Just when it seemed that No. 10 Florida was getting to full strength, point guard Scottie Wilbekin went down in the second half of their win over South Carolina on Wednesday night with a sprained right ankle. Wilbekin, who missed the first five games of the season due to a suspension, accounted for 17 points and three assists before going down in the second half of the 74-58 victory.
Wilbekin injured the ankle in Florida’s one-point loss at UConn on December 2, and since that game the Gators have won six games in a row.
And according to Chris Harry of Gatorzone.com Wilbekin isn’t the only player dealing with a health issue, as senior forward Casey Prather was held out of practice after waking up with swelling in his right knee. According to the report Prather will undergo tests on the knee Thursday evening, and both players are questionable for Florida’s game at Arkansas on Saturday.
Both players are key contributors for the Gators, with Prather being one of the best players in the SEC to this point in the season. After averaging just 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a junior Prather’s up to 17.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest in 2013-14. He’s also leading the SEC in field goal percentage (62.4%), and Prather has surpassed the 20-point mark four times this season.
Obviously these would be big personnel losses if Prather and Wilbekin are unable to go on Saturday afternoon, especially when considering how tough Arkansas can be in Fayetteville.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.