Yeguete gains confidence from season-best effort


Florida senior forward Will Yeguete shoots over Georgia forward Donte' Williams during the second half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on Tuesday night.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:10 p.m.

Florida senior forward Will Yeguete has endured a season-long struggle to regain his form of previous seasons.

There have been good days and bad since since Yeguete underwent offseason surgery last May to repair cartilage in his knee.

On Tuesday night, the 6-foot-7 forward from Bordeaux, France, turned back the clock with an active performance. Yeguete finished with a season-high 12 points, six rebounds and one steal in No. 7 UF’s 72-50 win over Georgia.

Yeguete scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, helping the Gators build a 36-16 halftime lead.

“It’s been a long season and you kind of need games like that to build your confidence,” Yeguete said. “I’m confident right now and I’m just glad I was able to impact the game in the first half and get myself going, and I’m glad we won the game.”

It was just the second time this season that Yeguete has scored in double figures. His previous season-high was 10 points on Nov. 21 against Middle Tennessee State. Yeguete also had a nine-point, 10-rebound effort against Fresno State, but entered the Georgia game averaging just 5.1 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said he sensed that Yeguete was fatigued during UF’s 84-82 overtime win last Saturday at Arkansas. Yeguete had seven points and five rebounds in 28 minutes, but also had some uncharacteristic lapses on defense.

As a result, Donovan gave Yeguete a day off Sunday in practice.

“He looked really exhausted,” Donovan said. “Even in the game against Arkansas, he didn’t have any bounce, any legs, and I think he was probably a little bit tired. So we gave him Sunday and I think (Monday) he probably took half the reps. And I think that probably helped him physically try to get rejuvenated.”

Yeguete said he tried to take advantage of the time off from practice.

“I got myself prepared,” Yeguete said. “It was a process. That past few days, I was in the weight room working on my leg and I was feeling pretty good.”

Walker ‘not free’ yet

Florida freshman McDonald’s All-American forward Chris Walker was on the bench, but once again did not play against Georgia due to NCAA clearance issues.

The 6-foot-10 Walker has sat out seven games since joining UF on Dec. 16. He is enrolled for the spring semester. The delay in Walker playing currently stems not from academic issues, but from the NCAA looking into an undisclosed pre-eligibility issue.

Students at Tuesday night’s UF-Georgia game wore “Free Chris Walker” T-shirts. Veteran ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale also has been outspoken that the NCAA should come to a quicker resolution on Walker’s status.

The NCAA has not returned an interview request from The Sun seeking comment on the status and specifics of the investigation. Florida also has declined comment on Walker’s status, citing student privacy issues.

Asked about Walker on Monday, Donovan said: “I have hope and optimism that a kid that has been totally forthright and honest and has given everything he possibly could, that you know, the NCAA will do the right thing.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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