GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Will Yeguete limped off the court, sat down on the bench, and took the sneaker off his left foot.
He pointed to a spot below his ankle on the outside of his foot for Florida trainer Duke Werner to examine. Moments later, he hobbled off into the locker room -- for what may be the last time this season.
The 6-foot-7, 222-pound reserve forward suffered a broken bone in his foot and is out indefinitely, according to team spokesperson Denver Parlor. It's a sobering development that dulled the 11th-ranked Gators' 63-47 victory over Auburn in front of 10,150 at the O'Connell Center Tuesday night. Yeguete had just returned from missing one game (Alabama) because of a concussion he suffered against Tennessee on Feb. 11.
"In the Alabama game we had a couple days to make some adjustments and do some things with different personnel," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "We played [6-2 guard] Scottie [Wilbekin] some in the Alabama game at the power forward spot, but we kind of had practiced that, so he knew what he was doing in certain areas of the floor offensively. We’re going to have to do the same thing if he [Yeguete] is out. We’re going to have to make some adjustments. There’s going to be some things that we’re going to need to practice if it is broken and he is done.
"Now, it’s not, 'How do you get by for a week or a couple games?' Now it’s like, 'OK, we’re dealing with this for the rest of the season.' "
Yeguete is a key part of the press -- he mans the middle -- and is the Gators' best rebounder (tied for the team lead with 6.3 per game). He is a physical presence inside and he allows the 11th-ranked Gators to rest starting center Patric Young, who is a more effective player when he plays 24-26 minutes per game.
The Gators are going to have to shuffle the lineup and use Wilbekin, 6-3 guard Bradley Beal, and 6-6 guard/forward Casey Prather at the power forward spot. UF also needs little-used 6-9 forward/center Cody Larson to make a bigger contribution than his 5.9 minutes per game.
Florida (22-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) got contributions from all four of those players against Alabama, but they had several days to prepare and they knew it was only going to be for two or three games at most. Now, however, it could be for the rest of the season. The Gators have three regular-season games remaining (at Georgia, at Vanderbilt, vs. Kentucky), the SEC Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament.
Yeguete, however, isn't the only player who's hurting. Young is nursing a deep thigh bruise and a mild ankle sprain, Wilbekin has a hyper-extended knee, Prather has a sprained ankle, Larson is bothered by an inflamed bursa sac on his knee, and Erik Murphy missed practice on Sunday after tweaking his knee.
"We’re banged-up," Donovan said. "We’ve got some health issues, and we need to get back healthier than we are right now."
Yeguete's injury overshadowed what turned out to be a pretty easy victory over Auburn (14-13, 4-9), although the Gators had to overcome a sloppy first half and endure Donovan's half-time tirade. UF shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first half (10-of-16) but committed 12 turnovers -- more than they had in 15 games this season -- and trailed 30-27 at the break.
That prompted what guard Erving Walker said was Donovan's worst tirade he's ever seen.
"You guys suck," Walker said Donovan told them.
"There is something that goes along with wearing that jersey," Donovan said. "My thing to them was if Mike Miller, and Udonis Haslem, and Matt Bonner, and Kenyan Weeks, and Brett Nelson, and Joakim Noah, and Al Horford are watching right now, what's their feeling right now? Those guys gave their heart and soul to this program, and that's the way you're representing our program right now with your effort and your focus? Beyond that, what do your families think right now?
"They have to understand that it means something when Florida is across the jersey. ... I don't think that that's that outrageous to ask."
The Gators responded by outscoring the Tigers 36-17 in the second half -- the 17 points were the fewest UF has given up in a half all season -- and committing just four turnovers. Kenny Boynton scored 12 of his game-high 20 points and made 4-of-5 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.