GAINESVILLE -- No. 14 Florida downed Southern 67-53 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, but it was a UF player who scarily went down that was prevailing storyline Monday night.
Florida’s freshman phenom Kasey Hill injured his left ankle with 18:04 remaining in the second half, screaming loudly as he crashed to the floor on an aggressive drive to the basket.
The point guard, who writhed in pain after rolling his ankle to a near 90-degree angle, could miss -- at minimum -- a month of action with a severe ankle sprain, coach Billy Donovan announced afterwards.
“It’s one of those sprains where it’s certainly a longer healing process and when you try to rush guys back too soon it normally complicates things,” Donovan said. “So right now I think in talking to the doctor and talking to our trainer, the minimum right now is we’re looking at a month before we can consider getting him back on the floor.”
Hill will undergo X-rays Tuesday.
The freshman point guard left the game with eight points, three assists and a steal. The former five-star recruit again flashed his sublime finishing ability -- especially in transition -- scoring all eight of his points in Florida’s dominant first half (35-19).
But the Gators, already shorthanded with multiple suspensions including senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, appeared shell-shocked after the injury, and so did a stunned and silent O’Dome crowd.
Southern -- a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season -- actually outscored the Gators 34-32 in the second half, as Florida was lost on offense without a true point guard and played lazy defensively.
Shooting guards Michael Frazier and DeVon Walker both took turns handling the ball, as did forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
According to Donovan, Florida will utilize a combination of Walker, Frazier and even Finney-Smith in a point-forward role for the foreseeable future.
“The hardest part for me is it really eliminates a real opportunity to get creative on offense because you really have to shorten up the play calls because for a guy like DeVon and Michael Frazier to know the 2, and the 3 and the point, their head would explode,” Donovan said. It's not fair to them. So there's some concepts and some things we can get into, we can run, we do and execute that puts them in a position they know exactly what is going on. We may have to add some things and make some different adjustments and because of the injuries we might be looking to play a little bigger.”
Donovan confirmed Wilbekin remains suspended and will not play Thursday against Middle Tennessee State (7:30 p.m., Sun Sports).
VIDEO: Donovan and senior center Patric Young talk Hill's injury. (Note: I apologize for the grainy Blair Witch project-esque footage. A TV light soiled the shot a bit. Apologies.)
OTHER INJURY UPDATES
Rutgers transfer guard Eli Carter played 10 minutes Monday night, but the hobbled junior appears destined for a medical redshirt with his broken leg still not fully-healed. Carter visibly limped up and down the court, unable to plant his leg with any force. … Donovan also announced sophomore guard Dillion Graham will miss the remainder of the season with bone spurs in both hips. “He’s having a very difficult time sleeping. He can’t lie on his side. Really was a decision that he decided to make with his family,” Donovan said. “There are options. That was the option they wanted to take. Whatever we can do to help him in that situation, we will. What he’s going to end up doing probably in the next week or so is probably get some kind of MRI from the doctors and try to figure it out. I think it’s a pretty complicated surgery and it’s a very, very long recovery (four months).”
THIS & THAT
Florida out-rebounded Southern 43-29, including a 18-9 advantage on the offensive glass. … Young finished with a season-high 12 points. Senior forward Casey Prather again filled up the stat sheet: 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. … Frazier was 3-of-7 from 3-point range, while the rest of the team shot a combined 3-for-13. … The Gators tallied 19 points off 12 turnovers and 16 second chance points.
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