Hill provides boost off bench

Florida guard Kasey Hill and Albany guard DJ Evans scramble for the ball in the second half Thursday in Orlando.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.

ORLANDO — Billy Donovan wasn't sure what he would get out of Kasey Hill on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament.

As it turned out, he got just enough. And it was badly needed for a Florida team that struggled to put away Albany.

On Tuesday, Hill had to be pulled out of practice after Michael Frazier II accidentally stepped on the back of the freshman's heel and he jammed his toe.

“It was kind of a weird thing,” Donovan said. “The trainer didn't think it was anything and the more they looked at it, the more they thought it was turf toe and those things can take some time to heal.

“I don't know how much pain he was in. He never said anything about it.”

Hill didn't practice Wednesday but felt better Thursday morning and participated in the shootaround prior to the game.

“I knew I was going to be able to play,” Hill said. “I just left it up to (trainer) Duke (Werner). He did a nice tape job on my toe.”

Hill provided a boost to a team that looked listless at times in the Amway Center.

“Kasey gave us a lot of energy,” senior Patric Young said.

Hill struggled defensively like all the Gators did in the first half and was yanked out of the game after biting on a head fake and fouling Albany's DJ Evans.

But he showed off his speed going up and down the court and scored 10 points while getting two steals.

“I just tried to play with confidence and be aggressive,” Hill said.

Florida needed Hill because Thursday was a rare sub-par day for SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin. The senior scored only 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting as Florida had only three 3-point makes for the game, their lowest total since the game at Kentucky.

“Our game plan was to not let those two guys (Wilbekin and Frazier) beat us and I thought our guys did a pretty good job,” Albany coach Will Brown said.

Wilbekin also tried an ill-advised lob pass to Young late in the game when the Gators were trying to ice the game. Frazier made only one 3-point shot and seemed tentative with the ball in his hands.

Fortunately for Florida, Hill came through with some big shots and made all four of his free-throw attempts.

“Kasey coming off the bench there in the second half gave us some really great minutes,” Donovan said.

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