Tallahassi, Fla. – Florida coach Mike White declined to comment on postgame media. He wanted to go to the hospital to be on the side of Keonte Johnson as soon as possible.
No one can blame him.
Johnson, a pre-season player for the Southeastern Conference, has been sidelined since the end of time against rival Florida State స్టే and is in urgent need of medical help on Saturday. Johnson was removed from the floor on a stretcher and taken to the Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation. The team said he was stable despite the toxic condition and would later be hospitalized overnight.
“I know you’re fighting,” teammate Trey Man tweeted long after the game was over. “God got you.”
Johnson sank into transition before he collapsed to the ground as the team broke its huddle. Many gators shed tears and a couple buried their faces in towels as White gathered them in prayer.
Officers sent two teams to the locker room to reassemble, and the game continued a few minutes later. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said the organizers had given Gators a chance to continue and that they had finally decided to play.
Florida is clearly not the same, surpassing the 80-60 score after Johnson’s abrupt and vague exit. The 20th-ranked Seminoles won 83-71, extending their winning streak in the series to seven and their winning streak at home to 26.
“Please keep praying for Keonte and his family,” White posted on Twitter. “We all love him.”
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl put his team together after practice, Johnson told them about the situation and asked an assistant to join in the prayer. The group posted its video on social media.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 junior from Norfolk, Virginia, averaged 14 points last season and went with 7.1 rebounds. He led the Gators with 38 steals.
He scored five points in four minutes on Saturday.
“Things like that affect you in some negative ways,” Hamilton said. “We’m all hopeful and he’s praying that he’s okay. If it affects our players emotionally, I can imagine what the situation is with his teammates.”
Like many of his Florida colleagues, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s illness is not immediately known, coronavirus is a viral infection of the heart muscle that can lead to myocarditis. In the most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and is a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
Before clearing players to play again after a positive COVID-19 test, the Southeast Conference mandates strict protocols, including a rigorous heart test.