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GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami/AP) – It’s never an easy trip when you visit the Florida Gators.
Florida may have suffered a major setback while extending the country’s third-longest home winning streak.
With Dorian Finney-Smith not close to 100 percent, the eighth-ranked Gators hope to have enough to get by Miami on Monday night.
Florida’s 68-45 victory over William & Mary on Friday was its 24th consecutive opening win, but Finney-Smith suffered hairline fractures in two fingers on his non-shooting hand, though he had it wrapped and returned to finish with a team-high 15 points in 22 minutes.
The full extent of the injury wasn’t diagnosed until tests confirmed the fractures Saturday. The reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year, who is expected to play a bigger role, has been cleared to play, but he didn’t practice over the weekend and will wear a splint.
“We’re kind of going into the game not expecting to get very much from him,” said coach Billy Donovan, who added that the injury likely won’t improve much for a month.
The Gators, whose 32-game home winning streak trails only the 33-game runs by Duke and Stephen F. Austin, are already without fellow forwards Chris Walker and Alex Murphy. Walker is serving a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules, while Murphy must sit out the first 10 contests after transferring from Duke.
“We obviously don’t have a lot of depth right now, especially across the front line,” Donovan said.
Donovan did get a solid contribution at center from Michigan transfer Jon Horford, who scored 11 on 4-of-5 shooting. Leading returning scorer Michael Frazier II scored 14.
“We’re a well-balanced team,” Frazier said. “On any given night, it can be anybody.”
As well-rounded as the Gators were offensively, they were better on defense, holding the Tribe to 31.6 percent shooting – including a 2-of-22 mark from 3-point range.
Florida, which allowed 57.8 points per game in 2013-14 to rank third nationally, also held preseason Colonial Athletic Association player of the year Marcus Thornton to 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
“I saw some growth individually and some growth collectively,” said Donovan, who had previously said his team wasn’t “remotely close” to deserving its high preseason ranking.
The Hurricanes were led by two Big 12 transfers in Friday’s 84-49 win over Howard. Sheldon McClellan scored 19 on 8-of-12 shooting in his first game since leaving Texas, while former Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez had 16 points and four steals.
Miami held the Bison to 28.6 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers, though it also surrendered 20 offensive rebounds.
The Hurricanes started 7-foot center Tonye Jekiri, who grabbed a game-high 11 boards, but Rodriguez was joined by fellow 5-foot-11 guard Manu Lecomte in the backcourt. Three of four reserves to log double-digit minutes were 6-foot-5 or shorter.
“Our real issue is on the backboards. We’re small,” coach Jim Larranaga said. “We’re going to need to figure out a way to get everybody rebounding.”
Miami is 1-15 in its last 16 road games against top-10 opponents, beating only then-No. 7 Duke in overtime on Feb. 5, 2012.
The Gators lead the all-time series 45-22. The teams haven’t met since Florida’s 74-60 home win in the NIT on March 20, 2009.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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