Florida 74, South Carolina 58: Gators roll, but lose Scottie Wilbekin (ankle injury) late

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida was cruising to an easy win in its SEC opener. Then a little bit of 2013 crept into 2014, as Scottie Wilbekin rolled his right ankle.

Florida got its 74-58 win over South Carolina on Wednesday night by being brilliant in fits and starts around a mediocre stretch in the game's middle. But it's another injury to Scottie Wilbekin that will overshadow the victory.

Wilbekin led Florida with 17 points, but rolled his right ankle badly on a layup attempt with under three minutes to go, and had to be helped off the court. There's no word yet on the senior point guard's status, but the injury certainly appeared significant enough to linger beyond this game.

And it will be the sour note on a mostly sweet night, as the Gators stormed out to a 28-10 lead, let South Carolina close to within eight points, and then built the lead back to 23 points in the second half before the Gamecocks closed on a 8-1 run that was meaningless — unless you had Florida -16.5.

Patric Young and Casey Prather each had 13 points for the Gators, with Young's seven rebounds leading all players, and Dorian Finney-Smith made up for his four turnovers with eight points, five assists, and four boards. Michael Frazier II canned two of seven threes, and finished with eight points, while Will Yeguete got to eight points after scoring four of Florida's first six.

Wilbekin previously injured his right ankle at the end of Florida's game against Connecticut in December, then returned to action eight days later, in the Gators' game against Kansas, without missing any time. But Florida next plays just three days from now, on Saturday, at surprisingly good Arkansas, and Wilbekin's services would be sorely missed against Mike Anderson's ferocious press if he is unable to go.

With the victory, Florida ties an all-time school record for consecutive home wins, with 24. The Gators last lost in the O'Connell Center in March 2012, when eventual national champion Kentucky scored a 74-59 win over the home team.

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