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Gators expect ailing Boynton to be ready by Thursday

After 24 hours of careful observation by the Florida training staff, sophomore G Kenny Boynton is expected to play when the Gators face BYU on Thursday in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The game will tip off at 7:57 p.m.

Boynton sprained an ankle with just less than five minutes left in Saturday's third-round victory over UCLA.

"Right now, the first 24 hours we felt after the game was going to be really, really important the next morning because a lot of times in those ankle situations, when you're traveling, when it's not elevated or not iced, you worry about swelling being a problem," coach Billy Donovan said Monday. "That was the major issue, but we were really able to get that under control. We fully expect him to play. …

"He definitely has some discomfort there, but I don't feel like it's discomfort that's going to prevent him from playing. Now, I'll probably find out a little bit more as we get into (today) and Wednesday when he starts actually really, really moving. Talking to the trainer, his biggest concern was if this thing is really swollen on Sunday, it's going to take him a lot longer to come back."

Boynton was a key figure in last year's first-round loss to BYU in the NCAA Tournament. He took on the primary role of defending BYU star G Jimmer Fredette, who scored 23 of his 37 in regulation. The Gators lost in double overtime.

And though he will play, right now there's no way of knowing if he'll be limited at all, Donovan said.

"Now, the biggest thing is what kind of pain does he have. He's walking, and he's not on crutches. He's not in the boot. He's able to walk freely. He doesn't have a lot of discomfort," Donovan said.

"I'm still a little bit cautious of where he's at because I haven't seen him sprint, cut, change direction, do those kind of things."

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Virginia Commonwealth PG Joey Rodriguez said the bashing and second-guessing the Rams endured from analysts who felt they didn't deserve an NCAA Tournament bid have helped motivate the team. But the way they have adjusted since losing in the Colonial Athletics Association championship has helped more.

"I think it's more about our attitude and how we're approaching everything," he said. "It's more like carefree, going out there and just playing loose and attacking people.

"When we play on our heels, we're not that good."

SUPPORTING CAST: Kentucky is showing it can win even when its stars don't play like stars.

F Darius Miller and C Josh Harrellson stepped in when freshman Brandon Knight missed his first seven shots in a second-round win against Princeton.

Harrellson filled in again vs. West Virginia, providing the kind of hustle plays that have become his specialty, until Terrence Jones awoke from a sleepy first half to help the Wildcats pull away. The senior came away from one scrum with a scratch over his eye that required four stitches. He shook it off to produce a key putback late to give Kentucky a 57-55 lead it would not relinquish.

"I knew we were down a little bit and I was trying to fight for my teammates to get us back in the game, and there was an opportunity there to get us a couple points, so I had to go get it," Harrellson said.

TV RATINGS: The NCAA Tournament's new television format has drawn more viewers to the first weekend of March Madness.

The games spread across four networks have averaged 8.4 million viewers so far. That's up 14 percent from last year, when games were only on CBS.

The NCAA's 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner means each game is televised nationally in its entirety on CBS, TNT, TBS or truTV. In the past, broadcasts on CBS were regionalized, and the network would switch among games.

BARACK-ETOLOGY: President Barack Obama, who correctly picked North Carolina to win it all two years ago in ESPN's bracket contest, is off to a strong start.

The First Bracket has 10 of the Sweet 16 correct and ranks 7,549th out of 5,923,829 entries, putting it in the 99.87th percentile.

None of Obama's 10 survivors has a seed worse than No. 5. (He has Kansas winning the title.)

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Gators expect ailing Boynton to be ready by Thursday 03/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 21, 2011 10:14pm]

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