GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Casey Prather is the latest Florida player on the mend.
Prather will be out 10 to 14 days, including Thursday’s game at Texas A&M, after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Saturday’s win at LSU.
Prather, a junior who is averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches Monday.
The 10th-ranked Gators (12-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) already are dealing with injuries to guard Mike Rosario, guard Scottie Wilbekin, forward Erik Murphy and forward Will Yeguete.
Rosario sat out Saturday’s game with a sprained left ankle, but has been cleared to practice and play. Wilbekin (finger) and Murphy (rib) are playing with broken bones, and Yeguete is getting more tests to see if there are more issues than tendinitis in his right knee.
“A team that’s able to bounce back and play a really good game with some of their best players out, that shows a lot about their team,” center Patric Young said.
“Just wait until we have everybody healthy.”
“Hopefully, later in the season, we won’t have any injuries affecting us.”
With all the injuries hampering Florida, Prather started the past few games and played well.
It seemed like a turning point for his season, which got off to a slow start. Prather missed the first four games because of a concussion suffered in practice. And in his first few minutes on the court against Central Florida in November, he busted his lip and needed stitches.
“Can’t get out of the way, right?” coach Billy Donovan said. “He started the year with the concussions, and it took him awhile to get in the flow. And then, you know, he’s been playing really good basketball. ... So it’s unfortunate that he’s had to deal with some different things throughout the course of his career. But thank God it’s not a severe high-ankle sprain where you’re out for a month to six weeks. It’s something hopefully he can get back.”
Yeguete’s injury could linger the longest. Yeguete is averaging 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds and is the team’s best post defender.
Donovan said the junior will have X-rays to see if there is anything else that is causing inflammation in his knee.
“Whether or not it’s anything more than that, we’ll have to wait and see,” Donovan said. “I think the first diagnosis by our trainer and our doctor is that it was tendinitis. It could be more than that. What? I don’t know.”
Rosario, second on the team in scoring at 12.3 points a game, also had X-rays Monday to see how his ankle is progressing. Donovan hopes he will be able to play against the Aggies.
Nonetheless, injuries have been the dominate story line for Florida this season.
Only senior guard Kenny Boynton has started every game this season. Despite using six different starting combinations and playing without several key guys at times, the Gators are outscoring opponents by an average of 21.6 points.
“I think this team does a good job pushing through injuries and pain,” Young said.
Trojans fire coach O’Neill: In Los Angeles, Kevin O’Neill was fired as Southern California basketball coach on Monday after 3½ years during which he failed to turn around a program weighed down by NCAA issues that preceded his arrival and a string of player injuries.
O’Neill had a 48-65 record, including 7-10 this season after going 6-26 last year, setting a school record for losses.
Veteran assistant Bob Cantu will serve as interim coach while USC searches for a successor. Cantu took over for O’Neill during a Pac-10 tournament semifinal game against Arizona in 2010-11 when the coach was suspended after getting into a verbal confrontation with a Wildcats booster. He has remained on the staff through four coaching changes and is the longest tenured assistant in the Pac-12.
Athletic Director Pat Haden said it became evident to him that the program needed new leadership.
“Despite a nice road win in our last game, I felt it was best to make a change now, with most of the Pac-12 season still ahead of us, in order to re-energize our team,” he said.
The Trojans are 2-2 in the Pac-12 after a road split last weekend. They lost at Colorado before winning at Utah to snap a 14-game road skid. USC has lost nine of its past 13 games.
“I enjoyed my four years at USC,” O’Neill said in a statement. “It is a special place. I enjoyed the people I worked with.”
, the players I coached and our fans. I thank USC for allowing me to guide their program. I couldn’t be more proud to work anywhere.”
O’Neill was hired by Haden’s predecessor, Mike Garrett, who said at the time, “Hopefully he’s here forever.” O’Neill took the USC job after spending a season as an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last season, the Trojans were hard-hit by injury, leaving O’Neill with just six scholarship players who managed to keep the team in nearly every game.
Upon arriving at USC in June 2009, O’Neill had to deal with the fallout from an ongoing NCAA investigation and school-imposed sanctions involving star O.J. Mayo, who played one season under Tim Floyd before leaving for the NBA.
The next season, O’Neill lost three starters and four of his top six players from the rotation. In O’Neill’s second season, he guided the Trojans to a 19-15 record and a NCAA tournament berth.
Then came last season, when the Trojans were plagued by injuries, most notably to point guard Jio Fontan, who tore his ACL after scoring 57 points in two exhibition games during an exhibition tour in Brazil.
Forward Aaron Fuller (shoulder) and big man Dewayne Dedmon (torn MCL) also went down with season-ending injuries at different points.
“Last year was very difficult because of our injuries and the fact that when I got here there was no freshmen or sophomores, so we had two blank recruiting classes,” O’Neill said last fall.
“The only way you can put it back together to get where we have the bodies we have now is with junior college guys, transfers and blend in a few freshmen. Now our goal is to get mostly freshmen going forward, which we’re doing. We have four guys committed right now and we’re hoping to get one more, and we’re starting to build what I think is a really solid program.”
O’Neill had a full complement of 13 scholarship players who were healthy this season.
“It was hard for me to evaluate him as a head coach until this year when he had enough players and veterans to compete,” Haden said.
O’Neill, who turns 56 on Jan. 24, was hired by coach Lute Olson as an assistant at Arizona before the 2007-08 season, and became interim coach when Olson took a medical leave of absence.
O’Neill led the Wildcats to a 19-15 record and the school’s 24th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, at the time the nation’s longest active streak.
He was designated Olson’s permanent successor, but when the Hall of Famer returned that spring he announced O’Neill would no longer be part of the program.
O’Neill had previous head coaching jobs at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. He has a 219-245 record in the college ranks.
Martinez suspended after bar fight: In Laramie, Wyo., Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt suspended Luke Martinez, one of the team’s top scorers, indefinitely after a bar fight.
Wyoming officials announced Monday that charges were filed against Luke Martinez over the weekend because of an off-campus incident Dec. 30. University officials are not saying more about what led to the suspension.
Martinez is a 22-year-old senior who was averaging better than 14 points a game before he fractured a bone in his hand. Laramie police said a bar fight caused the injury.
They said Martinez was among several people who fought early on the morning of Dec. 30 at the Buckhorn Bar in Laramie.
Police initially said they didn’t expect charges to be filed.