GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)—If the Florida Gators’ immune systems hold up as well as their defense, the next few weeks might not be so bad.
No. 4 Florida rebounded from its first loss with an 83-27 rout of winless Southern on Tuesday night, holding an opponent to the lowest point total since the inception of the shot clock.
Despite the big win, the Gators were weary—and worried about their health.
Corey Brewer, the team’s best defender and most versatile player, sat out with a case of mononucleosis and could miss at least the next two weeks. Joakim Noah and coach Billy Donovan might be sick, too.
Considering that Brewer, Noah, Horford and Taurean Green all live together, their biggest concern is an outbreak.
“I think it’s going through our team,” Donovan said. “It’s something we have to deal with and battle with. We’re a sick, tired team right now.”
Al Horford scored 12 points, Walter Hodge added nine in place of Brewer and Florida bounced back from its loss to fifth-ranked Kansas.
Donovan and Noah were scheduled to have blood work done Wednesday to see if they also had mononucleosis. They both felt congested and tired Tuesday. Donovan asked team doctors about quarantining Brewer, but they decided he didn’t need to be isolated.
“I hope not to kiss him or drink out of his cup,” Horford said. “We hope he gets back soon. We just have to take care of him.”
Donovan said traveling to and from Las Vegas probably made the players’ conditions worse. The team needed 3 1/2 hours to drive 120 miles in holiday traffic to Orlando, then flew to Vegas and played consecutive nights against Western Kentucky and Kansas. They left Vegas at 3 a.m. Eastern time, had to stop to refuel in Dallas and landed back in Gainesville at 8:45 a.m.
“I think they need sleep. I think they need rest,” Donovan said. “It’s got to be a balancing act because they also need to practice.”
Brewer sat out against Southern (0-6). Brewer, averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 rebounds, was initially diagnosed with the flu last week when the defending national champions played in Vegas. But Brewer’s condition got worse, and tests revealed mononucleosis.
He felt sick to his stomach before the Western Kentucky game and had a high fever the last few days.
“I anticipate him being out a minimum of two weeks,” Donovan said. “I know how I feel. I can imagine how those guys feel.”
Hodge started in Brewer’s place against Southern and was 4-for-6 from the field, with six assists and two rebounds.
The Gators (7-1) extended their home winning streak against non-conference opponents to 19 games while preparing for much tougher games against Florida State and Providence.
But they might have to play without Brewer and Noah.
“We definitely need some young guys to step up,” Horford said.
Chike Ekweozor had six points to lead the Jaguars, who scored their fewest points of the season. It was the fewest points the Gators have given up since the shot clock was introduced in the 1985-86 season.
Florida missed several close-range shots in the first half and finished with its lowest shooting percentage of the season, 36 percent. Nonetheless, the Gators closed the half with a 20-4 run and a 34-16 lead.
Horford, Noah and Chris Richard—Florida’s top big men—combined to shoot 7-for-18 in the first half and were 0-for-4 from the free throw line. Noah played just 12 minutes in the game.
Florida played much better after the break and pulled away to start the second half, opening with a 13-1 spurt fueled by 3-pointers from Lee Humphrey and Brandon Powell. Hodge also hit a mid-range jumper and a layup that put the Gators ahead 47-17 with about 15 minutes to play.
Powell hit another 3, Dan Werner added two from behind the arc and then Horford’s baseline jumper made it a 40-point game, 61-21.
Donovan played his reserves the rest of the way.
Powell finished with 10 points, and Marreese Speights added 12 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double.
“Our team is emotionally, physically and mentally wiped out,” Donovan said. “They gutted it up.”