GAINESVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Florida’s best defender missed practice Monday, not the ideal situation considering Jimmer Fredette and Brigham Young are up next.
Guard Kenny Boynton sat out practice because of a sprained left ankle. But coach Billy Donovan expects the team’s second-leading scorer to be on the court Thursday night when the second-seeded Gators face the No. 3 seed Cougars in the NCAA tournament in New Orleans.
“We fully expect him to play,” Donovan said. “I’m still a little bit cautious of where he’s at because I haven’t seen him sprint, cut, change direction, do those kind of things.”
Donovan said Boynton was dealing with some pain, but added that the 6-foot-2 sophomore from Pompano Beach didn’t need to be on crutches or wear a protective boot. Swelling was minimal, the coach said.
“He definitely has some discomfort there, but I don’t feel like it’s discomfort that’s going to prevent him from playing,” Donovan said. “Now, I’ll probably find out a little bit more as we get into Tuesday and Wednesday when he starts actually really, really moving. … They’ve been able to really minimize the swelling. Now, the biggest thing is what kind of pain does he have.”
Boynton, who averages 14 points a game, has dealt with ankle problems throughout his career. Donovan said his history could hinder his ability to play through the injury. Nonetheless, Boynton hasn’t missed a game in his two seasons.
“I think there’s a mental hurdle for him that he’s going to have to get over, that he does feel good and he’s not playing in pain,” Donovan said. “Hopefully, we can get him to that point. But as it relates to what we had to do the first 24 hours, we thought that went very, very well.”
Boynton injured his ankle Saturday after he landed awkwardly on UCLA center Josh Smith’s foot late in the game. Boynton returned to the court, but was clearly hobbled, so Donovan pulled him down the stretch.
Fredette scored 37 points against Boynton and Florida in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. Boynton held Fredette to 23 points in regulation, but the BYU star hit several big shots in overtime and helped the Cougars pull away for a 99-92 victory in double OT.
“When you’re dealing with a guy like that, there’s a lot of times that you are at his mercy because he’s got the ball in his hands,” Donovan said. “When you get the ball to a great player in space, it’s not like you’re going to prevent the guy from getting a shot off. It’s going to go up. … For us to sit there and say we’re going to eliminate him even getting a shot off is just totally inaccurate on our part to even think that.
“Everybody’s tried to defend the guy, with different people, box-and-ones, trapping him, running at him. Whoever is on him will do the very, very best that they can. Whether or not that’s good enough to prevent him from making shots remains to be seen.”
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