Florida has been playing short-handed, and it's possible that it is affecting freshman Kasey Hill the most.
The point guard will look to bounce back from a rough effort in his team's first loss when the No. 11 Gators host the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Saturday.
Florida (1-1) has played so far without senior guard Scottie Wilbekin, sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith and junior center Damontre Harris. The three have been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, and their status is unclear for Saturday. Finney-Smith was reinstated to the team Friday, while coach Billy Donovan said Harris is not practicing with the team because he's ''not accountable, not responsible at all.''
Hill's second college game didn't go smoothly as he made 2 of 11 shots and fouled out with four points, and four assists in Tuesday's 59-53 loss at No. 20 Wisconsin.
"I thought his lack of putting the ball in the basket really, really impacted him on the defensive end of the floor, being a young guy and all," Donovan said. "He was visibly disappointed, upset, bothered. I think that that led to some of his foul trouble where he has to be able to move to the next play as a young kid."
Donovan also made sure to point out that Hill is in a tough situation as the team's lone point guard currently since the Gators do not have Wilbekin, who had a team-high 174 assists last season. Hill's teammates believe he will be OK.
"He'll get better with that," guard Michael Frazier II said. "It just takes time, gotta play more games, more practice. He'll be fine."
Frazier led the Gators with 20 points after he scored 19 in a season-opening 77-69 victory over North Florida on Nov. 8. Donovan doesn't sound as if he will consider moving the reserve into the starting lineup.
"He's really a great shooter, he's one of the best shooters I've coached," Donovan said. "But he has got a long way to go defensively. He had 20 tonight, I'd like to go back and see how many he gave up."
The Gators' season opener could give UALR (0-1) some hope since the Trojans also opened against the Ospreys, losing 72-70 on Nov. 11. UALR led by four at halftime before shooting 25.0 percent the rest of the way.
The Trojans' best player may be English forward Will Neighbour, their leading returning scorer from last season at 10.7 points per game. Neighbour is a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference second-team selection.
The 6-foot-10 Neighbour is UALR's tallest starter and could be matched up against Gators big man Patric Young, who had eight points Tuesday after North Florida held him to two - his lowest total in a home game in two seasons.
Donovan felt his team did a better job of getting the ball to Young, who didn't want to use the absences of his teammates as an excuse.
"We still let this game slip away," Young said. "We still had an opportunity to win this game. Of course, it would have helped having those guys but I think the guys we lined up with were capable of coming away with a win."
These teams have never met.
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