Gators lose Egbunu to ACL tear
During Florida’s current seven-game winning streak, it has looked every bit the part of a legitimate national title contender. The Gators have won all seven of those games by at least nine points. Six of the victories have come by 12 points or more, while five have been by margins of at least 19 points.
UF also dealt Kentucky an open-hand pimpslap two Saturdays ago, coasting to an easy 88-66 win as a 1.5-point home favorite.
But during Tuesday’s 114-95 win at Auburn as a 10-point road ‘chalk,’ Florida lost John Egbunu to a knee injury in the first half.
Gator Nation spent Wednesday awaiting word for the results of Egbunu’s MRI. When it came, the news was awful. Egbunu has an ACL tear that will end his season and leave him with 10-12 month recovery time.
Egbunu, who averages 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game, is UF’s premier interior defender. His size and physicality is similar to that of Patric Young, who helped the Gators to the Final Four three seasons ago.
Without Egbunu, sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes will see increased playing time. Hayes is playing well, but he’ll now be forced to log more minutes. Also, when he gets into foul trouble, something he would undoubtedly do at least once of twice in a potential six-game run in March, UF’s interior defense will be an issue.
I still see UF as a Sweet 16 team, but it’ll be extremely difficult for it to make the Final Four sans Egbunu.
UF returns to the court Saturday at Mississippi St. for a 2:00 p.m. Eastern tip on ESPN.
The early number offshore was UF favored by 10.5 points.
Ben Howland’s team has been a home underdog four times this year, producing a 4-0 spread record with a pair of outright victories.