Florida guard Eli Carter cleared to play against defending champs after re-injuring foot

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GAINESVILLE, Florida — Florida guard Eli Carter probably will play against defending national champion Connecticut after all.

Minutes after coach Billy Donovan said Thursday that Carter was doubtful for the Final Four rematch between two struggling teams, the 6-foot-2 junior practiced fully on his sprained left foot.

Carter re-injured his foot during Tuesday's loss at Florida State and missed practice Wednesday. It was the same injury that prompted him to sit out four games earlier this season. Carter spent much of Wednesday in the training room, causing Donovan to think he would miss another practice Thursday. But Carter ended up joining his teammates on the floor.

"These decisions, once the doctor and trainers clear him to go, it's kind of on him how he feels," Donovan said before practice. "When he was cleared to play (earlier), he elected not to. He didn't think he could. He felt like it was still bothering him. From our standpoint right now, whenever the doctors clear him to play, he's going to be cleared. ... That's a decision Eli's got to make."

Carter is averaging 6.7 points this season. However, he scored 29 in the first two games before getting hurt.

The former Rutgers transfer missed most of last season while recovering from a broken right leg. He also missed a fifth game this year while recovering from strep throat.

Florida and UConn will meet for the third time in the last 13 months. The Huskies won both previous matchups, including in a national semifinal in north Texas in April.

Nine months later, both teams look to be in jeopardy of getting back to the NCAA tournament. The Gators (7-5) have lost each meaningful matchup this season, and the Huskies (6-5) have dropped five of their last eight.

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