By Mark Long
The Associated Press
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 16 Florida could be without point guard Kasey Hill for a month, maybe longer.
Hill suffered a high-ankle sprain in a 67-53 victory against Southern on Monday night. Coach Billy Donovan said team doctors are “pretty confident right now there’s nothing broken.” But Hill will have tests Tuesday to determine the full extent of the injury.
Hill, a freshman averaging 10 points a game, badly sprained his left ankle early in the second half. He spent several minutes writhing in pain on the court before getting carried to the locker room. He did not return.
“It’s certainly a longer healing process, and when you try to rush guys back too soon, it normally complicates things,” Donovan said. “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.”
The injury could be problematic for Florida (3-1), which already is without point guard Scottie Wilbekin. The senior is suspended indefinitely, but he could return as early as next week.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s a part of the game,” Donovan said. “We’ll have to find some different ways to compensate for his absence.”
The Gators had little trouble without Hill against the Jaguars (1-4).
Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, one of three players in double figures, as the Gators extended their home winning streak to 18. Florida led by 16 at halftime and cruised from there.
Calvin Godfrey led Southern with 18 points and nine rebounds. Trelun Banks added 12 points.
Godfrey made 7 of 12 shots and finished with two blocks on the other end.
“He’s a guy that’s been consistent for us,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “There’s no doubt he’s our best post player, our best talent. I’d like to get him some help. We’ve got some bigger guys that need to help him out a little bit.”
Florida dropped five spots in the latest AP Top 25 poll, a result of losing at Wisconsin last week.
The Gators responded with a lopsided win against Arkansas Little-Rock on Saturday, a game in which they scored 59 points in the second half. Donovan’s team carried that momentum into Monday night’s game despite having just two days’ rests.
Hill had a layup, a reverse layup, and a runner in the lane that helped Florida build a double-digit lead early. Prather kept getting in the lane and to the free-throw line, and Florida eventually pushed the advantage to 16 points before the break.
They coasted from there, though hardly good enough to appease Donovan. The coach called several timeouts in the second half and even was heard screaming at Michael Frazier II in an emptying arena because he took a 3-pointer without any ball movement.
The Gators were outscored 34-32 in the second half.
“Our IQ dropped a little bit,” Patric Young said. “We were up 22 points and we’re coming down thinking no-pass 3s, mid-range, foot-on-the-line jump shots — worse shot in basketball. And coach is getting infuriated because we turned the ball over, getting shots blocks. So we have to do a better job when we have a lead.”
Surely Hill’s injury has something to do with Florida’s letdown. But Donovan said that shouldn’t have been an excuse.
“There’s got to be some level of resiliency,” Donovan said. “I can’t stop the game if a guy’s tired. I can’t say, ‘Hey, I know you’re tired, but we’re going to come back tomorrow and complete the game when you’re fresh. They’ve got to push through that and be able to discipline themselves.”
The Jaguars could have made it closer, but missed 11 of 25 shots from the free-throw line.
Young finished with a season-high 12 points and six rebounds. DeVon Walker had 10 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in eight points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
But the story was Hill’s health.
The McDonald’s All-American screamed after he rolled his ankle. The Gators have been short-handed all season. Wilbekin, forward Dorian Finney-Smith and center Damontre Harris were suspended indefinitely to start the season, and Frazier (mono), forward Will Yeguete (knee surgery) and guard Eli Carter (broken leg) are dealing with illness and injuries.
Now, Hill could miss significant time.
“I heard him scream, and then when everybody kind of cleared out, I was able to see him on the ground,” Frazier said. “You never want to see one of your teammates go down, but hopefully he can get back soon. For now, we’ve just got to make adjustments.”
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