The Fastbreak: No. 10 Gators dominate Gamecocks 74-58; Wilbekin injured late in game

The No. 10 Florida Gators (12-2, 1-0 SEC) opened Southeastern Conference play with a dominant 74-58 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-7, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida won its 24th-straight game in the O’Dome, matching a program record for most consecutive home victories, and improved to 13-5 under head coach Billy Donovan in SEC openers (9-0 at home).

OnlyGators.com breaks down UF’s 12th win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Despite leading by double digits nearly the entire game, Florida was in a rut midway through the second half after seeing its advantage drop to single digits a few minutes earlier. Suddenly, the Gators erupted on a 12-0 run – bookended by a pair of long baskets (one three) from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II – to take a 63-42 lead with 7:08 to play. The Gamecocks were never able to fight back. Frazier finished with eight points and four boards but hit just 2-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc.

Prominent player: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin got back into his early-season form on Wednesday, one game after finding himself in Donovan’s doghouse. Wilbekin led Florida with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, draining 3-of-6 attempts from downtown and all four of his free throws. He also dished three assists while not committing a single turnover on the evening.

Important injury: Wilbekin drove to the hoop with 2:17 remaining in the contest but came down badly on his right ankle. It was hurting him so much, in fact, that he had to be helped off the court by trainer Dave “Duke” Werner and could not put any pressure on the leg. The Gators after the game simply acknowledged that the injury was a right ankle sprain and did not provide any information as to the severity.

Update: Donovan listed Wilbekin as “questionable” for UF’s next game. OnlyGators.com learned Thursday morning that Wilbekin’s sprained ankle is considered moderate. If he misses a game, it will likely be for precautionary reasons.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.

Highlights: See below.

Significant stretch: Florida started the game by outscoring South Carolina 14-1, hitting six of its first seven shots while forcing seven turnovers in six minutes and limiting the visitors to 0-for-6 shooting from the field. The Gators actually wound up holding the Gamecocks without a field goal for the first 9:25 of the game as USC missed its first seven shots and committed eight early turnovers.

Perfect plays: With 7:33 remaining in the first half, freshman point guard Kasey Hill picked the pocket of Gamecocks G Duane Notice, charging to the hoop with the ball before dropping it down for a no-look pass in the paint to senior forward Casey Prather, who slammed it home. One possession later, Wilbekin made a similarly impressive play, getting into the paint with a deft spin move and dishing the ball to Prather for a second-straight dunk that put Gators ahead 26-10. Hill spread things out with five points, two dimes, two boards and two steals, while Prather left the game with 13 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting with two rebounds, three assists, two swipes and a block.

Late in the second half, redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith was standing on the three-point line when he saw senior center Patric Young open in the paint with only one defender near him, so he executed a sharp bounce pass into the big man for a big, twisting slam. The dish was one of Finney-Smith’s game-high five assists; Young hit 6-of-7 shots for 13 points and grabbed team-highs of seven boards and three steals.

What it means: The Gators have now won six-straight games and 11 of their last 12, improving to 20-7 all-time against the Gamecocks in the O’Dome (14-4 under Donovan). UF is 41-22 all-time against USC, boasting a 25-11 record since Donovan took over.

Next up: Florida will hop on a plane for its first true road game since Dec. 2 when it faces Arkansas on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2. The teams split a pair of meetings last season with each squad winning decisively on their own home court.

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6 Responses to “The Fastbreak: No. 10 Gators dominate Gamecocks 74-58; Wilbekin injured late in game”

  1. Kaleb Wolfe says:

    I pray Wilbekin will be ok , and hopefully be able to play at Arkansas cuz we are going to definetly need him as well as for the rest of Conference play he’s the ignition to the engine which ignites this Florida Gators Basketball Team, so please fellow gators fans say a prayer for his health & very quick return cuz without him we just aren’t the same basketball team this may make or break the entire season that’s how serious this is you saw how injuries completely destroyed the Gator football team so just pray he comes back ASAP and 100% if possible, Go Gators great Win guys……..

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Fortunately the conference schedule is mostly back loaded in difficulty, so if he is out for 2 weeks, it shouldn’t be a disaster, especially with Kasey healthy. Even should we lose a game in there, just like with Wisconsin and UConn, I am glad polls are irrelevant, and know the committee will take injuries into effect, and look more heavily on the full complement and how they played and discount the losses. I can’t imagine if tourney started today we would be any worse than a 2 seed, and really think very good chance will work into a 1 seed by end of season. UK has proven to be very vulnerable despite talent, and a lot of the other teams ahead of us will begin losing as conference play starts and have played mostly much easier schedules to date.

  2. John says:

    I know it sounds bad, but I think Scottie being out 2 weeks could help us because Kasey Hill was not showing much aggressiveness lately and with Scottie out he’s going to have to because he’ll be the guy.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    Adam – haven’t heard much about BB recruiting lately, with early signing period over, are there any targets that we hope/expect to be getting in the regular signing period? Anyone we fans should be watching for?

  4. Gatoralum88 says:

    Sitting close enough to the USC bench to hear Frank Martin all I can say is WOW! That guy is a maniac! I heard him drop a few f-bombs on his players. I’ll bet he occasionally has some “Mike Rice” moments in his practices. He’s the Will Muschamp of college basketball. I would NOT want my kid playing for him.

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