Murphy fights through the pain
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Murphy fights through the pain

Erik Murphy has done it multiple times this season. When Florida head coach Billy Donovan lists him as questionable for a game, the senior forward puts together a strong performance. He did it again on Wednesday. Murphy was listed as doubtful on Monday with fractured ribs, but he fought through the pain to give the Gators 11 points while opening conference play with a 77-44 win over Georgia.

The fractured ribs kept Murphy from playing on Sunday against Yale, despite it being a homecoming game for him just an hour away from his hometown with "buses" of family and friends in attendance.

But it couldn't keep him out of the Southeastern Conference opener.

He didn't start the game, allowing junior forward Casey Prather to start for the first time since February 24, 2011, but Murphy entered just 2:22 into the game. He played just 18 minutes because the game was a blowout and the Gators didn't need to push it with him. Murphy claims the pain wasn't too much to handle.

"It wasn't too bad," Erik Murphy said. "I've got it padded up. (Florida athletic trainer Dave "Duke" Werner) made a little contraption, so when I get hit, it doesn't hurt bad. That's really all (the injury) is. With the pad, it won't get any worse. It's just about dealing with getting hit.

"Duke—he's the best in the business. I just kept trusting him and doing what he was telling me to do. He'll always nourish me back to health."

He proved that the pain wouldn't slow him about midway through the first half when Murphy dove to the floor to fight for a loose ball. However, Murphy didn't record a rebound and scored just two of his points in the paint.

"If I pulled up, it's probably instinct," Murphy said. "I didn't think about it. I wasn't trying to stay away from contact. It's not going to hinder me at all."

The wrap that Werner made for Murphy wasn't easily noticeable under his jersey, but wearing it combined with the injury can make it hard for Murphy to breathe. That's why he was usually standing when he was on the bench or during timeouts.

That has been the most painful part of the injury in recent days — breathing and sleeping. He didn't take a pain shot before playing,

"It's all up to him," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "A broken rib and him trying to breathe, run and be a frontcourt player that takes on the amount of contact that he takes on, it's a painful experience for him on a daily basis."

The performance wasn't completely positive for Murphy in his eyes.

"I've got to rebound better," he said, shaking his head in frustration after not pulling down a rebound. "I wouldn't say I played that well."

His teammates said otherwise. They watched all week as Murphy dealt with the pain of the injury, one that has kept him up at night and not allowed him to sleep well.

"I knew he was going to come in and play hard to fight through it," Prather said. "We always expect him to play through it."

It's an injury that will continue to bother Murphy on the floor, but as long as the injury can't get worse, the senior expects to be in the game.