ORLANDO — For the past two seasons, F Will Yeguete has watched his Florida teammates in the NCAA Tournament from the bench. Two years ago he was recovering from a broken bone in his foot; last season, it was an injured knee.
On Saturday, the senior was an integral part of UF's win over Pittsburgh in the South Region — affecting shots inside the paint and scoring eight, with four rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal.
"I was just trying to be aggressive defensively," Yeguete said. "I knew they were going to be a really good team. On offense I was trying to make plays and help my teammates. I knew I had to be ready to go."
Yeguete's teammates said he might be the most under-recognized player on the team — by outsiders.
"People don't realize it, but that guy is always in the right spot," G Michael Frazier said. "Always reliable, always going to box out even if he doesn't get the rebound. Always going to be there on the defensive rotation even if he doesn't get the steal. That doesn't show on the stat sheet, so people don't recognize that, but us as a team, we know he is a very valuable player on our team."
ELITE COMPANY: ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said last week that he believes Florida coach Billy Donovan is destined for the Naismith Hall of Fame. Donovan added another career milestone to help bolster that argument, earning win No. 449, which moved him into second place behind the legendary Adolph Rupp for most by an SEC coach.
BANGED UP: Shortly after Saturday's game, social media was in a panic over the sight of senior PG Scottie Wilbekin limping across the television.
Wilbekin injured his knee late in the game but was able to walk to and from the locker room for postgame interviews.
"I don't know if I banged knees or what happened," he said. "But after the tie-up (late in the second half) is when I started to feel it. I think it's just a bruised knee."
HOODIE IN THE HOUSE: Patriots coach Bill Belichick attended the game, wearing a Gators visor and cheering on Donovan, a close friend. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was also in attendance, presumably rooting for Pittsburgh.