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Haas’ free throw gives No. 5 Purdue 70-69 win over Michigan
Isaac Haas made only 55 percent of his free throws as a freshman.
Now a senior, the Purdue big man is a lot more reliable – and when he drew a foul in the final seconds of a tie game, the 7-foot-2 Haas was confident.
“What goes through your head is all those times you practiced,” Haas said. “It was just natural for me. I knew once I got fouled, I was going to make at least one.”
Haas made a go-ahead free throw with four seconds remaining and No. 5 Purdue remained unbeaten in the Big Ten with a 70-69 victory over Michigan on Tuesday night.
The Boilermakers (16-2, 5-0) have won 12 in a row, while the Wolverines had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Purdue is 5-0 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90.
The clutch shot by Haas was part of a tense sequence in which the Boilermakers were given the ball after a long replay review. It initially appeared the Wolverines would be the team with a chance to win the game with the shot clock turned off.
A tight, back-and-forth second half came to a standstill in the final seconds when Michigan’s Charles Matthews lost the ball while driving to the basket. Possession was originally awarded to the Wolverines (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten), but after the review, officials changed the call and gave it to Purdue with 6.2 seconds left.
“I really was convinced we had a play set up, we were going to win the game,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “And all of a sudden they’re winning the game.”
Michigan had a foul to give and used it with 4.8 seconds to play, but the Boilermakers, who were out of timeouts, were able to get the ball well into the frontcourt before the foul. Purdue then inbounded from the sideline near its bench. The ball went to Haas in the post, and Michigan’s Moe Wagner reached around from behind to knock it away.
The whistle blew, a foul was called on Wagner, and Haas made the front end of a one-and-one to give Purdue the lead. He missed the second free throw, Michigan rushed the ball up the court and Matthews took a desperation shot just after crossing midcourt that hit the rim but missed.
Zavier Simpson led Michigan with 15 points. Haas scored 17 for Purdue, and Carsen Edwards added 19.
Hoosiers hold off pesky Penn St. 74-70 in defensive grinder
Indiana coach Archie Miller gave his team one basic instruction Tuesday night.
Find a way to win.
The Hoosiers seem to have figured it out. Juwan Morgan cleaned up on the dirty work by scoring 21 points with 11 rebounds, Josh Newkirk finished with 16 points and Devonte Green made four free throws in the final 7.5 seconds to seal a 74-70 victory over Penn State.
“Right now, it’s about playing to win, going out and getting wins,” Miller said. “Tonight, against a good Penn State team, I thought we played to win. We weren’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but we were locked in.”
Easy? No way.
But playing with passion, precision, poise and pride is precisely what Indiana’s new coach has been stressing and the results are starting to show.
The Hoosiers (10-7, 3-2 Big Ten) have strung together back-to-back wins for the first time in conference play this season and have won four of five – their best stretch of the season.
While the stats and style points left plenty to be desired, the consistency Miller has been searching for was there.
“We have done that twice, had the big win and then a falloff and we addressed that,” said Collin Hartman, who had 10 points and five rebounds despite playing with a brace around his sore right shoulder. “That’s something we have to get better at and continue to work on and that is you have to come ready every day.”
It was that kind of game.
Newkirk departed with 8:38 to play, had his mouth and nose checked by team doctors and returned for the closing minutes after being cleared.
Morgan, meanwhile, started fast and finished strong as he continued to match up with bigger, stronger players as center De’Ron Davis continues to recover from an injured lower right leg.
And Green, who continues to figure out his role, scored seven of his 13 points in the final 6:20.
Penn State (12-6, 2-3) sure didn’t make it easy, though.
After Robert Johnson‘s 3-pointer gave Indiana a 47-36 lead with 15:15 to go, the Nittany Lions charged back with a 7-2 spurt and made it 56-53 on Carr’s short floater with 7:22 left.
Indiana answered with a basket from Morgan and Green’s 3.
The Nittany Lions continued fighting back. They got within four twice in the final minute and then made it 70-67 on Tony Carr‘s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left. After two free throws from Green, Nazeer Bostick made another 3 with 1.5 seconds left to close to 72-70 before Green sealed it with two free throws.
Carr finished with 28 points and Lamar Stevens had 20.
“We’re going to compete that’s for sure, but we’ve got to learn how to finish now.” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Young’s 27 lift No. 9 Oklahoma over No. 8 Texas Tech 75-65
Texas Tech’s aggressive defense made Trae Young look like a typical freshman in the first half.
Young was back to being his dynamic self in the second. The national scoring leader had 22 of his 27 points after the break to help No. 9 Oklahoma beat No. 8 Texas Tech 75-65 on Tuesday night.
Young, who also leads the country in assists, made just 1 of 12 shots in the first half. He drained 6 of 11 in the second to help the Sooners bounce back from a loss to No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.
The Red Raiders simply couldn’t keep up with Young for 40 minutes.
“We had a couple lapses, but that’s basketball,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I just think what he does is that he exposes your lapse every time. There are mistakes all over in every game, but there are only certain players like Trae that can put the ball wherever he wants.”
Young also had nine assists and four steals for Oklahoma (13-2, 3-1 Big 12), which won its 11th straight at home.
It was a special night for Young, whose father, Rayford, averaged 14.1 points for Texas Tech from 1996 to 2000.
“I had a lot of emotions and I let that get to me,” Trae Young said. “I just settled down the second half. Got more spacing and found my teammates in the second half.”
Oklahoma shot 56 percent in the second half. Texas Tech entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 59 points per game.
Christian James had 15 points and Khadeem Lattin added 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Sooners.
Lattin anchored a strong defensive effort for a team that is better known for lighting up the scoreboard.
Keenan Evans scored 19 points for Texas Tech (14-2, 3-1). He was the only Red Raider to reach double figures. Tech shot 37 percent overall.
“We didn’t give them many easy looks,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “A lot of them were contested. They had six assists the whole game so we did a pretty good job of defending shooters and making them earn their points.”
Tech led 31-29 at halftime after holding the Sooners, the nation’s top scoring team, to 31 percent shooting. Young still made his mark with six assists and four steals in the first half.
Young hit his first 3-pointer nearly three minutes into the second half to give the Sooners a 36-31 lead. He followed that with two more to push the advantage to 11.
Tech later closed the gap to four, but the Sooners bounced back again. Young’s 3-pointer on a scramble with just under five minutes left made it 68-59. He found James for a 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining to bump the lead to 13.
Panthers fire offensive coordinator Shula, QBs coach Dorsey
Panthers coach Ron Rivera fired longtime offensive coordinator Mike Shula on Tuesday, saying the team’s offense needs a “different perspective.”
Along with Shula, the Panthers also cut ties with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey two days after a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“I believe we need some different ideas going forward,” Rivera said at a news conference.
Shula spent seven seasons with Carolina, working as the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013.
Carolina was 11-5 this season and finished 19th in total offense, but again struggled moving the ball through the air and was 28th in passing. The Panthers were 12th in scoring.
Rivera said the Panthers already have “a few” candidates in mind, and strongly hinted it will be someone with NFL experience, not a college coach, from outside the organization.
Among some of the potential candidates that make sense are Norv Turner, whose son Ron was hired as an offensive consultant by the Panthers last June, and Rob Chudzinski, who worked as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012 before taking over as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Rivera was a defensive coach under Turner with the then-San Diego Chargers from 2007-10.
“It signals an opportunity that we are looking to get better and continue to grow,” Rivera said.
“That is what the move was made for. Something different, something additional can give us the boost that I’m looking for that can help us get to the ultimate goal, and that is winning the Super Bowl.”
The news comes one day after Rivera seemed to give his entire coaching staff an endorsement.
However, the two-time AP Coach of the Year said he woke up at 3 in the morning and began looking at his notes.
He started to have second thoughts and decided to meet with interim general manager Marty Hurney about the decision.
Then he made the change.
Rivera was vague on exactly what bothered him about the offense this past season and prompted the change in thinking, but when asked about the team’s lack of an identity he said, “you want to be able to understand this is who we are and this is what we do.”
Giants interview Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks
The New York Giants have interviewed Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for their vacant head coaching job.
The 48-year-old Wilks met with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, new general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams at the team’s headquarters on Tuesday, two days after the Panthers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by New Orleans.
Wilks has close ties to Gettleman, who was Carolina’s general manager until being fired before the start of this past season. This was his sixth year with the Panthers and first as defensive coordinator.
The Giants are nearing the end of their first round of coaching interviews. They plan to speak with recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville on Wednesday.
In the past week, they have interviewed interim coach Steve Spagnuolo, New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia and Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
This marked the first time Tisch took part in the interview process, which might indicate an added level of interest on the part of the Giants.
Wilks also plans to talk to the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday and the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday about their vacant head coaching jobs.
The Panthers’ defense ranked seventh in the NFL in 2017, allowing an average of 317.1 yards. Carolina was third against the run (88.1 yards) and third in sacks with 50.
Wilks also coached the San Diego Chargers secondary from 2009-11 and the Chicago Bears defensive backs from 2006-08. He coached 11 seasons on the collegiate level, working as a defensive backs coach, defensive coordinator and head coach.
“I think he gets guys to relate to him, get on the same page, get on the same scheme,” Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said Monday as the Panthers cleaned out their lockers.
“He comes to work every day and guys respect that. Just his whole personality. His mentality of getting guys to play how you want to play. He’s a good coach for that.”
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Wilks uses an aggressive style as a coach.
“Coach Wilks has earned that right (to be a head coach),” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said. “He has done a tremendous job of coming in and taking over this defense and really giving us a chance to be successful.”
Gruden welcomed back to Raiders 16 years after departure
Jon Gruden finally decided the time was right to finish what he nearly achieved in his first stint in Oakland and deliver another Super Bowl title to the Raiders.
Nearly 16 years after he was traded to Tampa Bay following a crushing loss in the “Tuck Rule” game in New England and after a six-year courtship by Raiders owner Mark Davis, Gruden is officially back in Oakland where he started his head coaching career 20 years ago.
Gruden was introduced Tuesday in front of a large crowd that included nearly 50 former Raiders and nine Pro Football Hall of Famers as the coach Davis believes can carry Derek Carr and the Raiders back to the top.
The Raiders nearly got there in Gruden’s first stint from 1998-2001 but the team lost to Baltimore in the 2000 AFC title game and followed that with the memorable loss in the snow against the Patriots that still haunts the franchise.
Gruden was then traded to Tampa Bay the following month for four draft picks and $8 million. He beat Oakland in the Super Bowl the next season but always identified with the Raiders.
“For my career to end that night in New England, it still ticks me off,” Gruden said. “I’m so thrilled to be back here. I hope people understand the emotion inside. I feel there’s unfinished business. I also feel a lot of loyalty and I feel a lot of responsibility to get the Raiders going again. It’s been a while since we consistently performed at a high level. That’s all I care about.
“I’m going to do everything I can to help this team get right again.”
Davis said he had been trying to bring Gruden back for six years ever since taking over the franchise following his father’s death. He said he thought he had been close four times before and the opportunity was finally right this year after more than a dozen cross-country recruiting trips to Tampa, Florida.
Davis said he first got an inkling Gruden might be ready to return when he met with him during the season when the Raiders spent a week in Florida to talk about how to fix a team that was struggling after winning 12 games a year ago under Jack Del Rio.
Talks became even more serious when they met on Christmas Eve before the Raiders played in Philadelphia in a game Gruden worked for ESPN. That led Davis to decide to cut ties with Del Rio and finalize a deal with Gruden.
Gruden will get a 10-year contract worth about $100 million, a person familiar with the deal said on condition of anonymity because terms had not been released.
“Everybody knows I’ve been infatuated with him or whatever to get him here, but they really didn’t know how deep our conversations were going, how far along we were in that to make it happen,” Davis said. “Somebody asked me, what was harder – to get the 31 votes to move to Las Vegas? Or to get Jon Gruden? And by far to get Jon Gruden was the toughest.”
Gruden returns to the sideline after nine seasons as an announcer at ESPN. He said he’s eager to take over a team with a promising young quarterback in Carr.
Gruden said he hopes the familiarity with new offensive coordinator Greg Olsen, who had that role in Carr’s rookie season in 2014, will help Carr bounce back after regressing this season from the form that made him an MVP candidate in 2016.
Chargers retain coordinators Gus Bradley, Ken Whisenhunt
The Los Angeles Chargers have retained defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
The Chargers announced the return of head coach Anthony Lynn’s top two assistants Tuesday.
Continuity on the coaching staff was a major offseason goal for Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco after the Chargers (9-7) barely missed the playoffs in their relocation season. Los Angeles won nine of its final 12 games, including five straight at StubHub Center.
Bradley was a hot commodity in the offseason coaching market after putting together one of the NFL’s top defenses in his first season with the Chargers. Their 17 points allowed per game was third-best in the league, and they ranked among the leaders with 43 sacks and 18 interceptions.
The former Jacksonville head coach joined Los Angeles on a one-year contract last winter.
Whisenhunt’s powerful offense ranked fourth in the NFL with 376.6 yards per game, with quarterback Philip Rivers enjoying a resurgent 4,515-yard season alongside 1,393-yard receiver Keenan Allen and 1,105-yard rusher Melvin Gordon.
Whisenhunt, the former Arizona and Tennessee head coach, rejoined the Chargers in 2016, one year before Lynn became their head coach.
No. 2 West Virginia escapes with 57-54 win over Baylor
Handed its highest ranking in 58 years, West Virginia was lethargic against Baylor for nearly the entire game. It took Jevon Carter getting free for the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute to keep the nation’s longest winning streak going.
Carter, a senior, got around a screen set by teammate Sagaba Konate to sink a long jumper from the right wing with 57.5 seconds left and No. 2 West Virginia escaped with a 57-54 victory Tuesday night.
“Just like I drew it up,” joked West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “Our young guys have a tendency to get out of sorts. (Carter) took it upon himself to make a play.”
Baylor expected Carter to have the ball at the end of a tight game.
“We said in the huddle, `It’s Carter time,’ so big players make big plays and that’s why they’re good players,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “I’ll be really happy to see him walk across that stage and graduate, by the way.”
West Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) struggled to make shots the entire game but extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15, its best since winning 22 straight in 1988-89.
The Mountaineers, who had little inside success on offense against the taller Bears (11-5, 1-3), shot 31.1 percent (19 of 61) from the floor and were held to their lowest point total of the season.
A year ago Wednesday, Baylor came to Morgantown unbeaten and with its first No. 1 AP ranking in program history. The Bears were blown out 89-68.
The setup was the opposite this time. West Virginia has its highest ranking in the AP poll since being ranked No. 2 during Jerry West’s senior year in December 1959.
The Mountaineers came out flat against Baylor, falling behind by nine points early before fighting back to tie it at halftime. West Virginia never trailed in the second half but let the Bears stay close in a game with few scoring runs. Baylor made one field goal over the final eight minutes.
Daxter Miles Jr. threw the ball away but raced to the other end of the court to save it from going out of bounds on Baylor’s fast break, leading to Carter’s tiebreaking 3 for a 54-51 lead.
“I’m the point guard so I always want the ball in my hands,” Carter said. “I just came off the ball screen and had a little bit of space and I knocked it in. We came up big and we did what we were supposed to do.”
Miles then forced Manu Lecomte into missing an off-balanced jumper as the shot clock expired. Miles made a free throw with 15.8 seconds left and, after Baylor’s Jake Lindsey hit a 3-pointer with four seconds to go, Carter was fouled and made both free throws for the final margin.
Lecomte’s 3-point try at the buzzer was long and right.
Miles and Lamont West led West Virginia with 12 points apiece.
Lecomte led Baylor with 13 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.
Ellington scores winning basket as Heat beat Raptors 90-89
Wayne Ellington leads Miami in 3-pointers, which made Tuesday’s game-winning basket a bit of a surprise.
Ellington converted a go-ahead driving layup with less than a second remaining, and the Heat stopped Toronto’s 12-game home winning streak with a 90-89 victory over the Raptors.
“That’s probably the last thing anybody would think that he would do is put the ball on the floor,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think it caught everybody by surprise, including me.”
It was the only basket of the second half for Ellington, who finished with 15 points.
Ellington said he considered shooting after catching the inbounds pass from Goran Dragic, but decided to drive along the baseline past Toronto’s Pascal Siakam before laying the ball in off the glass.
“I looked at the rim and I saw him just charging hard,” Ellington said. “Obviously, that’s what they wanted to take away from me, was that 3-ball in the corner. I was able to get loose, man, and get around him.”
Like his coach, Dragic also was surprised when Ellington didn’t launch a 3.
“I thought he was going to shoot it but he made a great read,” Dragic said.
Dragic had 24 points and matched his career high with 12 rebounds as Miami extended its season-best winning streak to five. Bam Adebayo had 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds and Hassan Whiteside collected 13 points and 15 boards for the Heat, who had dropped their previous five visits to Toronto.
The Raptors were without point guard Kyle Lowry after the three-time All-Star bruised his tailbone during Monday’s overtime win at Brooklyn.
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points as the Raptors lost for the first time in six games and failed to break the franchise record for consecutive home victories. Serge Ibaka finished with 11 after he was ejected in the second half.
“We let them get easy points,” DeRozan said.
It was Toronto’s first home loss since Nov. 5 against Washington, a game in which Lowry was ejected early in the second quarter. The Raptors are 14-2 at home.
Ibaka and Miami’s James Johnson were ejected after trading punches at 7:50 of the third quarter. The skirmish began when the two started shoving one another while waiting for the ball to be inbounded under the Miami basket. Officials reviewed the incident before giving both players technical fouls and ejections.
Djokovic returns from injury layoff with dominating win
Novak Djokovic stopped quickly, abruptly changed directions and stabbed at a full-stretch volley that whizzed past Dominic Thiem for a winner.
He then turned and beamed. Djokovic is back after the longest injury layoff of his career and he’s clearly enjoying himself on the court again.
Wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm to protect his troublesome elbow, Djokovic dominated the fifth-ranked Thiem 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday in an exhibition match at the Kooyong Classic, a key tune-up event for next week’s Australian Open.
Still smiling afterward, Djokovic said he’d had doubts whether he’d be ready to play the first Grand Slam of the year, but the win over Thiem was a major confidence boost.
“Obviously, I was waiting for this moment for six months to get out on the court and play a match,” he said. “Also, I got a great opponent today, the No. 5 in the world, so it was a fantastic test for me to see where I am.”
Djokovic, who had been sidelined with the elbow injury since a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon last year, initially planned to play in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi and then a tournament in Qatar to start the season, but withdrew from both due to lingering pain in his elbow.
He still traveled to Melbourne hoping to be fit to play in the Australian Open, where he’s won six of his 12 career Grand Slam titles. Despite playing pain-free on Wednesday, he said he’s still taking it “day by day.”
“I don’t want to be over-confident,” he said. “Obviously, I’m very, very happy with the way it went today, but I don’t want to say it’s 100 percent. I’ll say that when I start a tournament and when I get to actually feel that it’s 100 percent. For now, I’m in the (Australian Open) and let’s hope with God’s grace that everything will be fine in the next five days.”
Djokovic displayed few signs of rust after his lengthy time away from the game, hitting penetrating groundstrokes deep into the corners, moving extremely well and volleying with precision.
He also unveiled a more compact service motion intended to put less pressure on his elbow that resulted in three aces in a single game against Thiem in the first set.
Perhaps the biggest change was his more relaxed mood on the court – a major contrast to his demeanor during his recent slump from late 2016 to mid-2017 when struggled in the majors and lost his No. 1 ranking.
Freshly confident, Djokovic will now head to Melbourne Park with the aim of replicating Roger Federer’s feat at last year’s Australian Open, when the Swiss star returned from his own six-month injury layoff and surprisingly won the title.
“Luckily for me, I’m here,” Djokovic said. “So glad to be back and so nice to start in a country and a city where I have the greatest memories.”