Florida expects to have top scorer Frazier back at Kentucky
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida will have a full squad at top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday.
But the Gators probably won't be fully healthy.
Leading scorer Michael Frazier II is expected to return against the Wildcats after missing the last seven games with a high-ankle sprain. The junior guard twisted his right ankle against Kentucky on Feb. 7 and has practiced sparingly since. The Gators (15-15, 8-9 Southeastern Conference) went 3-4 without him.
Coach Billy Donovan said Friday that Frazier went through parts of practice Thursday, but Donovan doesn't know how much Frazier will be able to play against the Wildcats (30-0, 17-0).
''I'm going into the game with him being available,'' Donovan said. ''But for me to go in there and say, `OK, he's back right now, he's going to play 30 minutes and he's going to be back to where he was before he got injured,' I think would be a mistake. It's another body in our backcourt.''
Frazier averages a team-high 13.2 points and leads the Gators in 3-pointers (55) and free-throw percentage (87.7). He's also third on the team in rebounding and steals.
Having him back gives the Gators a third outside threat - Dorian Finney-Smith and Eli Carter are the only other Florida players with more than 20 treys this season - and should create space in and around the lane.
''He's another good guard we can use out there, a veteran guard,'' Finney-Smith said. ''When things get tough, I know we can always count on Mike.''
Frazier set a school record for 3-pointers (118) last season and established another mark this year by making at least one trey in 41 consecutive games. As the lone returning starter from last year's Final Four team, Frazier was asked to do considerably more.
He responded with streaky shooting and got benched to behind league play. He worked his way back into the starting lineup and had two of his better games, at Mississippi and Vanderbilt, before the injury. Now, the Gators would like to get him back in form before the conference tournament, which Florida needs to win to make the NCAA field for the sixth consecutive year.
''I think he's going to have pain,'' Donovan said. ''This is going to be an injury that he's probably not going to feel 100 percent until the season's over with and he has significant time to rest. ... The trainer and the doctors don't feel like he's putting himself in any more harm's way. It's just going to be something that's going to be nagging and lingering in terms of the pain. And that's the thing I think for Michael is the balance between how much pain can I endure and at what point am I becoming a detriment to the team where I'm not moving well enough and able to do the things I need to do on the court.
''So, again, how much we'll be able to get out of him, if anything, I don't know.''