Egbunu injured as Gators face Hogs in SEC’s

Things weren’t going to be easy for the Florida Gators in the SEC Tournament. They had just one win against all the teams in their half of the bracket anyway. Now, they will have to take on their SEC foes with maybe a severely limited big man.

Florida Gators (18-13, 9-9 SEC) vs Arkansas Razorbacks (16-15, 9-9 SEC)

Wednesday, March 10, 2016; 1 P.M.

Nashville, Tennessee; Bridgestone Arena

TV: SEC Network

The injury happened Sunday and Egbunu tore a ligament in his thumb. Offensively it will make things very difficult for him. Florida head coach Mike White isn’t ready for pity.  

“Just really disappointing, but you know at the same time we’re not going to sit here and make excuses,” White said Tuesday, the day before his team meets Arkansas. “We’ve actually done a pretty good job of avoiding injury for the most part this season. We’ve actually been pretty fortunate until this one. We’ve had some knick-knacks here and there and had some guys miss a little bit here and there. But, this one is obviously a bigger factor for us.

“It’s unfortunate for this team and unfortunate for John because he’s coming into his own a little bit.”

Making things very difficult in this matchup is the play of Arkansas big man Moses Kingsley who is one of the premiere big men in the SEC.

All you can do is try and overcome it,” White said. “Playing Arkansas was going to be tough if John is full strength or not. (It will be) very difficult (facing Kingsley). Maybe (Egbunu) can fight through some pain and give his teammates some effort and minutes. Maybe he can be somewhat effective in terms of defending and rebounding and throwing his body around with Kingsley in there. Kingsley is one of the most improved players in the country in my opinion.

“I just don’t know how effective he is going to be simply catching the basketball and holding on to the basketball.”

#

Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.

P/ RPG

3

F Devin Robinson (SO)

6-8, 195

9.3/5.6

10

F Dorian Finney-Smith (SR)

6-8, 220

15.0/8.2

0

G Kasey Hill (JR)

6-1, 180

8.0/3.1a

4

G KeVaughn Allen (FR)

6-2, 183

11.5/2.6

11

G Chris Chiozza (SO)

6-0, 175

7.5/4.5a

 

#

Arkansas Projected Starters

Ht./Wt.

P/RPG

33

F Moses Kingsley (JR)

6-10, 230

16.1/9.2

55

F Keaton Miles (R-SR)

6-7, 212

2,9/2.8

4

G Jabril Durham (SR)

6-1, 185

6.3/6.4a

5

G Anthlon Bell (SR)

6-3, 185

15.9/2.9

3

G Dusty Hannahs (JR)

6-3, 203

16.0/2.4

 

The big talk for Florida is the NCAA Tournament bubble. But, White is not willing to go that way just yet.

“Beating Arkansas is all we can worry about,” he said. “At the end of the day it comes down to the people in that room and the decisions that they make. I could make arguments right now in terms of our schedule strength… not only our non-conference schedule but the strength of schedule of what we played in the league…the number of top 100 wins and so on and so forth. I think it’s fruitless and it takes time and energy away from your focus on the Hogs.

“We have to defend Dusty Hannah, Anthlon Bell, and Moses Kingsley and keep Jabril Durham out of the paint and figure out a way to attack their pressure and those sorts of things.”

He does understand about what is needed to make the big tournament, but again he can’t concern himself or his team with that at this point.

“I looked at (Monday) and I’ll look at it tomorrow morning,” he said. “When you sit there and watch film all day you find little ways, 20 second breaks, to get away from it. There are certain websites we all check every day. Whether I was coaching or not I would be looking at it. Other than checking it out I’m not focused on it. I know if we don’t beat Arkansas, our chances decrease for sure.

Guards Dusty Hannahs and Anthlon Bell hit seven three-point shots in the first game, an 87-83 win by the Gators in Gainesville. White and company are going to have to figure out a way to not let that happen again.

“Both of those guys have gotten so good, they’ve done a great job of developing those guys with finishing in the paint, with floaters, and runners, and pull ups,” White said. “They are both very difficult to run off the line and stay in front of and to defend the mid-range game. Both guys score at all three levels. Both can get to the foul line and convert at the foul line at a really high rate. It’s a really good offensive team.

“They are also unique in that they don’t shoot a lot of three’s, they don’t rely too heavily upon the three, yet you have two guys that if they get five attempts each, which isn’t a ton, they are very capable of making 3-4 of those.

“Obviously Arkansas is always good defensively. We have to prepare and figure out ways to score against them. Their man’s been good, their zone’s been good, and they’re always going to pressure you. Offensively those three guys and the fourth being Jabril Durham who just is terrific with making decisions and getting guys shots and putting those guys in positions. It gives you four guys with other capable guys around those four that are very difficult to defend.”

 


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