University of Florida Gators Scottie Wilbekin hauls in a rebound against Norfolk State University Spartans Brandon Wheeless during their NCAA basketball tournament game in Omaha

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin won’t be playing on Friday night

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With Erving Walker having graduated the keys to the Florida offense were to be handed to junior Scottie Wilbekin, who may not be as explosive as Walker but he also isn’t considered to be as unpredictable.

But head coach Billy Donovan has decided that Wilbekin has some things to learn still, as he’s made the decision to bench his point guard for their season opener against Georgetown tomorrow night.

Chris Harry of GatorZone.com reported the news this morning, and the move means that senior Kenny Boynton will run the show for Florida on the USS Bataan.

Wilbekin averaged just 2.6 points per game last season, but with the scoring options that the Gators have scoring points won’t be his most important job.

Setting up the likes of Boynton, Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy and Patric Young while also spearheading things defensively are the duties that Wilbekin will have to perform if Florida is to contend in the SEC.

Wilbekin averaged 1.6 assists per game, but it’s his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8 last season and 2.2 as a freshman) and the fact that he’s more of a distributor than a scorer that makes Wilbekin a solid option to run the show.

“Scottie is a pass-first point guard, not a scoring guard, but that’s not to say he can’t score. He can,” senior guard Mike Rosario said. “Erv came down the floor looking to score. Scott will take good shots when they’re there, but he knows this team needs a guy who can run the offense and distributes shots. And we need his defense.”

But with this decision by Donovan it’s apparent that there’s some work to be done, and not solely from a basketball standpoint.

Florida could be down two players for tomorrow’s match-up due to the concussion suffered by forward Casey Prather in Monday’s practice, and on Tuesday it sounded as if the Gators weren’t expecting him to be ready to play.

“He is totally healed from the first one,” coach Billy Donovan said of Prather. “Obviously now, he’s gotta go through a series of baseline tests and those things. They don’t think it’s as bad as it was before, but I would say that he, right now, is probably not going to play on Friday.”

With Wilbekin out and Prather doubtful the Gators will need a fifth starter. Freshmen Michael Frazier II, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker all factor into the equation, with all seeing between 15 and 19 minutes of action in their 101-71 exhibition win over Nebraska-Kearney last Thursday.

Frazier was the most productive offensively, scoring 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, and both Ogbueze (15 points) and Graham (12 points, three assists) were solid as well.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.