Pittsburgh 19 Baltimore 14
INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL- NCC/AREA
Highland 60 River Forest 30
Leo 49 Fort Wayne Wayne 39
Purdue Poly Englewood 65 Indiana Deaf 47
Shawe Memorial 62 Medora 47
Caston 50 Pioneer 32
INDIANA GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL – NCC/AREA
Kokomo 60 Lafayette Jeff 35
Union County 50 Talawanda OH 47
Winchester 60 Delta 48
Andrean 63 Hammond Morton 16
Carroll (Fort Wayne) 83 Fort Wayne Northrop 47
Eastbrook 62 Southwood 38
Evansville Mater Dei 69 Evansville Reitz 35
Frankton 70 Eastern (Greentown) 24
Hanover Central 69 Hammond Gavit 34
Indianapolis Scecina 49 Indianapolis Herron 24
Indianapolis Tindley 66 Indiana Deaf 21
Jac-Cen-Del 86 Hauser 32
Kokomo 60 Lafayette Jeff 35
Linton-Stockton 64 Owen Valley 33
New Haven 68 Fort Wayne Wayne 55
Noblesville 50 Hamilton Southeastern 39
Pendleton Heights 64 Yorktown 58 OT
Rising Sun 53 South Dearborn 45
Rochester 56 Peru 39
Silver Creek 83 Clarksville 23
South Adams 65 Fort Wayne Canterbury 17
Tipton 66 Taylor 33
Tri-Central 57 Wes-Del 27
Triton 38 LaVille 29
Union City 81 Monroe Central 44
Union County 50 Talawanda (Ohio) 47
West Lafayette 75 Crawfordsville 18
Westville 50 Gary 21st Century 14
Winchester 60 Delta 48
Pioneer 49 Caston 32
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-TOP 25
#1 Gonzaga 87 #11 West Virginia 82
#2 Baylor 82 #5 Illinois 69
#17 Texas 69 #14 North Carolina 67
Missouri 83 #21 Oregon 75
#22 Florida State 86 N. Florida 58
#23 Ohio State 77 Morehead State 44
Indiana 79 Stanford 63
Florida 76 Army 69
Cincinnati 67 Lipscomb 55
Kent State 90 Point Park 41
Pacific 74 Montana State 70 OT
Penn State 72 VCU 69
South Florida 76 Florida Gulf Coast 57
BYU 74 St. John’s 68
Clemson 75 South Carolina State 38
Eastern Kentucky 95 USC Upstate 78
Duquesne 81 North Carolina Greensboro 68
Illinois State 177 Greenville 108
Flagler 92 Central Michigan 73
Hartford 66 Fairfield 61
Furman 89 Southern Wesleyan 49
South Dakota State 71 Iowa State 68
Jacksonville 78 Presbyterian 65
Michigan 84 Ball State 65
Southern Illinois 73 Northern Illinois 53
Rhode Island 76 Seton Hall 63
Texas A&M 73 Tarleton State 66
Xavier 79 Tennessee Tech 48
Wichita State 85 Oral Roberts 80
Alabama 88 Providence 71
Alabama Birmingham 73 Kennesaw State 48
McNeese State 140 Dallas Christian 37
Middle Tennessee 78 Murray State 61
Drexel 66 Quinnipiac 48
Southern Illinois 87 SE. Missouri State 79 OT
Memphis 83 Arkansas State 54
Louisiana 66 New Orleans 63
Tennessee Martin 93 Evansville 87 2OT
SMU 102 Houston Baptist 75
Southern Mississippi 80 William Carey 53
Old Dominion 80 Norfolk State 66
Arkansas 72 Texas Arlington 60
San Francisco 85 Nevada 60
Northwestern 92 Arkansas Pine Bluff 49
Wyoming 94 UIW 83 OT
Dixie State 74 North Dakota 73
Davidson 77 UNLV 73
Southeast Louisiana 81 California Baptist 80
Washington State 59 Oregon State 55
Santa Clara 53 Bakersfield 47
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-TOP 25
#6 Mississippi state 106 New Orleans 51
#12 Texas A&M 80 Lamar 63
#19 Ohio State 103 Kent State 47
#22 Syracuse 90 Lincoln PA 39
#23 Iowa State 91 TCU 68
#25 Texas 84 Louisiana Tech 57
Bradley 66 Wright State 61
Milwaukee 64 Marquette 55
Minnesota 72 Eastern Illinois 68
Eastern Michigan 77 Ball State 58
Valparaiso 62 Illinois 59
COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thursday, Dec. 3
Louisiana Tech at North Texas | 6 p.m. | CBSSN
Air Force at Utah State | 9:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Friday, Dec. 4
Louisiana at Appalachian State | 7 p.m. | ESPN2
Boise State at UNLV | 9:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Southern Miss at UTEP — CANCELED
Saturday, Dec. 5
Ohio State at Michigan State | 12 p.m. | ABC
Texas at Kansas State | 12 p.m. | FOX
Oklahoma State at TCU | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
Nebraska at Purdue | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Western Carolina at North Carolina | 12 p.m. | ACC Network
Penn State at Rutgers | 12 p.m. | BTN
Arkansas at Missouri | 12 p.m. | SEC Network
Kansas at Texas Tech | 12 p.m. | FS2
Rice at Marshall | 12 p.m. | ESPN+
Memphis at Tulane | 12 p.m. | ESPN+
Kent State at Miami (Ohio) | 12 p.m. | CBSSN
FIU at Charlotte | 12 p.m. | ESPN3
Toledo at Northern Illinois | 12 p.m. | ESPN3
Liberty at Coastal Carolina | 2 p.m. | ESPNU
Bowling Green at Akron | 2 p.m. | ESPN3
Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan | 2 p.m. | ESPN+
Troy at South Alabama | 2 p.m. | ESPN3
Syracuse at Notre Dame | 2:30 p.m. | NBC
UL Monroe at Arkansas State | 3 p.m. | ESPN3
Florida at Tennessee | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
Maryland at Michigan | 3:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
West Virginia at Iowa State | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
Indiana at Wisconsin | 3:30 p.m. | ABC
Iowa at Illinois | 3:30 p.m. | FS1
Boston College at Virginia | 3:30 p.m. | RSN
Buffalo at Ohio | 3:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Tulsa at Navy | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN2
Stanford at Washington | 4 p.m. | FOX
Vanderbilt at Georgia | 4 p.m. | SEC Network
Georgia Tech at NC State | 4 p.m. | ACC Network
Hawai’i at San Jose State | 4 p.m. | Spectrum Sports
Ball State at Central Michigan | 5:30 p.m. | ESPNU
Florida Atlantic at Georgia Southern | 6 p.m. | ESPN3
Oregon at Cal | 7 p.m. | ESPN
Colorado State at San Diego State | 7 p.m. | CBSSN
Colorado at Arizona | 7 p.m. | FS1
Clemson at Virginia Tech | 7:30 | ABC
South Carolina at Kentucky | 7:30 p.m. | SEC Network
Alabama at LSU | 8 p.m. | CBS
Miami at Duke | 8 p.m. | ACC Network
Baylor at Oklahoma | 8 p.m. | FOX
Houston at SMU | 9 p.m. | ESPNU
UCLA at Arizona State | 10:30 p.m. | FS1
Oregon State at Utah | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN
Wyoming at New Mexico | 10:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Fresno State at Nevada | 10:30 p.m. | FS2
Florida State at Duke — POSTPONED
Northwestern at Minnesota — CANCELED
Sunday, Dec. 6
UAB at Middle Tennessee State | 2:30 p.m. | TBD
Washington State at USC | 9 p.m. | FS1
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The question following IU’s 22-point loss to Texas Tuesday afternoon was how Archie Miller’s Hoosiers would bounce back Wednesday vs. Stanford.
Would IU hang its collective head, continue its offensive struggles, and face a real battle against the Cardinal? Or would Indiana refocus, right the ship, and show that the Texas loss was a blip instead of the beginning of a trend?
The Hoosiers gave a clear answer, proving Tuesday was just a hiccup.
Sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead Indiana to a 79-63 win in the third-place game of the Camping World Maui Invitational.
“I’ve said this before, we have a no-maintenance group,” Miller said. “It wasn’t like at the end of the (Texas) game, the sky was falling everywhere else. Our team was fine. We have a high character group that likes one another. And to be quite honest with you, Trayce needed to get lit up. He needed to get going, and we’re not going to be going where we need to be unless he plays at a really extremely high level, and he answered the bell today.”
IU also got a big game from sophomore Armaan Franklin, who stuffed the box score with 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in the victory.
Indiana came out aggressive to take control of the game in the first few minutes. After trading baskets early, IU went on a 7-0 run spurred by five points from Jackson-Davis to take an 11-4 run. Stanford answered with a Bryce Wills score in the paint, but IU freshman Trey Galloway responded with a pass to Jackson-Davis that resulted in a dunk and a foul. Jackson-Davis converted the free throw to give IU a 16-8 edge.
Stanford used an 11-6 run to pull within three at 22-19 following a pull-up 3-pointer from Daejon Davis with 10:17 left in the half, and the lead remained at three a couple minutes later when IU once again got rolling.
Race Thompson took a pass from freshman Anthony Leal and knocked down a 3-pointer to put Indiana up 27-21, and Jerome Hunter added a driving lay-up off a pass from Franklin two possessions later to rebuild the Indiana lead to eight. Stanford ran off five straight points to pull within 29-26, but IU still took a 31-26 lead into the break.
“When you’re in this type of situation—and I’ve seen it 1,000 times—you get exposed to a lot of things you weren’t ready for,” Miller said. “For our team, we got punched in the mouth (vs. Texas), and to be able to get back up and respond better and deal with it the way we did shows what I think you’re going to need in this type of season.”
The Hoosiers made a statement in the first five minutes of the second half by scoring 11 of the first 15 points out of the break, a run that was capped off with a 3-pointer from freshman Khristian Lander off a pass from Thompson that put Indiana up 42-30. Still, Stanford refused to go away, and IU started missing shots.
Stanford’s Noah Taitz drilled a 3-pointer, and Ziaire Williamson knocked down a pair of free throws. Following a Lander miss, James Keefe scored on a lay-up to cut the lead to 43-37. After missed inside scoring opportunity from Jackson-Davis, Stanford’s Davis converted a pair of free throws to pull the Cardinal within four.
The teams traded missed shots before IU guard Rob Phinisee drained a 3-pointer in transition off a pass from Franklin, and following a Stanford score, Phinisee knocked down another to push the Indiana lead back to eight.
IU still led 55-47 when Jackson-Davis took over. He scored on a dunk off a pass from Leal, then he scored again in the paint off an assist from Lander. He was fouled on that play, and he converted the three-point play with the additional free throw. A minute later, Lander drained a pair of free throws to put the Hoosiers up 15 at 62-47, and Stanford never threatened again.
Jackson-Davis went 10-of-16 from the field and made 11-of-14 free-throw attempts. Thompson finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and he added eight rebounds to go with three assists. Indiana shot 52.9 percent from the floor and went 20-of-25 from the line. IU forced 14 turnovers and outrebounded Stanford 34-26.
The Hoosiers played without guard Aljami Durham, who suffered an ankle injury vs. Texas. Franklin played 40 minutes to help fill the void.
“He’s becoming one of our best defenders,” said Miller of Franklin. “One of the things I love about Armaan right now is a year ago at this time, I was begging him to rebound. I was begging him to mix it up and get dirty. My man had eight rebounds today. It’s just a complete change in his makeup.”
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Still a work in progress with three rotation players out, the Ball State men’s basketball team dropped an 84-65 game at Michigan Wednesday night. The Cards, now 0-2 on the young season, were led by K.J. Walton with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Luke Bumbalough added 13 points and Ishmael El-Amin chipped in 10 with a team-best four assists. Michigan (3-0) got a game-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting from Isaiah Livers.
The Cardinals had strong stretches of play in the game, most notably a 19-6 run to close the first half. Ball State was within 40-35 early in the second half.
TURNING POINT: With Ball State trailing just 40-35 early in the second half, Michigan went on a 13-4 run to make it a 53-39 game. The Michigan lead grew incrementally and was 23 at the 9:27 mark. Michigan shot 57 percent in the second half with Livers (12 points) leading a balanced attack after halftime. Five different players scored at least five points for Michigan in the second half.
HEAR IT FROM THE COACH: “Games like this are great for us. It exposes the things you don’t do well,” head coach James Whitford said. “Our non-conference schedule is really hard. We had Northern Kentucky who made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, Michigan and UIC who is now 3-0. Our schedule will definitely get us ready. We just need to get ourselves ready. The good news for us is these games make you better. Inch by inch, we need to get better every day.”
BIG RUN TO CLOSE THE HALF: Ball State hit the halftime locker room on a roll, ripping off a 19-6 run. Trailing 34-14 with 5:39 left in the first half, Ball State battled back with an 10-0 run that featured four made free throws and made 3-pointers by Zach Gunn and Jalen Windham. BSU closed the half with buckets from El-Amin and Walton to cut the lead to 40-33 at halftime.
A COUPLE OF FIRSTS: Kani Acree and Blake Huggins started the game, the first career start for each player. Acree, who played 26 minutes in the opener last week, played 17 minutes. Huggins saw 10 minutes of action, battling through foul trouble. Brachen Hazen started the second half along with game starters Walton, El-Amin, Bumbalough and Acree.
UP NEXT: Hoops returns to Worthen this weekend. The Cards host UIC Saturday at 2 p.m. Ball State won 67-48 at UIC last year. Saturday’s game will be streamed on ESPN3 and can be heard on 96.7 and 104.9 FM.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad will get an early-season test when they battle No. 24 Michigan on Thursday, Dec. 3, inside Purcell Pavilion. The Irish will tip against the ranked Wolverines at 6 p.m. EST on ACC Network.
WALKER’S SUCCESS VS MICHIGAN
Just a season ago, the Irish traveled up to Ann Arbor and earned their first ranked win of the season, downing No. 21 Michigan, 76-72. Destinee Walker exploded with a season-high 27 points, tying her career-high of made three-pointers with a 5-for-8 day from beyond the arc.
Ultimately, the Irish lead the overall series against the Wolverines, 13-7, with an 8-1 record at home. Notre Dame has won four straight.
NOTRE DAME AGAINST THE B1G
From the 2009-10 season thru the 2018-19 season, the Irish went a perfect 22-0 against Big Ten member schools. The streak came to an end last season when the Irish went 1-2 against Big Ten opposition. Thus, over the past decade, Notre Dame is 23-2.
PEOPLES IN RARE GUARD COMPANY
Two games, two double-doubles for Anaya Peoples. If she were to obtain three straight, she would become the first Irish guard to ever do so.
Peoples is 1-of-3 guards in all of Division I with two double-doubles. She’s 1-of-6 guards in the country averaging 11 rebounds or more and has played in at least two games.
The most double-doubles by a guard in a season is 12 from Jackie Young in 2018-19. The hottest double-double start to a season, regardless of position, belongs to Natalie Achonwa, who recorded four in her first five, then later five in her first seven, during her junior 2012-13 campaign.
WESTBELD MAKING IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Two games, two double-digit scoring performances for ACC Newcomer Watch List honoree Maddy Westbeld. The freshman nearly earned a double-double in the home-opener vs Miami (OH) with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Westbeld’s 15.0 ppg ranked fourth among freshmen in the ACC over the holiday weekend, while her 7.0 rpg ranked second.
”She’s been the most dominant player I’ve seen coming in as a freshman, outside of Arike and Skylar. She has a college body. Her work ethic is incredible. I knew she would make an immediate impact with this team,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey said.
WALKER’S STREAK CONTINUES
Walker ended last season with 10 straight double-digit scoring efforts and has now picked up right where she left, scoring 16 at Ohio and 24 vs. Miami (OH). She’ll take her active streak of 12 into Michigan on Thursday.
In fact, Walker recorded the fifth-best scoring average in February last season among ACC players with her 18.1 ppg.
MORE ON WALKER’S 20+ POINT GAME
Speaking of her 24-point effort vs. Miami (OH), Walker led the Irish in 20+ scoring performances last year with eight, which also tied for the eighth most in the ACC. Her previous career-best was four set her sophomore year at UNC (2016-17).
Walker boasts the top shooting percentage on the team at the moment (minimum of 10 attempts), converting 12-of-21 aka 57.1 percent from the floor. She’s also getting it done at the free-throw line, connecting on 14-of-16, aka 87.5 percent.
QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE
Coach Ivey told media she wants her squad to play a fast up-tempo game and they delivered against Miami (OH), recording 26 fast-break points. It marked the most since the 2019 NCAA Semifinal win over UConn.
NFL: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
AAR RAID: Last week, Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 211 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 132.3 passer rating, his fifth game with at least four touchdown passes this season, the most in the NFL. He leads the league with 33 touchdown passes and a 117.6 rating.
With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Philadelphia (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Rodgers can become the first player in NFL history to record five seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes. He also accomplished the feat in 2016 (40 touchdown passes), 2014 (38), 2012 (39) and 2011 (45).
The players with the most seasons of at least 35 touchdown passes in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||SEASONS WITH 35+ TD PASSES|
|Tom Brady||New England||4|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||4|
|Peyton Manning||Indianapolis, Denver||4|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||4*|
|*Has 33 touchdown passes in 2020|
In his 16-year career, Rodgers has totaled 50,046 passing yards and 397 touchdown passes and last week became the 11th player in league history to pass for at least 50,000 yards. With three touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers – appearing in his 193rd career game – can become the seventh player in NFL history to reach 400 career touchdown passes and the fastest to reach the mark.
The players to reach 400 career touchdown passes in the fewest games in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||GAMES TO 400 TD PASSES|
|Drew Brees||San Diego, New Orleans||205|
|Peyton Manning||Indianapolis, Denver||209|
|Tom Brady||New England||212|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||192*|
|*Has 397 career touchdown passes|
Rodgers’ top target, wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS,enters Week 13 with 11 touchdown receptions, tied for the second-most in the NFL. He has recorded at least five receptions and a touchdown catch in six consecutive games.
With five receptions and a touchdown catch on Sunday against Philadelphia (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Adams would become the third player with at least five receptions and a touchdown catch in seven consecutive games within a single season in NFL history, joining ANTONIO BROWN (eight games in 2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL OWENS (seven games in 2007).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least five receptions and a touchdown catch within a single season in NFL history:
|Davante Adams||Green Bay||2020||6*|
— NFL –
MAGICAL MAHOMES: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the league with 3,497 passing yards and ranks third with 30 touchdown passes, while only throwing two interceptions this season. He is the third player in league history to throw his 30th touchdown pass of the season before throwing his third interception, joining TOM BRADY (2007) and DREW BREES (2018).
Last week, Mahomespassed for 462 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 124.7 rating, becoming the first player with at least 30 completions and 300 passing yards in four consecutive games in league annals.
With at least 325 passing yards against Denver on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Mahomes can become the fourth quarterback with at least 325 passing yards in five consecutive games in NFL history.
The players with the most consecutive games with at least 325 passing yards in NFL history:
|Rich Gannon||Oakland Raiders||2002||6|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2011||5|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||2000||5|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2020||4*|
— NFL —
TYREEK’S TOUCHDOWNS: Last week, Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had a career-high 13 receptions for a career-best 269 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the league with 13 touchdown receptions and has recorded a touchdown in 10 of 11 games this season.
With a touchdown against Denver on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Hill can become the fourth wide receiver in NFL history with a touchdown in 11 of his team’s first 12 games of a season.
The wide receivers with a touchdown in 11 of their team’s first 12 games of a season in NFL history:
|Elroy HirschHOF||L.A. Rams||1951||11|
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco||1989||11|
|Tyreek Hill||Kansas City||2020||10*|
|*Has touchdown in 10 of first 11 games this season|
Hill has recorded at least 10 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his past two games and can become the third player to do so in three consecutive games in NFL history, joining KEENAN ALLEN (three games in 2017) and MICHAEL THOMAS (three games in 2019).
— NFL —
KELCE’S KINGDOM: Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE leads all tight ends with 74 catches and 978 receiving yards this season, while tying for the lead with seven touchdown receptions.
Kelce, who has had at least 80 receptions in each of the past four seasons, needs six catches against Denver on Sunday Night Football(8:20 PM ET, NBC) to join Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (eight seasons) and JASON WITTEN (six) as the only tight ends with five career seasons of 80-or-more receptions. Kelce would be the first tight end with at least 80 receptions in five consecutive seasons.
— NFL –
NOT DRAFTED? NOT A PROBLEM: Jacksonville running back JAMES ROBINSON leads all rookies and ranks third in the NFL with 890 rushing yards this season.
With 110 rushing yards at Minnesota on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Robinson can become the fourth undrafted rookie to record 1,000 rushing yards in the common-draft era.
The undrafted rookies with the most rushing yards since 1967:
|LeGarrette Blount||Tampa Bay||2010||1,007|
|*Entering Week 13|
Robinson also leads all rookies with 1,170 scrimmage yards this season, the third-most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. With at least 100 scrimmage yards on Sunday, Robinson – who has six games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season – can tie CLARK GAINES (seven games in 1976) for the most such games by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era.
— NFL —
1K IN A HURRY: Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON leads all rookies with 918 receiving yards, while ranking second with both 52 receptions and six touchdown catches.
With 82 receiving yards against Jacksonville on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jefferson can become the fifth rookie to reach 1,000 receiving yards in his first 12 career games in the Super Bowl era.
The rookies with the most receiving yards in their first 12 career games in the Super Bowl era:
|Odell Beckham Jr.||N.Y. Giants||2014||1,305|
|Marques Colston||New Orleans||2006||1,001|
|*in 11 career games|
— NFL —
JAMAL DOES IT ALL: Seattle safety JAMAL ADAMS – who leads all defensive backs with 6.5 sacks this season and had 6.5 sacks in 2019 – is the first defensive back to record at least six sacks in consecutive seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
With a half sack on Sunday against the New York Giants (4:05 PM ET, FOX), Adams can become the fourth defensive back to record at least seven sacks in a single season since 1982.
The defensive backs with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:
|Roman Harper||New Orleans||2011||7.5|
|Jamal Adams||N.Y. Jets||2019||6.5|
|LeRoy Butler||Green Bay||1996||6.5|
|*Entering Week 13|
WEEK 13 NFL PREVIEW
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
AS NFL TURNS CALENDAR TO DECEMBER
Pro Football Hall of Famer VINCE LOMBARDI once said there is only one way to succeed in anything, and that’s to give it everything.
And as the 2020 season enters December, the time to give it everything has arrived.
Week 13 kicks off with a dozen games on Sunday, all 14 playoff berths up for grabs and memories to be made. But first, the BALTIMORE RAVENS conclude Week 12 at the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Wednesday, 3:40 PM, NBC). It will mark the third Wednesday NFL game since 1941. On Sept. 5, 2012, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 24-17, to kick off the season. And, on Sept. 22, 1948, the Los Angeles Rams opened their season with a 44-7 home win over the Detroit Lions.
DECEMBER CONTENDERS: Fifteen NFL teams turn the calendar with a record of .500 or better, including the BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-4), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-1)and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-2). Since 2017, those teams have consistently ranked among the best over the final quarter of the season.
The teams with the best regular-season records in December and January over the past three seasons:
|Kansas City Chiefs||12||3||0||.800|
|New Orleans Saints||9||4||0||.692|
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH: In a battle of 8-3 teams in the AFC, the CLEVELAND BROWNS travel to meet the TENNESSEE TITANS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Browns are off to their best start since they were also 8-3 in 1994, while the Titans have their best record through 11 games since they were 10-1 in 2008.
- Cleveland, which boasts the league’s top rushing offense (161.4 yards per game), faces the Titans’ DERRICK HENRY, who leads the NFL with 1,257 rushing yards.
- In fact, the contest will feature three of the NFL’s nine leading rushers, including the Browns’ NICK CHUBB (719 rushing yards, tied for sixth) and KAREEM HUNT (706, ninth). The Cleveland duo is on pace to become the first pair of Browns players to each top 1,000 rushing yards in the same season since EARNEST BYNER (1,002) and KEVIN MACK (1,104) in 1985.
- Henry, who paced the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in 2019, seeks to become the first player to lead the league in rushing yards in consecutive seasons since Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON in 2006-07.
- Last week, Henry rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ 45-26 win at Indianapolis. Henry is the fourth player in NFL history with three games of at least 175 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN (five games) and LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (three), as well as ADRIAN PETERSON (three).
- The Titans have the league’s fewest giveaways this season with five.
MAHOMES, HILL BACK IN PRIMETIME: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS take on the DENVER BRONCOS on Sunday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium (8:20 PM ET, NBC). The Chiefs have won 19 of their last 20 games, including the postseason.
- Last week in a win at Tampa Bay, PATRICK MAHOMES became the first player with at least 30 completions and 300 passing yards in four consecutive games in league annals. He completed 37 of 49 attempts (75.5 percent) for 462 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 124.7 rating in the victory.
- Mahomes has five career games with at least 400 passing yards and three touchdowns, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (six games) as the only players with at least five such games in their first four seasons in league annals. Mahomes also has 15 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (15 games) for the second-most such games by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (17 games) has more.
- Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had a career-high 13 receptions for a career-best 269 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. Hill had 203 receiving yards in the first quarter and became the third player since 1980 with at least 200 receiving yards in a single quarter, joining QADRY ISMAIL (210 receiving yards in third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and LEE EVANS (205 in first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006).
- Hill, who had 10 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11 of the 2018 season, is the sixth player with two career games of at least 10 receptions, 200 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DON HUTSON and JERRY RICE, as well as AMARI COOPER, CHAD JOHNSON and ART POWELL.
SAINTS, NFL TEAMS WINNING ON ROAD: Two of the league’s hottest teams meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the ATLANTA FALCONS host the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). New Orleans has won eight straight games while the Falcons have won four of their last six under coach RAHEEM MORRIS.
- On the road, New Orleans is 4-1 this season and, over a longer stretch, is 17-3 over its last 20 road games.
- In a trend that started last season, road teams are winning more often. Last year, road teams were 123-132-1 (.482), the NFL’s best single-season mark since 1972 (87-90-5, .492). This year with one game remaining in Week 12, road teams are 85-90-1 (.489).
- Last week at Denver, New Orleans quarterback TAYSOM HILL rushed for two touchdowns in the Saints’ win. Hill, who had two rushing touchdowns in his first career start at quarterback in Week 11, is the second player with at least two rushing touchdowns in each of his first two career starts at quarterback in the Super Bowl era, joining ERIC HIPPLE (1981).
- New Orleans has the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense, allowing 284.9 yards per game. The Saints have allowed fewer than 10 points in three of their past four games.
HOPE FOR THE STRETCH RUN: In 15 of the past 17 seasons, at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 25 of them have done so in the past 17 years (2003-19), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006. Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their divisions the season before.
- One of the teams with an opportunity to advance from last to first in its division is the MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-4), who host the CINCINNATI BENGALS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Miami ranks fifth in the NFL with a plus-six turnover ratio. Cornerback XAVIEN HOWARD leads the NFL with seven interceptions, while defensive end EMMANUEL OGBAH is tied for seventh with eight sacks.
In 14 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team with a losing record after 11 games has qualified for the playoffs. Last week, three teams – the MINNESOTA VIKINGS, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – each won close games to improve to 5-6 on the season.
The teams with a losing record after 11 games that advanced to the playoffs, since 2004:
|2013||San Diego Chargers||5||6||0|
|2009||New York Jets||5||6||0|
|2008||San Diego Chargers||4||7||0|
|2004||St. Louis Rams||5||6||0|
EVERY NFC WEST TEAM IN PLAYOFF HUNT: Sunday features a key NFC West matchup at State Farm Stadium when the LOS ANGELES RAMS travel to play the ARIZONA CARDINALS (4:05 PM ET, FOX).
- Rams defensive lineman AARON DONALD has recaptured the NFL lead with 10 sacks, having reached double figures in sacks for a fourth consecutive season. In his past four games at Arizona, Donald has eight combined sacks. He also aims for his fifth in a row at State Farm Stadium with 1.5-or-more sacks.
- Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 195 receptions against both the Rams and Seahawks. No other player in NFL history has more catches against a single opponent.
DK TOPS 1K: Second-year wide receiver DK METCALF, who had 10 catches for a career-high 177 yards in Seattle’s Week 12 win, has captured the NFL lead with 1,039 receiving yards. He has five games of at least 100 receiving yards this season, tied for most in the league. Metcalf and the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS host the NEW YORK GIANTS, who’ve won three straight games, on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX).
- Thanks in part to Metcalf’s nine touchdown receptions, the Seahawks rank third in the NFL with 31.0 points per game.
- This year, the highest-scoring season on record through 12 weeks (with one game to play), the NFL already has 1,001 touchdowns, with No. 1,000 coming in Seattle’s Week 12 win at Philadelphia.
- The fastest the NFL had reached 1,000 touchdowns in any previous season was Week 13, in both 2015 and 2018. The single-season league record is 1,371 touchdowns, in 2018.
The seasons with the most total points and most touchdowns scored through 12 weeks in NFL history:
|*One game remaining in Week 12|
BILLS, NINERS IN ACTION MONDAY NIGHT: Two playoff hopefuls engage in an intriguing matchup on Monday Night Football when the BUFFALO BILLS travel to play the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). The game will be played at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium.
- Guided by defensive coordinator ROBERT SALEH, San Francisco’s defense ranks fourth in the NFL in pass defense (206.5 yards allowed per game) and sixth in total defense (315.2 yards allowed per game).
- Last week, Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN recorded his 15th career game with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in the Bills’ win. Allen joined CAM NEWTON (20 games) as the only players with at least 15 games with both a passing and rushing touchdown in their first three seasons in NFL history.
DOUBLE-DIGIT COMEBACKS EVERY WEEK: The MINNESOTA VIKINGS, who overcame an 11-point deficit to win last week, host the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- With one game remaining in Week 12, there have been 35 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win this season, the most through Week 12 in NFL history.
- Last week, Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 115.7 rating. Cousins has 16 career games with at least 300 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a rating of 115-or-higher, surpassing DREW BREES (15 games) and AARON RODGERS (15) for the most such games by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history.
- Four Minnesota players – CHAD BEEBE (seven receptions for 63 yards and one touchdown), JUSTIN JEFFERSON (seven receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns), BISI JOHNSON (seven receptions for 74 yards) and KYLE RUDOLPH (seven receptions for 68 yards) – each had at least seven receptions and 60 receiving yards in last week’s win. Before last week, only one team in NFL history – the 2012 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Week 16) – had four players each register at least seven receptions and 60 receiving yards in the same game.
- Jacksonville rookie running back JAMES ROBINSON totaled a career-high 159 scrimmage yards (128 rushing, 31 receiving) and a rushing touchdown last week. Robinson has six games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season, tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (six games in 2018) for the second-most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Only CLARK GAINES (seven games in 1976) has more. Robinson has 1,170 scrimmage yards this season, the third-most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Only DOMINIC RHODES (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001) and PHILLIP LINDSAY (1,278 in 2018) have more.
HERBERT WITHIN REACH OF HISTORY: When the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS travel to meet the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT has an opportunity to reach seven 300-yard passing games and establish the NFL’s rookie record. Herbert, who passed for 316 yards and a touchdown last week, is tied with ANDREW LUCK, who had six such games in 2012, for the most by a rookie in NFL history.
- Herbert has 3,015 passing yards this season and joined PATRICK MAHOMES (3,185 passing yards) as the only players in league annals with at least 3,000 passing yards in their first 10 career games.
- The Chargers have the league’s third-ranked offense, averaging 397.8 yards per game.
WEEK 13 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY & TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 6-8
(All times Eastern)
Sunday, December 6
|New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Las Vegas Raiders at New York Jets||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM||FOX|
|New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks||4:05 PM||FOX|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers||4:25 PM||CBS|
|New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers||4:25 PM||CBS|
|Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Monday, December 7|
|Washington Football Team at Pittsburgh Steelers||5:00 PM||(TBD)|
|Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers*||8:15 PM||ESPN|
|Tuesday, December 8|
|Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens||8:05 PM||FOX/NFLN/AMAZON|
BIG 10 FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
• Northwestern leads the West Division with a 5-1 Big Ten record, followed by Iowa at 4-2 and Wisconsin at 2-1. Ohio State stands atop the East Division standings with a 4-0 record, with Indiana close behind at 5-1 and Maryland in third at 2-2 in conference play.
• The Buckeyes remained undefeated on the season with a victory over nationally ranked and previously undefeated Indiana on Nov. 21, extending their home win streak to 23 games and their conference home win streak to 21 games, the second-longest in Big Ten history.
• In the win, Ohio State reached the 40-point mark for the 27th time (in 46 games) since Ryan Day’s arrival with the program in 2017 (58.6 percent). The Buckeyes have scored 40 or more in three of four games this year and are averaging 45.2 points per game. Only two other teams – Clemson and Oklahoma – have reached 40 or more points in a higher percentage of their games during that time span.
• Ohio State continues to boast one of the best offenses in the country, ranking second in relative total offense and fifth in relative scoring offense. Quarterback Justin Fields is on pace to set single-season FBS and Big Ten records for completion percentage (79.6 percent).The Buckeyes continue to lead the Big Ten with 535.3 yards of offense per game and are the only team in the conference to average more than 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing per game.
• Indiana’s Stevie Scott III scored a career-high three touchdowns to lead Indiana to a 5-1 record in conference play for the first time since 1987 following a 27-11 win against Maryland. The Hoosiers have clinched a second consecutive season with a winning record in Big Ten play, something the program has not accomplished since 1987-88. Scott became the first Hoosier with three rushing touchdowns in a game since Jordan Howard in 2015, has scored at least one touchdown in 16 of his last 22 games and has 26 total touchdowns in that span.
• Indiana leads the nation with 16 interceptions this season, recording multiple interceptions in eight consecutive contests. The Hoosiers have 18 total takeaways on the season.
• After dropping its first two games by a combined five points, Iowa has won its last four games, outscoring its opponents 151-55 and averaging 37.8 points per game during the winning streak. The Hawkeyes’ points per game during their four-game winning streak is the most for the program over a four-game stretch since 2002.
• The Hawkeyes have held their last 20 opponents under 25 points, a streak that includes all six games this season, all 13 games last season and the final game of the 2018 campaign.
• In the win over Michigan, Sean Clifford became the 12th Penn State quarterback to reach the 4,000-yard career passing mark and moved into fifth place in school history in rushing yards by a quarterback with 654. The 2020 team captain also ranks third in career passing efficiency rating (144.2) and career completion percentage (58.9 percent).
• Penn State’s Parker Washington is one of two FBS freshmen this season with at least 30 receptions, 340 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in their first six games. Washington is the only Penn State freshman with those totals through six games since 2000. Against Michigan, Washington made a career-high nine catches, the most by a PSU true freshman in program history.
• On Oct. 23, the Big Ten Conference announced the launch of the ‘United As One’ social justice campaign. ‘United As One’ is among several conference-wide Equality Coalition initiatives dedicated to constructively and collectively recognizing and eliminating racism and hate in our society by creating resources for inclusion, empowerment and accountability.
• The Big Ten Conference established the Equality Coalition in 2020 with 227 members including presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, coaches, student-athletes, conference and school administrators, alumni, families and friends representing all 14 institutions.
INDIANA FOOTBALL GAME NOTES VS. WISCONSIN
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CDT/3:30 p.m. EDT Date: Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 Location: Camp Randall Stadium (Field Turf) – Madison, Wis. TV: ABC: Joe Tessitore (p-b-p), Greg McElroy (analyst) & Holly Rowe (sideline) Radio: IU Radio Network; Sirius 132, XM 196, Internet 958: Don Fischer, Buck Suhr & Joe Smith
INDIANA GAME NOTES:
INDIANA STAT LEADERS
Michael Penix Jr.: 124-220, 1645 Yds, 14 TD, 4 INT
Stevie Scott III: 119-405, 8 TD, 3.4 Avg
Ty Fryfogle: 33-652, 7 TD, 19.8 Avg
LB Micah McFadden: 43 T, 3 S, 6.5 TFL, 2 INT, 3 QBH
CB Tiawan Mullen: 32 T, 2.5 S, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT, 2 PBU
S Jamar Johnson: 30 T, 1 S, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT, 1 FF
WISCONSIN STAT LEADERS
Graham Mertz: 55-84, 605 Yds, 8 TD, 3 INT
Jalen Berger: 30-180, 1 TD, 6.0 Avg
Jake Ferguson: 18-181, 4 TD, 10.1 Avg
LB Jack Sanborn: 20 T, 1 S, 1 TFL, 2 QBH
LB Leo Chenal: 13 T, 1 S, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 6 QBH
LB Nick Herbig: 9 T, 1 S, 5 TFL, 2 QBH, 1 PBU
SETTING THE SCENE • No. 10/11 Indiana (5-1, 5-1 B1G East) heads to No. 18/19 Wisconsin (2-1, 2-1 B1G West) on Saturday, Dec. 5. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CDT/3:30 p.m. EDT at Camp Randall Stadium (Field Turf) on ABC. • IU is ranked for the sixth-consecutive week, its longest stretch since 1987 (6 weeks), coming in at No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 and at No. 11 in the Amway Coaches Poll presented by USA Today Sports. • This marks its third week in the Top 10 in 2020, the most for the program since 1967 (5 weeks). • The Hoosiers entered the College Football Playoff rankings on Nov. 24 for the first time in school history at No. 12. • Indiana collected its first Top-10 ranking in the Nov. 8 AP Poll (No. 10) since Sept. 22, 1969 (No. 10), and its No. 9 rating from Nov. 15 was its best in the AP Poll since Nov. 27, 1967 (No. 4). • The Hoosiers 5-1 record is their best overall start since 2007 and their best conference start since 1987 (5-1). • Indiana is 13-6 overall and 10-5 in league play since the start of the 2019 campaign. • With its win over Maryland, IU clinched a winning Big Ten record in consecutive seasons for first time since 1987-88 and for the sixth time overall (1967-68, 1944-46 and 1936-37). • The Hoosiers five B1G victories are tied for the third-most in program history (2019, 1993, 1991, 1988, 1979, 1945) behind six-win campaigns in 1967 and 1987. • Indiana matched a school-record with five-straight conference wins (1967) before losing at No. 3 Ohio State and has won 10 of its last 13, its most successful stretch in Big Ten games since a 10-3 mark from Oct. 3, 1987-Oct. 29, 1988. • IU opened 4-0 for the first time since 2015 (4-0) and the seventh time in program history (1990, 4-0; 1986, 4-0; 1985, 4-0; 1967, 8-0; 1910, 5-0). It went 4-0 to start league play for just the third time (1987, 4-0; 1967, 5-0). • The Hoosiers defeated Michigan State, 24-0, to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2016 and earn their first victory in East Lansing since 2001. Indiana has both of its rivalry trophies, the Spittoon and the Old Oaken Bucket (Purdue). • IU’s 38-21 victory over No. 23 Michigan was its first over the Wolverines since Oct. 24, 1987 (14-10). • The Hoosiers 36-35, overtime win against No. 8 Penn State in the season opener was the sixth against a Top-10 opponent in school history, with the last coming at No. 9 Ohio State (31-10) on Oct. 10, 1987. • It marked Indiana’s first Top-10 victory at Memorial Stadium since Nov. 25, 1967 (No. 3 Purdue, 19-14). • IU has defeated PSU, U-M and MSU in the same season for the first time in program history and beaten the Wolverines and Spartans in the same year for the first time since 1967. • The Hoosiers have downed two ranked teams for the sixth time in school history and for the first time since 2004. The 1945 team holds the program record with three ranked wins in one year.
• Indiana and Wisconsin will meet in Madison for the first time since 2013. • The Badgers hold a 41-18-2 advantage in the all-time series, including a 23-9-1 edge in Madison. • IU’s last win vs. UW came in 2002, the second of consecutive victories. The Hoosiers knocked off No. 23 Wisconsin, 32-29, at Memorial Stadium (Oct. 12), following a 63-32 triumph at Camp Randall Stadium in 2001 (Oct. 6). • Redshirt freshman wide receiver Da’Shaun Brown (Racine) is the lone Hoosier from the state of Wisconsin. • Indiana is first in the Big Ten (T-3rd nationally) in takeaway margin (+9), interceptions (16, 1st) and takeaways (15, T-5th). • The Ohio State game (Nov. 21) marked IU’s first regular season Top-10 showdown in program history and just the second overall (1968 Rose Bowl, No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 1 Southern Cal). • Prior to their loss at No. 3 OSU, the Hoosiers won three straight Big Ten road games for the first time since 1982 and earned victories in their first two league games away from home for the first time since 1993. • With their win at Michigan State, Indiana earned its first triumph as a Top-10 team since Nov. 11, 1967, also in East Lansing (14-13). • IU set its largest margin of victory on the road in the MSU series, blanked the Spartans for the first time since 1993, and recorded its first road shutout since Oct. 23, 1993, at Northwestern (24-0). • With its victory over No. 8 Penn State, the Hoosiers have won 15 of their last 17 season openers. Indiana is 43-18 in Memorial Stadium openers with wins in 17 of its last 19 and 34 of its last 39. IU’s previous win over a ranked opponent came against No. 17 Michigan State in Bloomington, 24-21, in overtime on Oct. 1, 2016. This also marked the Hoosiers last win in a conference opener. Indiana improved to 5-7 in OT games with two-straight wins (44-41 double OT at Purdue – Nov. 30, 2019). • IU’s all-time record as a ranked team is 27-22-1.
WISCONSIN GAME NOTES:
The Badgers are back in action after their rivalry matchup with Minnesota, set for Nov. 28, was canceled due to the spread of COVID-19 in the Gophers’ program. Wisconsin has seen 3 of its first 6 scheduled games canceled. Wisconsin has won 10 straight meetings with Indiana dating to 2003, the Badgers’ fourth-longest win streak over a Big Ten opponent. Saturday’s game will mark just the fifth meeting over the last 10 seasons between the Badgers and Hoosiers, with UW claiming the last 4 games by an average of 43.0 points per contest. The Badgers are in their 6th season under the leadership of head coach Paul Chryst, who is 54-17 (.761) as head coach at his alma mater. The two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year has led the Badgers to a 36-11 (.766) conference record. Chryst is in his 15th season overall on the Badgers’ coaching staff. Allowing just 28 offensive points through three games, Wisconsin owns the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense (11.7 ppg) and ranks No. 1 in the FBS in total yards allowed (233.3 ypg).
Wisconsin and Indiana will meet as ranked foes for just the second time. In the only other matchup in which both teams were ranked, No. 16 Wisconsin blasted No. 25 Indiana by a score of 62-13 at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 24, 1994. The Badgers’ 10 straight wins over Indiana matches the 3rd-longest active win streak by a Big Ten team over a conference foe.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Losing Jalen Suggs in the first half shook up No. 1 Gonzaga.
Getting him back in the second half Wednesday provided a needed jolt of energy.
Joel Ayayi matched his career high with 21 points and Andrew Nembhard and Corey Kispert each scored 19 points, and Suggs’ return shifted the transition game into gear to help the Bulldogs rally past No. 11 West Virginia 87-82.
“At first, we were kind of disappointed because we all love Jalen,” Nembhard said. “Him coming back in the game was big for us. He played football so you know he’s tough and we’re pretty versatile so we could do some different things in the second to help him out. It worked out well for us.”
The freshman star finished with four points, five assists and six rebound – much of that production coming after he went down with what initially appeared to be a serious left ankle injury.
By the second half, he was lobbying to get back on the court. And once he did, everything turned for Gonzaga, which struggled against the Mountaineers size and strength.
But once they were off and running, it was no match. Gonzaga (3-0) has won seven straight, dating to the end of last season, and already has two wins over top 15 opponents – Kansas and West Virginia (3-1).
Derek Culver finished with with 18 points and 15 rebounds and Oscar Tshiebwe had 14 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 7:26 to play to lead the Mountaineers. Afterward, Culver blamed himself for this one.
“We’re every bit as good as they are – if we don’t do dumb things,” coach Bob Huggins said. “I think everyone should shoulder the blame.”
West Virginia’s defense got Gonzaga out of sync early and when it looked like the Bulldogs were about to get going, Suggs drove toward the basket, his left foot sliding through the lane and collapsing to the floor where he stayed for several minutes. He needed help to reach his seat.
And the Mountaineers took advantage of the momentum shift by going on a 33-24lead late in the first half.
When Suggs returned in the second half, Gonzaga charged back.
It retook the lead on Kispert’s layup with 9:46 to play and seized control as Kispert and Ajayi combined for nine points in the decisive run.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers weren’t even supposed to be here – until a COVID-19 outbreak forced No. 13 Tennessee to back out. But Huggins’ teams never back down from a challenge. They followed the same script Wednesday and nearly pulled a big upset.
Gonzaga: It looks like the poll voters got this one right. The Bulldogs have opened this season with wins over two top 15 foes – Kansas and West Virginia – as well as Auburn, all on neutral courts. Yes, they can and must player better, but finding a way to win when things don’t go according to script says a lot about where they are..
Suggs was in pain from the moment he went down. He held a towel over his face and then continued to wince and writhe on the socially-distanced bench. Eventually, he stood up and walked gingerly to the locker room but did not return with what the team called an injured left ankle. Somehow, he made it back on the floor in the second as one of the catalysts of the comeback.
West Virginia guard Sean McNeil also left during the first half after taking an elbow to the forehead. McNeil was called for a foul on the play as he tried to take a charge. He returned to action later in the first half – with four stitches.
THEY SAID IT
West Virginia: “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Huggins said. “We did an extremely poor job of guarding ball screens. We fell asleep too many times. We made some careless errors that came back to bite us.”
Gonzaga: “Jaylen going down and the fact that they were throttling us on the glass and throttling our offense for a while,” coach Mark Few said, explaining the obstacles his team had to overcome. “That’s basically how I think a lot of our games are going to go. I don’t think they’re going to be a flowy as they were down in Florida.”
West Virginia: At Georgetown on Sunday.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Scott Drew watched No. 2 Baylor’s first two games in quarantine.
When he returned to the sideline Wednesday night, he found himself coaching in a vastly different atmosphere – and relying on a familiar script.
Adam Flagler scored 18 points, three of his teammates also reached double figures and Baylor used its trademark defense to turn the game and pull away from No. 5 Illinois for an 82-69 victory in the Jimmy V Classic.
To Drew, it felt like old times.
“The last two games I thought our offense was further along than our defense,” he said. “I think our defense has caught up more to where we were last year and you know you’re going to need it to play like that every night to win games.”
It’s bad news for the rest of college basketball, though.
Baylor (3-0) outrebounded the Fighting Illini 20-10 and forced twice as many turnovers as it committed in the second half while also outscoring Illinois in the paint and off the bench in the school’s first non-conference top-five matchup.
And after an uncharacteristic first half, Drew understood why his players might have been a little unnerved.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really excited to be back,” said Drew, who tested positive for COVID-19 three days before the scheduled season opener. “I missed the guys, I missed being part of the team and it was really exciting to be back.”
He was also excited, like his players, to be playing on national television in Indianapolis.
But the Bears did exactly what they needed to do. They drew fouls against Kofi Cockburn, turning him into a non-factor. And although Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini (3-1) with 18 points, he was just 6 of 18 from the field. Giorgi Beshanishvili finished with 15 points while filling in for Cockburn.
“It was a frustrating night,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “It was a great opportunity to learn. I’m disappointed in our loose balls in the second half, but give credit to them.”
The game also had a much more intense atmosphere than the previous two at Bankers Life Fieldhouse largely because of the raucous applause and loud cheers coming from the benches in what amounted to a draw for almost 30 minutes.
Baylor forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua started the decisive stretch by making two free throws with 12:51 left. That broke a 43-all tie and spurred the Bears to six straight points. After Illinois made a 3-pointer, Baylor scored five more points and then took control with another run, this time 9-0.
When it ended, Baylor led 65-51 with 7:31 left and the Illini never seriously challenged again.
Illinois: After last week’s scare against Ohio, the Fighting Illini wanted to bounce back with a strong performance. Underwood’s team certainly accomplished that much. It just didn’t pull off the kind of signature win it envisioned – but that may be only a matter of time.
Baylor: While Gonzaga has proven itself a worthy No. 1, the Bears can say the same about being No. 2. They’ve won their first three this season. They have enough offensive firepower, defensive tenacity and experience to play with – and beat – anyone in the country.
Illinois: Andre Curbelo scored 11 points and was the only other Illini player in double figures. … Cockburn had seven points and four rebounds. … Illinois was outscored 24-7 in second-chance points and 38-30 in the paint.
Baylor: Davion Mitchell had 15 points and seven assists, while Jared Butler scored 12. … MaCio Teague added 11 points and Tchamwa Tchatchoua had nine points and nine rebounds.
THEY SAID IT
Illinois: “They fight like dogs for 40 minutes,” Beshanishvili said. “When you make mistakes, even the littlest mistakes, they cost you a lot.”
Baylor: “We kind of expected it,” Mitchell said when asked about the contributions of Flagler and Tcahmwa Tchatchoua. “Those guys are in the gym more than anyone so we kind of expect that from those guys. It wasn’t really a surprise for us.”
Illinois: Hosts UT-Martin on Saturday.
Baylor: Prepares for Saturday’s showdown in Indy against No. 1 Gonzaga.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 13/15 IU returns to action on Thursday night when it hosts the Samford Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. ET inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
NO. 13/15 INDIANA (1-0) VS. SAMFORD (0-2)
Thursday, December 3, 2020 • 6 p.m. ET
Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall • Bloomington, Ind.
Broadcast: Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS
Samford comes in to Thursday’s matchup looking for its first win of the season after dropping a heartbreaker at Auburn, 66-64, on Sunday. They are led by senior guard/forward Shauntai Battle who is one of three double-figure scorers with 20.0 points per game. She’s joined by senior center Natalie Armstrong (17.5 ppg., 8.0 rpg.) and senior guard Katie Allen (10.5 ppg.). The Bulldogs are coming off a 2019-20 season where they finished 18-14 overall and won the SoCon Postseason Tournament.
Indiana leads 1-0
12/11/15 – W, 65-56 (Bloomington, Ind.)
Indiana will play for the first time in eight days after cruising to a season opening win over Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 25, 100-51.
Junior guard Grace Berger recorded the program’s first ever triple-double in the win, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It marked the second-ever triple-double in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall history (Juwan Morgan, 2018). It’s also the 18th recorded triple-double in a season opener in NCAA history. Her efforts also earned her a spot on the Big Ten Player of the Week honor roll.
Sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes also had an impressive showing in the season opener, going a perfect 13-for-13 from the floor in the victory over EKU. It set a new school record for single game field goal percentage and ties the Big Ten record set by Iowa’s Megan Gustafson set in 2018. Holmes finished the night with a new career-high 26 points and eight rebounds along with another new career-high seven blocks.
Redshirt junior guard/forward Danielle Patterson made her IU debut by scoring 14 points and going 5-for-8 from the floor in last week’s season opener.
Senior guard Ali Patberg was named as one of 30 preseason candidates to the 2021 John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s on Tuesday. In the season opener, Patberg notched her 1,000th career point at IU to become the 28th player in program history to do so.
Indiana selected to win the Big Ten this season in a vote by the conference’s head coaches and media. It marks the first time in school history the Hoosiers have been picked to win the Big Ten. In addition, Patberg and Berger were each preseason All-Big Ten selections.
Indiana will travel to No. 11/11 Kentucky on Sunday, December 6. Tipoff from Memorial Coliseum is set for 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Mike Tomlin isn’t one for excuses. Even as COVID-19 wreaked havoc with his team’s schedule, pushing their matchup with Baltimore from Thanksgiving night to middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week in the middle of a pandemic, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach refused to reach for one.
So while the Steelers stayed perfect with a disjointed 19-14 win over the undermanned Ravens in the first NFL game on a Wednesday in eight years, their play was anything but. And Tomlin knows it.
“To be bluntly honest, I’m really disappointed in our performance tonight,” he said after Pittsburgh improved to 11-0. “We did enough to win tonight, that’s all.”
Calling it “junior varsity”-level play, Tomlin seethed in the aftermath, a testament to both how high the bar is set and just how far the Steelers came from clearing it.
Asked about an offense that managed just one touchdown in four trips to the red zone – missed opportunities that allowed the Ravens (6-5) to hang around until the final minutes – Tomlin didn’t offer analysis as much as rage.
“Us sucking,” he said, declining to get into specifics.
There really was no need to.
The Steelers turned it over twice, once on a fourth-down heave into the end zone by Ben Roethlisberger, the other a fumbled punt by Ray-Ray McLoud that set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Gus Edwards. They let Baltimore backup quarterback Robert Griffin III briefly turn back the clock to his 2012 Rookie of the Year season and looked at times like a team in the middle of ho-hum midweek practice – which, to be fair, Wednesdays typically are – rather than a showdown with its longtime rivals.
“Obviously we won, but it sure doesn’t feel like it,” said Roethlisberger, whose 1-yard strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster early in the fourth quarter gave the Steelers a 12-point lead they flirted with squandering. “Just not good football. It starts with me. It’s a mental game, it’s been a challenging and draining week but at the end of the day we need to step on the field and play good football when it’s time.”
Pittsburgh didn’t for long stretches, though some of the credit goes to a spirited effort from the Ravens. Running onto Heinz Field missing more than a dozen players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore didn’t exactly roll over.
While Griffin completed just 7 of 12 passes for 33 yards and a first-quarter Pick-6 by Joe Haden that gave the Steelers an early lead, Griffin ran for a game-high 68 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with a left hamstring injury. Trace McSorley, one of 11 players promoted from the practice squad, came on and connected with Marquise Brown for a 70-yard touchdown with 2:58 to go. But the Steelers were able to drain the clock behind a third-down grab by James Washington, eliminating the Ravens from repeating as AFC North champions.
“The way the game went, obviously we wanted to win,” Griffin said. “We felt like we had a chance to come in here and win, shock the world and do something special. I put it on myself. I feel like if I didn’t pull my hamstring in the second quarter we would have won. It was really emotional trying to fight through that. I feel like I let my guys down.”
A COVID-19 outbreak in Baltimore forced the NFL to push the game back three times: first from Thanksgiving to Sunday, then from Sunday to Tuesday, and eventually from Tuesday to Wednesday. The teams kicked off in the afternoon to not interfere with NBC’s annual Christmas special at Rockefeller Center.
Good idea. The fewer eyeballs on this one the better.
While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called it “a great game,” the product on the field suggested otherwise.
The Ravens couldn’t pass. Pittsburgh’s receivers couldn’t catch. And a contest that looked like a mismatch – the Steelers went off as 10 1/2-point favorites, a rarity in a rivalry that is one of the NFL’s best – was instead a festival of blah.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league remains committed to finishing the regular season as scheduled.
Goodell also said on a conference call that while the NFL is considering a bubble format for the playoffs, it wouldn’t necessarily resemble what the NHL and NBA used in successfully in completing their seasons.
“It will take partnership and discipline to complete this season. I’m confident we’ll be able to do it,” Goodell said, referring the NFL Players Association, the clubs and the players.
Added Dawn Aponte, the league’s chief football administrative officer: “In terms of the guidelines we have used, our guiding principle is medical and we are trying to ensure we are playing all games safely. Providing we can do so within 17 weeks, that is what our objective is and will continue to be.”
Goodell and Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, noted that a bubble concept can have many iterations.
“We don’t see the bubble as most refer to it in one location,” Goodell said. “We feel strongly that our protocols are working. We’re willing to adjust and adapt those protocols, take additional steps. But I don’t see us doing the bubble in the sense that the media focuses on it.”
Sills pointed to the need “to recognize whenever we think about structuring something for the teams, look at the risks and benefits. There is no plan that will be completely risk free. We have to make what we think is the best and safest decision.
“All options remain on the table and will be driven by what the data show us. We have adjusted our protocols nearly every week.”
Sills also stressed that the NFL won’t be seeking any preferential treatment when vaccines become readily available. He emphasized that vaccines must first go to the front-line health workers.
“We want to obviously work with authorities,” Sills said. “We never want to do anything that hinders the public health effort. If it becomes appropriate for us to have vaccines available for coaches and players and staff, and not hinder the public health effort … then certainly we will consider that. We are in no way going to ‘cut the line.'”
For Week 12, the NFL was forced to reschedule the Baltimore at Pittsburgh game from Thanksgiving night to Sunday, then Tuesday and finally Wednesday because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens.
Also, the Broncos played their regularly scheduled game with the Saints on Sunday despite having no experienced quarterbacks due to violations of the league’s coronavirus protocols.
There’s also been disruption to the Week 13 schedule because of the Ravens’ situation.
Goodell said NFL protocols do not call for postponing a game because one position group is impacted by COVID-19, as happened with the Broncos.
“We will not postpone or reschedule games because of COVID-19 in a specific position group if we are comfortable the rest of the team is not at risk, which was exactly the case in Denver,” he said.
“Let me be crystal clear, as we have been with our clubs since last March. Health and medical take precedence. We follow the facts, the science, and recommendations of our medical experts are first and foremost the bedrock of our decisions.”
The most recent coronavirus testing showed from Nov. 15-21, 42,809 tests were administered to a total of 7,886 players and team personnel. There were 28 new confirmed positive tests among players and 42 among other personnel.
For Nov. 22-28, a total of 42,264 tests were administered to 7,819 players and team personnel. There were 33 new confirmed positives among players and 53 among other personnel.
Sills emphasized that the league and teams learn from every result.
“I think those numbers suggest to us that our clubs are doing a terrific job of avoiding risk,” Sills said. “Again, we know this is hard. We’re certainly not out of the woods. But you can see the effects of the procedures we’ve put in place.
“I think the strategic decision to close the club facilities the last two days reflects that. We made that decision after a number of weeks of discussion based on the fact of potential additional risk of exposure during the holiday season last week. We’re going to continue to monitor that. We’ll obviously need to continue to evolve and to adjust based on what our data shows as we move forward, but we’re seeing some very positive trends in the numbers.”
Kevin Durant is scheduled to make his Brooklyn debut against his former Golden State teammates before the Lakers begin their title defense in an all-Los Angeles matchup with the Clippers in the NBA’s Dec. 22 opening-night doubleheader.
The Lakers will be back in action against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 25 as one of five games on the Christmas lineup.
The NBA announced the national TV schedule for the first three nights of the season on Wednesday. The complete schedule for the first half of the season, shortened to 72 games because of the coronavirus, will be released Friday.
The opening-night games on TNT will be played without fans in the arenas, as both New York and Los Angeles are prevented from having them because of virus restrictions.
Though the 2019-20 season didn’t end until October, the NBA’s hurry to start the 2020-21 campaign allows it to play on Christmas, when it traditionally draws some of its strongest viewership.
The schedule on ESPN and ABC that day: New Orleans at Eastern Conference champion Miami, Golden State at Milwaukee, Brooklyn at Boston, Dallas at the Lakers, and the Clippers at Denver.
The Nuggets rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals, preventing the two L.A. teams from playing for the right to reach the NBA Finals.
“The way we ended our season leaves a bad taste in our mouth, so to go to Denver on Christmas and play a good team, it’ll be a good test for us,” new Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.
Instead, the Staples Center tenants will meet on opening night after Durant is expected to play for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing for the Warriors that night and left for Brooklyn as a free agent that summer.
LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension through the 2022-23 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, confirmed the deal Wednesday during the first week of training camp for the NBA champions. The Lakers are still finalizing their new contract with big man Anthony Davis, who is also represented by Paul.
James is getting the maximum deal to extend his tenure in Los Angeles, where he moved two seasons ago after his second stint with his hometown Cavaliers. Davis and James teamed up last season and won the Lakers’ 17th championship in the bubble in central Florida.
James’ previous contract ran through the upcoming season with a player option for 2021-22, allowing the third-leading scorer in league history to become a free agent next summer if he chose. Instead, James has committed to play through his 20th NBA season with the Lakers, where he moved in 2018 after title-winning tenures in Cleveland and Miami.
James turns 36 years old in four weeks, but the 16-time All-Star’s level of play hasn’t dipped even slightly after 17 seasons in the league. James averaged 25.3 points and led the NBA with 10.2 assists per game last season before winning the NBA Finals MVP award in October while beating the Miami Heat in six games.
The Lakers are returning this winter with a roster that looks even better than last season’s group on paper, with veterans Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews joining the rotation around James and Davis.
James will make more than $39 million this season, more than $41 million next season and more than $44 million in the final year of his new deal, during which he will turn 38.
The Lakers have a history of rewarding superstars in their later seasons, allowing them to finish with the franchise rather than forcing Lakers icons to make difficult decisions about how they will wrap up their careers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Kobe Bryant all finished their Hall of Fame careers with the Lakers rather than making a late money-grabbing pit stop with another team.
Los Angeles famously gave a two-year, $48.5 million extension to Bryant when he was 35 years old in November 2013. The deal was criticized at the time for its largesse compared to Bryant’s diminishing dominance, but owners Jeanie and Jim Buss felt the contract was an appropriate reward for Bryant’s contributions to the franchise.
The new deal for James currently carries none of those concerns, because he is still a matchless player even after spending half of his life in the professional basketball and reaching nine of the last 10 NBA Finals while becoming the league’s leading scorer in postseason history.
James has career averages of 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists over his 17 seasons, and he stayed close to those marks in points and rebounds last season despite becoming a 6-foot-9 point guard who won his first NBA assists title.
James and his family already appeared to be comfortable with a long-term future in Los Angeles. James is increasingly involved in media production in Hollywood, while his oldest son, Bronny, is on track to graduate from private Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth in 2023.
Davis is all but certain to re-sign with the Lakers this week, and the delay is widely interpreted as part of talks between Davis and the Lakers about the best way to keep the team in championship contention over the next few seasons. For instance, Davis could structure his deal to allow Los Angeles to pursue a third superstar in free agency next summer.
James’ agreement on an extension guarantees Davis will have an invaluable teammate for at least the next three seasons if Davis chooses to stay that long. James made remarkable alterations in his game last season to become a playmaker running the Lakers’ offense and clearing space for Davis to excel.
Russell Westbrook is headed to the Washington Wizards and John Wall is moving to the Houston Rockets in a significant swap of point guards – one an MVP, the other a No. 1 overall draft pick – just weeks before the season starts.
The Wizards shipped a future lottery-protected first round pick to the Rockets on Wednesday night.
“Having the opportunity to acquire a player of Russell’s caliber and character was something that we could not pass up when looking at both the immediate and long-term future of our team,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a release. “With that said, the decision to part ways with John, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was extremely difficult. What he has meant to our organization and our community is immeasurable and will not be forgotten.”
While Wall has played his entire professional career in the nation’s capital, the move ends Westbrook’s tenure in Houston after just one disappointing season. He arrived from Oklahoma City in July 2019 for Chris Paul and draft picks.
The Rockets had hoped that the 32-year-old Westbrook would be the final piece they needed to win their first title since winning back-to-back championships in 1994-95. But instead, Houston was eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western semifinals. Westbrook was the 2017 NBA MVP and is a nine-time All-Star, but has failed to win a title.
Many questioned whether the pairing of two ball-dominant guards like Westbrook and James Harden would work in Houston, but the longtime friends insisted that it would. After the Rockets were sent home from the playoffs early again, rumors started to swirl that the two weren’t happy in Houston and both wanted out.
But after spending years building their entire team around Harden, who won MVP honors in 2018, the Rockets weren’t interested in parting with him. This move could be new general manager Rafael Stone’s way of appeasing Harden so the Rockets can continue their quest for a title this season instead of rebuilding without the superstar. Stone was promoted to GM last month after Daryl Morey stepped down before quickly taking a job with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Westbrook-Wall deal works under the NBA’s rules because the two players are owed about the same amount: Each gets more than $80 million over the next two seasons, plus each has a player option of more than $45 million for 2022-23.
And both were looking to move on.
Wall, the No. 1 overall pick out of Kentucky in the 2010 draft, became the face of the franchise for Washington, a five-time All-Star who repeatedly helped get his team to the playoffs.
But Wall’s Wizards never reached 50 wins in a season or made it past the conference semifinals.
Wall, who is 30, has averaged 19 points and 9.2 assists for his career.
He has been troubled by injuries of late, appearing in only 41 games in 2017-18 because of left knee surgery, then just 32 in 2018-19 because of a left heel problem that required an operation. While recovering from that, Wall tore his left Achilles tendon and sat out all of last season.
After a report surfaced that Wall wanted out of Washington, Sheppard said on Nov. 23 that Wall “didn’t request” to be moved when they spoke that morning.
“There’s no plans to trade John,” Sheppard said during a video conference with reporters that day.
He said he and Wall speak “pretty much every other day” and characterized their relationship as “very, very close.”
“There’s no issues with John and I,” Sheppard said then. “There’s no issues with John and the Wizards.”
But he also reaffirmed that his plan is to build around shooting guard Bradley Beal, whose scoring average of 30.5 points last season was second in the league behind Harden.
After a stretch of getting to the postseason four times in five years, Washington has missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons, losing 47 games last season and 50 the season before.
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson believes the pairing of Beal and Westbrook will be what the Wizards need to be a contender in the Eastern Conference.
“Everyone now has to watch out for the Wizards! They traded for Russell Westbrook today,” Johnson tweeted. “(Westbrook)/(Beal)? will terrorize the East and make the Wizards a playoff team.”
Wall was beloved in Washington and team owner Ted Leonsis lauded the player and his contributions to the team and city in a series of tweets Wednesday night.
“He has been a great, all-star caliber player and a fantastic citizen and leader in our community,” Leonsis wrote. “I am proud of how hard John has worked to come back to the league after two years away from competing. Our fans, our franchise and I will miss him very much.”
The NBA said Wednesday that 48 players have tested positive for the coronavirus since testing resumed last week.
The league and National Basketball Players Association said 546 players were tested between Nov. 24-30 in the initial phase of testing after returning to team markets. That means about 9% of the tests were positive.
Any player with a confirmed positive test is isolated until cleared by rules established by the league and union, in accordance with CDC guidance. The league’s health and safety protocols for this season say that anyone with a positive test in this pre-camp phase “must receive medical clearance from a team-designated physician and a league-designated physician prior to entering a team facility, participating in in-person team-organized activities, or interacting in-person with other” members of their team.
The league, in its preseason guidance to teams sent late last week, made clear that some players testing positive was to be expected.
“During this pandemic, all this stuff is going to be different this season,” Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic said Tuesday. “Some players might get corona, get sick, not be able to be with the team for 10 days. So, I think that’s going to be a big part – which team is not going to have positive people. It’s going to be a lot of time together. I think that’s going to be key.”
Players needed three negative PCR tests between Nov. 24-30 before they could be cleared to start individual workouts, which will last throughout this week. A handful of teams are expected to be cleared to start group sessions or 5-on-5 practices Friday, most others on Sunday and Golden State will on Monday.
Anyone with a confirmed positive test will also need to successfully complete a cardiac exam before being able to return to play. It’s a possibility that some of the 48 positive players would not be cleared before the NBA’s preseason schedule starts Dec. 11. The regular season begins on Dec. 22.
“I’m confident that the league is going to do everything in their power to do things the right way and to protect us, protect the players and the staffs. Then, who the hell knows?” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday, prior to the Warriors revealing that two players had positive tests. “I mean, it’s 2020. I think we just have to go into it with an open mind and do our best and see what happens.”
The NBA had no players test positive once they entered the bubble at Walt Disney World for the season restart near Orlando, Florida last July. A very small number of individuals tested positive after arriving at Disney but before they were released from quarantine and into the bubble, a sign that the NBA pointed to as proof that its system worked.
Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. became free agents Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs declined to offer contracts to two key players from their historic 2016 World Series championship.
While Schwarber, Almora, slugger Jose Martinez and pitcher Ryan Tepera were non-tendered, the Cubs offered 2021 contracts to infielders Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, catchers Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini, and outfielder Ian Happ. They agreed to one-year deals with relievers Kyle Ryan, Colin Rea ($702,500) and Dan Winkler, avoiding arbitration with all three.
Chicago also announced it had claimed reliever Robert Stock off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. The 31-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment last week.
Wednesday’s non-tender deadline was the first major look at the state of the Cubs since Jed Hoyer was promoted to president of baseball operations last month, replacing Theo Epstein. While the Cubs held onto All-Star sluggers Bryant, Baez, and Contreras, those players could still be on the move this winter via trade if the club looks to cut more payroll.
Schwarber quickly became a fan favorite in Chicago upon arrival, flashing tape-measure power at the plate. He also played in the 2016 World Series after missing most of the season with a left knee injury. The slugger served as the designated hitter for the games in Cleveland and hit .412 (7 for 17) with two RBIs as the Cubs won their first championship since 1908.
Almora made a key play in Game 7 against Cleveland, running for Schwarber in the 10th inning and advancing to second on Bryant’s fly ball to center. Almora then scored the go-ahead run on Ben Zobrist’s double in the Cubs’ 8-7 victory over the Indians.
Almora was selected by Chicago with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, and Schwarber went fourth overall in 2014. While Almora has struggled at the plate, Schwarber’s lefty power bat could attract significant interest on the open market – especially at designated hitter – despite his shortcomings in left field.
The 27-year-old Schwarber, a converted catcher, stumbled during the pandemic-shortened season, batting .188 with 11 homers in 59 games for the NL Central champions. But he set career highs with 38 homers, 92 RBIs and a .250 batting average in 155 games in 2019.
Almora, 26, is a solid defender in center field and a .271 hitter in 489 career games. But he batted just .167 in 28 games last season.
The World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers acquired reliever Corey Knebel from the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday for a player to be named or cash.
Milwaukee had been facing a Wednesday night deadline on whether to offer Knebel a 2021 contract. Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said the deal was completed before that deadline.
The 29-year-old Knebel was an All-Star in 2017 and a key part of the Brewers’ bullpen during their run to the 2018 NL Championship Series. The right-hander missed the 2019 season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and struggled after returning last season.
“Corey had a tremendous career as a Brewer,” Stearns said. “He pitched in some of the biggest games in the history of this franchise, and he pitched incredibly well in those games. … Corey’s meant a lot to this franchise. He’s earned the respect of a lot of people around the Brewers, and we wish him very well.”
Knebel’s best season came in 2017, when he went 1-4 with 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA in 76 appearances. He had a 6.08 ERA in 15 games last season.
The 2013 first-round draft pick has a career ERA of 3.31 with 57 saves in 239 relief appearances. He pitched eight games for Detroit in 2014 and had been with Milwaukee ever since.
The Brewers also announced Wednesday they did not tender contracts to left-hander Alex Claudio, outfielder Ben Gamel and utilityman Jace Peterson. The team reached one-year deals with shortstop Orlando Arcia ($2 million), first baseman Daniel Vogelbach ($1.4 million) and catchers Omar Narvaez ($2.5 million) and Manny Pina ($1.65 million).
Claudio compiled a 4.26 ERA in 20 appearances last season. Gamel batted .237 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 40 games. Peterson hit .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 26 games.
In another move, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Brewers have agreed to terms on a major league contract with catcher Luke Maile. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.
Maile, who was with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, missed the entire abbreviated season due to a broken right index finger. The 29-year-old played for Tampa Bay from 2015-16 and Toronto from 2017-19.
He is well-regarded for his defense and has a career batting average of .198 with 10 homers and 60 RBIs in 215 games.
The Brewers struggled to get much from their catchers last season.
Narvaez was coming off a 22-homer season when the Brewers acquired him from Seattle in December 2019, but he batted just .176 with two homers and 10 RBIs over 40 games with Milwaukee.
Pina batted .231 with two homers and five RBIs in 15 games before season-ending knee surgery. Jacob Nottingham hit .188 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 20 games.