Tigers face foe Florida

The Crimson Tide rolled over the Tigers in the 110th gymnastics meet at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa Friday night.

No. 21 Auburn (2-4, 2-3 SEC) lost to No. 7 Alabama (7-1, 2-1 SEC) 197.850-194.850.

The Tigers came to Tuscaloosa fresh off a win in their last meet against Kentucky, but could not clench consecutive victories.

The team started strong on the bars, with Kylie Shields leading the event with 9.875, a career high for the junior, but the Tigers later faltered.

"Well, I thought we did a pretty god job starting out, and we actually didn't do a poor job through the meet until we got to the very end," said head coach Jeff Graba. "We let it get away from us on beam."

The team did well on the bars with a score of 48.950, which ties its highest score of the season, previously set against the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Tigers put up 48.700 on vault and 48.850 on floor. The Tigers tried to catch up with the Tide on the final rotation, but came up short with a team score of 48.350 on beam.

Alabama was in top form in the rivalry match, scoring a season high 197.850.

"They probably could have won the national championship tonight," Graba said. "They could be one of the top three or four teams in the country.

"I know they're a big rival, but basically, how I look at it, we had to have been perfect tonight, and they'd have to mess up for us to win."

The Tigers performed on the road in front of a sellout crowd of 15,075 in Tuscaloosa and can expect a similar crowd when they travel to Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 18 to face the No. 1 Florida Gators.

"Since we had an away meet this week, we know what to expect," said sophomore Petrina Yokay. "Florida is going to be like Bama. It's going to be a lot of fans. They'll be obnoxious, but I think we'll be able to handle it."

The Gators (7-0, 4-0 SEC) put up a season high 197.725 against Georgia Feb. 12.

So far this season, the Gators have averaged 49.267 on bars, 49.371 on vault, 49.392 on floor and 49.121 on beam per match.

Although the Gators will present a difficult challenge for the Tigers, Graba said he is not worried about his team.

"You take a look at the big picture, we started out the season with our major players injured," Graba said. "You don't win many meets when you have a lot of your major players with experience injured."

Although the Tigers are coming off of a tough loss, the team continues to persevere on the road by concentrating on its own part.

"We only focus on ourselves," Shields said. "So it could be Florida, it could be Alabama, it could be any school we're going up against.

"But we have our job that we need to do, and it's the same thing every time we go out."

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