Gators limping to Arkansas
No. 10 Florida will be without leading scorer Casey Prather at Arkansas on Saturday.
Coach Billy Donovan said Friday the senior forward has a bone bruise on his right knee. Prather had some swelling in his knee after Wednesday night's win against South Carolina, and team doctors initially thought he might have torn cartilage. But tests Thursday revealed no structural damage.
Prather is averaging 17 points a game this season and leads the Southeastern Conference in shooting at 62.4 percent.
Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who left Wednesday's game with a sprained right ankle, is questionable to play against the Razorbacks (11-3, 0-1 SEC). Wilbekin sat out practice Thursday and Friday, but is expected to play. Donovan said he's unlikely to start, though.
Center Patric Young also missed practice Thursday with sore knees. Guard Michael Frazier II also was limited in practice with a calf injury. Young and Frazier should be fine against Arkansas.
Donovan said the injuries are just part of "the hand that we're dealt. ... We'll go in there as best we can and do the best job we can with what we've got. We'll see who's available."
The Gators (12-2, 1-0) have won six in a row and 11 of 12, their only loss a buzzer-beater at then-No. 12 Connecticut.
They have dealt with injuries and adversity most of the season.
Wilbekin (five games) and Dorian Finney-Smith (two games) were suspended the start the season. Freshman guard Kasey Hill missed four games with a high ankle sprain. Guards Eli Carter (leg) and Dillon Graham (hip) are out for the season. Forward Will Yeguete is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, and guard DeVon Walker has missed time with a sprained foot.
Making Donovan's team even thinner, forwards Damontre Harris and Chris Walker haven't played all season. Harris was suspended indefinitely and then left the team with the intention to transfer for the second time in three years. He has since returned to school and is now trying to work his way back on the team. Walker also is enrolled, but it waiting to gain eligibility from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Florida has been so decimated by injuries and suspensions that walk-on Jacob Kurtz, a former team manager, has logged significant minutes this season.
Without Prather, Finney-Smith will start against the Razorbacks, who have won 23 in a row at home. If Wilbekin doesn't start, Hill likely will take his place in the lineup.
"We're going to need guys to step up for our team," Young said. "Casey is definitely a huge part of our team, but it's not just one guy who's going to be the determining factor if we win or lose. It's going to be a team and collective effort, and if we take care of what Coach Donovan tells us to do, I believe we'll be able to come out with a victory."
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