Prather set to miss road game at Arkansas
Published: Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:23 p.m.
Probably the last thing anyone in Gator Nation wants to hear again anytime soon is the “man down, man up” mantra that was worn out by the football team last fall and defined the Gators' losing season.
Who: No. 10 Florida (12-2, 1-0 SEC) vs. Arkansas (11-3, 0-1 SEC)
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM
But, it's back, revived by the Florida basketball team, senior center Patric Young in particular.
Maybe it just seemed like the natural thing to say Friday because the No. 10 Gators suddenly find themselves hurting and hobbling going into Saturday's SEC game at Arkansas.
Leading scorer Casey Prather will miss the game with a bruised knee. Starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin is questionable with a sprained ankle and will not start. And Young is limping around on sore knees, although he's expected to play.
“I know the recurring thing for the football team was man down, man up,” Young said. “In that instance, we're going to need guys to step up for our team.
“Casey is definitely a huge part of our team, but it's not 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. If we take care of what Coach (Billy) Donovan tells us to do, I think we'll be able to come out with a victory.”
Playing the Razorbacks (11-3 overall and 0-1 in the SEC) in Bud Walton Arena is tough under ideal circumstances, something the Gators can attest to. Arkansas has won 23 games in a row at home. Included in that streak is an 80-69 thrashing of the Gators last season. UF went into that game healthy and ranked No. 2 in the nation.
With Prather out and Wilbekin questionable, the Gators could be facing the Razorbacks with only six scholarship players.
“We've had this before, and we've also dealt with some of this stuff in the past,” Donovan said. “The hand that we're dealt with, 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. How much Scottie can play or even if he can play is still up in the air. Prather is definitely out. He's not playing. And then we'll have to wait and see with Patric."
Prather and Wilbekin were injured in Wednesday night's victory over South Carolina. Wilbekin went down with a sprained ankle in the game's final minutes and Prather experienced swelling in his knee after the game. Young came away with soreness in his knees from natural wear and tear, he said.
Wilbekin has not practiced since the injury and will not start Saturday's game, Donovan said.
“I would say that right now he's questionable,” Donovan said. “I would say he'll probably give it some kind of try, but what we can get out of him, I really don't know at this point in time.
“Prather's out for the game. He's got a bruised bone in his knee that took place. Had some swelling. We actually thought maybe there had been some cartilage tear with the way his knee was swelling, so he had an MRI last night.
“His knee structure, all that stuff is fine. But he's out. And Patric did not practice (Friday), so I mean he's cleared to play, but I don't know how much we'll be able to get out of him the way he's looked the last couple days just dealing with sore knees."
Young said he's fine and will be good to go.
“Just general wear and tear,” Young said. “A lot of big guys get tendinitis and it's just something I'll have to deal with the rest of my career.
“I expect to be full go. When the buzzer sounds, I think I'll be ready to go and be able to get myself ready with full warmup and stretch and whatever I have to do to get myself prepared to go.”
With Wilbekin out for at least the start of the game, true freshman Kasey Hill will start at point guard.
“I do not see Scottie starting in the game just because he hasn't practiced in two days,” Donovan said. “The only alternative there is Kasey Hill, which is fine. He's started before. Scottie was out for the first six games.
“I'm fine with Kasey just because he's such a great kid and so coachable. I think he's progressing. I've got confidence in Kasey and think Kasey is going to continue to improve and get better.”
Donovan said he isn't sure what starting lineup he'll go with Saturday.
“We're going to go with whatever lineup there is,” he said. “The lineup that we used the most in (Friday's) practice was Kasey Hill, DeVon Walker, Jake Kurtz, Dorian Finney-Smith and Will (Yeguete). Now whether or not we start that way, we'll see how some of those guys are doing health-wise (Saturday).”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Michael Frazier II 6-4 So. 11.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg
G Kasey Hill 6-1 Fr. 7.3 ppg, 3.2 apg
F Dorian Finney-Smith 6-8 So 9.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg
F Will Yeguete 6-7 Sr. 5.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 Sr. 10.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg
ARKANSAS PROBABLE STARTERS
G Rashad Madden 6-5 Jr. 10.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Fred Gulley III 6-2 Sr. 3.8 ppg, 1.9 apg
G Michael Qualls 6-6 So. 12.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
F Coty Clarke 6-7 So. 8.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg
F Bobby Portis 6-9 Fr. 12.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Notes: Florida is 16-11 all-time against Arkansas and 16-6 under Billy Donovan. … The Gators are 2-3 in their last five trips to Bud Walton Arena, including an 80-69 loss last season. … The Gators are 10-7 in SEC road openers under Donovan and 10-2 in the last 12 SEC road openers. … Florida is 1-2 on the road this season with a win at Jacksonville and losses at Wisconsin and Connecticut. … Florida is looking to get on track from the perimeter after shooting just 25.5 percent from 3-point range (10 of 38) in its last two games. … Senior center Patric Young is 17 rebounds shy of reaching 700 for his career. … Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier II is shooting an SEC-high 47.3 percent from 3-point range. … Arkansas leads the SEC in scoring offense (84.7 ppg) and scoring margin (plus-17.9). … Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey was the head coach at Arkansas from 2007-11. Pelphrey recruited Arkansas junior starting guard Rashad Madden.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Florida's depth
Florida is going into the Arkansas game with six-and-a-half healthy scholarship players due to the knee injury of senior forward Casey Prather. Scottie Wilbekin also suffered a sprained ankle late against South Carolina and is questionable. More than likely, if Wilbekin plays, he will be in a limited role off the bench. Arkansas plays a rotation that's 11-deep and third-year coach Mike Anderson has started 10 players during the course of the season. Given Arkansas' running, pressing style, expect Anderson to try to wear down the Gators by shuttling players in and out during the course of the game. Walk-on Jacob Kurtz could get significant minutes, and if he performs like he did against Florida State (eight points, five rebounds, one assist), it would be a big boost.
2. Beating the traps
Arkansas was effective in forcing turnovers against the Gators last season by trapping UF's guards at halfcourt. Expect plenty of traps from the Razorbacks again this season, especially with Florida freshman point guard Kasey Hill starting. Hill is going to need to be strong with the ball and make good decisions. Florida players are going to have to help him by screening before the midcourt line and creating open passing lanes to beat the traps.
3. Finney-Smith's intensity
Florida sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith will likely step into a starting role with Casey Prather out. Finney-Smith is a talented, versatile forward but has a tendency to drift and play without focus during stretches. Florida coach Billy Donovan said following the South Carolina game he thinks the 6-foot-8 transfer from Virginia Tech can play better. The Gators are going to need for Finney-Smith to finish consistently around the rim and make up for the scoring of Prather, who had reached double figures in all 14 of UF's games before his knee injury.
— Kevin Brockway