehouse.
Greenleaf's 13 rebounds propelled her into Auburn's top-20 career rebounding list. She finished the day with 582 on her career, ranking her 20th all-time.
The Tigers will return to the court at 1:30 p.m. CT, Friday against No.
2 overall seed Kentucky (23-6, 11-5 SEC). Auburn defeated the Wildcats
65-53 in the regular-season finale at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
"We know that Kentucky is a really good team," said Fortner.
"They have the SEC Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year. My gosh, they are tremendously talented."
The game will air live on Fox Sports Net (Charter Channel 33, Dish Network Channel 420, DirecTV Channel 646) and online at ESPN360.com with Dave Neal and former Auburn assistant coach Carol Ross calling the action.
Along with the telecast, fans can also listen to the game live on WMXA