Micah Handlogten is expected to have surgery for a fractured leg, Florida coach Todd Golden confirmed after the SEC Tournament championship game. Golden said he was not sure if Handlogten will be staying in the hospital overnight.

“Our program is really appreciative of our medical staff, the SEC medical staff, and even Auburn’s group for how quickly they responded, comforted him, were able to kind of get him under control, take care of him. We’re thankful for that,” Golden said in the opening statement of his postgame press conference.

“I think he’ll probably have surgery later today, tonight. Hopefully, he will have a quick and speedy recovery.”

Later on, Golden was asked about his team recovering from the shock of Handlogten’s gruesome injury that required the Florida big to be stretchered off the court.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s not something you can necessarily prepare for. It kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit,” Golden told reporters. “The biggest part is that Micah has good relationships with his teammates. Those guys love him. He’s an incredible teammate. Even when he’s not playing his best, he has great energy on the bench, is always supporting all the guys on the floor.

“Losing him so early to such a serious injury, just human nature took over a little bit. Guys were emotional. We had guys, whether it was players or staff members, in tears on the sideline, just trying to kind of compose ourselves.”

Later, Golden had tears himself talking about his sophomore center.

“Yeah, it’s tough, man, ’cause he’s a great kid,” Golden said, tearing up. “You just hate to see it for him because he does everything the right way. He works hard. That’s a super fluky injury that you don’t see very often in this game.

“Especially when a young guy like him that’s worked so hard to get to this point, playing in a big-time game like this, to go out that way, I just feel for him.”

Without Handlogten, Florida made a 2nd-half run before Auburn put it away

On the court, the loss of Handlogten was a depth blow to a Florida team battling the fatigue of playing its fourth game in as many days.

Handlogten’s injury occurred in the opening minutes. The Gators trailed by 8 at the end of the 1st half, which became 11 after Auburn’s 3-pointer to open the 2nd half.

Florida managed a 14-4 run to get within 1 point. When Auburn got going again, the Tigers made sure to put the game away. Golden did not point to fatigue, focusing on where Auburn was the better team.

“Once they kind of got that thing back up to 8 or 10, felt like it was going to be hard to cut that lead back again,” Golden said.

“It’s one of those things, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to come back from those deficits the past couple days. But this is a different team, different level team than we played the last couple days. Even though we were able to get it to one, we just didn’t play quite well enough, and we didn’t have the ability to keep at it that way.

“Again, they took advantage of our mistakes, like good teams do. Combination of us maybe not having everything we need to get it all the way back, and them just not allowing us to do that was the difference.”

A starter in all games but 1, Handlogten gave the Gators over 20 minutes per contest before his injury. It’s a significant loss at tournament time, but Florida is fortunate to have multiple bigs who regularly contribute. We’ll see how UF fairs in the Big Dance down a starter.