Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Wilbekin hurt as Florida routs South Carolina

GAINESVILLE — Scottie Wilbekin grimaced in pain as he was helped off the court.

Coach Billy Donovan had a similar expression — but not just because of his starting point guard's injury.

Wilbekin had 17 points before spraining his right ankle, and No. 10 Florida opened SEC play with a 74-58 victory against South Carolina on Wednesday at the O'Connell Center.

Donovan criticized Wilbekin for driving the lane and taking a wild shot, something he has cautioned the senior about repeatedly this season.

"He was driving in the lane out of control. He's just got to do a better job," Donovan said, adding that Wilbekin will be questionable Saturday at Arkansas.

Casey Prather and Patric Young had 13 points each for the Gators (12-2), who won their sixth straight and tied a school record by winning their 24th consecutive home game.

"I don't know how many games we have left at home, but we would love to finish it out undefeated," Young said.

Florida's next home game is Tuesday against Georgia.

On Wednesday, UF made six of its first seven shots and led 14-1. The Gamecocks (7-7) went more than nine minutes without a basket and trailed 16-4 before Mindaugas Kacinas' jumper.

"The young kids were tight and nervous," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "My biggest concern going into this … was that first five to six minutes. Exactly what I was hoping didn't happen, happened."

The Gamecocks had as many turnovers (12) as field-goal attempts with six minutes left in the first half and were down 18.

The Gamecocks woke up in the second half, cutting the deficit to 40-32 on Michael Carrera's jumper.

"I don't know what it is, but we have a very, very hard time sustaining intensity," Donovan said.

The Gators responded. Prather converted a three-point play, Wilbekin sank a deep 3-pointer and Young hit a hook shot in the paint. Prather passed to Dorian Finney-Smith for an alley-oop that made it 52-37.

A few minutes later, guards Michael Frazier and Wilbekin hit 3-pointers that pushed the lead to 60-42, and UF coasted from there.

Afterward, much of the talk was about Wilbekin.

"It's going to be kind of difficult without him," Prather said. "But we have great guys on the team, great players, so I feel like whatever adversity we get, we'll be fine."

SECOND CHANCE: Forward Damontre Harris, who was dismissed from the Gators last month, is enrolled and trying to work his way back on the team. Donovan said Harris will get another chance but won't play this season.

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