Banged up Gators face tough week

The injuries continue to pile up. No. 10 Florida fought through the non-conference schedule with a banged up roster and hoped that would change once Southeastern Conference play opened. Two games in, it's the same story. Florida won at LSU over the weekend without Mike Rosario while Casey Prather suffered a high ankle sprain. The Gators now face a tough week in conference without a full roster.

The injury bug has hit up and down the roster. Erik Murphy missed the final non-conference game with fractured ribs and has played through the pain during the last two games. Scottie Wilbekin broke his finger during practice is Tucson the day before Florida played Arizona. Will Yeguete is playing through knee tendinitis, and the Gators will find out in the next few days if there is a more serious issue in his knee.

The latest two injuries are Casey Prather and Mike Rosario. Rosario sprained his ankle against Georgia late in the game and it swelled up the next morning. He was cleared to play by team doctors but the ankle didn't feel good enough for him to play. He is questionable for Thursday's game at Texas A&M.

"I think Mike felt like he couldn't really go against LSU, but he's cleared to practice and cleared to play in the game Thursday and we'll see how he progresses," Billy Donovan said.

Prather's status isn't as clear. The expectation from the Florida medical staff is that he has a high ankle sprain, but Donovan said it's not "a real severe" high ankle sprain, which could cost a player one month to six weeks. Instead, the expectation from the staff is that Prather should be held out for 10-14 days. He will miss the game against the Aggies and Saturday's game against Missouri. The staff will reevaluate him next week.

The injury happened after Prather landed strange on the floor after a rebound at LSU. There was no one around him and replay didn't show a clear twist of the ankle, but the training staff originally feared a broken ankle. The 10-14 days that he will be out now seems like a blessing.

Prather has been an important piece this year

It's another notch on a strange season for Prather. He suffered a concussion early in preseason practices, and the day he returned to practice before Florida's season opener, he suffered a second concussion that kept him out for a few weeks to start the year. He was starting to play a key role for the Gators when he hurt his ankle on Saturday in Baton Rouge.

"I think he was really playing well," Donovan said. "He's been playing really good basketball. It's unfortunate that he's had to deal with some different things throughout the course of his career, but thank God it's not a severe high ankle sprain where you're out for a month to six weeks. We'll miss him because he's a versatile player and he's played well for us so far."

Donovan said the staff would look further into Yeguete's knee tendinitis before Thursday's game. He doesn't expect Yeguete's status to be in jeopardy against Texas A&M, but the team just wants to be sure they've figured out the cause of the problem. Yeguete has worn a wrap on his right knee during the past two games to relieve the pain, and he posted 10 points and 13 rebounds at LSU.

"I don't know what else it would necessarily be," Donovan said of the tendinitis. "I think they want to take an X-ray because he's got some swelling in his knee. Whether or not it's anything more than that, we'll have to wait and see. He'll be able to play. We're just trying to find out diagnosis-wise is there anything else going on. It could be chondromalacia."

Florida needs Yeguete healthy

While the Gators fight through SEC play, they're starting to get some freshmen on the floor more during important parts of the game. The freshmen won't be as needed when the lineup is completely healthy, but in the meantime, Donovan is hoping the younger players can hold up and produce.

Dillon Graham played six minutes at LSU and could be the second man off the bench on Thursday with Prather out. Freshman Michael Frazier II moves into the role of the sixth man while DeVon Walker could also get some time on the floor.

"The one thing I respect about Dillon is his ability to pass the ball," Donovan said. "For him, against a team like LSU at home that was creating about 12 steals a game, forcing 19 turnovers, with Rosario being out, in terms of the handling and passing standpoint, we needed some of that. It could be totally different against A&M. It's not necessarily (only) him. It could be Braxton. It could be DeVon Walker. It depends as we get deeper into A&M to figure those things out."

As the injuries continue to mount, the upperclassmen are trying to keep the team together. They're hoping this will bring the team closer and make the unit more ready for the challenge that the postseason can provide.

"I don't think anyone getting hurt is necessarily good, but a team that's able to bounce back and play a really good game with some of their best players out, that shows a lot about a team," said Florida center Patric Young, one of the few players that has been healthy all year. "Just wait until we have everybody healthy. Hopefully, later in the season we won't have any injuries affecting us. If we do, we can adjust and hopefully win some games."

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