Yeguete providing valuable minutes for Gators

Florida's Will Yeguete, center, goes up for a shot between Stetson defenders Joel Naburgs, left, and Liam McInerney, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. Florida won 96-70. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.

Florida sophomore forward Will Yeguete wasn't aware he was closing in on his first career double-double last Monday against Stetson.


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Who: No. 10 Florida at No. 4 Syracuse
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“I was just trying to get more rebounds because they outrebounded us by three in the first half,” Yeguete said. “We had to get more in the second half, and I tried my best.”

The 6-foot-7 Yeguete will make his third start at power forward Friday night when No. 10 Florida plays at No. 4 Syracuse. Coming off a 10-point, 11-rebound effort against Stetson, Yeguete has gained the confidence and trust of Florida coach Billy Donovan.

“I'm comfortable with him rebounding,” Donovan said. “Now what kind of post defense at his size can he (provide), I know he'll physically bang and compete up there. I do think he can rebound and come up with loose basketballs against bigger people. I think he's done that.”

Donovan said the key will be for Yeguete to make good decisions with the ball against Syracuse's matchup 2-3 zone defense.

“He's really one of our better defenders,” Donovan said. “He's clearly one of our better rebounders. He's just got to get better with the ball, making decisions.”

In limited minutes as a freshman, Yeguete averaged a rebound every 2.7 minutes on the floor. He had 15 rebounds last season against North Carolina A&T, the most for a Florida freshman since Al Horford had 18 rebounds against Alabama in 2005.

Donovan said he noticed Yeguete's rebounding ability when he recruited the Bourdeaux, France native out of Florida Air Academy in Melbourne.

“Watching him play, he did a lot of little things,” Donovan said. “He was physical. He stepped in and took charges. I thought he had good athleticism off the floor. He could rebound in traffic.

“He really understands defense. He understands positioning. He can really keep balls alive. He's a hard guy to block out. I think he showed quite a bit of it in high school.”

Yeguete's offensive game remains a work in progress.

Donovan joked about some of Yeguete's layups he missed in the Stetson game, but credited him for sticking with the misses and eventually getting putbacks. Yeguete went 4-for-9 from the floor against Stetson.

In his two starts since replacing injured power forward Erik Murphy, Yeguete has averaged 9 points and 10 rebounds per game.

“Wiith Erik being out right now, he doesn't shoot the ball like Erik does from the perimeter, but he does get in there and rebound, he makes hustle plays,” Donovan said. “He's really good in the front of the press.”

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