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January 10, 2014

Florida without leading scorer against Arkansas



Winning at Arkansas is already tough enough. The Razorbacks haven't lost a home game since a 2012 matchup with Syracuse during the Big East-SEC Challenge, a streak that has reached the second-longest running total in the nation at 25 games.

Thanks to a couple untimely injuries, the chore will only be more difficult for No. 10 Florida (12-2, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) as it travels to Fayetteville for a 1 p.m. Saturday tipoff.

Senior forward Casey Prather will not play against the Razorbacks (11-3, 0-1 SEC) after waking up Thursday morning to swelling in his right knee. A Thursday night MRI brought positive news.

"He's got a bruised bone on his knee that took place," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "Had some swelling. We actually thought maybe there had been some cartilage tear with the way his knee was swelling."

There was no tear or injury to his knee structure, critical for a Florida squad that has followed him offensively for most of this season. Prather has scored double-figures in every game this season and leads the Gators in scoring at 17 points per game.

"We're going to need guys to step up for our team," senior center Patric Young said. "Casey is definitely a huge part of our team, but it's not just one guy who's going to be the determining factor if we win or lose. It's going to be a team and collective effort and if we take care of what coach Donovan tells us to do I believe we'll be able to come out with a victory."

His absence likely means junior Dorian Finney-Smith will crack the starting lineup for the second time this season. Finney-Smith is currently averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.

Prather isn't the only injured starter.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin came down awkwardly on his right leg during the late moments of Wednesday's 74-58 win against South Carolina. The prognosis was an ankle sprain. Wilbekin is expected to play but not start against Arkansas. He was held out of practice Thursday and Friday by trainers.

"The only alternative there is Kasey Hill, which is fine," Donovan said. "He's started before."

Young also missed practice Friday afternoon while dealing with sore knees. He is fully cleared to play against Arkansas.

"Just general wear and tear," Young said. "A lot of big guys get tendinitis and it's just something I'll have to deal with the rest of my career. I expect to be full go. When the buzzer sounds, I think I'll be ready to go and be able to get myself ready with full warmup and stretch and whatever I have to do tonight to get myself prepared to go."


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