I’ve never doubted the talent on No. 12 Florida’s roster this season.
With Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Brad Beal surrounding a post presence like Patric Young, ability isn’t the issue. Consistency is. Just three days after going into Fayetteville and beating Arkansas by 30 — something that no one does — the Gators returned to Gainesville and found themselves down 30-27 to Auburn at the half. As dangerous as Florida can be when their four guards play up to their potential, they are just as susceptible to being upset when they don’t.
The issue wasn’t necessarily shot selection on Tuesday night, as the Gators knocked down 11-21 from beyond the arc. It was decision-making. Florida committed 12 of their 18 turnovers in the first half.
While Florida’s defense in the second half spurred them to a 63-47 win, the Gators did nothing to sway me from the position that this group cannot put together enough quality games in a row to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. I’d love to see it happen — players and teams that fire away with reckless abandon are always among the most entertaining to watch — but a Final Four run would require the Gators to play their best for four straight games, at least two of which will come against elite competition. I just don’t see it happening.
And the odds of it happening worsened on Tuesday night.
Midway through the second half, Will Yeguete suffered what appears to be a broken foot. According to trainer David Werner, Yeguete broke the fifth-metatarsal in his right foot.
“It’s a six-week injury,” head coach Billy Donovan told Gatorzone.com. “He’s done.”
That’s an enormous loss for the Gators. Yeguete is Florida’s glue-guy. He’s the team’s best rebounder, averaging 6.3 rpg in fewer minutes that Patric Young, and he is the key piece at the point of Florida’s full-court press. Florida is already thin up front and lacks a player that will be able to adequately fill the role that Yeguete played.
The good news is that Florida has some experience without Yeguete, as he missed two games earlier this season with a concussion. One of those games was an ugly loss at home against Tennessee. The other was a road win at Alabama. In his absence, expect to see Donavon use more four-guard line ups and shift either Beal or Casey Prather into that spot at the top of the press. Seldom-used Cody Larson could see more minutes as well.
But regardless of who fills the role, Yeguete’s injury is a major loss for Florida.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.