Billy Donovan’s inspired speech to his team at halftime helped Florida knock off Auburn 63-47 on Tuesday night, but the Gators may have suffered a big loss during the game.
Sophomore power forward Will Yeguete, playing in his second game since suffering a concussion against Tennessee a week and a half ago, came down awkwardly on his left foot during the second half. He left the game to get X-rays and Florida’s University Athletic Administration confirmed he sustained a fracture in his left foot.
Florida has already dealt with depth problems in the frontcourt this season, and losing the team’s leader in rebounds per minutes certainly underscores those issues.
Yeguete was averaging 6.3 rebounds per game and has been Florida’s go-to big man off the bench. Sophomore center Patric Young has dealt with an ankle injury throughout the year, while reserve redshirt freshman Cody Larson has had an illness and a bursa sac on his knee that have slowed him this year.
“We’ve got some health issues that we need to get back healthier than we are right now,” Donovan said before X-ray results were known after the game. “Will’s (injury) would be major, because if it is broken I would say that he’s done for the year.”
Florida managed to beat Alabama without Yeguete, who was still recovering from symptoms of his concussion. However, the Gators really struggled without him in the first half against the Tide and in the loss to Tennessee.
Donovan said Florida will have to begin planning make some changes if Yeguete is indeed out for the season.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at Casey Prather playing the four, Brad (Beal) playing the four, Scottie (Wilbekin) playing the four. Cody Larson needs to step up and provide a little bit more. Casey’s going to provide a little bit more. There’s going to be some things that we need to practice if it is broken and he is done.”
The problem for Florida is that several players on the bench are already banged up. Some returned to the lineup against Auburn, but their health is a concern if they’re going to be asked to play extended minutes in place of Yeguete.
Junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) returned to the floor for the first time against Auburn after missing the last three games, playing five minutes. Wilbekin (hyper-extended knee) and Prather (sprained ankle) both played through minor injuries, playing 10 minutes and 6 minutes, respectively.
The biggest adjustment will be finding someone to replace Yeguete’s defensive tenacity and rebounding ability. Florida loses significant size with him out.
Donovan admitted it was a problem they would have to get creative about, even before knowing the results of the X-ray.
“Now it’s not like, ‘OK, how do you get by for just a week or a couple games,’” he said. “Now it’s like, ‘OK, we’re dealing with this for the rest of the season.’”