Freshman Devin Robinson was pushed into the starting lineup without Frazier because Florida coach Billy Donovan wanted to get some more size in the lineup. His added confidence was noticeable from the start, pulling down a tough rebound and forcing a steal in the first two minutes of the game.
His opportunity and performance on Thursday started earlier in the week. Knowing Frazier was down, Robinson knew he had an opportunity for more minutes and to help the team in a bigger way. Without his effort, Florida wouldn’t have been in the game, despite eventually falling 62-61 to Ole Miss.
“With Frazier down, somebody had to step up,” Devin Robinson said. “I just feel like I can do that if I just play with energy.”
His energy was the difference. He started 4-5 from the field, but his only miss in that span was a one-handed attempt at a put back. He was active at the glass and had multiple balls that he tipped out to the perimeter that were kept alive for offensive rebounds by his teammates.
His most impressive play came midway through the second half. Robinson elevated and blocked a three-point attempt from Stefan Moody, who hit the game-winner for Ole Miss, and the freshman jumped out of bounds to save the ball to a teammate. He regained his balance and sprinted up the floor, catching an alley oop from fellow freshman Chris Chiozza and dunking it to give the Gators a 45-44 lead at that time.
“It makes us a lot better,” Florida guard Eli Carter said of when Robinson plays like he did on Thursday. “With Frazier going down, he stepped up in the scoring aspect and with that amount of energy. He played well tonight.”
What caught the coach’s eye wasn’t that his shots went down. He went 6-9 from the field and 2-4 from the three-point line, giving the Gators a consistent scoring effort. What Donovan liked was that he impacted the game in other ways and found opportunities to help his team. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy added that Robinson was “outstanding” and complimented his performance for helping the Gators despite Frazier being out.
The Gators have been beaten on the glass all year, and Robinson only corralled more than four rebounds twice this year heading into Thursday. He set a new career high with seven against the Rebels.
“He hasn’t rebounded at all this year, and he had seven rebounds,” Donovan said. “I thought it was his most complete game, not so much from the scoring aspect. He took good shots, even his threes were good shots with his legs under him. He did some good things on the glass. His defense was good, made some huge defensive rebounds. He did some good things.”
FRAZIER‘S INJURY: Florida guard Michael Frazier snapped a streak of 72-straight games played and missed just his second career game when a high ankle sprain kept him out on Thursday. It isn’t expected to be a quick recovery, either.
Donovan said after the game that trainers have told him Frazier will be out 2-4 weeks.
“He’s having pain on his toes,” Donovan said. The more duress you put his foot under, the longer it takes to heal. We’ll just keep working him to try and get it better.”