Sidelines with John Clay

Florida center John Egbunu to miss rest of season with torn ACL

Georgia guard Jordan Harris’ path to the basket is blocked by Florida center John Egbunu during Florida’s 80-76 win over the Bulldogs in Gainesville, Fla. on Jan. 14, 2017.
Georgia guard Jordan Harris’ path to the basket is blocked by Florida center John Egbunu during Florida’s 80-76 win over the Bulldogs in Gainesville, Fla. on Jan. 14, 2017. Associated Press

Just when 15th-ranked Florida was on a huge roll, the Gators suffered bad news Wednesday.

Starting center John Egbunu suffered a torn ACL in the Gators’ 114-95 win over Auburn on Tuesday night and will be out 10 to 12 months.

The 6-foot-11 junior from Nigeria was averaging 7.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He was shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 56.7 percent from the foul line. He had started 19 of 24 games this season.

He had 10 points and four rebounds in just eight minutes before leaving the game at Auburn. Last Saturday, he recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Gators’ 71-62 win over visiting Texas A&M.

Egbunu averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last year as a sophomore. Egbunu tore a ligament in his thumb before the SEC Tournament last season and didn't play for the Gators in the post-season. He averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman.

Florida has won seven straight games and is tied with Kentucky for first place in the SEC. Both teams are 11-2 in the league and 21-5 overall. South Carolina could rejoin those two in first place if the Gamecocks can beat visiting Arkansas on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, the Gators’ 114 points were the most in school history in a conference road game. Florida has scored 100 or more points in multiple road games -- the Gators won 106-71 at LSU on Jan. 25 -- for the first time in school history.

Sophomore Kevarrius Hayes will probably replace Egbunu in the starting lineup. The 6-9 Hayes is averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Schuyler Rimmer, a 6-10 transfer from Stanford, also is a backup at center. He has played in 15 games this season.

After beating Kentucky 88-66 in Gainesville on Feb. 4 -- Egbunu scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds that night -- the Gators play at UK on Feb. 25. That game is set for 2 p.m. on CBS.

Wednesday night, Arkansas-South Carolina is at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network. That’s followed by Alabama at Missouri at 8:30 p.m. on SEC Network. Kentucky is at Missouri next Tuesday, Feb. 21.

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

SEC

Overall

Florida

11-2

21-5

Kentucky

11-2

21-5

South Carolina

10-2

20-5

Arkansas

7-5

18-7

Alabama

7-5

14-10

Ole Miss

7-6

16-10

Georgia

6-7

15-11

Tennessee

6-7

14-12

Texas A&M

5-7

13-11

Vanderbilt

5-7

12-13

Auburn

5-8

16-10

Miss. State

4-8

14-11

Missouri

2-10

7-17

LSU

1-12

9-16

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