Florida vs. Mississippi State: Gators begin life without Will Yeguete — again

USA TODAY Sports

Florida won't have Will Yeguete against Mississippi State. It won't matter.

Remember when Florida beat Mississippi State by 35 points in Starkville two Saturdays ago? It might be worse this Saturday, as the Gators welcome the Bulldogs to Gainesville (5 p.m., FSN/Sun Sports or ESPN3) to finish their season series.

Yes, even without Will Yeguete.

Florida will begin another stretch of SEC play in which it will be without its ace rebounder and defender, as Yeguete, a day after having surgery to remove floating bodies from his right knee, will only be able to sit and watch as his teammates try to return to winning ways after a stunning road loss on Tuesday to Arkansas.

But Florida didn't really need Yeguete's four points, six rebounds, and four assists against the Bulldogs in their first go-round, and it's likely Florida will be just as fine without him: That's how bad Mississippi State, by some margin the worst team in the awful 2013 SEC, really is.

Mississippi State took a 4-3 lead in that contest, then took a 28-5 run on the chin, and never trailed by fewer than 20 points in the second half. And that was with Jalen Steele, who is suspended for this game, leaving the Bulldogs with just six scholarship players suiting up this evening.

Of course, Steele missed all five of his shots and scored zero points in that first meeting. And the Bulldogs haven't been even mediocre with Steele on the court, ranking last in the SEC in points scored and allowed per possession. (Florida is first in the SEC in both categories, and has outscored SEC foes by .361 points per possession; Mississippi State has been outscored by .199 points per possession.)

But his absence can't help Mississippi State, which is on a seven-game skid in conference after opening with wins over South Carolina and Georgia and has two wins in Gainesville over Billy Donovan-helmed Florida teams, the most recent coming in 2008.

That Bulldogs team was very good, and eventually dogged future NCAA Tournament finalist Memphis in a classic round of 32 game. These Bulldogs should be released from the obligation of finishing out the season.

The Gators might make them wish that were possible today.

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