Rick Barry's son Canyon breaks Florida record for made free throws in a row

Rick Barry's son Canyon breaks Florida record for made free throws in a row

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 17 Florida is glad to be done with early starts.

Even though coach Mike White switched up the team's routine Saturday and let players sleep in, the Gators turned in another sluggish performance.

Justin Leon scored 18 points, Canyon Barry added 12 and Florida overcame a lackluster start to beat Texas A&M 71-62.

John Egbunu notched his first double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds and then getting the game ball from White, as the Gators (20-5, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) won their sixth consecutive game. After winning each of the last five by double digits, this one was considerably closer than most expected.

"Brain dead is (being) kind," White said. "We'll take it. You learn from every game, positively and negatively. When you learn some of the things about yourself that you didn't do so well and you can still come out with a win against a really good team, that's a positive in and of itself. We were very fortunate."

The Aggies (13-11, 5-7) led 42-41 midway through the second half and looked like they might get their first win in five tries against a ranked team this season. But Florida used a 24-10 run to take the lead and pull away. It started and ended with 3-pointers by Leon, who finished one point shy of tying his career high.

The senior made 7 of 15 shots, including four from behind the arc.

"Huge," White said. "This was the second or third one that if Justin doesn't sprint into a couple of 3s, we probably don't do enough offensively. ... He's turned himself into a shooter."

Barry provided a spark off the bench against Texas A&M's constantly changing defense and made all four of his under-handed free throws to break a school record. He has made 39 in a row, topping the former mark (37) set by Taurean Green during the 2005-06 season.

"Trying to keep it rolling, trying to get to 90 percent," Barry said. "I think I'm close now hopefully, but just step to the line, have confidence every time. It doesn't really mean much. I just care about winning, getting these guys ready for the next game."

Chris Chiozza was the fourth Florida player in double figures, finishing with 11 points.

Robert Williams led the Aggies with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the freshman's seventh double-double of the season.

Texas A&M's undoing was 20 turnovers. It surely didn't help that the Aggies made 4 of 18 from 3-point range and finished with just nine assists.

"You can't turn it over 20 times, miss layups around the basket and win," Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: The Aggies have a talented frontcourt and really took it to the Gators inside, finishing with 30 points in the paint. But they have less depth in the backcourt, and it showed.

Florida: The Gators played their third early start in the last five Saturdays and struggled again. Florida needed overtime to beat Georgia on Jan. 14 and lost to Vanderbilt on Jan. 21. The Gators led by 11 early against the Aggies, looking like they had solved their early start issues, but went into a lethargic stretch that allowed Texas A&M back in it. White tried a lighter practice Thursday and no early morning shootaround on game day. It didn't really work.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M plays at Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Florida plays at Auburn on Tuesday, looking for a seventh straight win that would be the longest in White's two seasons.

Kerr continues to weigh options regarding return to Warriors' bench

Kerr continues to weigh options regarding return to Warriors' bench

OAKLAND -- Though he insists he has made no final decision about returning to coach the Warriors in the NBA Finals, Steve Kerr conceded Monday that he likely would remain in the background throughout the series that begins Thursday

“As of right now, I would not coach,” he said after practice.

“I’m alright; I’m not well enough to coach a game. And I know that from . . . I coached all 82 games and I felt OK. I was uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, but I did fine. I could make it through. The first two games of the Portland series, whatever happened, things got worse.”

Though Kerr has been a constant presence over the past two weeks, this was the first time he presided over practice. Acting coach Mike Brown was ill Monday and did not come to the facility.

“I’d like to tell you that I’m ready, but I’m not ready to coach yet,” Kerr said. “I’m still feeling a lot of the effects of what I’ve got going on.

“I told the team the good news is the team is really healthy, the bad news is the coaching staff is dropping like flies. Hopefully, Mike will be back (Tuesday).”

Kerr last coached a game on April 19, Game 2 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Trail Blazers. He flew with the team to Portland for Games 3 and 4 but did not coach either game. It was on April 23, between Games 3 and 4, that Kerr announced he was taking a leave of absence to pursue remedies for chronic pain in the wake of multiple back surgeries.

The Warriors have gone 10-0 under Brown, who is in frequent communication with Kerr ever since May 10, when the team began preparations for the conference finals.

“I’ve been in every meeting since the San Antonio series started,” Kerr said. “Every film session, every practice. I address the team quite a bit; I think my messaging is important.”

Though Kerr said he plans to accompany the team to Cleveland next week for Games 3 and 4 of The Finals, he continues to weigh his options regarding returning to the bench.

“Once we get to Game 1,” he said, ‘it might be a good time to make a decision one way or the other.”

LeBron doesn't care about long Finals odds: 'I only play blackjack in Vegas'

LeBron doesn't care about long Finals odds: 'I only play blackjack in Vegas'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- There's a four-headed, shot-making, scoreboard-breaking monster out West awaiting LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

The Warriors are stomach-churning scary.

James, though, can't run or hide. With eight NBA Finals appearances under his belt, he is ready to face a team he's called "a beast." After all, he has slayed behemoths before.

Pushing off any talk about the Warriors until after Sunday's practice, James was asked to assess the task at hand: beating Golden State's All-Star-studded lineup of Kevin DurantStephen CurryKlay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Is this the biggest challenge of his career?

"It's probably up there," he said. "I mean, it's up there."

And then, almost as if he was trying to remind himself that he's got three championship rings and is frightful in his own right, James recalled other fearsome postseason opponents - San Antonio and Boston.

"I've played against four Hall of Famers as well, too, with Manu (Ginobili), Kawhi (Leonard), Tony (Parker) and Timmy D (Tim Duncan) on the same team," said James, occasionally sniffling as he continues to fight a cold. "And if you add Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) in there, that's five Hall of Famers. So, it's going to be very challenging. Those guys are going to challenge me, they're going to challenge our ballclub.

"This is a high-powered team."

James also took on a Celtics team loaded with big-name talents.

"I've played against Ray (Allen), KG (Kevin Garnett), Paul (Pierce), (Rajon) Rondo and Doc (Rivers). So, it's going to be very challenging not only on me mentally, but on our ballclub and on our franchise."

Cleveland-Golden State 3.0 is the matchup fans worldwide expected and wanted, and James believes they're in for quite a show.

Both the Cavaliers and Warriors have upgraded their rosters from a year ago, when they went seven games in an epic series that spawned the first comeback from a 3-1 deficit in Finals history and resulted in Cleveland winning its first pro sports championship since 1964.

That Warriors team James conquered in 2016 won 73 games during the regular season and was being mentioned as one of the best to ever take the floor.

Hard to believe, but this version - with Durant - might be even better.

Golden State has been putting on a basketball clinic over the past two months, winning 27 of 28 games since March 11 and becoming the first squad to start the postseason 12-0.

Durant, who previously faced James in the 2012 Finals with Golden State, has taken a great team and elevated it to a nearly unstoppable level.

The Warriors are using Durant in every imaginable way on offense, and James isn't surprised to see his good friend and Olympic teammate more mobile than he was with the Thunder.

"You adapt to the culture," he said. "You adapt to the style and that's the same thing that happened to me when I went to Miami. I started to slash more and move more without the ball, shoot more standstill 3s and figure out ways I could be more productive than just having the ball in isolation. So, it's the right thing to do. He's one of the most dangerous guys we have in the world already. So it makes it even more dangerous when you equip that talent, that skill with those guys."

On the brink of becoming the first player since the early 1960s to play in seven straight Finals, James finds himself in a similar - and somewhat surprising - situation.

The Cavaliers are being given little chance to defend their title against the vaunted Warriors, who have been winning by an average of 16.3 points per game in the playoffs.

For the sixth time, James enters the Finals as an underdog, hardly a role he's accustomed to before June. The only time he won a championship as a Finals favorite was with Miami in 2013, when the Heat upended the Spurs for their second straight title.

James isn't worried about point spreads or any odds.

"I only play blackjack in Vegas anyway, so it doesn't matter," he said.

What does matter is that the 32-year-old is having one of his finest postseasons, and the Cavs are gelling the way they did at this time last year.

Maybe James has nothing to fear.

"I feel good about our chances," he said. "Very good."