Florida basketball returning to full strength
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.
Florida is getting closer to full strength heading into its key Southeastern Conference showdown Saturday against Alabama in the O'Connell Center.
Who: Alabama (19-9, 11-4 SEC) at Florida (22-5, 12-3)
When: Saturday, noon
Where: O'Connell Center
Gainesville-area TV: ESPN
Gainesville-area radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850
The Gators announced on their school athletic website Wednesday that forward Casey Prather, guard Michael Frazier II and forward Will Yeguete have all been cleared for full contact practice on Thursday. That makes all three on schedule to return for the matchup with the Crimson Tide.
Yeguete's return would provide a huge boost to UF's rebounding, which has been suspect of late. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound sophomore, who averages 6.3 rebounds per game, has been out since Feb. 8 after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his knee.
The Gators (22-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) have been outrebounded in each of their last three games by an average margin of 8.7. Following the Tennessee loss, the Gators dropped behind the Vols to third in the SEC in rebounding margin at plus-5.4.
“Having Will back would help, but we can't just rely on that, because we don't know how many minutes we'll be able to get from him,” Florida junior center Patric Young said following the Tennessee loss. “We all need to step up and do a better job.”
Frazier sat out UF's 64-58 loss against Tennessee on Tuesday night with a concussion he suffered the previous game against Arkansas. The 6-foot-4 freshman guard has since passed all baseline tests and did some sprinting during Tuesday afternoon's shootaround.
Prather suffered a gash to his head late in the second half of the Tennessee game that drew blood and forced him back into the trainer's room. But after being examined Wednesday, the 6-foot-6 junior showed no signs of concussion symptoms. Prather had suffered two concussions during the preseason, which forced him to sit out the first four games of the regular season.
The inability to grab key rebounds proved costly in Tuesday night's Tennessee loss. The most crucial rebound came with less than a minute remaining, when Tennessee's 270-pound sophomore center Jarnell Stokes muscled his way past Erik Murphy for a rebound and putback as he was fouled. The three-point play put the Vols ahead to stay 61-54.
“I thought the difference in the game was the rebounding part of it,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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