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Wilbekin returns as Gators beat Jacksonville

Point guard Scottie Wilbekin returned from a suspension and started, finishing with 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two turnovers.

AP photo

Point guard Scottie Wilbekin returned from a suspension and started, finishing with 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two turnovers.

JACKSONVILLE — Casey Prather scored 27, Tampa's Michael Frazier II added 17 and No. 15 Florida handled Jacksonville 86-60 Monday night.

The Gators (5-1) won their fourth straight. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin returned from a suspension and started, finishing with 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two turnovers. Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Wilbekin spoke for the first time since his second suspension in less than a year, and apologized to fans for his "actions over the summer." He committed a violation of team rules.

"I'm just glad to put that stuff behind me," he said. "It was great to be out there playing, back with my teammates. I think I've really matured a lot as a person and I've grown. And in some ways, this suspension was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me."

Jarvis Haywood led Jacksonville (2-4) with 16 points.

"Our guys are distraught,'' Dolphins coach Cliff Warren said.

Wilbekin got Florida's offense in rhythm early. The Gators led 16-5 after Frazier's second 3-pointer and made it 28-10 on Jacob Kurtz's layup. Wilbekin's runner in the lane put Florida ahead 48-29 at the break.

Florida shot 59.6 percent and hit 8 of 13 3-pointers.

UF guard DeVon Walker hurt his right foot early in the game and did not return. The Gators already are missing point guard Kasey Hill, who has a high ankle sprain. Center Damonte Harris is suspended indefinitely. Guard Eli Carter (broken leg) and forward Will Yeguete (knee surgery) are still recovering.

Eventually, the Gators should get to full strength and could get freshman forward Chris Walker eligible, which would give Donovan his deepest team in years.

It probably won't happen before Kansas visits Gainesville on Dec. 10. That game provided banter between a Dolphins fan and Donovan. The fan, who was sitting behind Florida's bench, jawed at Donovan and chanted "Andrew Wiggins" throughout the game. Donovan finally told him, "I'm more worried about (Kentucky's) Julius Randle."

Buckle in, Gators

After beating Jacksonville, UF faces a tough five-game stretch:

Friday: vs. FSU, 7:30, Gainesville. TV: ESPN2

Dec. 2: at UConn, 7, Storrs, Conn. TV: ESPN2

Dec. 10: vs. Kansas, 7, Gainesville. TV: ESPN

Dec. 17: vs. Memphis, 9, New York. TV: ESPN

Dec. 21: vs. Fresno State, 4:30, Sunrise. TV: Sun Sports or FSF

Wilbekin returns as Gators beat Jacksonville 11/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:42am]
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