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Thursday February 7, 2013Yeguete to Undergo Surgery on Right Knee; Aims to Return this Season

Gainesville, Fla.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the second year in a row, the Florida Gators will deal with the loss of forward Will Yeguete.

This year, however, the versatile defensive specialist is expected to be back for the postseason.

Yeguete will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday morning and be sidelined from four to six weeks. Assuming his rehab goes well, the timetable for Yeguete’s return could have him back on the court as the Gators prepare for the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments.

“It’s Will’s decision,” Coach Billy Donovan said Thursday. “He wants to do what he can to play this season.”

Life without Yeguete starts Saturday when the second-ranked Gators (18-3, 8-1) play at home against Mississippi State (7-13, 2-6) at 5 p.m.. He'll likely miss the following eight games, all in SEC play, where Florida currently has a one-game lead on Kentucky and Ole Miss. Florida plays defending national-champion Kentucky next Tuesday night at the O'Connell Center.

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Yeguete, the team’s second-leading rebounder (6.3 per game) and instant energy defender, was dealing with tendinitis in the knee when he aggravated it Jan. 12 in a win at LSU. The UF medical staff, believing it could manage the injury for the balance of the season, scaled back Yeguete’s practice schedule and provided daily treatment. Results were positive.

But in Florida’s 80-69 loss Tuesday night at Arkansas, Yeguete was on the floor for one minute when he felt something pop in the knee and was done for the night.

Trainer David “Duke” Werner said are “loose bodies” -- pieces of cartilage -- that team physician Kevin Farmer will clean out in the routine scoping Friday. The rehab will start immediately.

Last year, Yeguete was leading the team in rebounding when he broke his foot in a home win against Auburn on Feb. 21. Without Yeguete, the Gators lost four of their next five games before taking off on their run to the NCAA West Region final, where they lost to Louisville.

Had UF won that game, Yeguete would have been available for the Final Four.

“He doesn’t want to miss out on that opportunity again,” Donovan said.

The loss of Yeguete is a severe blow to UF’s depth because he was the top reserve at all three frontcourt positions, excels at playing the top of the press and brings all kinds of instinct and intangibles to the floor.

Without him, the Gators will need more from junior Casey Prather, who is still troubled by an ankle injury, plus freshman Michael Frazier, a guard who will have to play both the small and power forward spots, and freshman DeVon Walker, who has played sparingly this season.

 

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