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Yeguete responds to Donovan's call

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan openly bashed the effort from his veteran players in the Gators' 101-71 win over Nebraska-Kearney in an exhibition game on Thursday night, but at least one returning player had a solid outing.

Junior forward Will Yeguete racked up a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds) against Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday.

Junior forward Will Yeguete, coming off a broken foot, was all over the place. He racked up 20 points, which would have shattered his career-high had it counted, and also brought down 11 rebounds.

"I was a little nervous because it's been a minute since I played in a real game," Yeguete said. "I just wanted to get out there and just play hard and keep doing what I'm doing. It worked for us [Thursday]. Just have to keep working in practice and get better."

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward added about 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, but it had seemingly stunted his growth in fall practice.

Donovan was upset with the effort he was getting from Yeguete in practice, and he challenged the junior to start fighting through some of the fatigue he was facing to get back to the bouncy, energetic player he was before he bulked up.

"I was really, really upset with him the last four or five days leading up to this (exhibition) going back to last weekend," Donovan said. "I've got to give him a lot of credit because I think the things that I pointed out to him he really tried to address. I'd say from the scrimmage against Rollins, I've seen a different player, a different attitude."

The problems Yeguete had been having weren't necessarily uncorrectable. He just had to focus more on doing the things that made him one of the most valuable players in Florida's lineup a year ago.

Those things weren't happening in practice, and that's what was bugging Donovan.

"I think it's different for him for what he does in terms of like being all over the place and hands, deflections, rebounding," Donovan said. "I didn't think when we started practice he was in great shape, nor were any of our guys, but I also didn't think he was pushing through when he needed to."

He fixed that against Nebraska-Kearney.

His offense was also much improved, too. A handful of times, he put the ball on the floor and beat his man with a dribble and a hook or a floater. If he can add more offense to his game, he'll become even more indispensable as Florida's sixth man.

He worked hard on his post moves over the summer, and it seems to be paying dividends early on.

"I worked on my shooting, my ball-handling, my free-throw shooting a lot, my post moves as well. No question, no question," he said when asked if he's more comfortable offensively. "Having an extra year, I was out for a long time, spent a lot of time working on my game. I definitely feel more comfortable now."

While Donovan's excited about the prospect of a little extra scoring pop from Yeguete, he's urging the junior not to lose focus on the things that make him so valuable for the Gators.

For his part, Yeguete managed to do both successfully in Florida's exhibition win. If he can keep it up, the Gators will be in great shape.

"I think Will has gotten better scoring the ball and he has gotten better around the basket," Donovan said. "But I think where he has carved a niche is where he can not slip, because it makes him a really unique player for us is when he's really defending, he's in the front of the press, he's deflecting, he's offensive rebounding, he's defensive rebounding, he's (getting) tip-ins, he's just doing all these things that you really don't get a chance to see in the stat sheet.

"I think he's really focused on it since the Rollins scrimmage to try to get better. He's done it. I'm proud of the way he played [Thursday] and the way he practiced this week."

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