As if the Florida Gators‘ unlikely chances of making the 2016 NCAA Tournament needed another speed bump, enter an injury to one of their most important players ahead of the 2016 SEC Tournament.
Florida announced Wednesday, one day before the eight-seed Gators are scheduled to face the nine-seed Arkansas Razorbacks in second-round action, that redshirt sophomore center John Egbunu tore a ligament in his right thumb during practice and is questionable to play in the game.
Though Egbunu has been a liability at the line for Florida, he’s the Gators’ best big man and is second on the team with 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season. He also leads UF with 1.5 blocks per contest.
Averaging 25.4 minutes per game, Egbunu is on the court most of the time when not in foul trouble and has proven at times to be an unstoppable force down low. In three Florida losses prior to its regular season-ending victory, Egbunu went 25-for-34 from the field and averaged 21 points per game.
Now, the Gators look to either be without Egbunu completely or at least forced to play him at reduced minutes due to his inability to do all activities a player needs to on the court. He is technically cleared to play but how effective he can be remains a question.
Florida coach Mike White said he doesn’t “know how much he’ll be able to go,” while the school website notes that his “hand will be in a brace” that “obviously impede[s] his ability to grasp the ball, not to mention shoot it.”
Oh, and to make matters worse, the Gators will also be going up against one of the biggest players in the Southeastern Conference on Thursday in the Razorbacks’ 6-foot-10, 230-pound center Moses Kingsley.