Florida loses Will Yeguete for rest of regular season

The ’ push to win the SEC’s regular-season title took a hit this week. First, No. 2 UF was routed on Tuesday night at Arkansas to suffer its first conference loss – the Gators lead Ole Miss and Kentucky by a game. Then came word that forward Will Yeguete would miss 4-6 weeks because of a knee problem.

The 6-foot-7 Yeguete, who is UF’s second-leading rebounder (6.3 per game) and a key part of the Gators’ full-court press, had been dealing with tendinitis in his right knee for several weeks. Yeguete further injured his knee during the Gators’ 80-69 loss at Arkansas on Tuesday. The team hopes he may be able to rehab and play in the SEC tournament.

Yeguete underwent an MRI on Wednesday and surgery is scheduled for Friday. The second-ranked Gators (18-3, 8-1 SEC) play host to Mississippi State (7-14, 2-7) on Saturday. Yeguete missed the final nine games of last season after suffering a broken left foot. UF struggled at the end of the regular season but would reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Without Yeguete, the Gators’ options in the front court are limited. Junior forward Casey Prather (5.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) is battling an ankle injury and Coach Billy Donovan said he may have to turn to freshmen Michael Frazier or DeVon Walker. The 6-4 Frazier is averaging 5.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 18.7 minutes per game. He also is shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range. The 6-6 Walker is only averaging 4.4 minutes per game and has made just 2-of-17 shots in his limited playing time.

Florida should have little trouble Saturday and is a big favorite over Mississippi State, which has lost seven straight games. The Gators look to improve on their perfect 10-0 record at the O’Connell Center this season. UF holds a 59-49 edge in the all-time series, including a 12-8 record under Donovan. Florida has won each of the past two meetings against the Bulldogs. The Gators are 6-2 at home vs. MSU under Donovan and hold a 36-12 all-time record in Gainesville against the Bulldogs.

WagerWeb.com trends: Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Florida. Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. Favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.

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