Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Barry scores 30, No. 15 Florida races past Auburn 114-95

Leave a comment

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) With defensive stops hard to come by, Canyon Barry and the Florida Gators simply scored more than they had all season.

Barry scored a season-high 30 points and the 15th-ranked Gators kept up with high-scoring Auburn for a half, then sprinted away to a 114-95 victory Tuesday night.

Known more for their stingy defense, the Gators (21-5, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) blew past their previous scoring high of 106 points en route to a seventh straight win. They dominated after going into halftime locked in a 50-50 tie, coming out of the locker room on a 13-3 run and never looking back despite losing center John Egbunu to a knee injury early.

“It was an odd game to me,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Outside of early second half we never could find a defensive rhythm. They were fantastic offensively. They’re just very difficult to defend. Good thing for us it was one of those nights where we made a bunch of shots. We made a bunch of shots, we made a bunch of free throws.

“Our guys found a way. Obviously a different way than we won any game last year.”

Florida shot 56 percent from the field and made 11 of 19 3-point attempts and 37 of 42 free throws.

Auburn (16-10, 5-8) became the first team to reach its season average in regulation against the Gators, but couldn’t slow them down on the other end.

The game was so dominated by offense that 13 players scored in double figures. It was also easily the most points allowed by a Florida team that came in giving up 65.2 points per game.

“I don’t think our defense was very good,” Barry said. “They weren’t locked in on scouting reports. The first play of the game, we give up a 3-pointer to one of their best shooters (Purifoy).”

Anfernee McLemore led Auburn with a career-high 19 points, T.J. Dunans had 13 and Ronnie Johnson 12.

KeVaughn Allen scored all 17 of his points in the second half for Florida, which had seven players reach 10 points. Devin Robinson added 14. Kasey Hill had 11 points and 12 assists.

Egbunu had 10 points before leaving with a left knee injury midway through the first half. He didn’t return, and White said he didn’t know the nature of the injury. Egbunu is scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday.

“He was having a heck of a game, too, before he got hurt,” White said.

Barry – who had his made free throw streak end at 42 – made 3 of 5 3-pointers and 11 of 12 foul shots.

“Florida’s a great team,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They’re engaged on both ends of the floor. We got a real treat in seeing Barry play. He’s just a terrific player.”

It’s the first time in nearly two years Auburn has allowed 100 points, the last time against Kentucky on Feb. 21, 2015.

BIG PICTURE

Florida has matched the longest win streak in White’s two seasons. The Gators have won 10 straight meetings, including nine in a row at Auburn.

Auburn hosted Florida for the first time since 2014, with the three meetings since coming in Gainesville. The Tigers allowed 60-plus second-half points for the third straight game. The Tigers started 5 of 6 from 3-point range and made 1 of 15 from there.

STREAK ENDS

Barry’s school-record streak of made free throws ended at 42. Barry, who shoots underhanded like his Hall of Fame father Rick, missed the second of two attempts with 15:20 left in the first half. He still had 13 points in the first 8 minutes.

“You’re going to miss eventually,” Barry said. “Obviously I’d like to make all of them but in basketball and life, you’re not going to.”

UP NEXT

Florida visits Mississippi State on Saturday to continue a stretch with three of four games on the road.

Auburn travels to Texas A&M on Saturday then goes to LSU three days later.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
2 Comments

Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

1 Comment

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
2 Comments

For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.