INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES

Adams Central 66 Jay County 45
Bedford North Lawrence 55 South Knox 43
Beech Grove 68 Monrovia 64
Ben Davis 63 Indianapolis Washington 41
Bethany Christian 57 Bremen 47
Blackford 65 South Adams 27
Brownstown Central 60 Jeffersonville 48
Calumet 56 River Forest 48
Center Grove 73 Jennings County 66
Central Noble 47 Fort Wayne Dwenger 43
Charlestown 51 Madison 45
Christian Academy 57 Bloomfield 42
Clarksville 50 New Washington 37
Clinton Prairie 56 Northwestern 49
Columbia City 57 Bellmont 54
Concord 53 New Prairie 32
Cowan 64 Eastbrook 49
DeKalb 56 New Haven 46
Delphi 62 Caston 51
Dugger Union 60 Vincennes Rivet 44
East Chicago Central 48 Portage 47
Eastern (Greentown) 69 Oak Hill 66
Eastern (Pekin) 71 Austin 55
Eastside 52 Edgerton (Ohio) 44
Edgewood 64 South Putnam 40
Evansville Bosse 51 Vincennes Lincoln 48
Evansville Mater Dei 45 Gibson Southern 41
Evansville Memorial 62 Mount Vernon (Ill.) 51
Faith Christian 68 Pioneer 40
Forest Park 59 Perry Central 44
Fort Wayne Blackhawk 62 Fort Wayne Concordia 59
Fort Wayne Snider 70 Peru 41
Franklin Central 53 Indianapolis Roncalli 40
Greenwood Christian 58 Indianapolis Shortridge 29
Griffith 71 Wheeler 22
Hammond Noll 70 Andrean 65
Heritage Hills 57 Washington 52
Heritage 61 Southern Wells 40
Highland 41 Lowell 38
Homestead 49 Wawasee 37
Huntington North 72 Southwood 65
Indian Creek 63 Brown County 49
Indianapolis Attucks 84 Gary 21st Century 65
Indianapolis Cathedral 74 Providence 40
Indianapolis Lutheran 82 Terre Haute South 64
Indianapolis Tech 65 Fort Wayne Wayne 51
Indianapolis Tindley 80 Victory College Prep 38
Jasper 52 Evansville North 45
LaVille 56 North Judson 47
Lafayette Central Catholic 59 Rensselaer Central 43
Lake Central 56 Harrison (West Lafayette) 45
Lebanon 63 Benton Central 62
Logansport 59 Western 56
Madison-Grant 52 Northfield 38
Manchester 61 Fort Wayne Canterbury 56
Marion 62 Fort Wayne South 60
Merrillville 80 Chesterton 71
Michigan City 85 Kankakee Valley 43
Mishawaka 48 Elkhart 45
New Castle 49 Connersville 31
Noblesville 66 Muncie Central 39
North Daviess 38 Borden 33
North Knox 66 North Central (Farmersburg) 47
North Posey 60 Mount Vernon (Posey) 41
North Putnam 61 Fountain Central 33
North White 46 South Newton 45 OT
Northview 81 Owen Valley 50
Norwell 69 Leo 63 2OT
Oregon-Davis 56 West Central 48
Orleans 58 Eastern Greene 24
Paoli 57 Tell City 42
Perry Meridian 42 Indianapolis Scecina 35
Pike Central 51 Evansville Central 47
Richmond 62 McCutcheon 49
Salem 41 Crawford County 36
Scottsburg 69 North Harrison 19
Seymour 43 Bloomington North 40 OT
Shelbyville 57 Greensburg 52
Sheridan 78 Rossville 71
Shoals 79 Washington Catholic 20
South Central (Elizabeth) 61 Mitchell 54
South Decatur 64 Edinburgh 60
South Vermillion 48 Seeger 42
Southridge 64 Northeast Dubois 45
Southwestern (Hanover) 59 Hauser 52
Springs Valley 70 Tecumseh 54
Tippecanoe Valley 45 Plymouth 44
Tipton 63 Bethesda Christian 55
Tri-Central 65 Wes-Del 60
Tri-County 61 Attica 19
Trinity Lutheran 60 Henryville 57 OT
Twin Lakes 64 North Newton 48
University 54 Covenant Christian 45
Valparaiso 47 Penn 44
Wabash 65 Muncie Burris 15
Warren Central 46 Hamilton Southeastern 42
West Lafayette 74 Covington 55
West Washington 54 Lanesville 27
Westfield 44 Carmel 31
Whiteland 57 East Central 42
Whiting 56 Lake Station 36
Whitko 45 Lakewood Park 20
Woodlan 42 Bluffton 30


Hendricks County Tournament
Brownsburg 68 Cascade 31
Plainfield 76 Tri-West 60
Avon 68 Danville 42


Randolph County Tournament
Winchester 50 Monroe Central 41


Ripley County Tournament
Jac-Cen-Del 55 Milan 52
Batesville 52 South Ripley 47


Rivertown Tournament
South Dearborn 57 Rising Sun 43
Lawrenceburg 54 Switzerland County 36


Shelby County Tournament
Triton Central 43 Morristown 36


Sugar Creek Tournament
North Montgomery 50 Western Boone 33
Crawfordsville 53 Southmont 44


Wayne County Tournament
Centerville 49 Northeastern 42


White River Valley Tournament
Barr-Reeve 52 White River Valley 24

INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORES

Andrean 50 Lowell 43
Angola 48 Fremont 46
Argos 70 Lakeland Christian 36
Beech Grove 53 Monrovia 43
Benton Central 65 Western 55
Bethesda Christian 42 Lebanon 29
Blackford 37 Oak Hill 30
Bloomington North 61 Terre Haute South 26
Bolingbrook (Ill.) 76 South Bend Washington 52
Borden 48 Paoli 44
Bremen 50 Bethany Christian 47
Castle 57 Bedford North Lawrence 55
Caston 46 LaVille 19
Center Grove 64 Jennings County 57
Charlestown 46 Brownstown Central 28
Christian Academy 54 Highlands Latin (Ky.) 18
Columbus North 64 Bloomington South 55
Culver Academy 44 South Bend Riley 17
Delphi 54 Peru 43
Eastern Hancock 66 Union County 31
Eminence 53 Indianapolis Washington 17
Evansville Christian 47 Evansville Bosse 17
Fishers 60 North Central (Indianapolis) 47
Floyd Central 58 New Albany 31
Forest Park 37 Pike Central 31
Fort Wayne Blackhawk 69 Fort Wayne Wayne 56
Fort Wayne Northrop 77 Faith Christian 57
Franklin Central 57 Indianapolis Roncalli 52
Frontier 47 Lighthouse CPA 15
Gibson Southern 73 Tell City 42
Goshen 46 Concord 36
Greencastle 41 Cloverdale 26
Greensburg 68 Franklin County 50
Hamilton Heights 45 Westfield 39
Hamilton Southeastern 82 Carroll (Fort Wayne) 63
Hammond Central 70 Lake Station 61
Heritage Hills 49 Mount Vernon (Posey) 19
Illiana Christian 63 Bowman Academy 36
Indian Creek 54 Brown County 47
Indianapolis Lutheran 46 Greenwood Christian 41
Jasper 53 Evansville Mater Dei 41
Jeffersonville 48 Evansville North 40
Lake Central 70 LaPorte 17
Lakewood Park 54 Elkhart Christian 26
Lanesville 76 Crothersville 11
Loogootee 60 Bloomfield 32
Manchester 50 North Miami 45
McCutcheon 52 Richmond 39
Merrillville 59 Westville 39
New Washington 54 Clarksville 39
Noblesville 62 Indianapolis Cathedral 35
North Knox 52 Eastern Greene 13
North Posey 50 Perry Central 34
North Putnam 58 North Montgomery 50
North White 38 South Newton 14
Northview 62 Owen Valley 38
Orleans 41 Henryville 35
Plymouth 56 Mishawaka 35
Rensselaer Central 63 Lafayette Central Catholic 39
Rossville 43 Covington 27
Rushville 37 East Central 34
Seymour 64 North Harrison 48
Shelbyville 56 Yorktown 41
Shoals 57 Washington Catholic 9
Silver Creek 63 Salem 18
South Bend Adams 55 Victory Christian 26
Southport 47 Terre Haute North 45
Southwood 55 Madison-Grant 40
Speedway 61 Crawfordsville 26
Springs Valley 40 Vincennes Rivet 34 OT
Tecumseh 64 Boonville 44
Tri-County 50 Pioneer 33
Trinity Greenlawn 33 Hamilton 23
University 60 Covenant Christian 27
Valparaiso 61 Harrison (West Lafayette) 41
Wabash 48 Maconaquah 31
Warsaw 65 Northridge 52
Washington 53 Princeton 42
Wawasee 41 NorthWood 40
West Lafayette 58 Warren Central 53
Western Boone 28 Clinton Prairie 26
Whitko 46 Rochester 41
Zionsville 68 Pike 48


Hendricks County Tournament
Avon 81 Cascade 62
Brownsburg 74 Tri-West 53
Plainfield 62 Danville 57 2OT


Henry County Tournament
Tri 46 Shenandoah 35
Little Okaw Valley Tournament
OPH (Ill.) 45 Dugger Union 32
Martinsville (Ill.) 39 Dugger Union 37


Madison County Tournament
Anderson 58 Anderson Prep 42
Pendleton Heights 48 Frankton 42
Lapel 48 Alexandria 31


Randolph County Tournament
Monroe Central 39 Union City 31
Shelby County Tournament
Triton Central 52 Morristown 22


Wayne County Tournament
Northeastern 69 Centerville 23


White River Valley Tournament
White River Valley 46 Shakamak 39

INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING SCORES:

https://indianamat.com/index.php?/dualresults.html/

https://indianamat.com/index.php?/curtournamentresults.html/

COLLEGE BOWL GAMES

MONDAY, JAN. 8

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

MICHIGAN VS. WASHINGTON

HOUSTON, TEXAS

7:30 P.M. | ESPN

NFL WEEK-18 SCHEDULE/SCORES

HOUSTON 23 INDIANAPOLIS19

PITTSBURGH 17 BALTIMORE 10


SUNDAY, JAN. 7, 2024

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS1:00PFOX
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS1:00PCBS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT DETROIT LIONS1:00PFOX
NEW YORK JETS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS1:00PFOX
ATLANTA FALCONS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS1:00PCBS
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT TENNESSEE TITANS1:00PCBS
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS4:25PFOX
CHICAGO BEARS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS4:25PCBS
DENVER BRONCOS AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS4:25PFOX
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS4:25PCBS
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT NEW YORK GIANTS4:25PCBS
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS4:25PFOX
DALLAS COWBOYS AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS4:25PFOX
BUFFALO BILLS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS8:20PNBC

MEN’S TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES

SETON HALL 78 #7 MARQUETTE 75

#8 NORTH CAROLINA 65 #16 CLEMSON 55

#6 KENTUCKY 87 FLORIDA 85

#25 AUBURN 83 ARKANSAS 51

#3 HOUSTON 89 WEST VIRGINIA 55

#2 KANSAS 83 TCU 81

CREIGHTON 69 #23 PROVIDENCE 60

#21 WISCONSIN 88 NEBRASKA 72

SOUTHERN MISS 81 #19 JAMES MADISON 71

#18 BAYLOR 75 OKLAHOMA STATE 70 OT

CHARLOTTE 70 #17 FLORIDA ATLANTIC 68

#11 OKLAHOMA 71 IOWA STATE 63

#5 TENNESSEE 90 #22 OLE MISS 64

#14 DUKE 67 NOTRE DAME 59

#10 ARIZONA 92 UTAH 73

TEXAS TECH 78 #20 TEXAS 67

UTAH STATE 77 #13 COLORADO STATE 72

#24 GONZAGA 101 SAN DIEGO 74

CINCINNATI 71 #12 BYU 60

ELSEWHERE:

INDIANA 71 OHIO STATE 65

IOWA 86 RUTGERS 77

WRIGHT STATE 106 PURDUE FORT WAYNE 98

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 71 BALL STATE 65

MURRAY STATE 81 EVANSVILLE 59

ILLINOIS CHICAGO 70 VALPARAISO 64

TENNESSEE TECH 73 SOUTHERN INDIANA 59

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25 SCORES

#11 KANSAS STATE 72 CENTRAL FLORIDA 56

#10 TEXAS 70 #24 WEST VIRGINIA 49

#19 MARQUETTE 81 XAVIER 52

#6 BAYLOR 87 HOUSTON 58

#21 CREIGHTON 75 DEPAUL 68

OKLAHOMA STATE 67 #23 TCU 59

ELSEWHERE:

BALL STATE 71 AKRON 64 OT

SETON HALL 64 BUTLER 50

NORTHERN IOWA 85 INDIANA STATE 79

DRAKE 78 EVANSVILLE 68

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 75 VALPARAISO 66

PURDUE AT MARYLAND POSTPONED

NBA SCOREBOARD

BOSTON 118 INDIANA 101

NY KNICKS 121 WASHINGTON 105

UTAH 120 PHILADELPHIA 109

HOUSTON 112 MILWAUKEE 108

NHL SCOREBOARD

PHILADELPHIA 3 CALGARY 2

FLORIDA 8 COLORADO 4

BUFFALO 3 PITTSBURGH 1

BOSTON 7 TAMPA BAY 3

TORONTO 4 SAN JOSE 1

MONTRÉAL 4 NY RANGERS 3

VANCOUVER 6 NEW JERSEY 4

MINNESOTA 4 COLUMBUS 3 OT

ST. LOUIS 2 CAROLINA 1

NASHVILLE 4 DALLAS 3

EDMONTON 3 OTTAWA 1

VEGAS 5 NY ISLANDERS 2

NATIONAL SPORTS RELEASES/HEADLINES

(THE SCORE)

The field of 133 FBS teams is down to two with Michigan and Washington facing off for the national championship Monday in Houston.

Contrasting styles of play should make for a very intriguing matchup between the future Big Ten foes, with both programs in search of their first national title in the playoff era.

Here’s how the two teams stack up at each position.

Quarterback

Although Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh may hail J.J. McCarthy as the best collegiate quarterback Michigan has ever had, he’s a distant second in the matchup with Michael Penix Jr. Caleb Williams is likely to be the No. 1 pick in the draft and Jayden Daniels claimed the Heisman, but Penix, the nation’s leading passer, is also the best. That was on full display in his surgical performance in the Sugar Bowl as he threw for a whopping 430 yards and two touchdowns.

Penix sits at 4,648 passing yards on the season with 35 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He’s the first collegiate quarterback since Patrick Mahomes to have back-to-back 4,500-yard seasons.

McCarthy isn’t asked to do nearly as much in the Michigan offense as Penix does for Washington, but he is relied upon heavily to convert crucial third downs and move the offense as efficiently as possible. He’s done just that throughout the season, rising to the occasion. However, no one carries the load that Penix does for the Huskies, and he owns a clear edge at the position.

Advantage: Washington

Running back

Blake Corum once again showed his worth to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, converting two crucial fourth downs and eventually scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime. With two scores against Alabama, Corum is up to 26 on the campaign – by far the most in the country. The phrase “nose for the end zone” is often overused, but it fits the senior star. The Wolverines use Donovan Edwards to give Corum a break, and he’s flashed game-breaking potential during his time with the program. However, Edwards only averages 3.5 yards per carry this season – more than a yard shy of Corum’s mark.

Dillon Johnson is making a push to compete with Corum in the last few weeks. The Washington rusher has come on strong in the second half of the season, scoring 10 touchdowns in his last six starts. He rushed for at least 80 yards in five of those games as the Huskies leaned on the running game more than they did to start the season. Unfortunately, Johnson now comes with a massive question mark after the Mississippi State transfer was carted off at the end of the Sugar Bowl with a foot injury. If he can’t go against Michigan, Washington will enter the contest without an active player who’s rushed for over 200 yards on the season.

Advantage: Michigan

Receivers

This may be the biggest position advantage on the field – Washington’s receiving group ranks above any other team in the country. The depth of the Huskies’ pass-catchers is unmatched, as they showed in the Sugar Bowl with five players totaling at least 45 receiving yards. Rome Odunze is worth every headline he gets and has a legitimate argument to be the first receiver taken in the upcoming draft over Marvin Harrison Jr. And it’s not just Odunze that Michigan needs to worry about: Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan are also set for successful NFL careers. The most impressive skill Washington’s receivers bring to the table is their ability to make contested catches in coverage.

Michigan simply doesn’t rely on its receivers to the same degree as Washington does. The Huskies possess two 1,000-yard pass-catchers this season, while Roman Wilson leads the Wolverines at 735. Wilson showed his quality in one of the biggest plays of the Rose Bowl, adjusting to make a ridiculous leaping grab late in the fourth quarter off a tipped pass to set up the tying touchdown. Cornelius Johnson and tight end Colston Loveland are also good options for McCarthy in the passing attack, but they’re a notch below Penix’s plethora of weapons.

Advantage: Washington

Offensive line

Both teams boast one of the country’s best offensive lines in what’s possibly the closest position-group matchup on the board. The Joe Moore Award is handed out annually to the best offensive line in college football, and the Wolverines captured back-to-back honors in 2021 and 2022 before the Huskies claimed the trophy this season.

Washington’s offensive line

Washington’s offensive line is built to keep Penix clean in the pocket and let the nation’s top passing attack go to work. The Huskies allowed just 11 sacks through 14 games on the season, and Texas couldn’t take Penix down at all in the Sugar Bowl. The star passer has shown time and again that he’s lethal with time to operate – something the offensive line has given him all season long.

Michigan’s offensive line gave up 19 sacks on the season but held Alabama’s talented pass-rush to one in the Rose Bowl. That’s even more impressive given the absence of preseason All-American guard Zak Zinter. The Wolverines’ line isn’t asked to hold up in pass protection nearly as much as Washington’s, since the Wolverines attempt 13 fewer passes per game. Where Michigan’s line thrives is in short-yardage situations, mauling the opponent when necessary for crucial conversions or scores. Both units are first-class, but the Huskies get the slight edge here since they rank ahead of Michigan in both yards per rush attempt and sacks allowed.

Advantage: Washington

Front seven

Michigan’s elite front seven holds a clear advantage over its Washington counterpart. The Wolverines’ pass-rush showed its full potential in the Rose Bowl, sacking Jalen Milroe six times and posting 10 tackles for loss. While this year’s team doesn’t feature a superstar on the edge like Aidan Hutchinson, it’s as deep as you’ll find – a strength that defensive tackle Kris Jenkins highlighted following last week’s victory.

“We preach that we play defense as one cohesive unit,” Jenkins told Zach Shaw of 247 Sports. “It’s not just one star; everybody’s gonna eat if we handle our business and do our jobs. The amount of trust we have in these guys, the work we’ve been able to put in since the offseason – everybody that has the opportunity to eat’s gonna eat.”

Running the ball on the Wolverines is a fool’s errand, with the front seven allowing just 3 yards per carry on the season. That forces opponents to rely on passing – something that rarely turns out well for them. Michigan is third in the country in passer rating allowed.

Washington’s defensive front ranks 86th in yards allowed per rush and struggled to stop that element of Texas’ offense in the Sugar Bowl. The Longhorns piled up over 6 yards per carry but had to lean on the pass after two fumbles in the second half put them down multiple scores. When the Huskies play with a lead, their defense thrives, with star edge-rusher Bralen Trice able to tee off on opposing quarterbacks in obvious passing situations. Trice has four sacks in his last four games, capped by a standout performance versus Quinn Ewers in the Sugar Bowl.

Advantage: Michigan

Secondary

Michigan’s secondary is also among the best – and the Wolverines will need it against Washington’s explosive receivers. Will Johnson, arguably the top corner in the Big Ten, will likely draw the task of stopping Odunze on Monday. Mike Sainristil is a constant thorn in the opposition’s side, lining up all over the field to confuse quarterbacks. The veteran defensive back has five picks on the season and has taken two back for touchdowns. Overall, the Wolverines rank second nationally in passing yards allowed per game, but they’ve faced only two top-50 passing attacks this season.

A data point that’s frequently been misrepresented during the playoff is Washington’s defense ranking 123rd against the pass. While the Huskies do allow 267 yards passing per game, their rank is incredibly misleading given that opponents throw more against Washington than any other team. That’s mainly because the Huskies’ offense puts so much pressure on the opposition to score quickly to keep up. In terms of passer rating against, the Pac-12 champions are actually inside the top 35 nationally and have beaten two top-20 passers in consecutive games in Ewers and Bo Nix. Jabbar Muhammad has emerged as a shutdown corner and will likely tail the Wolverines’ Wilson throughout the game.

Michigan’s secondary is superior to Washington’s, but it will have to show it if the Wolverines are to emerge as champions. Given these teams’ divergent offensive approaches, the battle between the Huskies’ receivers and the defensive backs from Michigan will go a long way toward deciding Monday’s outcome.

Advantage: Michigan

Special teams

In the semifinals, both teams looked awful in the return game, each fumbling to set up a touchdown for the opposition. Michigan nearly took it a step further with a botched fair catch in the dying minutes that almost gifted Alabama a winning score. Extra possessions will be key in this contest, so look for both squads to spend plenty of time practicing fielding punts this week.

Considering they are meeting in the national championship, it’s no surprise that Michigan and Washington haven’t punted much: Through 14 games each, the teams total 48 and 41 punts, respectively. Both programs have solid kickers who connect on at least 80% of their field goals, but they arrive in Houston with different levels of confidence. Washington’s Cody Gross was crucial to the Huskies’ win in the Sugar Bowl, supplying the final nine points versus Texas in the second half. On the other side, Michigan’s James Turner missed a late 49-yard field goal versus Alabama and also saw a botched snap ruin an extra-point attempt. The kicking unit rebounding from those struggles could be crucial to a Wolverines win.

Advantage: Draw

Coaching

Jim Harbaugh is one of the most recognizable people in the sport, and Kalen DeBoer could walk uninterrupted through virtually every airport in America. However, both have returned incredible winning rates at every stop in their coaching careers.

The biggest question around Harbaugh is whether this is his final game with the Wolverines. Another suspension probably looms for the veteran coach, so a return to the NFL looks likely regardless of Monday’s result. He’d love nothing more than to deliver the one thing missing from his collegiate coaching resume to his beloved alma mater. Michigan’s coaching staff was exceptional in taking down Alabama, with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter getting pressure on Milroe all game and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore confusing Nick Saban’s outfit by varying tempo and huddling. Perhaps no college football staff knows its identity and plays to its strengths like the Wolverines.

DeBoer has an astonishing record through stops at the NAIA level, Fresno State, and now Washington. Defeating Texas improved his overall mark to 104-11 overall. He’s 25-2 in his tenure with the Huskies and has shown time and time again that he’s best at decision-making in a close contest – Washington has won 10 straight games by 10 points or less.

However, there are serious questions as to whether the pass-heavy Huskies can properly kill a game off and run out the clock. That was evident from Texas’ furious late comeback in the Sugar Bowl. For that reason, the Wolverines narrowly get the nod here.

Advantage: Michigan (slight)

MICHAEL PENIX JR., NO. 2 WASHINGTON NOT INTERESTED IN ANOTHER RUNNER-UP FINISH

Michigan Against Everybody is the rallying cry for the No. 1-ranked Wolverines in the College Football Playoff National Championship game Monday night.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the runner-up in 2023 Heisman Trophy voting to LSU’s Jayden Daniels, wouldn’t mind borrowing the mantra as the Huskies take in Houston from the vantage point of the underdog.

“I can persevere and push through any hardship that comes my way,” Penix Jr. said Saturday at CFP media day in Houston of his path to the championship game as a transfer from Indiana who rebounded from four season-ending injuries. “I just continue to lean on my faith and trust that God has a plan for me. And that’s what it was all about, just trusting in God. That’s what led me to being here today, just that trust and just understanding that it’s a bigger plan for me that I might not know or that I might not see right now.”

“I wouldn’t change anything I’ve been through for anything. I feel like it’s shaped me into the player and the person that I am today. I’m super blessed.”

A southpaw passer with 4,648 yards, 35 touchdown passes this season, Penix has only 17 interceptions in 1,058 pass attempts the past two seasons in a reunion in Seattle with former Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer.

“He’s never going to have any regrets,” DeBoer said Saturday, previously confirming the runner-up finish in the Heisman voting might’ve been part of Penix’s motivation on New Year’s Day in the semifinal victory over Texas.

“And so no regrets when it comes to leadership and wishing he would have said something and not said it,” the Washington head coach continued. “No regrets when it comes to putting in an extra hour of routes in in the summer knowing that it’s going to pay off at some point in a year in a big throw, in a big moment. I think him having perspective on all of this and not having regrets with how he handles people, the different moments that come about. I know that’s a bigger picture thing when I say no regrets, but it hits all the areas.”

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy knows Penix from his time in the Big Ten — most memorably a three-TD pass game and win over the Wolverines in 2020 — and said his Heisman vote would’ve gone to the Huskies’ QB uncontested.

“He had my Heisman vote. Not going to lie,” said McCarthy, who isn’t a Heisman voter. “Michael Penix, everything he’s been through, all the adversity, all the injuries, just continuing to stick to the process and keep pressing on, that’s something that (Michigan strength and conditioning) coach Herb (Ben Herbert) always talks about: a future favors those who press on.

“He’s the epitome of that. The player he is, the touch he puts on the ball, the accuracy, the ball placement, just a tremendous quarterback and I have so much respect for him.”

To be the last QB standing on Monday night, Penix is banking on his top-ranked offensive line to hold Michigan’s stout pass rush at bay. But it’s the Wolverines’ secondary that had Penix and his receivers talking this week.

“That whole defense — they’re good. They do a lot of good things on that side of the ball. I feel like they’re very well-coached and they have a lot of good players. And we do, too, obviously,” Penix said, adding he’s ready to ride with his side in the strength-vs-strength match.

“For me, I’m always going to believe in my guys and believe that my guys are going to be able to get the job done, no matter who we’re facing. I’m super excited for it. I know the guys are super excited for it. Come Monday, I guess we’ll see who had the better side.”

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze suggested “transfer the Heisman Trophy” to Penix earlier in the week at the Sugar Bowl. Instead, he envisions Penix delivering another statement — and holding a trophy — when the dust settles in Houston.

“Unfortunately, I feel like the media and everybody on the outside hasn’t paid close enough attention,” Odunze said. “He’s special and he’s fought through adversity, and here he is shining on the biggest stage.”

MICHIGAN’S JIM HARBAUGH: TALK FUTURE NEXT WEEK

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is willing to discuss what’s next, but not before the No. 1-ranked Wolverines play for the national championship on Monday night.

“I’ll gladly talk about the future next week,” Harbaugh said Saturday at the College Football Playoff media day in Houston. “The future? I hope to have one, how about that.”

Harbaugh deflected questions about potential NCAA sanctions including vacated wins earlier in the week, saying he doesn’t live in “Rumorville,” as reports circulate about mutual NFL head-coaching interest.

Michigan reportedly offered Harbaugh a massive contract extension worth more than $50 million last month. But the deal reportedly would prevent Harbaugh from interviewing for vacant NFL coaching jobs. He coached the San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014) and was tied to recent openings with the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings in coaching cycles the past two offseasons.

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy said Harbaugh is dialed in this week and delivered an intense message to the team in Houston.

“Basically we’re a pack of wolves ready to eat our last meal,” McCarthy said.

The Wolverines posted a 27-20 win in overtime over Alabama to advance to Monday’s championship game. It’s their first in the BCS or College Football Playoff eras.

“I haven’t even taken in the win really last week. I’m so laser-focused on finishing the job,” Michigan running back Blake Corum said. “I’m so locked in right now. We’ll be ready.

“We’re not going to stop until we finish the job.”

TEXAS TE JA’TAVION SANDERS ENTERING NFL DRAFT

Texas standout tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, he told ESPN on Saturday.

Sanders is regarded as one of the top draft prospects at tight end after Georgia’s Brock Bowers, who has also declared for the draft.

“It’s been a childhood dream to play college football and get to the NFL,” Sanders, a 6-foot-4, 243-pound junior, said in a phone interview on Saturday. “It’s just a blessing to be where I’m at today.”

Sanders is the Longhorns’ career receptions leader for a tight end (99), and his 1,295 career yards is second at the position behind David Thomas (1,367 from 2002-05). He also caught seven touchdown passes in three seasons.

He had 45 receptions for 682 yards and two TDs while dealing with an ankle injury in the second half of this season. Sanders make six catches for 75 yards in the Longhorns’ 37-31 loss to Washington on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl, a semifinal in the College Football Playoff.

As a sophomore, he was All-Big 12 first-team selection with 613 yards and five TDs on 54 receptions — the latter a school single-season record for catches for a tight end.

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy, a junior, earlier declared for the draft, and wideout Jordan Whittington graduated. Junior receiver Adonai Mitchell has not announced his plans for the 2024 season.

LSU REPORTEDLY MAKES NEW DC BLAKE BAKER HIGHEST-PAID ASSISTANT

LSU named Blake Baker, defensive coordinator at Missouri, to the same position.

While LSU announced his hiring on Friday, no financial terms were released. ESPN reported Baker will receive a three-year deal worth $2.5 million per year, which will make him the highest-paid assistant coach in college football.

Baker helped Missouri to an 11-win season and a 14-3 defeat of Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29. It was the first time the Buckeyes didn’t score a touchdown in a game since the 2016 season.

Baker spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Missouri. Among his career jobs, he was the defensive coordinator at Lousiana Tech (2015-18) and Miami (Fla.) in 2019-20, as well as the linebackers coach at LSU in 2021, before heading to Missouri.

“Blake brings a wealth of experience and success as a defensive coordinator throughout his career, including the last two years in the SEC at Missouri,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said. “His ability to develop and motivate his players while putting together highly successful defenses sets him apart in his field. I am excited to welcome Blake and his family back to Baton Rouge.”

On Wednesday, Kelly announced LSU was parting ways with coordinator Matt House and three of his assistants — cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples, safeties coach Kerry Cooks and defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey — following a 10-3 season.

Baker, 41, is a Houston native but his Louisiana roots run deep. He played linebacker at Tulane from 2000-04.

Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz posted a message of appreciation for Baker on social media late Friday.

“Thank you, Blake for all you did for @MizzouFootball,” Drinkwitz wrote. “Your help in all we’ve accomplished cannot be DENIED! I enjoyed every minute of our journey together — but it’s time for you to go on a new path.”

QB MALACHI NELSON, ’23 NO. 1 RECRUIT, TRANSFERS FROM USC TO BOISE ST.

Boise State landed the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2023, as quarterback Malachi Nelson announced on Saturday night that he is leaving Southern California after one season.

Per 247Sports, Nelson was the No. 24 overall available player in the portal.

“Boise, this is it,” Nelson said on X. “Committed #BleedBlue”

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Nelson — a former five-star prospect — threw just three passes for USC this season, sitting behind 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and Miller Moss.

Nelson, who entered the transfer portal on Dec. 18, committed to Oklahoma when Lincoln Riley was the coach before opting to go to USC when Riley took the job with the Trojans.

Nelson was California’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2022, throwing for 2,898 yards, 35 touchdowns and four interceptions.

He will play for new Broncos head coach Spencer Danielson, who was promoted from interim coach on Dec. 3. Danielson went 3-0 and guided Boise State to the Mountain West Conference championship.

Quarterback Taylen Green transferred from Boise State to Arkansas this offseason after completing 57.1 percent of his passes for 1,752 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games in 2023.

Broncos quarterback Maddux Madsen is returning to the program, but he was limited to nine games last season due to injury. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,191 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

NFL NEWS

TEXANS EDGE COLTS TO BOOK PLAYOFF SPOT, ELIMINATE RIVALS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud made all the right calls in the biggest game of his NFL career to help the Houston Texans secure a playoff spot.

Stroud threw for 264 yards and two scores, Devin Singletary scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard TD run with 6:20 to play and the Texans came up with a late stop for a 23-19 victory over Indianapolis on Saturday night.

“Everybody’s fighting till that last play, that’s what it’s about,” coach DeMeco Ryans said as the Texans shouted and danced after earning their first playoff berth since 2019.. “We punched our ticket.”

Now the waiting begins.

Houston (10-7) either will be one of the AFC’s three wild-card teams or host a wild-card weekend game as the AFC South champs — if Jacksonville loses at Tennessee.

Indianapolis (9-8) was eliminated from the playoff chase with its third loss in five weeks. It hasn’t made the postseason since 2020.

Reaching the postseason sure hasn’t been easy for Houston with a new head coach, a new quarterback and a short-handed receiving. The Texans y

corps or needing a win at a venue where the Texans had only won four times in the previous 20 seasons.

Still, Houston finished the job Saturday with a strong performance — and a little help from Indy.

A blown coverage allowed Stroud to throw a 75-yard TD pass to Nico Collins on the Texans’ first play. Hours later, Colts running back Tyler Goodson was wide open when he dropped a pass on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 15 with 1:06 to go.

“We all have plays that we want back. Just because it’s the last one makes it that much more significant,” Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew said about the fourth-down call. “I told him (Goodson) I’d throw that ball every time. I trust him.”

Stroud finished 20 of 26 with no turnovers and hooked up with Collins nine times for 195 yards and the score. Stroud has with a passer rating of 134.1.

For Indy, it was an odd night full of close calls.

In the first half, the Colts struggled to move the ball, struggled to contain Stroud and rarely tried to stretch the field.

In the second half, they leaned heavily on Jonathan Taylor, who had his best game of the season — 30 carries for 188 yards and a 49-yard TD run early in the third quarter that led to a nifty 2-point conversion from Minshew to Mo Alie-Cox that tied it at 14.

But he injured his ankle and foot in the second half, went briefly to the locker room, then returned for Indy’s final series only to be out of the game on the fateful fourth-down play. Coach Shane Steichen said that was by design.

Steichen’s other big gamble didn’t pay off, either. He opted to try a 57-yard field goal midway through the third quarter that would have broken the 14-14 tie, but Matt Gay’s kick hit the right upright and five plays later Ka’imi Fairbairn made a 51-yarder to give Houston a 17-14 lead.

Indy tied it on Gay’s 35-yard field goal on the ensuing drive, but Stroud responded with a 12-play, 73-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock and ended with Singletary’s TD run.

Minshew was 13 of 24 for 141 yards.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty,” Ryans said. “We fought and found a way to get it done.”

STRANGE NIGHT

The Colts thought they would open the fourth quarter facing third-and-1 from the Houston 24, but Steichen challenged the call. When the challenge resulted in a first down, the refs put 45 seconds back on the clock and the players, who had just changed ends, had down field again for one more play to finish the third quarter. Then they changed ends again after the play.

Then in the fourth quarter, a flag was thrown because Indy had too many players on the field. After the snap, the refs waved off the penalty and announced they would have a do-over.

BY THE NUMBERS

Texans: Houston got one sack to give it 46 this season, a franchise record. … Fairbairn missed an extra point for the first time this season, following the go-ahead score. … The Texans improved to 4-4 on the road.

Colts: Josh Downs caught three passes for 48 yards, giving him the franchise-record 68 for a rookie. … Taylor had his first 100-yard game since November 2022. … Minshew finished this season with a career-best seven wins. … Steichen is Indy’s first first-year, non-interim coach to miss the playoffs since Jim Mora in 1997.

INJURY REPORT

Texans: DE Jonathan Greenard (ankle) was inactive for the second straight week and WRs Robert Woods (hip) and Noah Brown (back) also sat out. DE Jerry Hughes left with an ankle injury in the third quarter but later returned.

Colts: Taylor wasn’t the only significant injury Indy suffered. RT Braden Smith left with an injured knee and did not return, and TE Will Mallory and CB JuJu Brents did not return after each suffered a hamstring injury.

UP NEXT

Texans: Will wait to see if Jacksonville wins or loses before finding out who and where it plays next weekend.

Colts: Head into the offseason looking to take another big step forward next season.

STEELERS TOP LAMAR-LESS RAVENS 17-10, WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS IF BUFFALO OR JACKSONVILLE LOSES

BALTIMORE (AP) — Cameron Heyward figures the Pittsburgh Steelers can make some noise in the playoffs.

They still need a little help to get in, but they’ve certainly done their part down the stretch.

“Let us be dangerous,” said Heyward, the Pittsburgh defensive tackle. “We have a formula that’s working right now. Hopefully we can get some guys back in the fold. We’re not going to discount ourselves. We know we’ve got work to do, and looking forward to it.”

Mason Rudolph threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Steelers took a step toward the postseason with a 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Rudolph led Pittsburgh (10-7) to three straight wins to close the season, and now the Steelers wait. They would make the playoffs Sunday if Buffalo loses to Miami, or Jacksonville loses to Tennessee. They also had a chance to clinch a berth if the Houston-Indianapolis game Saturday night ended in a tie.

There was some bad news for the Steelers amid all that hope. T.J. Watt — who had two sacks to take sole possession of the NFL lead with 19 — left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t have an update on Watt’s status after the game.

The Ravens (13-4) already had the top seed in the AFC locked up, and they held MVP favorite Lamar Jackson out of this game, along with a handful of other key players. Tyler Huntley started at quarterback, and both teams had a hard time moving the ball on a rainy, windy day.

“We had a chance to send them home, now they have a chance to go to the playoffs,” Baltimore linebacker Patrick Queen said. “It stings a little bit … but we have a lot of pages in our book that set us up pretty good. Nobody’s hanging their head or anything. If we see those guys again, we’ll be ready.”

With the score tied at 7, Rudolph found Johnson over the middle for the one big play Pittsburgh needed. After Baltimore’s Gus Edwards lost a fumble, the Steelers kicked a field goal with 3:13 remaining. The Ravens hadn’t trailed by more than seven points all season until then.

Justin Tucker kicked a field goal with 16 seconds left, but Baltimore couldn’t come up with the ensuing onside kick. The Ravens had a six-game winning streak snapped.

Rudolph was 18 of 20 for 152 yards.

“It was probably the most challenging weather I’ve had to deal with in my career,” Rudolph said.

Each team lost two fumbles.

Pittsburgh opened the

Pittsburgh opened the scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run by Najee Harris in the first quarter. The Ravens didn’t manage a first down until the second, but they eventually tied it on a 27-yard scoring pass from Huntley to Isaiah Likely.

The Steelers have won seven of the last eight meetings with Baltimore, all of which were decided by seven points or fewer. Pittsburgh’s four consecutive wins at M&T Bank Stadium are the most by a visiting team since the Steelers themselves won five straight from 1998-2002.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING

Tomlin said he wasn’t sure what his plans were for Sunday, as far as tuning in to other games.

“I hadn’t thought about it,” he said. “We were more concerned about the variables that we had control over. Those other ones are less important. We did what we needed to do this weekend.”

MILESTONE

Harris rushed for 112 yards to finish the season with 1,035. He’s the first player in Steelers history to reach 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first three NFL seasons.

SITTING OUT

In addition to Jackson, receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, safety Kyle Hamilton, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and guard Kevin Zeitler were among the big names on the inactive list for the Ravens. Star linebacker Roquan Smith was active but did not play.

“We didn’t really care about who was out there or how long they were going to play,” Harris said. “We wanted to play so physical that if they did play their ones, their guys, we wanted (Baltimore coach John) Harbaugh to say, ‘We’ve got to get them out of there,’ because of how physical we were playing.”

INJURIES

Baltimore S Geno Stone left with a knee injury, and LB Del’Shawn Phillips hurt a shoulder. DL Brent Urban was evaluated for a concussion.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Their postseason fate is in other teams’ hands now.

Ravens: Baltimore will have a first-round bye before hosting its playoff opener.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8-8) AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-14)

TAMPA BAY can clinch NFC South division title with win. • QB BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 309 yards & 2 TDs vs. 2 INTs in Week 17, his 13th-career 300-yard game. Aims for his 5th in row with 2+ TD passes. Has career highs in pass yards (3,907) & pass TDs (28) in 2023. Has 19 TDs (18 pass, 1 rush) vs. 3 INTs for 103.5 rating in 8 road starts this season. • RB RACHAAD WHITE ranks 3rd among RBs in scrimmage yards (career-high 1,446) & rec. yards (career-high 531) & 4th in receptions (career-high 60) in 2023. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with TD & 4th in row on road with 100+ scrimmage yards. Had 106 scrimmage yards (84 rush, 22 rec.) & rush TD in Week 13 meeting. • WR MIKE EVANS leads NFL with 13 rec. TDs in 2023 & has 1,233 rec. yards, his 4th-career 1,200-yard season. Has 8 rec. TDs in his past 6 vs. Car. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Car. with 150+ rec. yards & TD catch. • WR CHRIS GODWIN had 2nd rec. TD of season last week. Has 973 rec. yards & can reach 1,000 for 3rd-consecutive season & 4th time overall in his career. Had rush TD in last meeting. • LB LAVONTE DAVID led team with 11 tackles last week & has 124 tackles in 2023, his 8th-career season with 120+ tackles. Ranks tied-5th in NFL with 17 TFL in 2023, incl. 8 TFL in his past 5 on road. • LB YAYA DIABY leads all rookies with 11 TFL & aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ TFL. Had sack in last meeting. • DL CALIJAH KANCEY ranks tied-2nd among rookies with 10 TFL. Diaby & Kancey are 1st pair of rookie teammates each with 10+ TFL since 2017 (Mike Hilton & T.J. Watt). • S ANTOINE WINFIELD JR. is only player since 2000 with 100+ tackles (117), 10+ PD (12), 5+ sacks (5) & 5+ FFs (5).

QB BRYCE YOUNG ranks 2nd among rookies in pass yards (2,873) & pass TDs (11). Can join Cam Newton (2011) as only Car. rookie QBs with 3,000+ pass yards. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 90+ rating. • RB CHUBA HUBBARD has career-high 1,043 scrimmage yards (819 rush, 224 rec.) in 2023, his 1st-career 1,000-yard season. Aims for his 8th in row wth 50+ scrimmage yards. Rushed for 104 yards & 2 TDs in Week 13 meeting & has 4 rush TDs in his past 4 vs. TB. • WR ADAM THIELEN had 6 catches last week & has 101 receptions in 2023, his 2nd-career 100-catch season (113 in 2018 w/ Min.). Has 1,002 rec. yards this season, his 3rd-career season with 1,000+ rec. yards (2018-19). Ranks 5th in receptions (635) & rec. yards (7,684) among undrafted players since 1967. Has 5+ catches in 6 of his 7 home games in 2023. • LB BRIAN BURNS had 8 tackles, 2 TFL & 7th sack of season last week & is 1 of 5 with 7+ sacks in each of past 5 seasons. Has 15 TFL in 2023, his 2nd-straight season with 15+ TFL (17 in 2022). Had sack & 2 TFL in last home meeting (10/23/22). • LB FRANKIE LUVU has career-high 119 tackles in 2023 & is 1 of 2 (Demario Davis) with 100+ tackles, 10+ TFL & 5+ sacks in each of past 2 seasons. Had TFL & PD in Week 13 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. TB with TFL. • DT DERRICK BROWN had 8 tackles & 5th PD of season last week. Leads all DL with 96 tackles in 2023 & can surpass Christian Wilkins (98 tackles in 2022) for most tackles by DL in season since 2000. • CB DONTE JACKSON had 2nd-career game with 2 TFL last week. Had 2 PD in Week 13 meeting.

CLEVELAND BROWNS (11-5) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-8)

QB JAKE BROWNING totaled 229 yards (197 pass, 32 rush) & 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs last week. Has 103.8 rating in 3 home starts this season, with 2 TD passes in 2 of 3 games. Since becoming Cin. starter in Week 12, leads NFL with 1,712 pass yards & ranks 2nd with 71.1 comp. pct. • RB JOE MIXON had 87 scrimmage yards (65 rush, 22 rec.) & TD catch last week. Has TD in 4 of past 5. Has 70+ scrimmage yards in 9 of his past 10 vs. Cle. Is only RB with 1,200+ scrimmage yards in each of past 3 seasons. Needs 77 rush yards for 4th-career season with 1,000+ rush yards. Has 2nd-career season with 10+ TDs (10). • WR JA’MARR CHASE has 60+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 at home. Had 10 catches for 119 yards & TD in last home meeting (12/11/22). Needs 4 catches to become 3rd player in franchise history with 100-catch season (T.J. Houshmandzadeh & Carl Pickens). Is 1 of 4 in NFL with 80+ catches, 1,000+ rec. yards & 7+ rec. TDs in each of past 3 seasons. • WR TEE HIGGINS has 60+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4 & rec. TD in 2 of past 3. Is 4th Bengal ever with 5+ rec. TDs in each of 1st 4 seasons. • WR TYLER BOYD has 50+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. • DE TREY HENDRICKSON had sack & FF last week, 7th-straight game with full sack, longest active streak in NFL. Had sack & PD in Week 1 meeting & has 0.5+ sacks in 3 of 4 career games vs. Cle. Ties for NFL lead with single-season franchise record 17 sacks. • DT B.J. HILL had sack in Week 1 meeting. Has 5+ tackles in 2 of past 3. Aims for 3rd in row at home with PD. • LB SAM HUBBARD had 5 tackles & FR last week. Has sack in 3 of his past 4 vs. Cle. Has 5th-career season with 5+ sacks (5). • CB MIKE HILTON had 2 TFL & 2nd sack of season in Week 17. Has 5+ tackles in 8 of past 9. Has career-best 81 tackles & 11 TFL in 2023.

BROWNS clinched postseason for 2nd time in past 20 years (2020). Lead NFL in total defense (266.6 yards allowed/game). • QB JOE FLACCO is 1st player in NFL history with 250+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes in each of 1st 5 games with a team & 2nd player ever with 300+ pass yards in 4 of 1st 5 games with a team (Brian Hoyer w/ Chi. in 2016). Is 2nd player age 38+ with 300+ pass yards in 4 straight games within single season (Tom Brady in 2017). Since becoming Cle. starter in Week 13, leads NFL with 1,616 pass yards & 13 TD passes. • QB JEFF DRISKEL expected to make 1st start of season & Cle debut. Started 5 games for Cin. in 2018. • RB JEROME FORD had 121 scrimmage yards (64 rush, 57 rec.) & career-high 2 rec. TDs last week, 3rd-career 100-yard game (all this season). Aims for 3rd in row with TD. Has 1,100 scrimmage yards & 9 TDs (5 rec., 4 rush) in 2023, 1st-career 1,000-yard season. • RB KAREEM HUNT has rush TD in 3 of past 4 & in each of past 2. Has career-high 9 rush TDs this season. • WR AMARI COOPER aims for his 4th in row with 75+ rec. yards & 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards & rec. TD. Is 4th player ever with 5+ rec. TDs in each of 1st 9 seasons. • WR ELIJAH MOORE had 5 catches for 61 yards & TD last week. • TE DAVID NJOKU had season-high 134 rec. yards in Week 17. Aims for 5th in row with 6+ catches & has rec. TD in 3 of past 4. • DE MYLES GARRETT had 14th sack of season last week. Aims for 5th in row with TFL. Has sack in 9 of 10 career games vs. Cin. Needs sack for 3rd-straight season with 15+ sacks. • DE ALEX WRIGHT aims for 4th in row with sack & 3rd in row with PD. • LB JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH had 11 tackles & 2 TFL last week & has 2 TFL in 3 of past 4. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 20 TFL.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9) AT DETROIT LIONS (11-5)

QB NICK MULLENS passed for 113 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 87.9 rating last week. Has 300+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes in each of his 2 starts this season, incl. 411 pass yards & 2 TD passes vs. Det. in Week 16. • RB ALEXANDER MATTISON has career highs in scrimmage yards (863) & rush yards (676 in 2023). • RB TY CHANDLER had 64 scrimmage yards (40 rush, 24 rec.) in Week 17. Had rush TD in Week 16 meeting. • WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON has 56 catches for 882 yards in 9 games this season & can reach 1,000+ rec. yards for 4th-straight season. Had 141 rec. yards & TD catch in Week 16 meeting & has 881 rec. yards (125.9 per game) in 7 career games vs. Det. • WR JORDAN ADDISON ranks tied-1st among rookies in rec. TDs (9), ranks 5th in rec. yards (854) & tied-5th in catches (66). • TE JOHNNY MUNDT had 1st rec. TD of season last week. • LB DANIELLE HUNTER ranks tied-1st in NFL with 21 TFL & 5th with 15.5 sacks (most among NFC players) in 2023. Has 9 sacks in 8 road games this season. Has 12 sacks & 13 TFL in 13 career games vs. Det. • LB IVAN PACE (rookie) had 11 tackles last week, his 2nd-career game with 10+ tackles. Leads all rookies with 91 tackles. Had FR in last meeting. • LB PAT JONES had career-high 9 tackles last week. Had 3 TFL & sack in Week 16. • S CAMRYN BYNUM leads all DBs with career-high 130 tackles this season. Had 8 tackles & 2 FFs in Week 16 meeting. • S JOSH METELLUS has career-high 106 tackles in 2023 & is 1 of 4 in NFL with 5+ tackles in 16 games this season. • S HARRISON SMITH has 8th-straight season with 75+ tackles in 2023.

DETROIT clinched 1st division title since 1993. • QB JARED GOFF ranks 3rd in NFL with 4,225 pass yards & tied4th with 28 TD passes in 2023. Has 19 TDs (17 pass, 2 rush) vs. 6 INTs for 105.7 rating in 7 home starts this season. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 100+ rating & 4th in row at home with 2+ TD passes. Had TD pass & 99.7 rating in Week 16 meeting. • RB JAHMYR GIBBS ranks tied-1st among rookies in scrimmage TDs (10), 2nd in rush yards (915) & 3rd in scrimmage yards (1,231). Had 100 scrimmage yards (80 rush, 20 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 16 meeting. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY had career-high 12th rush TD of season last week. Has 1,092 scrimmage yards (975 rush, 117 rec.), his 5thstraight 1,000-yard season & can reach 1,000 rush yards for 2nd time in his career (1,070 in 2020 w/ Chi.). Had rush TD in Week 16 meeting. • WR AMON-RA ST. BROWN had career-high 9th rec. TD of season last week. Ranks tied-2nd in NFL with career-high 112 catches & ranks 5th with career-high 1,371 rec. yards this season. Has 308 career catches, 3rd-most by player in 1st 3 seasons all-time. Had 12 catches for 106 yards & rec. TD in Week 16 meeting. • TE SAM LAPORTA has 81 receptions, tied with Keith Jackson (81 in 1988) for most by rookie TE in NFL history. Has 860 rec. yards, 5th-most by rookie TE all-time. Can become 3rd rookie TE ever with 10+ rec. TDs. • DL AIDAN HUTCHINSON had career-high 4 TFL, his 2nd-career game with 3 sacks & 3rd FF of season in Week 17. Has career high 11 TFL & career-high tying 9.5 sacks in 2023. • LB ALEX ANZALONE has 120 tackles in 2023 & needs 5 tackles for new career high (125 in 2022). Has TFL in 2 of his past 3. • S IFEATU MELIFONWU aims for his 3rd in row with INT. • DB BRIAN BRANCH (rookie) aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ PD.

NEW YORK JETS (6-10) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (4-12)

QB TREVOR SIEMIAN completed 32 of 45 atts. (71.1 pct.) for 261 yards & TD last week, 2nd straight game with 25+ completions. Passed for 282 yards in only career start vs. NE (12/19/16 w/ Den.). • RB BREECE HALL led team with 126 scrimmage yards (84 rush, 42 rec.) & had 9 catches & rec. TD last week. Has 125+ scrimmage yards & TD in 3 of past 4 & in each of past 2. Ranks 2nd among RBs with 74 catches & 5th among RBs with 1,395 scrimmage yards in 2023, most scrimmage yards by NYJ RB in a season since Thomas Jones in 2009 (1,460). Can become 4th NYJ RB all-time with 1,500-yard season. • WR GARRETT WILSON aims for 3rd in row with 5+ catches & 50+ rec. yards. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of past 5. Had 5 catches in Week 3 meeting. Needs 7 catches to become 2nd player in franchise history with 100-catch season, joining Brandon Marshall (109 in 2015). Is 1st NYJ player ever with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 2 seasons. • TE TYLER CONKLIN had 5 catches for 45 yards last week, 4thstraight game with 4+ catches. Has career-best 605 rec. yards in 2023. • DL QUINNEN WILLIAMS had TFL last week. Has TFL in 5 of 6 career games vs. NE, with sack in 2 of past 3. • LB QUINCY WILLIAMS had 7 tackles & FF in Week 16. Aims for 9th in row with 5+ tackles. Has PD in 3 of past 4. Had 9 tackles & TFL in Week 3 meeting & aims for his 4th in row vs. NE with TFL. • LB C.J. MOSLEY had 8 tackles, FF & FR last week. Aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles. Had 10 tackles in Week 3 meeting. • LB JERMAINE JOHNSON had 37-yard INT-TD last week, 1stcareer INT & 1st-career TD. • CB SAUCE GARDNER had PD last week. Had PD in last road meeting (11/20/22). Has 31 career PD, 3rd-most in NFL since 2022.

QB BAILEY ZAPPE totaled 246 yards (209 pass, career-high 37 rush) & had 1st-career rush TD last week. • RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT rushed for TD last week & has TD in 3 of past 4. Has 85+ scrimmage yards in 2 of past 3 at home. Has 240 scrimmage yards (120 per game) in 2 career games vs. NYJ. Needs 26 scrimmage yards to become 4th RB since 2000 with 900+ scrimmage yards in each of 1st 8 seasons. Since entering NFL in 2016, ranks 2nd with 8,850 rush yards & 71 rush TDs. • RB KEVIN HARRIS had career-high 69 scrimmage yards (54 rec., 15 rush) last week. • WR DEMARIO DOUGLAS (rookie) has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4 at home. Needs 3 catches to become 1st NE rookie with 50+ catches since Terry Glenn in 1996 (90). • WR DEVANTE PARKER has 4+ catches in 3 of past 4. • TE HUNTER HENRY aims for his 3rd in row with TD catch. Needs 81 rec. yards for 6th-straight 500-yard season. • DT CHRISTIAN BARMORE has 0.5+ sacks in 3 of past 4. Aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles. Had sack & PD in Week 3 meeting. Leads team with career-high 8.5 sacks this season. • DE DEATRICH WISE had sack & 1st FF of season last week. Has sack in 2 of past 3. Has PD in 3 of his past 4 vs. NYJ. • LB JA’WHAUN BENTLEY aims for 3rd in row with 7+ tackles. Had 5 tackles, TFL & PD in Week 3 meeting. • LB JAHLANI TAVAI tied for team lead with 10 tackles & had TFL last week. Had 5 tackles in Week 3 meeting. • S KYLE DUGGER had 10 tackles, PD & 1st FF of season last week, 5th-straight game with 5+ tackles. Has PD in 3 of past 4. Aims for his 4th in row vs. NYJ with PD. Is 4th NE DB with 100+ tackles (101) in a season since 2000.

ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (8-8)

QB TAYLOR HEINICKE had 3rd-career game with both pass TD & rush TD in Week 17. Aims for his 10th in row with TD pass. • QB DESMOND RIDDER has TD pass in 2 of his past 3 on road. • RB BIJAN ROBINSON (rookie) rushed for 75 yards last week. Leads all rookies in rush yards (948) & ranks 2nd in scrimmage yards (1,332). Had 123 scrimmage yards (91 rush, 32 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 12 meeting. • RB TYLER ALLGEIER had career-long 75-yard rec. TD last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 85+ scrimmage yards & TD. Rushed for 139 yards & TD in last road meeting (12/18/22). • WR DRAKE LONDON had 56 rec. yards last week. Had 5 catches for 91 yards in Week 12 meeting & aims for his 4th in row vs. NO with 5+ catches & 70+ rec. yards. • DL CALAIS CAMPBELL has sack in 2 of his past 3 & aims for his 4th in row with TFL. • DL DAVID ONYEMATA had half sack last week. Had FF in Week 12 meeting. Spent 7 seasons (2016-22) with NO & had 23 sacks & 28 TFL in 106 games. • DL ZACH HARRISON (rookie) aims for his 4th in row with TFL. • LB KADEN ELLISS had 9 tackles & 4th-sack of season last week. Has career highs in tackles (119) & TFL (11) in 2023 & aims for his 4th in row with TFL. Had 2 TFL in Week 12 meeting. Had career-high 7 sacks in 2022 with NO. • LB LORENZO CARTER had 3rd sack of season & 4th-career FF in Week 17. • S JESSIE BATES had 11 tackles & TFL last week, his 6th-game with 10+ tackles in 2023, most among DBs. Ranks 2nd among DBs with career-high 128 tackles in 2023. Had 12 tackles, FF & 92-yard INT-TD in Week 12 meeting.

QB DEREK CARR completed 24 of 32 atts. (75 pct.) for 197 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 111.1 rating in Week 17. Aims for his 4th in row with 100+ rating & 5th in row with 2+ TD passes. Has 3,614 pass yards in 2023 & is 3rd QB ever (HOFer Peyton Manning & Russell Wilson) with 3,000+ pass yards in each of his 1st 10 career seasons. Passed for 304 yards in Week 12 meeting. • QB TAYSOM HILL had 11th-career rec. TD last week. • RB ALVIN KAMARA has 1,240 scrimmage yards (95.4 per game) & 3 rush TDs in 13 career games vs. Atl., incl. 100+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5 games. Leads all RBs with 75 receptions in 2023. Has 1,160 scrimmage yards in 2023 & is 1 of 2 (Mike Evans) with 1,000+ scrimmage yards in each of past 7 seasons. • RB JAMAAL WILLIAMS had season-high 71 scrimmage yards (58 rush, 13 rec.) last week. • WR CHRIS OLAVE has career highs in catches (84) & rec. yards (1,067) in 2023. Had 7 catches for 114 yards in Week 12 meeting. • TE JUWAN JOHNSON set career highs with 8 catches & 90 yards & had his 4th rec. TD of season last week. Aims for his 4th in row with TD catch. Had 2 rec. TDs in last home meeting. • DT BRYAN BRESEE (rookie) had sack last week. • LB DEMARIO DAVIS had 10th TFL & 1st FR of season last week. Has 112 tackles in 2023 & is only player with 100+ tackles & 10+ TFL in each of past 7 seasons. • LB PETE WERNER aims for his 3rd in row with TFL. • CB PAULSON ADEBO ranks tied-3rd in NFL with career-high 17 PD & aims for his 4th in row with PD. • CB ALONTAE TAYLOR had 1st-career INT last week. • S TYRANN MATHIEU had 2 INTs in Week 12 meeting. • S JONATHAN ABRAM had 1st INT & 1st FF of season last week.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (9-7) AT TENNESSEE TITANS (5-11)

JAGUARS can clinch consecutive division titles for 2nd time in franchise history (1998-99) with win. • QB TREVOR LAWRENCE has 90+ rating in 5 of 7 road starts this season. Passed for 262 yards & had 4 TDs (2 pass, 2 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 119.5 rating in Week 11 meeting & has 90+ rating in 4 of 5 career starts vs. Ten. Needs 264 pass yards to become 1st Jax. QB ever with 4,000+ pass yards in consecutive seasons. • QB C.J. BEATHARD completed 17 of 24 atts. (70.8 pct.) for 178 yards with 92 rating in 1st start of season last week. Has 0 INTs in each of his past 4 starts & 90+ rating in each of his past 3. • RB TRAVIS ETIENNE rushed for 102 yards & 2 TDs last week, 4th game this season with 2+ rush TDs, tied 2nd-most in NFL. Has 70+ scrimmage yards in 6 of 7 road games this season. Ranks 4th among RBs with 1,397 scrimmage yards & tied-5th with 12 TDs. Needs 45 scrimmage yards for new career high (1,441 in 2022). • WR CALVIN RIDLEY has 5+ catches in 2 of past 3. Has 50+ rec. yards in 6 of 7 road games this season. Had 7 catches for 103 yards & 2 TDs in Week 11 meeting. Needs 90 rec. yards for 2ndcareer 1,000-yard season (1,374 in 2020 w/ Atl.). • TE EVAN ENGRAM has 6+ catches & 60+ rec. yards in 4 of past 5. Has 10+ catches in 3 of his past 4 on road. Ranks tied-6th in NFL with 104 catches, 7th-most ever by TE in a season. • LB JOSH ALLEN had 3 sacks last week & is 2nd player since 1982 with 2.5+ sacks in 4 games in a season (HOFer Lawrence Taylor in 1986). Aims for his 4th in row vs. Ten. with 0.5+ sacks. Ranks 3rd in NFL with single-season franchise record 16.5 sacks. • LB FOYESADE OLUOKUN ranks 3rd in NFL with 166 tackles. • LB TRAVON WALKER had career-high 2 sacks last week, 3rd-straight game with sack. Has 0.5+ sacks in 2 of 3 career games vs. Ten.

QB WILL LEVIS (rookie) has 6 TDs (5 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT with 93.5 rating in 4 home starts. Completed 13 of 17 atts. (76.5 pct.) with 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 143.8 rating in Week 11 meeting. • QB RYAN TANNEHILL completed 16 of 20 atts. (80 pct.) with 101.7 rating last week. Is 5-1 with 14 TDs (11 pass, 3 rush) vs. INT with 117.1 rating in his past 6 starts vs. Jax. • RB DERRICK HENRY has 75+ rush yards in 7 of 8 home games this season, with 95+ scrimmage yards in 6 of 8 home games. Has 679 scrimmage yards (135.8 per game) & 6 rush TDs in his past 5 vs. Jax. Is 3rd player ever with 10+ rush TDs in 6 straight seasons. Is only player in NFL with 800+ rush yards in each of past 6 seasons. • RB TYJAE SPEARS (rookie) has 4+ catches in 4 of past 5. Ranks 3rd among rookie RBs with 49 catches, most-ever by Ten. rookie RB. • WR DEANDRE HOPKINS led team with 7 catches for 72 yards last week. Had rec. TD in Week 11 meeting & has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Jax. Leads team with 1,011 rec. yards, 7th-career 1,000- yard season. Needs 7 catches for 8th-career 75-catch season. • TE CHIGOZIEM OKONKWO has 60+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3 at home. Needs 8 rec. yards for 1st-career 500-yard season. • DE DENICO AUTRY aims for his 6th in row at home with 0.5+ sacks. Has TFL in 2 of past 3 vs. Jax. Needs 1.5 sacks to become 1st Ten. player since 2000 with 13-sack season. • LB HAROLD LANDRY had 3 TFL & sack last week & has 2+ TFL & sack in 3 of past 4. Has sack in 2 of his past 3 vs. Jax. Has 2ndcareer season with 10+ sacks (10.5). • LB AZEEZ AL-SHAAIR aims for 7th in row with 8+ tackles. Has 2+ TFL in 2 of past 3. Had 5 tackles & PD in Week 11 meeting. • S K’VON WALLACE led team with career-high 11 tackles in Week 17. Has 7+ tackles in 2 of past 3.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-8) AT ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-12)

QB GENO SMITH passed for 290 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 106.9 rating in Week 17. Aims for his 3rd in row overall with TD pass & 100+ rating & 4th in row on road with 90+ rating. Had 2 TD passes vs. INT for 113 rating in Week 7 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Ari. with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating. • RB KENNETH WALKER had 75 scrimmage yards (53 rush, 22 rec.) & 8th rush TD of season last week. Aims for his 5th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. Has 350 scrimmage yards (116.7 per game) & 3 rush TDs in 3 career games vs. Ari. & aims for his 4th in row vs. Ari. with 110+ scrimmage yards. • WR DK METCALF had 5 catches for 106 yards last week, his 12th-career 100-yard game. Has 1,104 rec. yards in 2023, 2ndhighest total of career (1,303 in 2020). Aims for his 5th in row on road with TD catch. Had TD catch in Week 9 meeting. • WR TYLER LOCKETT aims for his 3rd in row on road with 80+ rec. yards & 5th in row on road with 5+ catches. Has 77 catches in 2023, his 4th-career season with 75+ receptions. • WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA (rookie) had 4th rec. TD of season last week. Had TD catch in Week 7 meeting. • LB BOBBY WAGNER had 14 tackles & TFL last week & is 1 of 4 with 10+ games (10) with 10+ tackles this season. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 168 tackles in 2023. Has 11 TFL this season, his 4thcareer 10+ TFL season. Aims for his 3rd in row with TFL & 4th in row with 11+ tackles. • DE LEONARD WILLIAMS had sack last week. Aims for his 7th in row with TFL. • S JULIAN LOVE had 13 tackles & 2nd FF of season last week. Has 100+ tackles (104) for 2nd-straight season & has careerhigh 10 PD in 2023. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with PD.

QB KYLER MURRAY completed 25 of 31 atts. (80.6 pct.) for 232 yards & 3 TDs vs. INT for 116.7 rating in Week 17, his 5th-career start with 80+ comp. pct. Has rush TD in 2 of his 3 home starts this season. Has 11 TDs (9 pass, 2 rush) vs. 3 INTs for 93.1 rating in 7 career starts vs. Sea., incl. 95+ rating in 5 of his past 6 starts. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. Sea. with 0 INTs. • RB JAMES CONNER had 133 scrimmage yards (128 rush, 5 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 17, his 4th-career game with both rush TD & rec. TD. Has 1,001 scrimmage yards (890 rush, 111 rec.) in 2023, his 3rd-straight 1,000-yard season. Aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ scrimmage yards & 5th in row with TD. Has 4 TDs (3 rush, 1 rec.) in 4 career games vs. Sea. • RB MICHAEL CARTER rushed for season-high 61 yards & had 1st-career rec. TD last week. • TE TREY MCBRIDE ranks 3rd among NFC TEs in receptions (career-high 78) & 4th in rec .yards (career-high 791) in 2023. Aims for his 8th in row with 5+ catches. • WR GREG DORTCH had season-high 7 catches for 82 yards last week, his 5th-career game with 75+ rec. yards. • WR MICHAEL WILSON (rookie) had 3rd rec. TD of season in Week 17. • S BUDDA BAKER had 7th-career game with 2 TFL last week. Had TFL in Week 7 meeting. Has 77 tackles in 2023, his 6thstraight season with 75+ tackles. • S JALEN THOMPSON has 5+ tackles in 5 of his past 6. Is 1 of 3 (Taron Johnson & L’Jarius Sneed) with 75+ tackles & 7+ PD in each of past 3 seasons. Has 4 PD in his past 4 vs. Sea. • CB ANTONIO HAMILTON has 10 PD in his past 7. • LB KRYS BARNES had 3rd TFL of season last week. • LB ZAVEN COLLINS aims for his 4th in row vs. Sea. with TFL.

CHICAGO BEARS (7-9) AT GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-8)

QB JUSTIN FIELDS had 313 yards (268 pass, 45 rush) & 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 99.5 rating last week, his 10th-career game with both pass TD & rush TD. Has career-high 2,414 pass yards in 2023 & ranks 2nd among QBs with 630 rush yards this season. Aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD. Has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. GB. • RB KHALIL HERBERT rushed for 124 yards & TD in Week 17, his 5th-career game with 100+ rush yards. AIms for his 3rd in row with 120+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Has 704 scrimmage yards in 2023 & can surpass 2022 total (788) for new career high • RB ROSCHON JOHNSON (rookie) had 59 scrimmage yards (38 rec., 21 rush) & 2nd-career rush TD last week. Aims for his 4th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. • WR DJ MOORE had 9 catches for 159 yards & career-high 8th rec. TD of season last week, his 4th-career 150-yard game. Has career highs in receptions (92) & rec. yards (1,300) this season. Has 50+ rec yards in 5 of his past 6 on road. Has 120+ rec. yards in 2 of his 3 career games vs. GB. • TE COLE KMET has career highs in receptions (70) & rec. yards (678) in 2023. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. GB with 5+ catches. • LB T.J. EDWARDS had 3rd INT of season last week, his 5thcareer INT. Has PD in 5 of his past 6. Has 143 tackles in 2023. Had 14 tackles in Week 1 meeting. • LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS has 103 tackles this season & is 1 of 6 with 100+ tackles in each of past 6 seasons. • DE MONTEZ SWEAT has career-high 12.5 sacks in 2023 & aims for his 4th in row on road with sack. • DB JAYLON JOHNSON aims for his 4th in row on road with PD. • DB KYLER GORDON had 5th-career INT last week. • DB TYRIQUE STEVENSON (rookie) had career highs in PD (4) & INTs (2) in Week 17. Aims for his 7th in row with PD.

PACKERS clinch playoff berth with win in Week 18. • QB JORDAN LOVE completed 24 of 33 atts. (72.7 pct.) for 256 yards & had 4 TDs (3 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 125.3 rating in Week 17. Is 1 of 3 QBs (Dak Prescott & Brock Purdy) with 5 games of 3+ TD passes in 2023. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 30 TD passes. Had 3 TD passes vs. 0 INTs for 123.2 rating in Week 1 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD & 4th in row with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating. • RB AARON JONES had 130 scrimmage yards (120 rush, 10 rec.) in Week 17 & aims for his 3rd in row with 130+ scrimmage yards. Had 127 scrimmage yards (86 rec., 41 rush) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 1 meeting & has 8 TDs (4 rush, 4 rec.) in his past 6 vs. Chi. • RB AJ DILLON has 50+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5 vs. Chi. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4 at home. • WR ROMEO DOUBS had 2 rec. TDs in Week 1 meeting. Has career highs in catches (59), rec. yards (674) & rec. TDs (8) in 2023. • WR JAYDEN REED (rookie) had 6 catches for 89 yards & 2nd-career game with 2 rec. TDs last week. Ranks tied-1st among rookies with 10 scrimmage TDs (8 rec., 2 rush) & aims for his 4th in row with TD. • TE TUCKER KRAFT (rookie) had career-high 6 catches last week. Has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4. • DL KENNY CLARK has PD in 2 of his past 3. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with TFL. Had FF in Week 1 meeting. • LB RASHAN GARY had sack & 2 TFL in last home meeting. • LB PRESTON SMITH had 8th sack & 2nd FF of season last week. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. Chi. with 2+ sacks. • LB QUAY WALKER had 1st full sack of season last week. Has 109 tackles in 2023, his 2nd-straight 100+ tackle season. Had INT-TD in Week 1 meeting. • CB COREY BALLENTINE had 1st-career INT last week.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-6) AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-11)

CHIEFS clinched AFC West division title for 8th-straight season, 2nd-longest streak of division titles in NFL history. • QB PATRICK MAHOMES completed 21 of 29 atts. (72.4 pct.) for 245 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with 109.1 rating last week. Ranks 5th in NFL with 4,183 pass yards & is 1 of 2 all-time (HOFer Peyton Manning) with 4,000+ pass yards in 6 of 1st 7 seasons. • QB BLAINE GABBERT expected to make 1st start since 2018 & 1st with KC. • RB ISIAH PACHECO led team with career-high 165 scrimmage yards (130 rush, 35 rec.) with career-best 7 catches & rec. TD last week. Aims for 5th in row with TD. Has 120+ scrimmage yards in 2 of past 3. Had TD catch in Week 7 meeting. • TE TRAVIS KELCE has 5+ catches in 3 of past 4. Has 55+ rec. yards in 5 of past 6 on road. Had season-high 12 catches for 179 yards & TD in Week 7 meeting & has 100+ rec. yards in 4 of his past 5 vs. LAC. Needs 7 catches for 4th-career 100-catch season & 16 rec. yards for 8th-straight 1,000-yard season. • WR RASHEE RICE (rookie) had 5 catches for career-high 127 yards in Week 17, 6th-straight game with 5+ catches & 55+ rec. yards. Had TD catch in Week 7 meeting. Ranks 2nd among rookies with 938 rec. yards & can become 1st KC rookie ever with 1,000+ rec. yards. • DT CHRIS JONES aims for 3rd in row with sack. Has 2 sacks in 2 of his past 3 vs. LAC. Needs half sack for 3rd-career 10-sack season. • DE GEORGE KARLAFTIS had 1.5 sacks last week. Had sack in Week 7 meeting. Leads team with career-best 10.5 sacks in 2023. • LB NICK BOLTON led team with season-high 13 tackles & had PD last week. Has 5+ tackles in 7 of 8 games this season. • CB L’JARIUS SNEED has 6 PD in his past 4. • S JUSTIN REID had career-high 2 sacks in Week 17.

QB EASTON STICK totaled 251 yards (220 pass, career-high 31 rush) last week. Aims for 4th in row with 215+ pass yards & 3rd in row with 0 INTs. • RB AUSTIN EKELER has 50+ scrimmage yards in 3 of past 4. Has 714 scrimmage yards (102 per game) in 7 home games this season. Has 80+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5 vs. KC. Has 1,015 scrimmage yards, 4th-career 1,000-yard season. Has 69 career TDs (39 rush, 30 rec.), tied with Rod Smith for 3rd-most by undrafted player in common-draft era. • WR KEENAN ALLEN aims for his 10th in row with 55+ rec. yards & 8th in row with 5+ catches. Has 50+ rec. yards in 14 of 15 career games vs. KC, with 5+ catches in 6 of past 7. Ranks 4th in NFL with career-high 108 catches, single-season franchise record. • WR ALEX ERICKSON led team with season highs in catches (7) & rec. yards (98) last week. • TE GERALD EVERETT has 5+ catches in 3 of past 4. Has TD catch in 2 of 3 career games vs. KC, incl. in Week 7 meeting. • LB KHALIL MACK had 7 tackles, 2 TFL & career-high 16th sack of season last week. Has TFL in 9 of past 10. Has 0.5+ sacks in 6 of his past 8 vs. KC. Needs sack to tie single-season franchise record (17 by Shawne Merriman in 2006 & Leslie O’Neal in 1992). • LB ERIC KENDRICKS led team with season-high 14 tackles & had PD last week. Aims for 3rd in row at home with 0.5+ sacks. Had 9 tackles & FF in Week 7 meeting. Is 1 of 2 (Bobby Wagner) with 100+ tackles in each of past 8 seasons. • LB NICK NIEMANN had career-high 10 tackles & FR last week. • S DERWIN JAMES had 12 tackles, 2 PD & sack last week. Has PD in 3 of past 4. Has 5+ tackles in 14 of 15 games this season & ranks tied-3rd among DBs with 117 tackles in 2023.

DENVER BRONCOS (8-8) AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-9)

QB JARRETT STIDHAM completed 20 of 32 atts. (62.5 pct.) for 224 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with 93.8 rating in 1st start of season last week. Has 90+ rating in 2 of 3 career starts. • RB JAVONTE WILLIAMS had 58 scrimmage yards (41 rush, 17 rec.) last week. Has 70+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. Rushed for 52 yards in Week 1 meeting. Needs 73 scrimmage yards for 2nd-career 1,000-yard season (1,219 in 2021). • RB JALEEL MCLAUGHLIN (rookie) aims for 3rd in row with 60+ scrimmage yards. • WR COURTLAND SUTTON has 50+ rec. yards in 6 of his past 7. Has TD catch in 6 of his 7 road games this season. Had TD catch in Week 1 meeting. Ranks tied-3rd in NFL with 10 rec. TDs in 2023, most by Den. player since 2014. • WR JERRY JEUDY had 54 rec. yards last week. Had 53 rec. yards & TD catch in last road meeting (10/2/22) & has 50+ rec. yards in each of 4 career games vs. LV. • WR LIL’JORDAN HUMPHREY had season-high 69 rec. yards & 3rd rec. TD of season last week. Had TD catch in Week 1 meeting. • LB ALEX SINGLETON had 11 tackles last week, 12th game this season with 10+ tackles, most in NFL. Had 8 tackles & PD in Week 1 meeting. Ranks 4th in NFL with career-best 162 tackles. • LB JOSEY JEWELL had 9 tackles & 3rd FR of season in Week 17. Has 9+ tackles in 3 of past 4. Has TFL in 2 of his past 3 vs. LV. • LB JONATHON COOPER aims for 4th in row with sack. • CB PAT SURTAIN had PD last week. Had career-high 3 PD in Week 1 meeting. Has 11 PD in 2023 & is 1st Den. player since 2000 with 10+ PD in each of 1st 3 seasons. • S JUSTIN SIMMONS aims for 5th in row with 5+ tackles. Has PD in 4 of his 5 road games this season.

QB AIDAN O’CONNELL (rookie) completed career-high 30 of 47 atts. (63.8 pct.) for career-high 299 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 96 rating last week, 3rd-straight game with 0 INTs. Has 95+ rating in 2 of past 3. Has won 3 of 5 home starts. Ranks 3rd among rookies in pass yards (1,974) & TD passes (10). • RB JOSH JACOBS aims for his 7th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. Has 662 scrimmage yards (94.6 per game) in 7 home games this season. Has 70+ scrimmage yards in each of 8 career games vs. Den., with 120+ scrimmage yards in 3 of past 4. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 125+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Needs rush TD to become 7th player all-time with 7+ rush TDs in each of 1st 7 seasons. • RB ZAMIR WHITE aims for 4th in row wtih 85+ scrimmage yards & 3rd in row with 105+ scrimmage yards. • WR DAVANTE ADAMS had 13 catches for 126 yards & 2 TDs last week, 8th-career game with 10+ catches, 125+ rec. yards & 2+ rec. TDs, most in NFL history. Has 5+ catches & 50+ rec. yards in 6 of past 7 & 100+ rec. yards & rec. TD in 2 of past 3. Has 100+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3 vs. Den. Needs 2 catches to become 4th player ever with 100+ catches in 4 straight seasons. • WR JAKOBI MEYERS had 6 catches for 56 yards in Week 17. Has rec. TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Had season-best 9 catches for 81 yards & 2 TDs in Week 1 meeting. Has career-high 7 rec. TDs in 2023. • DE MAXX CROSBY had 6 tackles, TFL & 2nd FF of season last week, 6th-straight game with TFL. Has sack in 2 of past 3 at home. Aims for his 9th in row vs. Den. with sack. Ties for NFL lead with 21 TFL in 2023 & is 6th player since 2000 with 20+ TFL in consecutive seasons. • DT ADAM BUTLER aims for 3rd in row with sack. • LB ROBERT SPILLANE leads team with 136 tackles & 3 INTs.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (11-5) AT NEW YORK GIANTS (5-11)

QB JALEN HURTS had 3 TD passes & 118.4 rating in Week 17, his 8th-career game with 3+ TD passes. Has career highs in pass yards (3,803), pass TDs (23) & rush TDs (15) in 2023, tied-most rush TDs by QB in single season all-time. Has 41 career rush TDs, 4th-most by QB in NFL history. Passed for 301 yards & had 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) in Week 16 meeting. • RB D’ANDRE SWIFT has career highs in scrimmage yards (1,263) & rush yards (1,049) in 2023, 4th-most rush yards in NFL this season. Rushed for 92 yards & TD in Week 16 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. NYG with rush TD. • WR A.J. BROWN ranks 3rd in NFL with 1,447 rec. yards in 2023 & can surpass 2022 total (1,496) for new career high & single season franchise record. Ranks 5th in NFL with career-high 105 receptions this season. • WR DEVONTA SMITH has 81 receptions for 1,066 yards & 7 TDs this season, his 2nd-straight 1,000-yard season. Had 79 rec. yards & TD catch in Week 16 meeting & has rec. TD in 3 of his past 4 vs. NYG. • TE DALLAS GOEDERT had 3rd rec. TD of season last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 5+ catches. Has career-high tying 58 receptions in 2023, his 4th-career 50-catch season. • LB HAASON REDDICK has TFL in 4 of his past 5 vs. NYG. • DT JALEN CARTER (rookie) had 6th sack of season last week. • LB NICHOLAS MORROW had career-high 14 tackles last week, his 9th-career game with 10+ tackles. Aims for his 3rd in row with TFL. • LB SHAQUILLE LEONARD had sack in Week 16 meeting. • S KEVIN BYARD had 11 tackles last week & has career-high 113 tackles in 2023, his 3rd-career 100+ tackle season (2020 & 2022). • S REED BLANKENSHIP tied his career high with 11 tackles last week & has 103 tackles this season, his 1st-career 100-tackle season.

GIANTS had TDs of 80 and 94-yards in Week 17 & became 1st team since Buffalo in Week 18, 2022 with 2 80+ yard TDs in same game. • QB TYROD TAYLOR completed 27 of 41 atts. (65.9 pct.) for season-high 319 yards & TD vs. INT last week, his 2nd-career 300- yard game. Passed for 133 yards & TD vs. INT in Week 16 meeting. • RB SAQUON BARKLEY has 1,145 scrimmage yards (916 rush, 229 rec.) in 2023, his 4th-career 1,000-yard season. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in 12 of his 13 games this season. Has 768 scrimmage yards (96 per game) & 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.) in 8 career games vs. Phi., incl. 80 rush yards & rush TD in Week 16 meeting. • TE DARREN WALLER had 5 catches for 51 yards last week. Has 507 rec. yards in 2023, his 4th-career season with 500+ rec. yards. • WR DARIUS SLAYTON had 106 rec. yards, incl. 80-yard rec. TD, in Week 17, his 5th-career 100-yard game. Had 90 rec. yards & TD catch in Week 16 meeting. Has 708 rec. yards in 2023 & has 700+ rec. yards in 4 of his 5 career seasons. • WR WAN’DALE ROBINSON had 6 catches for 55 yards & 24- yard rush TD in Week 17, his 1st-career rush TD. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 6+ catches. • PR GUNNER OLSZEWSKI had 94-yard PR-TD in Week 17, 2nd-longest PR in franchise history. • LB KAYVON THIBODEAUX has career highs in TFL (12), sacks (11.5) & FFs (3) this season. • LB BOBBY OKEREKE had 10 tackles & career-high 1.5 sacks last week. Had 10 tackles in Week 16. Has 142 tackles in 2023 & can surpass 2022 total (149 w/ Ind.) for new career high. • DL DEXTER LAWRENCE aims for his 3rd in row with TFL. • S XAVIER MCKINNEY had 10 tackles & half sack in Week 16 meeting. • CB ADOREE’ JACKSON had INT-TD in Week 16 meeting.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-7) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-4)

• RAMS clinched playoff berth for 3rd time in past 4 seasons. • QB MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 317 yards & TD in Week 17, his 62nd-career 300-yard game. Ranks 6th in NFL with 3,965 pass yards. • QB CARSON WENTZ can make 1st start of season. Has 22,129 pass yards & 161 TDs (151 pass, 10 rush) in 94 career games (92 starts). Has 8 TDs (6 pass, 2 rush) in 4 career games vs. SF. • RB KYREN WILLIAMS had 101 scrimmage yards (87 rush, 14 rec.) & career-high 3 rush TDs last week, his 5th game with 2+ scrimmage TDs in 2023, tied 2nd-most in NFL. Ranks 3rd in NFL in scrimmage yards per game (112.5) & tied-3rd in NFL with career-high 15 scrimmage TDs (12 rush, 3 rec.) this season. Aims for his 4th in row with TD & 8th in row with 100+ scrimmage yards. Had 100 scrimmage yards (52 rush, 48 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 2 meeting. • WR COOPER KUPP had 5th rec. TD of season last week & has 5+ rec. TDs in 6 of his 7 career seasons. Has rec. TD in 4 of his past 5. Has 115+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. SF. • WR PUKA NACUA has 101 receptions in 2023 & can surpass Jaylen Waddle (104 in 2021) for most catches by rookie in NFL history. Ranks 4th in NFL with 1,445 rec. yards this season & can surpass Bill Groman (1,473 rec. yards in 1960) for most rec. yards by rookie all-time. Is 1 of 5 rookies ever with 7+ games (7) of 100+ rec. yards. Had 15 receptions for 147 yards in Week 2 meeting. • DT AARON DONALD had 2 sacks in Week 17, his 20th-career game with 2+ sacks. Has 16 TFL in 2023, his 8th-career season with 15+ TFL. Has 21 TFL & 12.5 sacks in 18 career games vs. SF. • LB ERNEST JONES aims for 3rd in row at home with sack & 4th in row overall with TFL. Has career highs in tackles (145) & TFL (14) in 2023. • NT KOBIE TURNER had career-high 2.5 sacks last week & leads all rookies with 9 sacks. Aims for his 3rd in row with sack.

SAN FRANCISCO clinched No. 1 seed, 1st-round bye & homefield advantage in NFC playoffs. Became 1st team ever with RB, 2 WRs & TE each with 1,000+ scrimmage yards in same season. • QB BROCK PURDY leads NFL in rating (113) & ranks 2nd in pass yards (franchise-record 4,280) & pass TDs (31) in 2023. Became 5th player ever with 8 games of 120+ rating in single season & has 10 career games with 120+ rating, most by QB in 1st 2 seasons all-time. • QB SAM DARNOLD can make 1st start of season. Has 74 TDs (62 pass, 12 rush) in 65 career games (55 starts). • RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY leads NFL in scrimmage yards (2,023) & rush yards (1,459) & ranks tied-1st in scrimmage TDs (21) in 2023 & became 3rd player ever (HOFers Eric Dickerson & Marshall Faulk) with 2,000+ scrimmage yards with 2 franchises. • RB ELIJAH MITCHELL rushed for 80 yards & 1st TD of season last week. Rushed for 85 yards in his only career game vs. LAR (1/9/22). • WR BRANDON AIYUK had 114 rec. yards & 7th TD catch of season last week. Ranks 6th in NFL with career-high 1,317 rec. yards. Aims for his 5th in row at home with 100+ receiving yards. • WR DEEBO SAMUEL has 4,101 rec. yards & 996 rush yards in his career & can become 2nd player ever (Charley Taylor) with 4,000+ rec. yards & 1,000+ rush yards in his 1st 5 seasons. • TE GEORGE KITTLE leads all TEs with 1,020 rec. yards & became 4th TE since 1990 with 3 career seasons with 1,000+ rec. yards & 5+ rec. TDs. • DL NICK BOSA aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ TFL. Has 16 TFL in 2023 & has 15+ TFL in 4 of his 5 career seasons. • LB FRED WARNER has career-high 11 PD in 2023 & aims for his 4th in row at home with PD. Had sack in Week 2 meeting. • CB CHARVARIUS WARD had career-high 5th INT of season last week. Leads NFL with career-high 23 PD in 2023.

DALLAS COWBOYS (11-5) AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (4-12)

DALLAS can clinch NFC East division title with win in Week 18. • QB DAK PRESCOTT passed for 345 yards & 2 TDs vs. INT for 103.5 rating in Week 17. Leads NFL with 32 TD passes in 2023, his 3rd-career 30-TD season. Ranks 2nd with 104.2 rating this season & has 10 games with 100+ rating in 2023, tied-most in NFL. Ranks 4th with 4,237 pass yards in 2023, his 3rd-career 4,000-yard season. Has 27 TDs (23 pass, 4 rush) vs. 4 INTs for 104.2 rating in 12 career starts vs. Was. Passed for 331 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 142.1 rating in Week 12 meeting. • RB TONY POLLARD has 1,230 scrimmage yards (935 rush, 295 rec.) in 2023 & needs 65 rush yards for 2nd-straight season with 1,000+ rush yards. Has career-high 53 receptions this season. Had 6 catches, 103 scrimmage yards (79 rush 24 rec.) & rush TD in Week 12 meeting. • WR CEEDEE LAMB had career highs in catches (13) & rec. yards (227) & had career-high 10th rec. TD of season in Week 17 & became 2nd player ever (Michael Thomas – 2019) with 6 games of 11+ catches in a season. Leads NFL in receptions (122) & ranks 2nd in rec. yards (1,651) in 2023, both single-season Cowboys franchise records. Can become 1st WR with TD in 9 straight games since A.J. Green (2012). Aims for his 4th in row vs. Was. with TD catch. • WR BRANDIN COOKS had 7th rec. TD of season last week. • LB MICAH PARSONS has 39.5 career sacks & can become 5th player since 1982 with 40+ sacks in 1st 3 career seasons. Had 1.5 sacks in last meeting. Has 5 sacks in 5 career games vs. Was. • DE DEMARCUS LAWRENCE had 2 TFL & PD last week & has 10 TFL in 2023, his 6th-career 10+ TFL season. • CB DARON BLAND had INT-TD in last meeting. • S DONOVAN WILSON had 11 tackles & 1st INT of season last week & aims for his 3rd in row with 11+ tackles.

QB SAM HOWELL has 3,793 pass yards & 25 TDs (20 pass, 5 rush) in 2023 & can become 1st Was. QB with 4,000 pass yards since 2017 (Kirk Cousins). Passed for 300 yards & had rush TD in Week 12 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Dal. with rush TD. • QB JACOBY BRISSETT completed 10 of 13 atts. (76.9 pct.) for 100 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 123.9 rating in Week 16. Passed for 124 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 157.9 rating in Week 15. • RB BRIAN ROBINSON had 76 scrimmage yards (44 rush, 32 rec.) in Week 17 & aims for his 8th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. Has career-high 1,066 scrimmage yards (708 rush, 258 rec.) in 2023. Rushed for 53 yards in Week 12 meeting. • WR TERRY MCLAURIN had 61 rec. yards & 4th TD catch of season last week. Has 73 catches, his 4th-straight 70+ catch season. Has 946 rec. yards & can reach 1,000 rec. yards for 4thstraight year. Had TD catch in last home meeting. • WR CURTIS SAMUEL had 9 catches for 100 yards in Week 12 meeting. Has 60 catches in 2023, his 3rd-career 60-catch season. • DT JONATHAN ALLEN has 10 TFL in 2023, his 3rd-straight 10+ TFL season. Has 5 sacks & 11 TFL in 9 career games vs. Dal. & aims for his 4th in row at home vs. Dal. with TFL. • DT DARON PAYNE has 7 TFL in his past 6. Aims for his 4th in row at home with TFL. Has 6 TFL, 2 sacks & 2 PD in his past 5 vs. Dal. • LB CODY BARTON aims for his 5th in row with 10+ tackles. Has 113 tackles in 2023, his 2nd-straight 100+ tackle season. • LB KHALEKE HUDSON aims for his 4th in row with 10+ tackles. • S KAMREN CURL ranks 5th among DBs with career-high 115 tackles. Aims for his 6th in row vs. Dal. with 5+ tackles. • CB EMMANUEL FORBES (rookie) had 2 PD, his 5th game with 2+ PD in 2023, tied 2nd-most in NFL.

BUFFALO BILLS (10-6) AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (11-5)

BILLS can clinch AFC East division title for 4th-straight season with win. Tied for 2nd-longest active win streak in NFL (4 games). • QB JOSH ALLEN totaled 213 yards (169 pass, 44 rush) & rushed for 2 TDs last week. Has rush TD in 9 of past 10 & in each of past 5. Can become 2nd QB in SB era with rush TD in 6 straight games & the 1st QB ever with 2+ rush TDs in 3 straight. Passed for 320 yards & had season-high 5 TDs (4 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with career-best 158.3 rating in Week 4 meeting. Has 14 TDs (12 pass, 2 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 114.2 rating in his past 4 vs. Mia. Ranks tied-2nd in NFL with 15 rush TDs, tied with Jalen Hurts (2023) for most-ever by a QB in a season. Needs 53 pass yards for 4th-straight 4,000-yard season. • RB JAMES COOK has 798 scrimmage yards since Week 10 (114 per game), 3rd-most in NFL. Had 77 scrimmage yards (48 rec., 29 rush) in Week 4 meeting. Is 1st Buf. RB with 1,500-yard season (1,515) since LeSean McCoy in 2017 (1,586). • WR STEFON DIGGS is 3rd player ever with 100+ catches in 4+ straight seasons. Has 5+ catches in 6 of 7 road games this season. Had 6 catches for 120 yards & season-high 3 TDs in Week 4 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row on SNF with 85+ rec. yards. • TE DALTON KINCAID (rookie) had career-high 87 rec. yards in Week 17. Ranks 2nd among rookie TEs with 66 catches & 589 rec. yards. • S JORDAN POYER had 10 tackles last week, 3rd game this season with 10+ tackles. Needs 5 tackles for 3rd-career 100-tackle season. • CB RASUL DOUGLAS had 2 INTs last week, incl. 40-yard INT-TD, 3rd-career TD. Has 4 INTs since joining Buf. in Week 9, tied 2nd-most in NFL over span. • LB TERREL BERNARD had 10 tackles, 3 TFL & 2 sacks last week, 2nd-straight game with sack. Had FR in Week 4 meeting. • DT ED OLIVER had sack & PD last week, 2nd-straight game with sack. Has PD in 3 of past 4. Had sack in Week 4 meeting.

DOLPHINS can clinch 1st division title since 2008 with win. Lead NFL in total offense (409.2 yards/game) & scoring offense (30.1 points/game). • QB TUA TAGOVAILOA passed for 237 yards & 2 TDs last week. Has 0 INTs & 90+ rating in 4 of past 5. Has 112.2 rating in 8 home games this season & can become 1st player ever with 90+ rating in 9 regular season home games in a season. Has 103.6 rating over his past 3 starts vs. Buf. Needs 49 pass yards to join HOFer Dan Marino as only Mia. QBs ever with 4,500+ pass yards in a season & 2 TD passes to join Marino as only Mia. QBs ever with 30+ TD passes in a season. • RB RAHEEM MOSTERT aims for his 6th in row with TD. Has TD in 7 of 8 home games this season. Ties for NFL lead with franchise-record 21 TDs (18 rush, 3 rec.) in 2023, 3rd-most by undrafted player in a season since 1967. • RB DE’VON ACHANE led team with 137 scrimmage yards (107 rush, 30 ec.) & had rec. TD last week, 5th game this season with 100+ scrimmage yards & TD, tied with Jahmyr Gibbs for most among rookies. Rushed for 101 yards & 2 TDs in Week 4 meeting. Ties for lead among rookies with 10 TDs & ranks 4th with 936 scrimmage yards. • WR TYREEK HILL has 5+ catches & 75+ rec. yards in 5 of past 6. Has 95+ rec. yards in 6 of 7 home games this season & rec. TD in 5 of 7. Leads NFL with career-high & franchise-record 1,717 rec. yards in 2023 & is 1st player ever with 1,700+ rec. yards in multiple seasons. Can become 7th player ever with 1,800-rec. yard season. • WR CEDRICK WILSON had 3rd TD catch of season last week. • DT ZACH SIELER had sack & 1st FF of season last week. Has sack in 5 of past 6 & in each of past 3. Has PD in 3 of past 4. • DT CHRISTIAN WILKINS has TFL in 3 of past 4. Has career-high 8 sacks. • CB JALEN RAMSEY has PD in 4 of 5 home games this season. Is 1 of 2 CBs (Rasul Douglas) with 3+ INTs in each of past 3 seasons.

REPORT: COMMANDERS EXPECTED TO PART WITH RIVERA

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and his staff are “well aware” that Rivera’s time with Washington is coming to an end, sources told The Athletic’s Dianna Russini.

Washington is expected to perform an “exhaustive and comprehensive” search for Rivera’s replacement under new majority owner Josh Harris, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Rivera, who turns 62 on Sunday, is in his fourth campaign with the club. He owns a 26-39-1 record with the team entering Week 18’s clash with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Commanders are 4-12 entering the season finale and would secure the No. 2 overall pick with a loss to Dallas. Washington is still looking for a long-term answer at quarterback after starting 12 signal-callers since Kirk Cousins left after the 2017 campaign.

Rivera owns a 102-102-2 overall record across 13 campaigns with the Commanders and Carolina Panthers.

NBA NEWS

NBA ROUNDUP: ROCKETS EXTINGUISH BUCKS’ LATE RALLY

Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. posted double-doubles and teamed for a critical late 3-pointer as the Houston Rockets fended off the visiting Milwaukee Bucks 112-108 on Saturday.

Sengun paired 21 points with 11 rebounds while Smith added 14 points and 12 boards. After Milwaukee shaved what was once a 21-point deficit to 102-99 on a pair of Giannis Antetokounmpo free throws with 1:50 left in the game, Sengun fed Smith for a corner 3-pointer 18 seconds later to help the Rockets secure the victory.

Antetokounmpo was exceptional, finishing with 48 points and 17 rebounds. But Damian Lillard (18 points, eight assists) and Khris Middleton (10 points, five assists) combined to shoot just 8-for-25 as the Bucks lost for the third time in four games.

Seven Rockets scored in double figures, with Jalen Green and Jeff Green scoring 16 points apiece while Fred VanVleet added 14 points and seven assists.

Celtics 118, Pacers 101

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 38 points and Jaylen Brown finished with 31 to help Boston beat Indiana in Indianapolis, ending the Pacers’ six-game winning streak.

Tatum also had 13 rebounds and six assists. He made eight of his 13 3-point attempts.

Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points and seven assists for Indiana, which made just eight of its 42 3-point attempts (19 percent). Bennedict Mathurin scored a team-high 20 points for the Pacers, who received 15 points from Buddy Hield and 12 from Myles Turner.

Knicks 121, Wizards 105

Julius Randle bounced back from a quiet performance to score 39 points and New York led wire to wire and pulled away down the stretch to beat host Washington.

A night after going 1-for-11 from the floor and being held to eight points in a big win in Philadelphia, Randle helped the Knicks get their season-high fourth straight victory. He made 13 of 23 shots from the field and 10 of 13 at the free-throw line and contributed seven rebounds and five assists.

Kyle Kuzma scored 27 points, but the Wizards dropped their fourth straight game. Deni Avdija added 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as Washington shot 47.1 percent but allowed 23 points off 20 turnovers.

Jazz 120, 76ers 109

Lauri Markkanen had 33 points and 13 rebounds to lift Utah over host Philadelphia.

Collin Sexton added 22 points and 10 assists while John Collins scored 19 points. Jordan Clarkson contributed 18 points and Walker Kessler chipped in with 10.

Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers with 25 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 24 and Paul Reed had a season-high 16. Joel Embiid missed the contest due to swelling in his left knee.

WARRIORS G CHRIS PAUL FRACTURES HAND, TO HAVE SURGERY

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul will have surgery next week after fracturing his left hand in Friday night’s 113-109 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons.

The team made the announcement following the game.

There is no timetable for the 38-year-old Paul’s return, though he is expected to return this season.

Paul, a 19-year NBA veteran, suffered the injury with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter when he collided with the Pistons’ Jaden Ivey while pursuing a rebound.

“That’s tough,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “I feel so bad for Chris. I know he’s had a couple of hand surgeries before, I believe, maybe on the other hand. I saw him holding it and instantly was worried. Just got the word after walking off the floor. So, I feel terrible for Chris, and obviously, guys will step up and be ready to play. We’ve got to hold down the fort without him.”

Paul is no stranger to injuries, particularly to his hands. He’s had five injuries to his left hand and six to his right, according to ESPN. He’s also had four hand or wrist surgeries, including his left wrist after the 2021 NBA Finals.

“I just feel bad for him,” teammate Stephen Curry said. “I know he’s been through some hand stuff in his career. We are trying to find a groove as a team … and he’s been such a huge part of that.”

In 31 games prior to Friday, Paul was averaging 9.0 points, 7.3 assists and 27.7 minutes per game in his first season with Golden State.

A 12-time All-Star, Paul was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 draft by the New Orleans Hornets.

Over his 19 seasons with the Hornets (2005-11), Los Angeles Clippers (2011-17), Houston Rockets (2017-19), Oklahoma City Thunder (2019-20), Phoenix Suns (2020-23) and Warriors, Paul has averaged 17.7 points, 9.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

TOP 25 ROUNDUP: SOUTHERN MISS DROPS NO. 19 JAMES MADISON TO 14-1

Victor Hart tallied 16 points and seven rebounds to lead Southern Miss to an 81-71 Sun Belt Conference upset of No. 19 James Madison on Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Andre Curbelo added 15 points and nine assists as Southern Miss (8-7, 2-1 Sun Belt) pulled off its first win over a ranked opponent since 2011, when it toppled No. 22 UCF.

T.J. Bickerstaff had a double-double by halftime (10 points, 10 rebounds) on his way to collecting 14 points and 16 rebounds to lead James Madison (14-1, 2-1), which saw the end of its program-record 14-game winning streak.

Curbelo, a transfer from St. John’s who missed the first 10 games of the season before being granted an eligibility waiver by the NCAA, had a key basket with 1:40 left as the Golden Eagles held off the Dukes’ late surge.

No. 2 Kansas 83, TCU 81

Hunter Dickinson converted a layup with 3.4 seconds left to lift the Jayhawks to a victory over the Horned Frogs in Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) was led by Dickinson with 30 points and 11 rebounds. KJ Adams Jr. added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin McCullar Jr. had 16 points. TCU (11-3, 0-1) was led by Trevian Tennyson with 24 points.

A flagrant foul on Ernest Udeh Jr. put Dickinson on the line, and he tied things with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds remaining. Dajuan Harris Jr. then hit a fadeaway jumper to give Kansas the lead at 81-79. Micah Peavy’s follow tied it with 26 seconds left, setting up Dickinson for the game-winner.

No. 3 Houston 89, West Virginia 55

LJ Cryer scored 20 points as the host Cougars, in their first conference game as a member of the Big 12, rolled over the Mountaineers.

Damian Dunn scored 14 points and Ja’Vier Francis added 13 for the Cougars (14-0, 1-0 Big 12), who continued the third-best start in program history. Jamal Shead had 11 assists to go with eight points, five rebounds and four blocked shots for Houston.

Pat Suemnick had 12 points for West Virginia (5-9, 0-1), which has dropped eight of its past 11 games. RaeQuan Battle had just four points on 1-of-9 shooting. Battle averaged 27.3 points over his first three games with the Mountaineers after being cleared to join the program as a two-time transfer.

No. 5 Tennessee 90, No. 22 Ole Miss 64

Jonas Aidoo had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Volunteers defeated the Rebels in Knoxville, Tenn., in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Ole Miss (13-1) took its first loss of the season.

Zakai Zeigler had 17 points and 10 assists, Santiago Vescovi scored 11 points and Jahmai Mashack chipped in 10 points off the bench for Tennessee (11-3), which won its seventh consecutive game. Tennessee’s bench outscored the Rebels’ reserves 22-10.

No. 6 Kentucky 87, Florida 85

Aaron Bradshaw hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:27 remaining to help the Wildcats defeat the Gators in Gainesville, Fla., in the SEC opener for both teams.

Antonio Reeves led Kentucky (11-2) with 19 points, while D.J. Wagner and Reed Sheppard finished with 14 apiece. Tre Mitchell supplied 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Zyon Pullin and Walter Clayton Jr. each poured in 23 points for the Gators (10-4), who also got 15 points from Riley Kugel before he fouled out. Micah Handlogten paired 12 rebounds with six points for Florida.

Seton Hall 78, No. 7 Marquette 75

Dre Davis hit a spinning layup over Tyler Kolek with eight seconds left as the Pirates avoided a late collapse and hung on to knock off the Golden Eagles in Newark, N.J.

Seton Hall (10-5, 3-1 Big East) earned its third conference win over a ranked team after beating UConn in its conference opener on Dec. 20 and winning at Providence on Wednesday.

Al-Amir Dawes helped the Pirates overcome a 10-point deficit by scoring 15 of his 23 points in the first half. Oso Ighodaro led the Golden Eagles (11-4, 2-2) with 22 points and David Joplin added 15, but Kolek was held to five.

No. 8 North Carolina 65, No. 16 Clemson 55

Armando Bacot had 14 points and 16 rebounds as the visiting Tar Heels earned a victory over the Tigers in an early Atlantic Coast Conference showdown of top teams.

RJ Davis added 14 points for the Tar Heels (11-3, 3-0 ACC), who held Clemson to 36.2 percent shooting from the field. Cormac Ryan added 10 points for North Carolina.

Chase Hunter led Clemson (11-3, 1-2) with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while Ian Schieffelin chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who were 1 of 18 (5.6 percent) from 3-point range.

No. 10 Arizona 92, Utah 73

Caleb Love scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Wildcats to a victory over the Utes in Pac-12 play at Tucson, Ariz.

Keshad Johnson scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and Oumar Ballo matched his season best of 17 points and also collected nine rebounds for Arizona (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12).

Gabe Madsen had 18 points and three steals as the Utes (11-4, 2-2) lost in Tucson for the 13th consecutive time. Utah’s last win on Arizona’s home floor was a 68-67 victory on Dec. 6, 1986.

No. 11 Oklahoma 71, Iowa State 63

Javian McCollum scored 15 points to lead the Sooners to a victory over the Cyclones in their Big 12 matchup in Norman, Okla.

Iowa State grabbed a lead for the first time with just under five minutes remaining and later went back ahead with 4:10 left. Then the Sooners (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) responded in a big way, scoring seven consecutive points, with McCollum serving as the facilitator.

Milos Uzan added 12 points for Oklahoma. Milan Momcilovic, Hason Ward and Robert Jones scored 12 points apiece for the Cyclones (11-3, 0-1).

Cincinnati 71, No. 12 BYU 60

Viktor Lakhin had 17 points and seven rebounds as the Bearcats upset the Cougars in Provo, Utah, in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.

Aziz Bandaogo supplied 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats (12-2), who outscored the Cougars 47-29 in the second half. Jizzle James also had 12 points, while Dan Skillings Jr. added 10.

Trevin Knell made nine 3-pointers while scoring 27 points for BYU (12-2). Dallin Hall added 10 points, but the Cougars shot just 32.8 percent from the field.

Utah State 77, No. 13 Colorado State 72

Great Osobor had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Aggies to a win over the Rams in their Mountain West matchup at Logan, Utah.

Utah State (14-1, 2-0 Mountain West) has won 13 consecutive games. Colorado State (13-2, 1-1) had its four-game winning streak snapped.

The Aggies’ Mason Falslev contributed 18 points and six rebounds. Isaiah Stevens collected 21 points and eight assists for the Rams, while Nique Clifford added 18 points.

No. 14 Duke 67, Notre Dame 59

Mark Mitchell had 23 points and 14 rebounds to record his first career double-double, helping the Blue Devils defeat the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind.

Jeremy Roach’s 18 points and Jared McCain’s 11 aided Duke (11-3, 2-1 ACC) on a night where the team shot just 35.6 percent from the field. Mitchell, however, made 8 of 12 shots as the Blue Devils won their sixth straight.

Markus Burton finished with 18 points and Braeden Shrewsberry added 12 to lead Notre Dame (6-9, 1-3), which was hurt by 8-of-16 shooting on free throws. Kebba Njie supplied nine points and 10 boards.

Charlotte 70, No. 17 Florida Atlantic 68

Lu’Cye Patterson sank two free throws with 1.7 seconds left as the 49ers earned their first win over a top 25 team in 14 years, upsetting the visiting Owls.

The game was tied at 68 when Patterson was fouled by FAU’s Bryan Greenlee and canned both free throws. The Owls (11-4, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) heaved a deep pass to Vladislav Goldin, who dished to Nick Boyd in the corner, but the left-hander’s shot clanged off the iron for the first victory by Charlotte (7-7, 1-1) in three games.

The 49ers’ last win over a ranked team was on Jan. 27, 2010, when Charlotte knocked off No. 15 Temple 56-51. Patterson scored 16 points, while Igor Milicic Jr. had 13. Johnell Davis topped Florida Atlantic with 20 points, and Boyd scored a season-high 19.

No. 18 Baylor 75, Oklahoma State 70 (OT)

RayJ Dennis scored 18 points before fouling out late and Jalen Bridges and Ja’Kobe Walter sank key free throws in the final minute as the Bears escaped with a win over the Cowboys in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams in Stillwater, Okla.

The Bears (12-2) won their third straight game despite shooting just 13.3 percent (2 of 15) from beyond the arc. Oklahoma State (8-6) had a five-game winning streak snapped.

Langston Love supplied 17 points for Baylor, while Yves Missi had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma State’s Brandon Garrison led all scorers with 20 points, while Javon Small added 17.

Texas Tech 78, No. 20 Texas 67

Pop Isaacs scored 21 points and Warren Washington added 15 as the Red Raiders dominated the final 18 minutes on their way to a victory over the Longhorns in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams in Austin, Texas.

Texas Tech (12-2) led by four points at halftime before giving away its advantage early in the second half and then responding with an inside-out attack. The Red Raiders were up 64-55 after a free throw by Chance McMillian with 7:44 to play, and the Longhorns never got closer than five points the rest of the way.

Tyrese Hunter led Texas (11-3) with 20 points. Max Abmas scored 18 and Dillon Mitchell racked up 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Longhorns had a five-game winning streak snapped.

No. 21 Wisconsin 88, Nebraska 72

The Badgers hit a season-high 13 3-pointers and had five players score in double figures in a win over the Cornhuskers in Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) was 13 of 26 from 3-point range, its most makes in a conference game in three years. The 88 points were the Badgers’ most in Big Ten play since 2017, and Wisconsin posted consecutive 80-point league performances for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Nebraska (12-3, 2-2) got 17 points from Keisei Tominaga and 16 from Rienk Mast. The Cornhuskers shot 49.1 percent overall and made 12 3-pointers but didn’t get the defensive stops they’re used to.

Creighton 69, No. 23 Providence 60

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds, Trey Alexander added 21 points and the Bluejays continued to recover after a slow start in Big East play with a victory over the Friars in Omaha, Neb.

Baylor Scheierman had 11 rebounds but was held to nine points as Creighton (11-4, 2-2 Big East) won its second consecutive game in conference play after two straight defeats. Scheierman was just 4 of 16 from the floor.

Devin Carter scored a career-best 25 points for Providence (11-4, 2-2), which is looking for a way forward without Bryce Hopkins, who was lost for the season after a knee injury in Wednesday’s loss against Seton Hall. Hopkins was the Friars’ leading rebounder (8.6 boards per game) and second-leading scorer (15.5 points per game).

No. 24 Gonzaga 101, San Diego 74

Ben Gregg came off the bench and scored a career-high 22 points as the Bulldogs cruised past the Toreros in their West Coast Conference game in Spokane, Wash.

Graham Ike scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds for Gonzaga (11-4, 2-0 WCC). Ryan Nembhard added 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals.

Deuce Turner scored a game-high 24 points for San Diego (10-7, 0-2). Gonzaga beat the Toreros for the 17th consecutive meeting overall and the 24th straight time at home.

No. 25 Auburn 83, Arkansas 51

Chad Baker-Mazara scored 16 points and the Tigers dominated the Razorbacks in the second half in the SEC opener for both teams at Fayetteville, Ark.

Johni Broome scored all 14 of his points in the second half as the Tigers (12-2) won their seventh straight game. Auburn delivered a 32-point beating that represents Arkansas’ worst loss in 31 seasons at Bud Walton Arena.

Keyon Menifield Jr. scored 14 points for the Razorbacks (9-5). Trevon Brazile supplied 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Auburn used a 20-3 run bridging both halves to turn the game into a blowout.

WOMEN’S TOP 25 ROUNDUP: OKLAHOMA STATE HOLDS OFF NO. 23 TCU

Stailee Heard scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter as Oklahoma State held off the last of several challenges by No. 23 TCU in winning their Big 12 matchup 67-59 on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

The Horned Frogs fell behind in the early minutes and were down by 14 points at halftime, but they had the Cowgirls’ lead down to four on multiple occasions, the last at 55-51 with 7:28 left in the game.

Heard then scored six points in Oklahoma State’s 7-0 run to push the lead back to 11. Praise Egharevba led the Cowgirls (9-5, 2-1) with 14 points and added seven rebounds, and Quincy Noble chipped in 11 points.

Madison Conner scored 20 points and Jaden Owens added 19, but they combined to shoot 10 of 33 from the floor for TCU (14-2, 1-2), which has lost two straight after its 14-0 start. The Horned Frogs made only 29.8 percent of their shots, while the Cowgirls finished at 41.7 percent.

No. 6 Baylor 87, Houston 58

Five players scored in double figures as the host Bears got an early jump on the Cougars and easily won the Big 12 matchup in Waco, Texas, to stay unbeaten.

Dre’Una Edwards gathered 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Baylor (14-0, 3-0 Big 12). Aijha Blackwell led the team in points (15) and rebounds (10), Darianna Littlepage-Buggs and Sarah Andrews tallied 14 points apiece and Yaya Felder added 11. The Bears shot a season-high 51.7 percent from the floor.

Laila Blair led the Cougars (9-5, 0-3) with 17 points, followed by N’Yah Boyd with nine. No Houston players had more than four rebounds, as Baylor led 42-28.

No. 10 Texas 70, No. 24 West Virginia 49

Freshman Madison Booker collected 15 points, a season-high 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Longhorns dealt the Mountaineers their first loss of the season in the Big 12 matchup in Morgantown, W.Va.

Shaylee Gonzales also scored 15 points and Aaliyah Moore added 12 for Texas (15-1, 2-1 Big 12).

JJ Quinerly led West Virginia (13-1, 2-1) with 22 points but was only 6 of 20 from the floor. She added four steals. Jordan Harrison chipped in 10 points. The Mountaineers made only 26.7 percent of their shots from the floor, including 4 of 31 on 3-point attempts.

No. 11 Kansas State 72, UCF 56

Serena Sundell scored 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting as the Wildcats jumped on the Knights early and stayed unbeaten in the Big 12.

Jaelyn Glenn went a perfect 7 of 7 from the floor en route to 16 points, and Ayoka Lee contributed 12 points, seven blocked shots and six rebounds for Kansas State (15-1, 3-0 Big 12). The Wildcats shot 56.1 percent from the floor and built a 42-23 lead by halftime.

Kaitlin Peterson paced UCF (9-4, 0-3) with 22 points but was just 9 of 23 from the floor. The Knights hit only 38.2 percent of their shots and lost for the fourth time in five games.

No. 19 Marquette 81, Xavier 52

The Golden Eagles outscored the Musketeers 23-5 in the second quarter and never looked back in their easy Big East victory in Milwaukee.

Mackenzie Hare collected 19 points, three steals, three rebounds and three assists for Marquette (13-2, 2-2 Big East). Liza Karlen notched 17 points, seven boards and two steals, and Jordan King and Skylar Forbes each chipped in 10 points as the Golden Eagles ended a two-game skid.

Freshman Daniela Lopez scored a season-high 13 points for Xavier (1-11, 0-3).

No. 21 Creighton 75, DePaul 68

Lauren Jensen scored

Lauren Jensen scored 17 points and led five Bluejays scorers in double figures to defeat the host Blue Demons in the Big East matchup in Chicago.

Jensen hit just 6 of 15 shots from the floor, and Morgan Maly and Emma Ronsiek were a combined 9 of 23 shooting and scored 15 points apiece as Creighton (11-3, 2-2 Big East) won for the fourth time in five games. The Bluejays shot only 41.3 percent overall, but the Blue Demons (9-8, 1-3) couldn’t capitalize, hitting just 36.1 percent.

Jorie Allen led DePaul with a career-high 22 points and added 10 rebounds. Michelle Sidor scored 13 points and Anaya Peoples contributed 10, but she went only 4-for-19 from the floor. However, Peoples contributed eight rebounds, five steals and five assists.

NHL NEWS

NHL ROUNDUP: ZACH HYMAN’S HAT TRICK FUELS OILERS PAST SENATORS

Zach Hyman posted his third hat trick of the season to lead the Edmonton Oilers to their seventh consecutive victory, a 3-1 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Edmonton goaltender Stuart Skinner made 29 saves, and Evan Bouchard had three assists, giving him 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) over his past 22 games. Connor McDavid collected one assist to give him 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) during a seven-game point streak.

The Oilers have won 15 of their past 18 games and vaulted into the Western Conference’s second wild-card position, an impressive climb from where they originally sat — 31st in the league — before turning around their season with a win on Nov. 11.

Parker Kelly scored for the Senators, who have lost the first three outings of a five-game road trip. Ottawa has also dropped four of five overall.

Bruins 7, Lightning 3

Trent Frederic registered his third two-goal game of the season to lead Boston past visiting Tampa Bay.

The Bruins scored a season-high seven goals en route to their fifth win in six games, never trailing after a three-goal run in response to the visitors’ 1-0 lead.

David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist, and Charlie McAvoy, Morgan Geekie, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle also scored for the Bruins. Linus Ullmark made 23 saves.

Brayden Point scored twice, Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves for the Lightning, who have lost four of six.

Predators 4, Stars 3

Filip Forsberg scored two goals in the third period to help visiting Nashville defeat Dallas.

Gustav Nyquist had a goal and an assist, Ryan O’Reilly assisted on both of Forsberg’s goals and Kevin Lankinen made 26 saves for the Predators, who have won three of four.

Jason Robertson had a goal and an assist, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn each scored in the second period to erase a two-goal deficit, Thomas Harley contributed two assists and Scott Wedgewood made 18 saves for Dallas, which has dropped three in a row for the first time this season.

Flyers 3, Flames 2

Travis Konecny scored the game-winner and Morgan Frost added a goal and an assist as Philadelphia edged visiting Calgary.

Sean Couturier had the other goal and Carter Hart made 22 saves as the Flyers, who halted a four-game skid, won for just the second time in eight games.

Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar scored for Calgary, which saw its three-game winning streak end. Jacob Markstrom stopped 39 shots.

Panthers 8, Avalanche 4

Sam Reinhart scored three goals to notch his seventh career hat trick, Carter Verhaeghe had two goals, and Florida beat Colorado in Denver for its seventh straight win.

Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists and Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kevin Stenlund also scored goals for the Panthers. Aleksander Barkov had four assists in his 700th career NHL game, Evan Rodrigues and Gustav Forsling each had two assists and Sergei Bobrovsky turned away 22 shots

Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar had a goal and an assist each for Colorado. Jonathan Drouin and Josh Manson also scored, Mikko Rantanen had two assists and Alexandar Georgiev had 12 saves in relief of Ivan Prosvetov for Colorado.

Wild 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

Marco Rossi scored at 3:05 of overtime to lift Minnesota over host Columbus.

Matt Boldy had two goals and an assist, Brock Faber had three assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for the Wild, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Cole Sillinger had a hat trick and Adam Boqvist had two assists for the Blue Jackets. Daniil Tarasov made 33 saves.

Canadiens 4, Rangers 3 (SO)

Cole Caufield scored the game-winning shootout goal as host Montreal recovered from blowing a three-goal lead to beat Eastern Conference-leading New York.

Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan and Joel Armia also scored for the Canadiens. Goaltender Sam Montembeault made 45 saves in addition to stopping all three shootout efforts he faced.

Vincent Trocheck and Artemi Panarin each collected one goal and one assist and Adam Fox scored once for the Rangers, who have been middling for over a month with eight wins in their past 15 games. Goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots prior to the shootout.

Sabres 3, Penguins 1

Zemgus Girgensons scored the go-ahead goal at 15:22 of the third period and goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 40 saves as visiting Buffalo topped Pittsburgh.

Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin also scored for the Sabres, who have won two straight and three of four.

Rickard Rakell scored for the Penguins, who have lost two of three. Their 43 shots were a season high.

Maple Leafs 4, Sharks 1

William Nylander had two goals and an assist and visiting Toronto defeated San Jose.

The Sharks have lost 11 straight and the Maple Leafs have won three in a row.

Mikael Granlund scored for the Sharks and Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 29 shots.

Blues 2, Hurricanes 1 (SO)

Brayden Schenn converted in the fifth round of the shootout to lift St. Louis over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.

Nathan Walker had the Blues’ regulation goal to open the scoring. St. Louis has won two games in a row and five of its last seven, and is 17-1-0 when scoring first this season.

Teuvo Teravainen scored for Carolina, which had a five-game winning streak snapped. Antti Raanta stopped 21 shots as Carolina opened a season-long six-game homestand.

Canucks 6, Devils 4

Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller scored twice apiece for Vancouver, which held off two rallies by New Jersey to prevail in Newark, N.J.

The two-goal game was the second in three games and the third of the season for Pettersson, while Miller scored twice for the 24th time in his career and the first time since March 21, 2023. Goalie Thatcher Demko made 21 saves for the Canucks, who improved to 1-1-0 to start a season-long seven-game road trip.

Colin Miller had the first two-goal game of his nine-year career, while Erik Haula and Nico Hischier also scored for the Devils, who trailed 3-0 and 5-2. Brendan Smith had two assists, and goalie Nico Daws recorded 36 saves.

Golden Knights 5, Islanders 2

Jack Eichel and Nicolas Roy each scored twice as Vegas snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over New York in Las Vegas.

Pavel Dorofeyev also scored for Vegas, which won for just the second time in its last eight games. Logan Thompson made 28 saves for the Golden Knights, who improved to 14-4-2 at home this season.

Mathew Barzal and Matt Martin scored for New York. Ilya Sorokin finished with 24 saves.

BLACKHAWKS PUT CONNOR BEDARD (FRACTURED JAW) ON IR

The Chicago Blackhawks placed star rookie Connor Bedard and fellow forward Nick Foligno on injured reserve Saturday.

Bedard sustained a fractured jaw Friday following a big hit from New Jersey defenseman Brendan Smith midway during the first period of the Devils’ 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks.

Foligno took exception to the hit and was whistled for a matching roughing penalty with Smith. The two then dropped the gloves against each other at 5:04 of the second period.

Bedard, the No. 1 pick of the 2023 NHL Draft, is having a stellar start to his career with the Blackhawks despite the team’s struggles. The 18-year-old leads the team in goals (15), assists (18), points (33) and was named to the All-Star Game on Thursday.

Foligno, 36, was placed on injured reserve with a fractured left finger.

Foligno has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 39 games during his first season with Chicago. He has totaled 542 points (223 goals, 319 assists) in 1,120 career games with the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Blackhawks.

BASEBALL NEWS

ANGELS, RHP ZACH PLESAC AGREE ON 1-YEAR DEAL

The Los Angeles Angels and right-hander Zach Plesac have agreed on a one-year, $1 million deal.

In a corresponding move, the team outrighted left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday.

Plesac, who turns 29 this month, was selected by Cleveland in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Ball State and spent part of five seasons with the franchise.

In five seasons with the Guardians, he was 26-27 with a 4.20 ERA in 84 games (83 starts). He struck out 359 batters in 466 2/3 innings.

In 2023, he started five games with the Guardians, posting 1-1 record with a 7.59 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He appeared in 19 games (18 starts) for Triple-A Columbus and had a 5-6 record and 6.08 ERA in 94 2/3 innings.

He was not re-signed by the Guardians and became a free agent in October.

The Angels signed Kolarek, who turns 35 on Jan. 14, as a free agent in November. He spent the 2023 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets and didn’t give up a run in six innings spread over five relief appearances.

He has played in 175 games with the Tampa Bay Rays (2017-19), Dodgers (2019-20, 2023), Oakland Athletics (2021-22) and Mets and has an 11-4 record and 3.62 ERA with four saves.

INDIANA SPORTS NEWS RELEASES/NEWS REPORTS

COLTS NEWS

COLTS PLAYERS LEFT STUNNED, DISAPPOINTED BY ABRUPT END TO AFC PLAYOFF HOPES, 2023 REGULAR SEASON

The end of the 2023 Colts season was mercilessly abrupt.

Running back Tyler Goodson was open on fourth and one deep in the heart of Texans territory with just about a minute to go. A fresh set of downs followed by a touchdown would not only win the game, but all but assuredly send the Colts to the playoffs.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew II threw the pass. Goodson dropped it. Both players, after the game, accepted responsibility for the incompletion.

But regardless, the Colts’ season effectively ended right there. The season this team was – and should be – so proud of, in which they took mouthwash to the chaos of 2022 and were 15 yards from a playoff berth, came to a swift, cruel end.

Texans 23, Colts 19.

“It just feels so surreal,” defensive end Tyquan Lewis said. “Just the mindset of the team, the confidence going into this game, I feel like we were all a confident group. For it to come down and end like that, I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know what to think.”

Less than 30 minutes after their season ended, players in the home locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium hadn’t begun to process what happened. This wasn’t the time for attaboys and big picture perspective. Emotions were high. Eyes were red. Faces were stone.

How did  thisseason end like that?

“I just still can’t believe it’s over,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “My mindset was, we’re going to win this game and move into the playoffs and give ourselves an opportunity in the big dance. I’m still processing.”

These feelings weren’t based on one play. Every player acknowledged the Colts’ season didn’t reallycome down to the Minshew-to-Goodson incompletion. There was more everyone could’ve done to prevent Saturday night from swinging on that swing pass, whether it was in Week 18 or earlier in the season.

“You can’t blame it on one guy, you can’t blame the play call,” center Ryan Kelly said. “There were opportunities to score throughout that entire game we didn’t capitalize on.”

“We weren’t good enough today, I wasn’t good enough today,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “Tired of the feeling, to be honest with you. It felt like we had the team to make a run and we just came up short today.”

The Colts made critical plays at times in 2023 and didn’t execute in other moments. Those other moments are what the team, collectively, now has to digest in the coming weeks and months while they watch the Texans compete in the postseason.

“It came down to a couple of plays,” running back Jonathan Taylor said. “That’s playoff football. That’s playoff football. When it comes to crunch time, you got to make those plays. We got to make those plays. Got to make them. You have to. That’s playoff football. Playoff football are the teams who make the most plays. We didn’t make enough.”

Every player in that Colts locker room believed they’d beat the Texans, whether it was in the lead-up to the game or during those 60 minutes of game action on Saturday. Taylor’s breathtaking 49-yard touchdown and Minshew’s jump-pass two-point conversion to tight end Mo Alie-Cox tied things up after halftime, and after trading field goals, the Texans got in the end zone – but kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the PAT, meaning the Colts just needed a touchdown and a kick to take the lead as time melted off the clock.

And as Taylor powered the Colts inside the Texans’ red zone with under 90 seconds left, there was no wavering in the huddle or on the sideline.

“It’s a culmination of a season you think’s going to keep going,” Kelly said.

That’s what made Saturday’s loss so difficult to swallow. Two years ago, the fate of the Colts’ season was sealed long before there was no time left on the clock in Jacksonville. There was time to process and digest on the sideline. This year, the Colts turned the ball over on downs and a few minutes later – poof, the 2023 season ended.

“I don’t feel like it really hit me, to be honest with you. It’s over,” Franklin said, pausing a beat to process the finality of those last two words. “It wasn’t what — every part of my being and everything I believe and thought knew we were going to win today. And came up short.”

There will be plenty of time for post-mortems, for 30,000-foot perspectives and, ultimately, excitement for what 2024 could bring – especially with quarterback Anthony Richardson re-entering the fold. The guys who will be back next year will figure out the lessons from this game later.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, as the Colts shuffled out of Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time until late summer, the prevailing emotions were shock, disbelief and bitter disappointment.

“All the highs and lows of the season and all the adversity we fought through, for it to come down like that,” Franklin said, “it doesn’t feel like the ending it was supposed to have.”

PACERS NEWS

GAME REWIND: PACERS 101, CELTICS 118

The Pacers’ six-game win streak came to an end on Saturday night, as the East-leading Boston Celtics came into Gainbridge Fieldhouse and handed Indiana a 118-101 loss, the Blue & Gold’s first defeat of 2024.

Indiana (20-15) hung tough with the Celtics (28-7) for much of Saturday’s matchup despite a rough shooting night. The Pacers trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, but got the deficit to single digits by halftime and cut it to as little as one point late in the third quarter.

But Jayson Tatum scored nine points during a 16-4 Boston run to open the fourth quarter and Indiana never managed to get back within single digits.

Tatum and fellow All-Star Jaylen Brown combined for 69 points to lead Boston to victory. Tatum tallied 39 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists, going 14-for-23 from the field and 8-for-13 from 3-point range. Brown chipped in 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting.

Bennedict Mathurin led five Pacers in double figures with 20 points off the bench in the loss, going 7-for-15 from the field and 6-for-9 from the free throw line. All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton added 17 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and five steals, but struggled from the field, going just 5-for-17 overall and 2-for-9 from 3-point range.

“We missed a lot of shots,” Haliburton said after the loss. “They’re a really good defensive team, but we shot a lot of shots that we like. I mean, I’ll go back and watch film so I can really tell you, but felt good with a lot of the shots that we shot today. Just didn’t capitalize on them.”

The Celtics held Indiana to just 41.3 percent shooting as they avenged a 122-112 loss at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in the In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal on Dec. 4.

The Pacers won’t have to wait long for the next rematch, as the two teams meet again on Monday night to complete a two-game set in Indianapolis.

The Blue & Gold got off to a slow start on Saturday, hitting just three of their first 14 shots. The Celtics capitalized on their struggles midway through the opening frame with an 11-2 run that featured three straight threes from Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, and Al Horford and put the hosts up by 10 at 17-7.

The Pacers were unable to cut into the lead over the remainder of the first quarter. Tatum’s stepback three in the final minute of the frame pushed Boston’s lead to 14, with T.J. McConnell’s midrange jumper on the other end making Indiana’s deficit 29-17 after one.

The ensuing quarter was a series of runs.

The Pacers trailed 34-19 three minutes into the second quarter when they mounted a bit of a charge. After a Mathurin layup off a dish from Jalen Smith, T.J. McConnell intercepted Luke Kornet’s inbounds pass and dished to Buddy Hield for a 3-pointer in the left corner. On the next possession, Mathurin missed a three but Obi Toppin corralled the rebound, then eventually knocked down a trey of his own to cap an 8-0 run.

But Boston had an immediate answer. Tatum scored the next six Celtics points to trigger an 11-3 run that pushed the visitors’ lead back to 15.

Indiana countered with another 8-0 spurt that featured a deep three from Haliburton and a three-point play from Myles Turner that trimmed the deficit to 47-40 with 3:41 remaining in the first half.

Boston rebutted with an 11-2 surge over the next two minutes, with Tatum hitting two threes and Brown another.

Indiana then closed the half by scoring seven straight over the final 1:17, including two Smith free throws with 0.4 seconds on the clock, to make it a nine-point game at the intermission, with Boston leading 58-49.

The Pacers opened the second half with a 9-2 spurt to cut the deficit to just two points, only for Boston to answer with an 11-4 run of their own.

Tatum headed to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 6:37 remaining in the third quarter and the Blue & Gold gradually chipped away at the Celtics’ lead with Boston’s leading scorer on the bench.

Haliburton’s 3-pointer made it 75-72 with 3:15 remaining in the frame, Toppin’s alley-oop dunk cut the deficit to 78-76 with 1:20 left, and Buddy Hield’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining cut Boston’s lead to 82-81.

On the other end, Brown converted a runner in the closing seconds of the frame to give Boston a three-point advantage entering the fourth quarter.

“We were right there,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were down one and gave up a two-pointer at the end of the third quarter. We were down three after three and hadn’t played particularly well.”

Tatum returned for the start of the final frame and made his presence felt, hitting three big shots as the Celtics opened the fourth quarter with a 16-4 run.

First, Tatum knocked down his sixth three of the night at the 10:50 mark. He appeared to hit his seventh and have an opportunity for a four-point play after drawing a foul on Smith with 8:28 remaining. Carlisle challenged the call, however, and the replay review determined that Smith’s foul came before the shot attempt.

Indiana wound up getting a stop after the review, but Tatum exacted his revenge on the next two trips down the floor. The four-time All-Star converted a three-point play with 7:58 remaining, then drilled a trey 28 seconds later to push Boston’s lead to 100-85.

Back in the starting lineup with Bruce Brown sitting out the second night of a back-to-back as he continues to recover from a right knee bone bruise, Hield finished with 15 points for Indiana. Turner added 12 points and seven boards, while Toppin chipped in 10 points off the bench.

Horford was the only Celtic to reach double figures aside from Tatum and Brown, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks in 30 minutes off the bench.

Now, the Pacers will hope to make adjustments and potentially get a couple reinforcements for Monday’s rematch.

“We got them in two days and we’ll be ready for them,” Toppin said.

Inside the Numbers

The Pacers shot just 41.3 percent from the field, their second-worst field goal percentage this season. Indiana was 8-for-42 (19 percent) from 3-point range, while the Celtics went 16-for-41 (39 percent) from beyond the arc.

Haliburton’s streak of nine straight games with a double-double came to an end on Saturday. His seven assists were tied for his second-fewest in a game this season, but his five steals were a season high and one shy of his career high.

Mathurin reached 20 points for the eighth time this season and the third time in his last five games.

Indiana’s 17 points in the first quarter were a new season low. Their previous low was 20 at Minnesota on Dec. 16.

The Pacers committed just nine turnovers to Boston’s 18 and outscored the Celtics 24-18 in points off turnovers.

Boston outrebounded Indiana 56-38.

Tatum’s eight 3-pointers were a season high and one shy of his career high, set on Jan. 23, 2022 at Washington. He reached 30 points for the third straight game and the 15th time this season.

The Celtics did not attempt a free throw in the first half, then missed eight of 14 attempts from the charity stripe in the third quarter, including seven of their first 10.

“Just one of them days. Back-to-back, I don’t want to make any excuses, but shots just (weren’t) falling. We got the shots that we wanted, we stuck to the offensive plays that we wanted to run and shots didn’t fall. They will Monday.” -Toppin on Indiana’s offensive struggles

“We had great looks. You can’t hold those ones back. You’ve just got to figure out a way to put them in…Tatum made some tough ones. You have to tip your hat to that because you want them to take contested threes. We’ll bounce back.” -Hield on Indiana’s offensive struggles

“They’ve got the best starting five in basketball. It’s pretty clear. One through five, they do everything. It’s a big task. It’s a big task to try to contain them and it’s a big task to try to get great shots against them. But you certainly can’t give them 13 second chances and give up 21 extra possessions with that kind of difference in rebounding.” -Carlisle on the problems the Celtics pose

“Everybody on their team can shoot for real. We’ve just got to lock in to the 3-point line, taking that away. They put up the most threes in the league right now.” -Toppin on the challenges of defending the Celtics

“Hats off to them. They’re a great team…I love playing them. They bring the best out of you. The competition’s a different level and the game means a lot.” -Hield on the matchup with Boston

Stat of the Night

The Pacers’ 101 points on Saturday were a new season low. Their previous low was 103 in another loss at Memphis on Dec. 21. The Blue & Gold had scored 120 or more points in every game of their six-game win streak and are 0-5 on the season when held under 110.

Noteworthy

Indiana is now 1-2 on the season against the Celtics (they lost in Boston on Nov. 1). The two teams play twice more this month to wrap up the season series, with games on Monday in Indianapolis and Jan. 31 in Boston.

The Pacers are now 1-5 on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis exited with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter after being poked in the right eye. He checked back in at the 4:02 mark, but exited again 28 seconds later and did not return for the remainder of the night.

Second-year Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard missed his third straight game with a mid-back sprain.

Pacers two-way forward Kendall Brown made his season debut, playing the final 1:06 of Saturday’s contest.

Up Next

The Pacers face off against Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics for the second straight game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Monday, Jan. 8 at 7:00 PM ET.

FUEL HOCKEY

CAM HILLIS SCORES TWICE IN BIG WIN OVER ADMIRALS

NORFOLK- The Fuel played their second game of a three game set against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday night in their first out-of-division road trip of the season. Ultimately, the Fuel took a late game 2-1 lead and secured the win with Driscoll in goal.

1ST PERIOD

Just like Friday night, the Fuel struck first with a goal by Cam Hillis at 7:23. Darby Llewellyn and Fuel newcomer Andy Willis claimed assists on the goal. Just forty seconds later, Norfolk tied the game up with a goal by Mathieu Roy.

At 13:06, Colin Bilek took the game’s first penalty for tripping but the Fuel were able to kill it off. As that penalty was expiring, Keegan Iverson had a shot ring off the crossbar that was reviewed for a goal over a minute later. Ultimately, the call on the ice would stand and it was not called a goal.

Things got progressively chippier as the period and Bilek ended up with another penalty, this time for boarding at 19:28. Soon after, the period ended but both teams were calm headed into the locker room, tied 1-1 as the Fuel outshot the Admirals 8-3. 

2ND PERIOD

The Fuel were able to kill off the remainder of the boarding call on Bilek and at 3:02, headed to their first power play of the game after a tripping call on Owen Norton that was eventually killed off.

At 8:40, Chris Cameron took a cross checking call that sent the Fuel to the penalty kill again but that was killed off. At 16:10, Andrew McLean took a hooking call on a play that prevented Ryan Gagnier from scoring on a breakaway.

After that penalty was killed off, time expired on the period and the Fuel were leading in shots 18-11 despite Norfolk catching up by the midway point of the period.

3RD PERIOD

Sam Ruffin took an early hooking call just thirty seconds into the frame. After killing off that penalty, Darby Llewellyn and Danny Katic got into a scuffle in front of the net. Katic was given a minor roughing penalty while Llewellyn came out unscathed and sent Indy back to the power play.

It wasn’t until 12:37 when Brandon Schultz, Matt Cairns and Cam Hillis all connected to give Hillis his second goal of the game and to give Indy their second lead of the game. With less than eight minutes to go, the Fuel went up 2-1.

After narrowly avoiding the Admirals tying it up within the last minute of the game, the Fuel came away with the 2-1 win after another back-and-forth battle in Norfolk.

The Indy Fuel are back in action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 for Wednesday Night Hockey.

INDIANA MEN’S BASKETBALL

INDIANA USES SECOND HALF SURGE TO BEAT OHIO STATE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Physical?

You bet.

Competitive?

Xavier Johnson demanded it Saturday night.

Indiana’s much-needed 71-65 victory over Ohio State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall had a strong Johnson-and-Malik Reneau influence.

Johnson’s to-be-expected-first-game-back-from-injury rust against Nebraska was gone, replaced by quickness, efficiency and ferocity. The senior guard totaled 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. He was, once again, a guy who rates among the Big Ten’s best guards, a much-missed factor in the seven games he was sidelined by injury.

“I was motivated,” Johnson said. “I let the game come to me. I trusted myself and my teammates to make the right play.”

Trust came from some rugged practices after Wednesday night’s 16-point loss at Nebraska that included 19 team turnovers, four from Johnson.

“I let him loose,” coach Mike Woodson said.

Those zero turnovers left Johnson smiling.

“That’s something you rarely see from me. I’m an aggressive guard.

“I have to grow up. I grew up tonight. My teammates rely on me making the right play all the time.”

Johnson called all the time missed “challenging.”

“I had a crack in my foot. I tried to stay in it (mentally). I kept my conditioning up. I tried to have a positive impact even though I wasn’t playing.”

Woodson challenged Johnson and fellow senior guard Trey Galloway after their Nebraska struggles. He called their play, “awful.”

The result — they combined for 12 points, six assists and no turnovers in a first half that ended with a 38-37 Ohio State lead. They finished with 22 points, 10 assists and one turnover.

Johnson, who had limited practice time before the Nebraska game, said he felt “out of rhythm” that first game back.

“I can’t make that excuse. I’m a sixth-year guy. Coach expects a lot out of me. I’ll give it everything I have for the rest of the year.”

Fellow guard CJ Gunn is confident Johnson will.

“He’s been working hard. He’s hungry for this. We count on him. We were there for him. He’s aour captain. We look to him for leadership. He will help lead us through the Big Ten and, hopefully, a championship.”

IU (11-4 overall) is 3-1 in the Big Ten, a half-game out of first place.

This wasn’t a one-man victory. Reneau had 23 points and seven rebounds. Gunn came off the bench for 10 points, just off the career-high 11 he had against Elon as a freshman.

Woodson said he gave Gunn and Johnson game balls.

“CJ was excellent coming off the bench,” he said.

The Hoosiers needed all that excellence after Ohio State (12-3, 2-2) hit them with a 12-0 first-half run.

They didn’t blink.

The Buckeyes delivered an 8-0 second-half opening run for a nine-point lead.

The Hoosiers battled back.

Amid now-or-never second-half pressure, Johnson, Reneau and Gunn took over offensively, and all the Hoosiers did defensively, brutalizing what had previously been an effective Ohio State offense. Nothing came easily for the Buckeyes except misery. They finished with 14 turnovers and 36% shooting.

IU had a 22-5 edge on points off turnovers and a 40-24 points-in-the-paint advantage. That offset Ohio State’s 49-27 rebounding advantage, which produced a 24-9 edge in second-chance points.

That left Woodson challenging Reneau and center Kel’el Ware.

“I told the they were awful in rebounding. (Ohio State’s) bigs kicked our butts. We won’t win with that kind of rebound margin. We got away with it tonight.”

Galloway and Johnson were dialed in early. Galloway had an assist and a steal, and Johnson had an assist, as IU pushed ahead 9-5, and then 15-8. One big reason – it had a 6-0 edge in points off turnovers.

The Hoosiers’ 3-point defensive woes continued. Jamison Battle made three of them to help deliver a 20-15 Ohio State lead.

The Buckeyes surged to a 30-23 lead. IU stayed within range thanks to Gunn’s five points and aggressive defense.

A four-point Johnson play cut Ohio State’s lead to 36-35 with 47.1 seconds left in the half. Then the Hoosiers forced a turnover. Then Johnson attacked, drew a foul and made both free throws for a 37-36 IU lead. The Buckeyes added a pair of free throws to end the half ahead 38-37. IU had a 13-5 edge in points off turnovers.

The Buckeyes opened the second half with an 8-0 in less than two minutes, forcing Woodson to call a timeout. The Hoosiers responded with eight straight points from Reneau and Johnson.

A Reneau 3-pointer produced a 48-48 tie with just under 12 minutes remaining.

Reneau, Johnson and Gunn took total control. IU surged ahead 66-56 with three minutes left. The Buckeyes rallied within two before a basket by Reneau and two Johnson free throws clinched it.

Next up – a Tuesday trip to Rutgers. Woodson’s message: play for 40 minutes there like the Hoosiers did the final 15 against Ohio State.

INDIANA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

UNBEATENS MEET AGAIN WHEN NO. 14 INDIANA TRAVELS TO NEBRASKA

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 14 Indiana faces another Big Ten unbeaten when it travels to Nebraska on Sunday afternoon in a 2 p.m. ET tip at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

ABOUT THE HUSKERS

Nebraska improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play with an 69-57 win at Wisconsin on Thursday night. Freshman guard Natalie Potts and junior forward Alexis Markowski each scored in double figures in the victory. The duo, along with senior Jaz Shelley, all average double figures. The Huskers are averaging 78.5 points per outing this season and shooting 45.2 percent from the floor.

SERIES HISTORY

Indiana leads 11-6

LAST MEETING

1/1/23 – W, 74-62 (OT) (Bloomington, Ind.)

NOTES

Indiana has won six of the last seven in the series with the Huskers, dating back to the 2018-19 season. It won the only meeting between the two teams last season. This will be the only meeting in the 2023-24 regular season. 

Behind a hot shooting night, IU shot a perfect 13-for-13 in the first quarter en route to an 80-59 win over Michigan on Thursday night. The streak extended into the second quarter as it went 15-for-15 to open the game, becoming the first program to hit that mark since 1999. It also improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the fifth time in six seasons.

It combined for a 57.1 percent effort from the floor in the win behind 20 points from graduate student guard Mackenzie Holmes. Senior guard Sara Scalia added 16 points while senior guard Sydney Parrish had 14 points.

The team’s season win streak extended to 11 games with Thursday’s victory, which is tied for the fifth longest win streak in school history. Indiana has also won 12-straight conference games at home, dating back to the 2021-22 season. The program win streak record is 15 which dates back to the program’s inaugural year in 1971-72.

Just three unbeatens remain in the Big Ten this season as two will meet on Sunday when Indiana faces Nebraska. Iowa is also standing at the top of the league standings with a 3-0 record.

UP NEXT

The Hoosiers return to the Hall on Wednesday, January 10 against Penn State at 7 p.m. ET.

PURDUE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

PURDUE AT MARYLAND – POSTPONED

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Due to a facility issue at the XFINITY Center, Saturday’s game between Purdue and Maryland has been postponed.

A rescheduled date will be announced later.

NOTRE DAME MEN’S BASKETBALL

IRISH DROP CLOSE BATTLE TO #14/13 DUKE, 67-59

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Over 8,000 fans inside Purcell Pavilion on Saturday afternoon were treated to a close battle between Notre Dame men’s basketball and No. 14/13 Duke. The Fighting Irish (6-9, 1-3) held the Blue Devils (11-3, 2-1) to a season low in both points and shooting percentage but ultimately fell by the slim margin of 67-59.

The Irish had a lead as large as nine in the first half, but the Blue Devils stormed into halftime on a 14-3 scoring run, which was extended into a 19-3 to start the second half. The Irish would continue to fight hard throughout, rallying down eight points to cut the deficit to just two with 2:44 remaining.

Notre Dame and Duke took the same amount of shots (59) with the Irish converting two more (23). ND also won the rebounding battle 42-40. Duke, who entered the contest ranked sixth in the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.1), committed 11 tonight. A big difference maker came on the free-throw line in which Duke went 17-of-21 to Notre Dame’s 8-of-16.

Freshman point guard Markus Burton recorded his eighth straight game in double figures with 18 points on Saturday. He shot 7-of-21 from the field and dished out four assists. Fellow freshman Braeden Shrewsberry went 4-of-7 from deep to tally 12 points – his fifth game in double figures.

Lastly, sophomore Kebba Njie reeled in 10 rebounds, marking his second straight game with double-digit boards. He nearly earned a double-double by supplying nine points.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Burton had seven points on a 3-for-5 shooting start by the 11:24 media to push the Irish ahead 19-15. Later Zona, Njie and Shrewsberry would combine for a 7-0 run to give the Irish its largest lead of the half up nine, 24-15, at the 7:06 mark.

On the next possession, Duke ended what was a near five-minute scoring drought but then got back in the game but inflicting a 4.5-minute drought on the Irish. In fact, the Blue Devils ended the half on a 14-3 run as the Irish registered just one field goal over the final six minutes As a result, Duke took its first lead heading into halftime up 29-27.

The Irish defense once again was the highlight here, holding Duke to a first-half scoring low on the season, as the Blue Devils shot just 31.0 percent from the field, including a 3-of-14 mark from three-point range. Burton led the Irish at the break with nine points, as Notre Dame shot 39.3 percent in the opening half.

An 0-for-5 Notre Dame shooting start to the second half coupled with a 5-0 Duke run prompted an immediate Coach Shrewsberry timeout at 17:20 with the Blue Devils up 34-27.

Out of the timeout, Braeden Shrewsberry knocked down back-to-back treys to spark the Irish, but they ultimately traded blows as they faced a six-point deficit (39-33) at the 15:37 media timeout.

Next, Julian Roper II stepped up with four straight points to spark an ND 6-0 run which cut the deficit to just two points.

Duke buried back-to-back treys with 9:59 remaining to give them their largest lead of the game up eight at 49-41. Shrewsberry kept the Irish in it with his third trey of the half. It was followed by by an and-one by Burton, and just like that, a one-possession game once again down two.

Yet, even when Notre Dame recorded a 5-for-7 shooting stretch from 10:28-6:21, Duke answered from beyond the arc with three treys to maintain the lead. With four minutes remaining, it was a four-point game with the Irish down 57-53.

With 2:44 left, Davis got a big offensive board and putback to make it a one-possession game, Next, Kyle Filipowski, who was kept to a quiet 2-for-12, made that second field to spur four straight points for the visitors.

The Irish would cut it to four points with 53 seconds left and again at 20 seconds, but just couldn’t get over that final hump as they fell 67-59.

UP NEXT

The Irish look to garner its first true road win of the season when they travel to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, Jan. 9. That contest will air on the ACC Network at 9 p.m. ET.

NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

NOTRE DAME HOSTS UNC FOR ACC HOME OPENER

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 16 Notre Dame (10-2, 1-1) needs to make a statement. Sunday will provide an opportunity to do so, as the Irish host North Carolina (10-4, 2-0) at Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame is coming off of a rollercoaster win at Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Irish had a 28-10 lead in the first quarter before giving it up and going through a back-and-forth fourth quarter that ended in the away team’s favor, 71-66.

Hannah Hidalgo leads Notre Dame in scoring (24.5), assists (6.1) and steals (5.8), continuing to wow the nation as she plays. The freshman phenom and six-time ACC Rookie of the Week now has 11 games in with at least 20 points. For reference, the Notre Dame freshman record is 13, held by Beth Morgan.

Hidalgo is leading the team night in and night out, but Anna DeWolfe has been heating up since the calendar flipped to December. The graduate transfer has averaged 12.2 points per game since the Lafayette game, and she has made a team-leading 13 buckets from behind the arc. DeWolfe played 40 minutes against Pittsburgh, the first Irish player to play a full game this season.

UNC, however, is coming off of a drubbing of No. 25 Syracuse, 75-51. It was the first game UNC has played this season while ranked outside of the AP Top 25. Guard Alyssa Ustby made history for the program during the win, recording the first triple-double in UNC history. She posted 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Ustby is the Tar Heels’ leading rebounder at 9.4 per game. Deja Kelly is UNC’s leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points per contest.

Notre Dame is 10-4 all-time against North Carolina. Sunday’s game will air on ESPN2 and tips off at 5 p.m.

NOTRE DAME HOCKEY

IRISH COMEBACK FALLS SHORT SATURDAY

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame hockey team fell to the Wisconsin Badgers Saturday night, 7-4, despite a valiant effort in the second period with three goals in a three minute span.

The Badgers struck first for the second consecutive night, capitalizing on a turnover by the Irish in their own end for the 1-0 lead just 5:35 into the contest.

Wisconsin scored twice more before the Irish found an answer, a rocket shot from Carter Slaggert that beat the Badgers’ netminder top shelf to get Notre Dame on the board.

The Badgers would score once more, on a delayed penalty, to make it 4-1 at the first intermission.

With the Irish back in the penalty box just 2:14 into the second period, Wisconsin net their fifth goal of the night and second on the man-advantage to extend their lead.

Notre Dame took advantage of the man-advantage just a few minutes later, netting their first powerplay goal of the weekend off the stick of Maddox Fleming to make it a 5-2 game.

The Irish scoring continued with a pair of goals from Landon Slaggert and Brennan Ali just 15 seconds apart to draw within one of the Badgers but they were unable to find the equalizer through the remainder of the period and skated to the locker room after two frames trailing 5-4.

Wisconsin grew their lead again with a wraparound tally at 8:06 of the third period to make it 6-4 with just under 12 minutes left in regulation.

The Irish opted for the extra attacker in the final four minutes but the Badgers found the empty net for the 7-4 score.

GOALS

Drew Bavaro fired a stretch pass up to Tyler Carpenter in the neutral zone who found his linemate open at the blue line where Carter Slaggert carried the puck into the zone before firing a shot off. His goal, sent top shelf, was his second of the season and put the Irish on the board at 12:23 of the first period.

Maddox Fleming sparked the Irish offense about halfway through the second period, capitalizing on the powerplay for his second goal of the season. Paul Fischer and Trevor Janicke both earned assists on the play.

The scoring continued less than three minutes later with Landon Slaggert spinning out front of the net before tapping a shot passed the Badgers’ netminder to cut the deficit to two. Michael Mastrodomenico and Cole Knuble were credited with the assists on the play.

Just 15 seconds later, Brennan Ali scored to draw the Irish within one at 11:25 of the second period. Grant Silianoff chipped a pass over to Ali who fired the shot into the back of the net to make it 5-4.

UP NEXT

The Irish are back on the road next weekend for a pair of games against Ohio State University January 12-13 in Columbus, Ohio.

The team will be back inside Compton Family Ice Arena in two weeks to host Penn State University (January 19-20) for alumni weekend.

BUTLER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

SECOND QUARTER PUSHES PIRATES PAST BUTLER 64-50

INDIANAPOLIS – Seton Hall secured a 64-50 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates shot 50 percent from the field and 54 percent from 3-point range (12-22) to record their 10th win of the season. With the loss, BU moves to 8-6 overall and 0-3 in the BIG EAST.

Seton Hall led Butler 9-4 at the first media timeout, but the Bulldogs would end the first quarter on a 9-0 scoring run to earn a 16-11 lead after the opening 10 minutes.

Caroline Strande hit back-to-back shots from distance to get BU within one at 11-10 and Rachel Kent would add a triple to give BU their first lead at 13-11. The final 3-pointer from Butler was a buzzer beater from Jordan Meulemans. Her first points of the afternoon gave BU a five-point lead.

The second quarter belonged to Seton Hall as the Pirates outscored Butler 21-5 to take a 32-21 halftime lead. Savannah Catalon didn’t score in the first quarter but would hit four shots in the second to pace the Pirate offense with 11 points. Caroline Strande scored eight of her 10 points in the first and Azana Baines scored all seven of her first half points in the first quarter.

Each team scored nine points over the first five minutes of the third quarter. BU’s first triple came from Strande in front of the BU bench and Meulemans hit the next two from behind the arc. An 8-0 scoring run from SHU would follow and give the Pirates a 46-30 lead with under three to play in the third.

Strande and Meulemans accounted for 25 of Butler’s 33 points heading into the fourth quarter. Any chance of a comeback would be crushed early in the fourth as SHU opened the final 10-minute stretch on a 10-0 run.

Inside the Box Score

– Jordan Meulemans led Butler with 15 points and two steals

– Meulemans made five of her seven 3-point attempts and also handed out two assists

– Caroline Strande joined Meulemans in double figures with 13 points

– Strande once again led BU with six rebounds

– Riley Makalusky added eight points and four rebounds for BU

– Cristen Carter was in the box score with six points and four boards

– BU shot 50% from 3-point range (10-20)

– SHU had 20 assists on 25 made field goals

– Savannah Catalon came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points

– Azana Baines had 13 points and Micah Gray added 16

Up Next

Butler will play at Creighton on Wednesday night. The game will start at 7 PM Eastern, 6 PM Central.

IUPUI MEN’S BASKETBALL

JAGUARS TO FACE YOUNGSTOWN STATE ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The IUPUI basketball team will be back in action on Sunday (Jan. 7) when the Jaguars take on Youngstown State (10-5, 2-2 HL) inside the Beeghly Center at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN+. The Jaguars are coming off a sour performance at Robert Morris on Thursday as they fell to the Colonials, 92-48. Sophomores Vincent Brady II and DJ Jackson scored a team-high 12 points apiece in the defeat. Brady also grabbed a team-high six boards in the defeat.

The Jaguars are seeking a rare win against Youngstown State, coming into play at 2-19 all-time against the Penguins. IUPUI has dropped five straight to YSU coming into Sunday’s contest.

For the season, junior guard Jlynn Counter tops the Jaguars in scoring (14.8 ppg), assists (2.7 apg) and ranking second on the squad in rebounding (4.3 rpg). Behind him, senior guard Bryce Monroe is averaging 10.9 points per game while both Brady and Jackson are averging in double-digits since joining the starting five. Jackson has scored in double-figures in five straight games coming into Sunday’s matchup while Brady has done so in three-in-a-row.

SCOUTING YOUNGSTOWN STATE

Youngstown State is 10-5 on the season and 2-2 in Horizon League play. The Penguins are 7-1 in eight home games with the only loss having come to Oakland by an 88-81 score on Dec. 31. YSU is scoring 81.1 points per game and shooting 46.6 percent from the floor while outrebounding foes by 6.6 rebounds per contest. Brandon Rush (13.5 ppg 40 3’s) and Ziggy Reid (12.0 ppg) lead four Penguins averaging double-figures while Murray State-transfer DJ Burns (11.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is anchoring the interior.

INSIDE THE SERIES

IUPUI is 2-19 all-time against Youngstown State and 0-8 in the eight meetings in Indianapolis. YSU has won the last five meetings between the two programs.

UP NEXT

IUPUI will return home to host Green Bay on Wednesday (Jan. 10) at noon inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Wednesday’s game will be a Corporate Luncheon Day and local businesses interested in attending can receive FREE tickets by clicking here.

Notes and Tidbits (click here to download the full IUPUI Game Notes)

    POWER OUTAGE

    IUPUI had an offensive power outage at Robert Morris on Thursday night (Jan. 4), scoring a season-low 48 points while shooting a season worst 32 percent from the floor. In addition, the Jaguars put up season-lows in field goals made (16), defensive rebounds (11), rebounds (22) and rebound margin (-17).

    The Jaguars also yielded a season worst 63.3 percent to the Colonials in the 92-48 defeat.

    #SCTOP10

    IUPUI players were featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Plays twice in three days on Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 with a pair of dunks.

    Against Detroit Mercy on Dec. 29, Kidtrell Blocker’s one-handed dunk from the right side was the No. 8 play on SportsCenter.

    Two days later, Vincent Brady II’s one-handed dunk from the left baseline was chosen as the No. 4 play in the country that evening.

    ONLY THE LONELY   

    Only three Jaguars (Kidtrell Blocker, John Egbuta and Qwanzi Samuels) have appeared in all 16 games so far this season as 12 different players have missed at least one game due to injury or illness.

    FOR STARTERS

    With the glut of injuries and sickness, head coach Matt Crenshaw has found himself shuffling the starting five of late. After relying on the starting group of Jlynn Counter, Bryce Monroe, Kidtrell Blocker, Qwanzi Samuels and Yves Nkomba to start the season (8 games, 2-6 overall), Crenshaw has tried some alternatives of late.

    Cooper Dewitt has started the past eight games in place of Samuels and both Vincent Brady II and DJ Jackson have recently earned five starts. Most recently, sophomore Abdou Samb moved into the starting five, replacing Nkomba ahead of the Dec. 21 game with Defiance.

    SAMB, FOR STARTERS

    In four games in the IUPUI starting lineup (2-2 overall), sophomore Abdou Samb is averaging 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds, going 12-of-16 from the field in those three contests.

    The past four games, Samb’s field goal percentage has risen from 55.5 percent to 62.8 percent since he moved into the starting five.

    ACTION JACKSON

    Sophomore DJ Jackson has started the past five games, scoring double-digits in all five contests. During that span, Jackson is averaging 12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 1.4 steals/game while shooting 22-of-44 (50%) from the floor and 18-of-22 (81.8%) from the foul line.

    Jackson had scored in double-digits just two times in the season’s first 11 games.

    PRINCE VINCE

    Sophomore Vincent Brady II has taken on a larger offensive role the past three games, both in the starting lineup. In his past three outings, Brady is averaging 15.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 14-of-33 (42.4%) from the field. Brady had scored in double-figures just one time in the season’s first 13 games before hitting for 10-or-more in the past three games.

     MR. DO-IT-ALL

    In his second season with the program, junior guard Jlynn Counter has become the Jaguars’ Mr. Do It All, leading the team in scoring (14.8 ppg; 8th in HL),assists (2.7 apg) and free throws made (41). He ranks second on the team in rebounding (4.3 rpg) and finds himself among the Horizon League’s top-10 in scoring and field goal percentage.

    Counter, a preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick, led the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg) last season.

    COUNTER COUNT

    Counter tallied his 500th career point against Elon on Nov. 17 and enters today with 673 career points.

    …He’s scored in double-digits 32 times in 46 career games

    …He’s hit for 20-or-more points 13 times in 46 career games

    QWANZ SEES DOUBLE

    Graduate transfer Qwanzi Samuels recorded his first collegiate double-double at Minnesota (Dec. 16), having finished with a career-high 13 points (5-8 FG, 3-3 FT), 10 rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes off the Jaguars’ bench.

    It marked his first-ever double-digit scoring game (in his 96th career game) and his second career game with 10-or-more rebounds.

    BENCH WORK

    IUPUI is averaging 25.8 points per game from its reserves this season and has gotten at least 21 bench points in 14 of 16 games (including five games of 30+).

    TEN MAN ROTATION

    Ten different Jaguars are playing at least 10 minutes per game, led by Bryce Monroe (29.4 mpg) down to Yves Nkomba (10.4 mpg).

    IN THE CLASSROOM

    Seven members of the squad topped a 3.0 grade point average for the fall semester, paced by John Egbuta (3.62) and Amhad Jarrard (3.51). Others included Vincent Brady II (3.48), Yves Nkomba (3.46), Derek Petersen (3.29), Qwanzi Samuels (3.12) and Bryce Monroe (3.00). 

    SEEING RED

    It’s likely that both Amhad and Armon Jarrard will redshirt this season. Amhad missed the entire summer and preseason after suffering an injury last season and Armon was limited to just three games this season while playing through an injury. He was shutdown after trying to play at Indiana State on Nov. 14.

    The Jarrards are one of 21 sets of brothers playing for the same team this season and one of nine sets of twins in Division I basketball.

    FIRST TO TIP

    IUPUI was the first team in the country to tip-off the 2023-24 season, starting at 11:00 a.m. on Nov. 6 in front of a crowd of 4,867 on the annual NCAA ‘Readers Become Leaders’ Day at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

    The 4,867 represented a new home attendance record for the Jaguars, eclipsing the previous mark of 4,114 from last year’s similar event.

    ROAD KILL

    The road win at Valpo was a welcome event, marking IUPUI’s first road win since winning at Robert Morris on Feb. 17, 2022. It was the first road non-conference victory since winning at South Florida on Nov. 13, 2019 at the Cayman Islands Classic.

BALL STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL OUT TOUGHS AKRON IN OT MAC ROAD WIN

AKRON, Ohio – Junior Ally Becki led the Cardinals charge with 20 points. Becki made some key baskets at some crucial times while scoring seven of the Cardinals 11 points in overtime to help propel Ball State to a 71-64 OT win at Akron Saturday afternoon in James A. Rhodes Arena.

The Cardinals (12-2, 2-0 MAC) victory tonight is their 12th win of the last 15 meetings against the Zips (5-7, 0-2 MAC). With the win, Ball State also extended its win streak to six.

All-in-all it was Ball State’s defense that stood out in today’s victory as the Cardinals scored 20 points off the Zips 20 miscues.

Ball State also tallied seven blocks while Akron had only one. Another team statistic that jumped out was steals with the Cardinals having 13 which was led by Nyla Hampton with six. Becki wasn’t too far behind in that category with five.

It came to no surprise that today’s league competition would be competitive as both teams were neck and neck throughout the entire 45 minutes of action which consisted of 10 ties and eight lead changes.

Akron led the majority of the third and fourth quarters but some smart defensive plays by Becki and Hampton along with an all-around team effort made it hard for the Zips to run away with today’s game.

It was looking bleak for the Cardinals in the final frame, but Hampton dished the ball to Madelyn Bischoff for a 3-pointer to knot the contest at 58-58 with under a minute left.

The Zips then scored on the ensuing possession to go back up by two. With .2 seconds left in the game, Becki drew a foul and was sent to the line for two. Becki would make both from the charity stripe to send the game into OT.

Both teams’ offenses struggled in the opening stanza with the Cardinals only outscoring the Zips 10-8 which gave Ball State a two-point edge heading into the second quarter of play.

Ana Barreto drained a 3-pointer at the 8:13 mark of the second frame that eventually sparked a 10-2 run for the Cardinals which was capped off by one from behind the arc from Becki to make the score 20-10. Akron then returned the favor with an 18-10 scoring spree which left BSU with a slim two-point (30-28) lead at intermission.

For the game, Becki led with 20 points while Bischoff ended the day scoring 19. Annie Rauch netted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Ball State women’s basketball team will return home to Worthen Arena on Wednesday when it hosts Buffalo at 6:30 pm ET.

BALL STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL

MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS LATE TO CENTRAL MICHIGAN

MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s basketball team had a pair of opportunities late to knot the score, but Central Michigan won 71-65 on Saturday afternoon at Worthen Arena.

The Cardinals (8-6, 0-2 MAC) trailed by as many as 10 points at 48-38 at the 11:09 mark of the second half to the Chippewas (6-8, 1-1 MAC) but slowly cut the deficit, trailing 67-64 after a Davion Bailey layup with 2:22 to play. A later free throw from Basheer Jihad made it 67-65 in favor of Central Michigan. Down two, the Cardinals had possession in the final 30 seconds, but a couple of turnovers allowed the visitors to take the decision.

Bailey tallied season bests in points (21) and rebounds (five), while Jihad went for his fifth double-double so far with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jalin Anderson (11 points, four assists) and Mickey Pearson Jr. (10 points) also scored in double figures for the hosts.

Trailing 31-29 at the break, Ball State got two quick field goals from Jihad to regain the lead, but Central Michigan went on a 17-5 scoring run to take control.

The Chippewas earned the edge in the rebounding (31-29) and turnover (13-9) categories, while their bench scored 25 points to the Cardinals’ 2 for their first conference win.

Central Michigan shot 43.6 percent (24-55) from the field and 39.1 percent (9-23) on 3-pointers, as Ball State went 41.5 percent (17-41) and 25.0 percent (6-24) from distance. The Cardinals made 25 of their 31 free throws (80.6 percent).

Ball State hosts Akron at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in its second of back-to-back home games. 

INDIANA STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL

INDIANA STATE READY FOR ROAD TRIP TO NORTHERN IOWA

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Indiana State men’s basketball hits the road for a five-day, two-game road trip, kicking off with Northern Iowa on Sunday, January 7. The game tips at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and 105.5 The Legend.

Series History

Sunday will be the 67th matchup between the Sycamores and Panthers, with Indiana State being the victors in the previous two. The home team in the ISU/UNI series have traditionally been on the winning side, holding true in the previous 10 games as the home team is 7-3.

About UNI

Northern Iowa is in their 18th season with Coach Ben Jacobson at the helm. The Panthers currently sit at No. 10 in the MVC with a 1-2 conference record and 7-7 overall. UNI was selected to finish second in the conference in the preseason polls. UNI in the 2022-23 season finished 14-18, 9-11 MVC with a second-round exit of the MVC Tournament, falling to Bradley 72-66 in the Quarterfinal. Three Panthers currently average 10.0+ PPG: Nate Heise (14.4), Bowen Born (14.1), Tytan Anderson (12.2), and Jacob Hutson (10.0).

Last Time Out – Indiana State

Indiana State men’s basketball holds the lead in all 40 minutes and gets back on track with a 87-73 win at home versus the Evansville Purple Aces. ISU improved to 12-2, 3-0 MVC with the win while UE fell to 10-4, 1-2 MVC.

Ryan Conwell led the way for the Sycamores with his second double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds. Isaiah Swope and Jayson Kent each scored 18 points. Swope knocked down four triples and recorded five rebounds. Kent converted on 8-of-9 free-throw attempts while tacking on eight rebounds.

Robbie Avila scored 16 points, and Xavier Bledson tied his career-high in three-pointers with four en route to 12 points.

Last Time Out – UNI

UNI men’s basketball led for just over three quarters of the night, rallied late and secured its first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) win of the season on Wednesday night with a 64-62 victory over the Missouri State Bears at Great Southern Bank Arena.

Born finished the night with a team-high 21 points, five rebounds and two assists, while Hutson recorded a season-best 19-point game, shooting 8-of-12 from the floor. Tytan Anderson posted eight points and eight rebounds, as Trey Campbell recorded a game-high nine rebounds to complement a six-point scoring effort. Nate Heise finished with four points and five boards, while Cole Henry, Michael Duax, and RJ Taylor each scored two points.

INDIANA STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

SYCAMORES OUTLASTED BY PANTHERS IN ROAD TRIP FINALE

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Indiana State gave preseason conference favorite Northern Iowa everything it could handle Saturday afternoon, but the Panthers outlasted the Sycamores 85-79 in a high-scoring battle inside McLeod Center.

Chelsea Cain led the way for the Sycamores with 18 points and six assists, while Mya Glanton tied her season high of 17 points and added six rebounds. Bella Finnegan was also in double-figures for the Trees with 11, while Ella Sawyer had seven points matched her career high of eight assists.

Indiana State opened the game on a 7-0 run and shot 60 percent from the field in the opening quarter. The Sycamores were efficient from distance in the opening 20 minutes, where they were 7-for-10 from behind the arc. Northern Iowa kept pace, though, and took a two-point lead into halftime. The Sycamores were neck-and-neck throughout the second half, but the home side took advantage of 26 free throw attempts in the second half to narrowly defeat a scrappy Sycamore team.

First Half

Indiana State jumped out to a quick start, as Glanton opened with a jumper and Finnegan immediately added a three-ball from the wing. The Sycamores pushed their lead to seven following a layup from Cain in transition and a pair of free throws from Glanton, but Northern Iowa went on a run of its own to get within a point of the Trees. Keslyn Secrist and Asia Donald got in on the scoring midway through, with the latter knocking down a trey to give the Sycamores a 19-14 advantage. Sawyer added another 3-pointer to make it 22-16, but consecutive 3-pointers from the home side late saw the teams deadlocked at 24 through one quarter.

Donald and Finnegan started the second quarter with 3-pointers, as the Sycamores continued to keep pace with the preseason favorites. Savannah White added a midrange jumper midway through, and Cain evened the score at 35-all with a triple from the top of the key. UNI used a 6-0 run to go in front, but Kiley Bess and Secrist both converted from the free throw line and Deja Jones nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to pull the Sycamores within a pair, 44-42, at the intermission.

Second Half

Glanton immediately went to work down low to begin the second half with a pair of layups, but a 7-0 run for the Panthers saw Indiana State facing a 55-46 deficit. The Sycamores clawed their way back, though, as Finnegan connected on a 3-pointer and Cain scored four straight points to get the Trees’ deficit down to four, 59-55. Layups from Leah Yarbrough and Sawyer cut it to a one-possession game late in the quarter. Cain added a basket right before the buzzer, as the Sycamores entered the fourth down 68-64.

Layups from Yarbrough and Cain to begin the fourth quarter cut the deficit back down to one possession, and Finnegan added a midrange jumper to knot the score at 70. A 6-1 Panther run saw the Sycamores go down 76-71, but a layup from Cain and a 3-pointer from Bess got the Sycamores back within a pair. Glanton added a 3-pointer from the corner inside the final minute, but Northern Iowa survived a gutsy effort from the Sycamores, 85-79.

News and Notes

Indiana State’s 10 3-pointers tied a season-high, while the Sycamores’ 52.6 percent mark from distance (10-for-19) represented a season-best clip.

The Sycamores were 13-for-16 from the free throw line (81.3 percent) Saturday, but the free throw disparity was stark. Northern Iowa went to the line 19 times in the third quarter alone.

All 14 players who were active for Indiana State appeared in the game, while 11 of the 14 scored.

Indiana State shot a season-best 49.1 percent (28-for-57) from the field Saturday.

Ella Sawyer’s eight assists were her most in a Sycamores uniform and also matched her career high that was set while at Austin Peay.

Mya Glanton’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter was the first of her career.

Saturday’s game concluded a five-game road trip for the Sycamores which began Dec. 17. Indiana State’s last home game was Dec. 10.

Up Next

Indiana State plays its first home game in over a month Thursday evening when it faces Murray State at 6 p.m.

INDIANA STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL

INDIANA STATE READY FOR ROAD TRIP TO NORTHERN IOWA

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Indiana State men’s basketball hits the road for a five-day, two-game road trip, kicking off with Northern Iowa on Sunday, January 7. The game tips at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and 105.5 The Legend.

Series History

Sunday will be the 67th matchup between the Sycamores and Panthers, with Indiana State being the victors in the previous two. The home team in the ISU/UNI series have traditionally been on the winning side, holding true in the previous 10 games as the home team is 7-3.

About UNI

Northern Iowa is in their 18th season with Coach Ben Jacobson at the helm. The Panthers currently sit at No. 10 in the MVC with a 1-2 conference record and 7-7 overall. UNI was selected to finish second in the conference in the preseason polls. UNI in the 2022-23 season finished 14-18, 9-11 MVC with a second-round exit of the MVC Tournament, falling to Bradley 72-66 in the Quarterfinal. Three Panthers currently average 10.0+ PPG: Nate Heise (14.4), Bowen Born (14.1), Tytan Anderson (12.2), and Jacob Hutson (10.0).

Last Time Out – Indiana State

Indiana State men’s basketball holds the lead in all 40 minutes and gets back on track with a 87-73 win at home versus the Evansville Purple Aces. ISU improved to 12-2, 3-0 MVC with the win while UE fell to 10-4, 1-2 MVC.

Ryan Conwell led the way for the Sycamores with his second double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds. Isaiah Swope and Jayson Kent each scored 18 points. Swope knocked down four triples and recorded five rebounds. Kent converted on 8-of-9 free-throw attempts while tacking on eight rebounds.

Robbie Avila scored 16 points, and Xavier Bledson tied his career-high in three-pointers with four en route to 12 points.

Last Time Out – UNI

UNI men’s basketball led for just over three quarters of the night, rallied late and secured its first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) win of the season on Wednesday night with a 64-62 victory over the Missouri State Bears at Great Southern Bank Arena.

Born finished the night with a team-high 21 points, five rebounds and two assists, while Hutson recorded a season-best 19-point game, shooting 8-of-12 from the floor. Tytan Anderson posted eight points and eight rebounds, as Trey Campbell recorded a game-high nine rebounds to complement a six-point scoring effort. Nate Heise finished with four points and five boards, while Cole Henry, Michael Duax, and RJ Taylor each scored two points.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

‘DONS AND TITANS CLASH IN #HLWBB ACTION ON SUNDAY

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne women’s basketball will be mitten-bound on Sunday (Jan. 7) when they visit Detroit Mercy for a Horizon League game.

Game Day Information
Who: Detroit Mercy Titans
When: Sunday, January 7 | 1 PM
Where: Detroit, Mich. | Calihan Hall
Live Stats: Link
Watch: ESPN+
Game Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne | Detroit Mercy | Horizon League

Know Your Foe

Detroit Mercy is off to its best start since 1999-00 with a 10-5 record. The Titans are 3-1 in the Horizon League and are coming their first loss, an 81-76 defeat at the hands of IUPUI. Irene Murua is a dominant post presence for Detroit Mercy, scoring 13.0 points per game on a scorching 57.4 percent shooting. Emma Trawally Porta is also shooting well at 53.4 percent for 9.5 points per contest.

The Series

Detroit Mercy leads the all-time series against the ‘Dons 9-7, but Purdue Fort Wayne has won the last five meetings, including all three last season. The ‘Dons won 65-61 in the Horizon League Championship first round last year behind 16 points from Audra Emmerson and 12 from Jazzlyn Linbo.

Clutch ‘Dons

Over the last nine games, the Mastodons are 10-of-18 (55.5 percent) from the floor in the final 10 seconds of quarters. If extrapolated to a season-long, that mark would lead the nation.

Wins x 10

The Mastodons reached their 10th win when they beat Robert Morris on January 4. It marked the fastest the ‘Dons have reached 10 wins since the 2010-11 season, they also were 10-5 to start.

How Many Ways Can We Say We Like Threes?

The Mastodons have made 10 3-pointers in eight games this season. In the Division I era (2001-present), the Mastodons have hit double-digits 3-pointers eight times in six seasons, including 2023-24. The most games of 10+ triples came in 2013-14, when the ‘Dons had 14 such games.

2023-24: 8 games

2022-23: 11 games

2014-15: 11 games

2013-14: 14 games

2009-10: 8 games

2008-09: 8 games

Coming In Hot

Over the last five games, Erin Woodson is 6-of-10 from 3-point range. This brought her season 3-point percentage up to 30.4 percent.

They’re Free, May As Well Make Them

Purdue Fort Wayne made 10 or more free throws in 12 games in a row from Nov. 11-Dec. 30. This was the longest streak of games with double-digit free throw makes since the 2006-07 season, when the Mastodons had a stretch of 15 such games.

Just Give Us 10 Minutes…

Purdue Fort Wayne is out-scoring its opponents in final three quarters and overtime periods this season by 117 points.

All-Arounda-Schenkel

Amellia Bromenschenkel ranks in the top-10 in the Horizon League in points (13.5 – sixth), rebounds (6.6 – seventh), field goal percentage (48.1 – fifth), blocks (0.7 – eighth) and minutes (31.6 – fifth) per game.

Purdue Fort Dub

Purdue Fort Wayne’s 10-5 start ties the best through 15 games in the Division I era of the program, matching the 2010-11 season’s 10-5 start. The Mastodons were 10-5, then moved to 13-5 before their next loss in that season.

She’s A Plus!

The Mastodons are +114 when Shayla Sellers is on the court this season, the best of all players. On a per game basis, Jazzlyn Linbo has the best +/- average at +10.3 per game.

Turn, Turn, Turn It Over

Purdue Fort Wayne has forced four teams into 23 or more turnovers this season, including a season-high 31 against Great Lakes Christian. The 31 turnovers forced against the Crusaders is the most since the ‘Dons forced Manchester into 34 in 2021.

Magic Numbers 70 and 80

Under head coach Maria Marchesano, the Mastodons are 19-5 when they score 70 points or more and 10-1 when they hit 80.

Post Up Syd!

Sydney Graber is shooting 60.4 percent from the floor this season. If she had enough attempts, this mark would be the 19th-best in the nation.

#3Nation

Purdue Fort Wayne hit 14 or more 3-pointers three times this season (Western Kentucky, Oakland and Aquinas). This is the first time in program history the Mastodons have hit 14 or more three times in one season. They have hit double-digit 3-pointers in seven games this year.

We Love Threes…

Purdue Fort Wayne has been dangerous from 3-point land this season. The Mastodons are top-25 in the nation with a 37.1 3-point percentage and top-15 with 9.3 3-point makes per contest. Audra Emmerson is in the top-150 nationally and fourth in the league with 28 3-pointers made and a 34.1 percentage.

… and It’s Been a While Since We Haven’t…

The Mastodons love making threes so much, they haven’t had a game without a 3-pointer made since January 1, 2021, a streak of 94 games. This includes every game in the Maria Marchesano era.

…But You Don’t Get Any

In addition to controlling their own 3-point line, the Mastodons are stingy on the defensive side as well. The ‘Dons are 40th nationally and the league-leader in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 26.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Chasing 1,000

Amellia Bromenschenkel is looking to become the next 1,000 point scorer in Mastodon history. She has 829 in her career. With her average of 13.9 points per game this season, she is on pace to reach 1,000 career points in 13 games.

Last Time Out

The Mastodons picked up a 68-6 win over Robert Morris thanks in large part to Destinee Marshall, who had 15 points, six assists, four steals and three assists.

Coming Up

Purdue Fort Wayne will return home for a game against Oakland on Wednesday (Jan. 10). The ‘Dons beat the Golden Grizzlies 84-66 earlier this season.

EVANSVILLE MEN’S BASKETBALL

FIFTH-LARGEST FORD CENTER CROWD ON HAND FOR MSU GAME

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The fifth-largest crowd in University of Evansville men’s basketball Ford Center history was on hand Saturday as the Purple Aces squared off against Murray State.  A total of 7,928 fans were in attendance, surpassing the 7,801 who were inside the arena on Dec. 30, 2015 against Indiana State for the 5th spot on the list.

Out of the gate Saturday, Murray State took control and led from start to finish, defeating the Purple Aces by a score of 81-59.  Four Evansville players registered double figures, led by Gage Bobe and Kenny Strawbridge Jr.  Bobe was a perfect 4-of-4 from outside while Strawbridge hit a total of five field goals.  Yacine Toumi and Antonio Thomas registered 10 apiece.  The Racers had five double digit scorers, led by Rob Perry’s 17 points.

“Credit Murray State – they have an experience team who has been there and done it all before.  They punched us in the mouth first.  Consistency was our word that we had this week and I felt like we were inconsistent in our habits today,” Purple Aces head coach David Ragland said.   “When you do not get back and allow 16 points in transition and give up 18 points off turnovers, that is 34 points that they had off of our habits.  We have done a pretty solid job this year of limiting points in the paint, but when you give up points in transition and turnovers, most of those will come in the paint.”

“Our entire program thanks our fans for the support.  I loved the crowd today and am regretful that we did not play the way we expected,” Ragland continued.  “It is not a matter of if, but when we revive this program.  That is the way we are built as a coaching staff and program.  We are not taking any shortcuts.  Our University and Athletics Department have really gotten behind us and the community has followed their lead.  This type of crowd will become the norm!”

Murray State posted the first four points of the day and would take an 8-3 lead.  Evansville uncharacteristically turned the ball over three times in the opening three minutes.  Chuck Bailey III scored UE’s first field goal on a nice feed from Sekou Kalle at the 15:40 mark before the Racers countered with a triple on the other end to make it an 11-5 game.

With 11 minutes left in the half, Kenny Strawbridge Jr. connected on a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 11-10, but it took just a few seconds for MSU to answer with a triple on the ensuing possession.  As the period reached the midway point, Murray State took its largest edge to that point – 18-10.  They continued to add to the lead as it reached double figures with six minutes on the clock at 22-12.

Inside the 5-minute mark, MSU extended the lead to as many as 12 before the Aces cut that down to 11 at halftime.  Murray State shot 36.4% in the half but turned 12 UE turnovers into 7 points in the period.

Kenny Strawbridge Jr. opened the second-half scoring as the deficit hovered around 10 points.  Yacine Toumi connected on a basket as the game reached the final 12 minutes to make it a 44-35 game.  Just when it looked like Evansville had momentum on its side, the Racers countered in a big way, going on a 17-0 run over the next three minutes as they converted five field goals in a row.  Gage Bobe drained a triple to put an end to the stretch with nine minutes left.

From there, the Racers pulled away for the 81-59 win.  MSU shot 60.7% in the second half and finished the game at 47.5%.  Evansville completed the day at 41.2%.

Evansville returns to the road on Wednesday for a road contest at Bradley.

VALPO MEN’S BASKETBALL

UIC TOPS VALPO ON SATURDAY IN CHICAGO

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team was engaged in a 62-62 deadlock with 8:20 remaining, but UIC’s defense did not allow a made field goal for the game’s duration in a 70-64 win for the Flames at Credit Union 1 Arena in Chicago. Isaiah Stafford (Bolingbrook, Ill. / Crispus Attucks [John A. Logan / Southern Indiana]) returned to the floor after missing the previous two games with an injury and paced the team with 19 points.

How It Happened

For the second straight game, Kaspar Sepp (Tartu, Estonia / Fairmont Academy) knocked down a 3, this one coming early to give Valpo a 6-4 lead.

UIC held the lead for much of the game’s early stages, but Valpo got back to even when Stafford dropped in a triple to tie the game at 13 with 11:30 to go in the first half, then a second-chance bucket for Cooper Schwieger (Overland Park, Kan. / Blue Valley Southwest [Link Year]) put the Beacons back in front. 

An electric dunk by Jaxon Edwards (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Murray State]) tied the game at 24 with 7:29 to go in the half. Valpo once again moved in front when Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ontario, Canada / Orangeville Prep) drilled from distance at the 6:52 mark to make it 27-26, but UIC used an 8-0 run to open up a nine-point lead with 2:40 on the clock. The Flames led 42-36 at halftime.

Valpo took its first lead of the second half on a 3-point make by Stafford at the 17:01 mark to put the guests ahead 49-48. That was part of a strong shooting start to the half that saw Stafford, Schwieger and Edwards all connect from long range.

The lead swayed back and forth for much of the second half. Stafford’s layup at the 8:20 mark tied the game at 62 and at the time appeared to set the stage for a thrilling finish, but Valpo went cold offensively down the stretch.

The Beacons didn’t score for over seven minutes during which time UIC inched ahead with an 8-0 run. Stafford’s bucket at 8:20 proved to be the team’s final made field goal of the evening before the final 10 shots were off the mark. 

Valpo stayed in it late by holding UIC to just one made field goal in its final eight attempts including a Flames scoring drought of over two minutes to close the game.

Inside the Game

Stafford led four Beacons in double figures as DeAveiro (11), Edwards (10) and Sepp (10) joined him.

Edwards posted the first double-double of his collegiate career with 10 points and 11 rebounds. This marked Valpo’s second double-double of the season and first since Jerome Palm’s 12 points and 10 rebounds on Nov. 17 at No. 23 Illinois.

Sophomore Ola Ajiboye (Chicago, Ill. / Evanston Township [Central Michigan / Bosco Institute]) provided a boost on the boards, recording seven rebounds to go along with seven points.

Sepp’s 10 points tied a season high for the freshman, while DeAveiro was in double figures for the third straight game, the first such stretch of the junior’s collegiate career. Sepp was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.

Valpo put together a strong effort on the glass, outrebounding UIC 44-33 including a 15-8 advantage in offensive caroms. This was Valpo’s biggest rebounding edge of the season and biggest since Feb. 11, 2023 vs. Illinois State (+11).

The game featured eight ties and 18 lead changes.

Up Next

The Beacons (4-11, 0-4 MVC) will return home to host Southern Illinois on Wednesday night. The game tips off at 7 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center with tickets available on ValpoAthletics.com/tickets.

VALPO WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

FOURTH-QUARTER RALLY COMES UP SHORT FOR BEACONS

The Valpo women’s basketball team was able to erase the majority of a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit at Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon, limiting the Salukis to just three points in a stretch of seven-plus minutes, but the Beacons were unable to get closer than seven points down the stretch, falling to SIU, 75-66.

How It Happened

The Beacons trailed by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, but a 3-point play by Emma Tecca (Tallmadge, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban [Akron]) with 1:13 to play in the period cut the deficit to six. That is where SIU’s lead sat at the end of the quarter, with the Salukis enjoying a 23-17 lead.

It took SIU just 1:22 into the second quarter to push its lead from six points to 15, as the Salukis scored three points apiece on each of their first three possessions of the period. The run eventually reached 14-0 before a basket from Saniya Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) with 6:18 to play in the half got the Beacons on the board in the second quarter.

The rest of the second quarter was played within two points of that mark on either side. Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) hit a jumper in the paint which beat the game clock to end the half, cutting the Valpo deficit to 43-27 at intermission.

The Beacons were unable to make any headway into the SIU lead in the third quarter. The Salukis pushed their edge to as many as 23 points in the period and led 61-42 with 10 minutes to play.

SIU led by 21 times multiple times early in the fourth quarter, the latest after a Laniah Randle basket made it 67-46 with 8:10 remaining. From that point, however, Valpo limited the Salukis to just three points over the next seven-plus minutes, allowing the Beacons to put together a rally to get back into the game.

The run started innocuously enough, as Ella Van Weelden (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Marion) connected on a 3-pointer with 7:45 to play. Neither squad found the basket for a stretch of over four minutes, until Van Weelden drilled another triple to cut the lead to 67-52 with 3:16 remaining.

After an SIU free throw, Earnest converted a driving layup, and the Beacons then countered a Saluki basket with another 3-pointer by Van Weelden to make it a 13-point game with 2:16 to go.

Valpo got a stop on the defensive end and converted it into points offensively, as Raeven Raye-Redmond (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) hit Jackson for a layup with 1:34 remaining. Raye-Redmond did it all herself on the next trip, coming up with a steal and a fast-break basket while being fouled, and when she converted the free throw, the Beacons were within 70-62 with 1:11 to go.

After a couple attempts at steals, Valpo was forced to foul, allowing SIU to add a pair of points at the foul line with 52 seconds remaining, but yet again Van Weelden came up with another big shot, hitting her fourth 3-pointer of the quarter with 38.7 seconds left to bring the Beacons within 72-65. Valpo was unable to get any closer in the final possessions, however.

Inside the Game

Jackson tied her season high with 14 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field. Beyond the scoring column, the freshman also paced the Beacons with six rebounds and three steals.

Earnest scored in double figures for the 11th time in 12 games this season, finishing with 12 points. She also handed out a game-high six assists to match her career best and tallied a pair of steals as well.

Van Weelden scored all 12 of her points in the fourth quarter, knocking down a career-best four 3-pointers. The 12 points outpaced her previous career high of nine points, which she set back in her collegiate debut.

Van Weelden is the third Valpo player to score in double digits in a single quarter this year.

Tecca enjoyed a perfect shooting day, hitting 2-of-2 from the floor — including a 3-pointer — and 3-of-3 from the foul line for a season-best eight points.

Raye-Redmond delivered seven points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench.

Making her first collegiate start, Layla Gold (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) recorded four points and a season-high four rebounds.

Gold was starting Saturday in place of Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]), who missed out due to injury. It is the first game Brown has missed in her three seasons at Valpo.

Gold combined with Saniya Jackson and Nevaeh Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) to give the Beacons three freshmen in the starting lineup for the first time since March 11, 2016.

The two teams enjoyed a pretty even shooting effort from the floor. Valpo hit at a 43.6% (24-of-55) clip and knocked down seven 3-pointers, while Southern Illinois hit 43.1% (22-of-51) and connected on five triples.

The difference between the two squads came at the foul line. The Beacons were just 11-of-21 from the charity stripe, versus a 26-of-29 mark at the line from the Salukis.

Valpo limited SIU, which entered the game averaging 12.6 offensive rebounds/game, to just nine offensive boards. In fact, the Beacons — who gathered eight offensive rebounds of their own — enjoyed a 13-10 edge in second chance points.

Led by Saniya Jackson’s three thefts, Valpo came up with 10 steals as a team, reaching double figures in the category for the seventh time this season.

Next Up

Over a month removed from its last home game at the ARC, Valpo (1-11, 0-3 MVC) returns home to the friendly confines for its next four games, starting on Friday night at 6 p.m. against Drake.

UINDY WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

HOUNDS FALL TO SAINTS IN OVERTIME

INDIANAPOLIS – The UIndy women’s basketball team fell to Maryville, 78-75, on Saturday afternoon. The Greyhounds are now 7-6 and 4-3 in GLVC play.

Elana Wells had her seventh 20-point game of the season, the third in a row. Wells finished with 26 points and eight assists; another team high.

INS & OUTS

UIndy cut a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the game into overtime. An 11-3 run from 8:29 to 4:27 cut the lead down to one. A layup by Patricia Chikamba gave the Greyhounds their first lead of the game with 2:50 left in the contest.

The score was 66-66 going into overtime. Maryville went on a 5-0 run in the first 41 seconds which was too much for the Hounds to overcome.

INSIDE THE BOX

– Three other Greyhounds finished in double digits, Liv Becker (14), Idalis Ortiz (11), and Chikamba (10)

– Both teams finished the game with 47 rebounds.

– The Hounds finished with six blocks, three came from Caroline Jakaitis

– UIndy struggled with turnovers having 16 on the night and giving up 22 points.

MORE NOTES

The all-time record is now 9-7 with Saints leading the Hounds.

UP NEXT

UIndy will visit Rockhurst and William Jewell next weekend. The Greyhounds will first visit the Hawks in Kansas City on Jan. 11, tip-off is slated for 6:15 p.m. ET. On Jan. 13 the Hounds will face the Cardinals at 2 p.m. ET in Liberty, Mo.

SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETICS

INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/

EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/

WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/

FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/

ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/

ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index

TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index

BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/

DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/

HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/

MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/

HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/

OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx

ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index

IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/

IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/

IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/

PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/

INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx

GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/

ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/

GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/

HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php                                                                                                                                                                            

TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/

VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index

NFL STANDINGS

https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/standings

NBA STANDINGS

https://www.foxsports.com/nba/standings

NHL STANDINGS

https://www.foxsports.com/nhl/standings

NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS

https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/standings/

NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS

https://www.ncaa.com/standings/basketball-women/d1

FOOTBALL HISTORY

January 7, 1899 – Walter Camp published his 1st All-American football team in Collier’s. Ten of the eleven players named had played for Ivy League schools. The sole exception was Isaac Seneca, a Native American who played at the fullback position for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Others on the 1898 All American Team include from the Penn Quakers: Truxton Hare, Josiah McCracken, and Peter Overfield made the list. Yale members included Gordon Brown, George Stillman, and Malcolm McBride. For Harvard Charles Daly and David Campbell were joined by Princeton Tigers R T Hillebrand and Arthur Pie. Camp along with Caspar Whitney started publishing the honor in 1889 in a magazine called “The Week’s Sport” and then in Harper’s Weekly per Britannica.com. 1899 was the first year that Collier’s received the honor of publication and Camp and them would carry on the tradition every year until Camp’s untimely death in 1925. The Magazine then asked Grantland Rice the era’s most prominent sportswriter, to continue the annual selection. 

January 7, 1961 – Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida – The 1st NFL Playoff Bowl was played between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns. According to the AmericanFootball.Fandom.com website this game was officially named the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl  and was created to determine a third place finisher in the NFL as it pitted the two losing teams from the Divisional Playoff games. The game was played ten different times from 1960 through the 1969 season. The name was in honor of the late Bert Bell who was the former NFL commissioner and co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles and a former co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was developed to give the NFL more television air time to compete with the AFL. The American Football League had a contract with ABC to air most of its regular season games as well as the postseason. The more established NFL was lagging behind their rival league as very few regular season games were on national television broadcasts at that time and the NFL Championship was the only post season contest shown across the country. This new Playoff Bowl was played the week after the NFL Championship game. In the game itself in 1961 Detroit beat Cleveland in an exciting one 17-16 to claim the third place in the pecking order for the 1960 NFL season.

January 7, 1962 – Balboa Stadium, San Diego – The inaugural AFL All Star Game was played. The contest pitted the best from the AFL’s Western Division against the greats from the AFL’s Eastern Division.  The story of the game is nicely told by RemebertheAFL.com. Players such as Jim Otto, Jack Kemp and Coach Sid Gillman were on the West’s sidelines while the East boasted George Blanda, Billy Cannon and Gino Cappelletti. The outcome was that the Western Division out-shined the Eastern Division 47-27, The MVP of the game was the Dallas Texans Quarterback Cotton Davidson. 

January 7, 1979 – Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh – The AFC Championship game once again came to the home of the Steelers per the Pro-Football-Reference.com website. It was the Houston Oilers, the Steelers AFC Central rivals who came to challenge the team of the 1970’s on this occasion. It was a very sloppy game for being the two best teams in the AFC as 14 turnovers were committed between the two offenses, 9 of them were against the Oilers. The Steel Curtain Defense came to play as they held the Oilers powerful running back Earl Campbell to 62 yards rushing and flustered Houston’s passing attack to less than 100 yards for a grand total of 142 yards of offensive production on the day for the Oilers. Meanwhile Terry Bradshaw and company churned out 379 yards as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Houston Oilers, 34-5.

January 7, 1979 – LA Memorial Coliseum – The NFC Championship game was extremely one sided as the Dallas Cowboys demolished the Los Angeles Rams, 28-0.

January 7, 2008 – Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans – The game was the Allstate Sugar Bowl to be played for the 2008 BCS National Championship. The Top team in the country, the Ohio State Buckeyes were challenged with the number 2 team in the nation the LSU Tigers per the allstatesugarbowl.com internet page. The game started off strong for Ohio State as they led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers had something else in mind as they rattled off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a lead that they would not once again relinquish. Louisiana State became the national champs as they stunned the Buckeyes 38-24.

January 7, 2010 – Rose Bowl, Pasadena – 12th BCS National Championship took place as the Rose Bowl played its turn to host the big game. The #2 Texas longhorns were out for the title against the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bama defense got after it early and knocked Texas star QB Colt McCoy out of the game early and then wore the Texas defense down with a strong running game from the tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson who each went over 100 yards on the game. The Crimson Tide took home the Title as they outlasted Texas 37-21 per ESPN.com.

January 7, 2013  – Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens – 15th BCS National Championship was not much of a game at all as the powerful #2 Alabama outmatched the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-14. Sports-Reference.com shows that Tide runners T J Yeldon and Eddie Lacy each went over 100 yards in the romp.

January 7, 2019 – Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California – The National Championship pitted the top two teams in the country once again as #2 Clemson took on #1 Alabama. CBSSports.com reports that with strong defense and on the arm of the Tigers sensational freshman Quarterback Trevor Lawrence who tossed for 347 yards and three touchdowns led Clemson to a dominating claim to the title in a 44-16 victory.

Hall of Fame Birthday for January 7

January 7, 1884 – Bartlesville, Oklahoma – Carlisle’s fantastic End, Albert Exendine was born. Albert played on the all Native American teams of Carlisle Institute just after the turn of the twentieth century. The National Football Foundation describes how good of an end Exendine truly was, in fact they quote his coach, the legendary Pop Warner as calling Albert “Sheer brilliance” on the football field. Albert may have had his best game of his young career when against the University of Chicago, he repeatedly stuffed legendary halfback Wally Steffen. Walter Camp in 1907 named Exendine to his All-America team and as we just learned a little bit earlier in this edition it was with Collier’s magazine. The NFF voters selected Albert Exendine to enter into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

January 7, 1930 – San Rafeal, California – Quarterback Eddie LeBaron from the College of the Pacific celebrated his day of birth. Eddie’s first year on the gridiron was the last one for the legendary Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Le Baron played for three more seasons after that great experience when Stagg retired and used what he learned well. In 1949 according to the NFF’s bio on him, Pacific’s offense with Eddie under center was averaging 52 points per game while allowing opponents to average a measly six points per game. LeBaron wasn’t just good with his Pacific teammates as shown when he was Most Valuable Player in the East-West Shrine game as well as in 1950 when Eddie quarterbacked the College All-Stars to a 17-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Eddie LeBaron was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

NUMBERS IN SPORTS

19 – 20 – 31 – 41 – 34 – 10 – 20

January 7, 1899 – Walter Camp published his 1st All-American football team in Collier’s Magazine. On this list of eleven players all were from Penn, Yale, Harvard, or Princeton save one. Carlisle’s Issac Seneca. From the Penn Quakers: Truxton Hare, Josiah McCracken, and Peter Overfield made the list. Yale members included Gordon Brown, George Stillman, and Malcolm McBride. For Harvard Charles Daly and David Campbell were joined by Princeton Tigers R T Hillebrand and Arthur Pie.

January 7, 1927 – Harlem Globetrotters played their 1st game in Hinckley, Illinois. The iconic red, white, and blue uniforms of this talented bunch still entertain millions across the world. The uniform has changed over the past almost century of their existence but thier colors, and unique jersey style still ring true. Check out this great post on Globe Trotters uniform history on UniWatch.

Our sweater Number 19 belongs to Bryan Trottier who on January 7, 1982 completed his 10th career hat trick while playing for the New York Islanders. With the Islanders he won four Stanley Cups as one if its core players that carried the dynasty on the ice.

Number 20 stands for Lou Brock. This legend was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 7, 1985. The 6-time All Star win two World Series during his career which was most notably played with the St Louis Cardinals. That same day legend Number 31, Hoyt Wilhelm was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wilhelm played Major League baseball for over 20 seasons from 1952 through 1972. He wore multiple numbers but perhaps the Number 31 with the Chicago White Sox was his longest stint. The right handed pitcher might be most well known for being on the roster of the 1954 World Series Champions New York Giants.

Speaking of legendary pitchers, Tom Seaver is our Number 41 that is remembered today. On January 7, 1992 the 3-time Cy Young winner and 12-time All-Star had his name registered in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Joining Seaver at the induction ceremonies that day was another great hurler, Rollie Fingers, most famously who wore the Number 34 with the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, and the Milwaukee Brewers was also elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame that same January day.

January 7, 1998 – Los Angeles Lakers center Number 34, Shaquille ONeal blocks 3 shots in a 114-102 win over Milwaukee to bring his career total to 1,002

January 7, 2013 – FIFA Ballon d’Or: Barcelona forward Number 10, Lionel Messi wins award for a record 4th consecutive year; US forward Number 20, Abby Wambach wins women’s award

TV SUNDAY

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (MEN’S)

12 p.m.

BTN — Michigan vs. Penn St., Philadelphia

1 p.m.

ESPN2 — UMass at Dayton

ESPNU — Wichita St. at Temple

3 p.m.

ESPN2 — Drake at Belmont

ESPNU — Tulsa at East Carolina

5 p.m.

ESPN — SMU at Memphis

5:30 p.m.

BTN — Maryland at Minnesota

7:30 p.m.

BTN — Michigan St. at Northwestern

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (WOMEN’S)

12 p.m.

ACCN — NC State at Virginia Tech

CBSSN — George Mason at Duquesne

CW — Duke at Virginia

SECN — Kentucky at Tennessee

1 p.m.

ESPN — Mississippi St. at South Carolina

2 p.m.

ACCN — Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh

BTN — Indiana at Nebraska

CBSSN — VCU at Davidson

PAC-12N — Utah at Arizona

SECN — Georgia at Arkansas

3 p.m.

ESPN — LSU at Mississippi

4 p.m.

ACCN — Florida St. at Clemson

CBSSN — Fresno St. at San Diego St.

PAC-12N — Oregon St. at UCLA

SECN — Auburn at Texas A&M

5 p.m.

ESPN2 — North Carolina at Notre Dame

6 p.m.

ACCN — Boston College at Syracuse

SECN — Alabama at Missouri

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

2 p.m.

ABC — FCS Tournament: Montana vs. S. Dakota St., Championship, Frisco, Texas

GOLF

4 p.m.

NBC — PGA Tour: The Sentry Tournament Of Champions, Final Round, Kapalua Plantation Course, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

6 p.m.

GOLF — PGA Tour: The Sentry Tournament Of Champions, Final Round, Kapalua Plantation Course, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

HORSE RACING

2:30 p.m.

FS1 — NYRA: America’s Day at the Races

IIHF HOCKEY (GIRL’S)

6 a.m.

NHLN — Under-18 World Championship Group Stage: U.S. vs. Slovakia, Group B, Zug, Switzerland

NBA G-LEAGUE BAKETBALL

4 p.m.

NBATV — Salt Lake City at Sioux Falls

6 p.m.

NBATV — Austin at G-League Ignite

NFL FOOTBALL

1 p.m.

CBS — Regional Coverage: Cleveland at Cincinnati, Jacksonville at Tennessee, Atlanta at New Orleans,

FOX — Regional Coverage: Minnesota at Detroit, NY Jets at New England, Tampa Bay at Carolina

4:25 p.m.

CBS — Regional Coverage: Chicago at Green Bay, Philadelphia at NY Giants, Kansas City at LA Chargers

FOX — Regional Coverage: Denver at Las Vegas, Seattle at Arizona, LA Rams at San Francisco, Dallas at Washington

8:20 p.m.

NBC — Buffalo at Miami

NHL HOCKEY

3 p.m.

NHLN — Los Angeles at Washington

RODEO

8 p.m.

CBSSN — PBR: Round 3 & Championship Round, New York

SOCCER (MEN’S)

8:20 a.m.

FS2 — The French Cup: Monaco at Lens, Round of 64

11:20 a.m.

FS2 — The French Cup: Toulouse at Chambly, Round of 64

2:35 p.m.

FS2 — The French Cup: Paris Saint-Germain at Revel, Round of 64

TENNIS

6 a.m.

TENNIS — United Cup Final; Brisbane-ATP/WTA, Auckland-WTA, Hong Kong-ATP Singles Finals

6 p.m.

TENNIS — Adelaide-ATP/WTA, Auckland-ATP, Hobart-WTA Early Rounds

6 a.m. (Monday) TENNIS — Adelaide-ATP/WTA, Auckland-ATP, Hobart-WTA Early Rounds