Florida men’s basketball has lost another key weapon in the frontcourt.
Head coach Mike White announced during a media session Friday that senior center Jason Jitoboh is out for the rest of the season following eye surgery. The severity of the injury is still unclear according to White, but the surgery is a nail in the coffin for Jitoboh’s season.
White hasn’t been in touch with Jitoboh yet, but the coach says he hopes the operation turns out well.
Jitoboh suffered the injury against Tennessee in the final minutes of the first half. The center was not cleared to return after being examined by UF medical staff.
“I would ask you guys to keep him in your thoughts and prayers,” White said. “You wouldn't want it for anybody but (Jitoboh’s) a wonderful young man. It's just a really tough scenario for him.”
White had to adjust his offense to an outside attack while missing his best frontcourt monsters. The head coach admits they were ill-equipped for the last-minute adjustments, but the team was able to perfect an outside shooting regime this week in practice.
White also spotlighted the Gator vices from poor play on the glass, turnovers and decision making.
Now, it may be up to senior forward Anthony Duruji to pave the lane in the frontcourt, but White says that even he has to improve his skill set.
“You know, we got to pick our spots too. (Duruji) had six turnovers the other night,” White said. “I love him. He was terrific in some other areas, but he also passed on some open looks and made it a little bit more difficult on himself, driving into traffic.”
Duruji is the second-best shooter on the team (57.9%) and has displayed the ability to finish in the paint with powerful slams.
Jitoboh is the second UF big to go down this year after senior forward Colin Castleton was diagnosed with a left shoulder injury sometime before the Gators’ home matchup against Mississippi State.
The 6-foot-11 inch big man-made four starts since Castleton’s sudden disappearance and filled his shoes well. The Abuja, Nigeria, native shot 76.4%, including a perfect 6-6 against Ole Miss, and struck fear in the paint with four blocks.
Florida will go into a home defense against Oklahoma State Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff from inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is set for 4 p.m. and will broadcast on ESPN 2.
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