BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|TUESDAY’ S GAMES|
|Blackford||86||Northeastern, Kolden Vanlandingham 35||77|
|Bowman Academy||79||Lake Station||63|
|Chesterton||80||East Chicago Central||53|
|Churubusco||72||Fort Wayne South||67||OT|
|Cincinnati LaSalle (Ohio)||51||East Central||37|
|Cloverdale||62||Terre Haute South||55||OT|
|Eastern Greene||69||Wood Memorial||45|
|Eminence||54||Christel House Academy||51|
|Fort Wayne Dwenger||59||DeKalb||44|
|Goshen||56||South Bend Clay||53||OT|
|Horizon Christian||55||Columbus Christian||40|
|Lawrence Central||78||Indianapolis Attucks||75|
|Marquette Catholic||55||Victory Christian||50|
|Portage Christian||62||Hammond Science & Tech||61|
|Randolph Southern||75||Union (Modoc)||39|
|Valparaiso||46||Gary 21st Century||43|
|Washington Twp.||96||West Central||23|
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|TUESDAY’ S GAMES|
|Benton Central||51||Twin Lakes||41|
|Boone Grove||32||North Newton||29|
|Central Christian||43||Anderson Prep Academy||24|
|Chesterton||61||East Chicago Central||5|
|East Noble||66||Fort Wayne North||25|
|Evansville Memorial||56||Vincennes Lincoln||31|
|Floyd Central||44||Crawford County||39|
|Fort Wayne Blackhawk||65||Southern Wells||30|
|Gibson Southern||60||South Spencer||34|
|Greenwood Christian||67||Park Tudor||62|
|Heritage Christian||79||Indianapolis Tindley||35|
|Kokomo HomeSchool||39||South Bend Career||33|
|Marquette Catholic||47||Victory Christian||39|
|Mishawaka||50||South Bend Clay||20|
|Morgan Twp.||50||John Glenn||42|
|North White||51||Rensselaer Central||31|
|Northeast Dubois||55||Evansville Christian||22|
|Rock Creek Academy||44||Christian Academy||33|
|South Bend Adams||67||Concord||59|
|Terre Haute North||60||Northview||36|
|Trinity Lutheran||59||North Harrison||55|
|Triton Central||52||Indianapolis Ritter||36|
|White River Valley||52||Bloomfield||40|
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF POLL
|2||Notre Dame (10-0)||2|
|4||Ohio State (5-0)||4|
|5||Texas A&M (7-1)||5|
|6||Iowa State (8-2)||7|
|12||Coastal Carolina (11-0)||13|
|15||North Carolina (8-3)||17|
|18||Miami (FL) (8-2)||10|
|21||Oklahoma State (7-3)||22|
|22||North Carolina State (8-3)||23|
|24||San Jose State (6-0)||NR|
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-TOP 25
|15 Florida St.||74|
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
|10 Texas A&M||99|
|17 Ohio State|
Boilermakers Open Big Ten Play Wednesday vs. No. 20 Buckeyes
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue enters its gauntlet of the 2020-21 season, hosting No. 20-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten opener Wednesday in Mackey Arena. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, on the Big Ten Network with Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo on the call remotely.
Purdue is looking to build momentum as it jumps right into the frying pan in Big Ten action. Purdue’s next three opponents are Ohio State (5-0), Notre Dame in Indianapolis (2-2; close losses to Ohio State and Michigan State) and Iowa (6-0). The Boilermakers started their build with an 80-68 victory over Indiana State on Saturday and look to improve on that performance against the Buckeyes.
THE KEY TALKING POINTS
1) Purdue is 9-2 in its last 11 Big Ten openers, with losses coming to No. 3 Ohio State (2013-14) and No. 7 Michigan (2018-19). Just four of the nine victories in that span have come by double-digits. Purdue is 10-5 under Painter in Big Ten openers.
2) Head coach Matt Painter is looking for his 50th win over a ranked team in his 16th season at Purdue. He is 49-83 against ranked teams, including a 19-19 (.500) record since the start of 2016-17. Nineteen of his 49 wins against ranked teams have come in the last four seasons.
3) According to KenPom.com, Purdue ranks 297th in experience (1.07 years). Indiana is the next least-experienced team in the Big Ten (1.26).
4) Purdue has made 29-of-71 (.408) of its 3-point tries at Mackey Arena this season. Away from Mackey Arena, Purdue is just 22-of-64 (.344) from long range. Purdue is averaging 80.3 points per game at home, but just 67.0 points per game away from Mackey Arena.
5) In its four wins, Purdue is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.46 (82 / 56). In its two losses, Purdue is shooting just 39.8 percent from the field, has attempted 21 free throws and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.61 (22 / 36).
6) Zach Edey (13.3 PPG) and Jaden Ivey (12.0 PPG) rank 2nd and 3rd among Big Ten freshmen in scoring average. Brandon Newman is also 7th.
7) Purdue is 31-7 (.816) in the month of December since the 2015-16 season.
8) Purdue is 44-1 since the start of the 2017-18 season when shooting at least 48 percent from the field (Virginia; 2019 Elite Eight).
9) Purdue has won 102 straight games when scoring at least 90 points, spanning over 33 years (last loss: Nov. 24, 1987, to Iowa State).
10) Purdue has had a run of at least 10 points in four straight games, including a season-best 15-0 run vs. Miami.
11) Sasha Stefanovic has made at least four 3-pointers nine times during his career. Purdue is 7-2 when he reaches that mark.
12) When Eric Hunter Jr. leads the team in assists during his career, Purdue is 11-3; when Aaron Wheeler scores 10+ points, Purdue is 9-1.
IRISH FACE NO. 21/23 DUKE IN 2020-21 ACC OPENER
BY THE NUMBERS: IRISH vs. BLUE DEVILS
|1||The ACC opener for both Notre Dame and Duke, the Blue Devils make their first trip to Purcell Pavilion in the month of December. On January 14, 2014, the Irish and Duke met in Purcell Pavilion for the first ACC game ever – a 79-77 victory for the home team.|
|3.75||Junior guard Prentiss Hubb is 14th in the country (as of Dec. 14) in 3FGM per game at 3.75 and in second in the ACC (Jonah Antonio, WF, 4.0).|
|9||Junior forward Nate Laszewski has pulled down at least nine rebounds in each of Notre Dame’s first four games this season. After averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg last season, Laszewski has increased those averages to 16.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg in 2020-21. That 9.5 rpg average is third in the ACC (as of Dec. 14).|
|18.3||Points-per-game average over the past two seasons for Prentiss Hubb against ranked opponents (eight games). In those contests, Hubb is shooting .423 from three-point range with 4.6 assists per contest.|
|20||At 41.6%, Notre Dame is 20th in the country in 3FG% (as of Dec. 14) and second in the ACC (NC State has a 44.9% average).|
|21||In his 21st season at Notre Dame (the longest tenure of any ND men’s basketball coach), Mike Brey also has the ninth-longest tenure of any Division I head coach. Brey will face three of the coaches with longer tenures than himself this season (Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo). Greg Kampe, Bob McKillop, Fran O’Hanlon, Mark Few, Mike McConathy and James Jones make up the other coaches who have been at their current school longer than Mike Brey.|
|22||The lead at halftime for the Irish at Kentucky on Saturday, December 12. Bolstered by a 19-0 run, Notre Dame ended up with the largest halftime lead of any Kentucky opponent in the program’s history.|
|21.3||Points-per-game average for Prentiss Hubb, which is tied with GT’s Moses Wright for the lead among ACC players. Hubb has recorded two of his career 10 20-point games so far this season. All 10 of Hubb’s 20-point career games have come vs. power conference opponents with five of those games against ranked foes.|
|23||A recent project by CBSSports.com ranked the ‘Greatest College Basketball Programs Ever’ with Notre Dame placing 23rd on the list and sixth in the ACC. Notre Dame will face eight of the teams ranked above them this year a total of nine times: No. 19 NC State, No. 14 Michigan State (0-1), No. 12 Ohio State (0-1), No. 11 Syracuse, No. 6 Louisville, No. 3 Duke (twice), No. 2 North Carolina, No. 1 Kentucky (1-0).|
|55||It was just under 55 years ago, in late December of 1965, when Notre Dame last faced Kentucky and Duke in back-to-back games. The Irish lost to No. 5 Kentucky 103-69 in Louisville, then just two days later suffered a 95-73 setback to No. 1 Duke in Greensboro, NC.|
|178||Career assists in ACC regular-season games for Prentiss Hubb, the most among any returning ACC player and 10th all-time on the career conference-game charts at Notre Dame.|
|1906||Total victories in the history of Notre Dame men’s basketball, as the Irish became the eighth program to reach 1,900 victories in 2019-20 (Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Temple, Syracuse and UCLA have all reached that plateau). The Irish were 12th all-time in college basketball victories when Mike Brey took over the program in 2000-01 – they have since passed Oregon State, Pennsylvania, St. John’s and Indiana on the all-time wins list into eighth place.|
#2 IRISH TAKE ON FIRST ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IN PROGRAM HISTORY
|IRISH VS. TIGERS – BY THE NUMBERS|
|.909||The winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, QB Ian Book is 30-3 (.909) as a starter, making him one of only two FBS quarterbacks to boast a .900 or above win rate (min. 20 wins), even as Book ranks 11th overall in total QB career starts (33). His 30 wins rank third among all FBS quarterbacks.|
|2||The Irish were ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll beginning November 8, their highest ranking since 2012. Through the Brian Kelly era (11 seasons), the Irish have been ranked in the AP Top 10 at least one week in each of the last seven seasons, and eight of the last nine.|
|3||Of the five longest regular-season winning streaks in college football history, Notre Dame has single-handedly ended three of those streaks: Oklahoma’s 45 (1953-57), Miami’s 36 (1985-88) and Clemson’s 36 (2017-20).|
|4||WR Javon McKinley has totaled four 100-receiving yard performances in 2020, tied for the most among any ACC player.|
|4||Since the start of 2018, Notre Dame is 32-3 (.917). That rate ranks fourth among all teams who have made an appearance in the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. Among those teams, Notre Dame is one of just four teams that have totaled three or fewer losses (Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State) since the start of 2018.|
|9||Notre Dame’s victory over No. 1 Clemson was Notre Dame’s ninth win over an AP No. 1 opponent, which ties for second-most all-time (Miami). Only Alabama has more (10).|
|16||The Irish boast a current win streak of 16 games, the longest among all FBS teams.|
|17.1||The defense has yielded just 17.1 points/game through the regular season. That figure ranks fifth among all Power 5 teams.|
|33||Notre Dame has held 33-of-36 opponents during Clark Lea’s tenure as defensive coordinator to 30 points or less. That includes includes ranked opponents LSU, Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Clemson, Georgia, Virginia, Navy and North Carolina.|
|41||Notre Dame has totaled 41 regular season wins in four years, the most in a four year period in program history.|
|44:47||The Irish have only trailed for 44:47 minutes out of a total 600:00 minutes of regulation.|
|52.8||Of the Top 10 rushers in the ACC, which includes RB Kyren Williams, the Irish have faced six: North Carolina’s Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Duke’s Mataeo Durant, Florida State’s Jordan Travis and Syracuse’s Sean Tucker. Notre Dame’s defense has limited those six Top-10 running backs to an average of 52.8 yards (317 yards total on 84 carries) and just three total touchdowns among the six. Carter, who leads the ACC with 113.2 rushing yards per game, was held to just 57 vs. Notre Dame.|
By comparison, against those five teams, Williams posted at least 100 rushing yards in all five matchups, averaging 134.2 yards (671 yards total on 104 carries), with a total of 10 touchdowns.
|102||Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly notched 102 ˆ wins in his Notre Dame career with the victory over Syracuse. Ranking second all-time in program history in career wins, and with 10 wins this season, he has totaled the most double-digit win seasons in school history (six).|
|120||Notre Dame is 120-38-7 in neutral site games since 1887. In the Brian Kelly era, the Irish are 17-6.|
|141||Notre Dame has outscored opponents 141-35 in the second quarter this season.|
Giannis Antetokounmpo agrees to extension with Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo has agreed to a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks that takes the two-time reigning MVP off next summer’s free-agent market.
“I’m blessed to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years,” Antetokounmpo posted Tuesday on his social media platforms. The Bucks announced later in the day that Antetokounmpo had signed an extension without announcing the terms or length.
The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo had until Monday to sign the Bucks’ supermax extension offer. If he turned it down, Antetokounmpo could have become a free agent after the upcoming season.
The Athletic and Stadium reported that he agreed to a five-year extension worth $228 million that includes an opt-out clause in 2025.
“This is my home, this is my city,” Antetokounmpo said in his post on social media. “I’m blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let’s make these years count. The show goes on, let’s get it.”
Bucks co-owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a statement that “Giannis is a once in a generation player and we are beyond excited for him to remain with the Bucks.”
“This is a big moment for me and my family and I want to thank the Bucks organization for believing in us,” Antetokounmo said in a statement released by the team. “You took a chance on us eight years ago and now putting my signature on a contract like this is unreal – but it’s all because of hard work. This is my home and I’m going to continue working hard and do my best to make the Bucks, our fans and the city proud.”
His decision means the Bucks will hang on to their biggest star since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who led Milwaukee to its lone NBA title in 1971, but demanded a trade and was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.
The Bucks paid a hefty price to revamp their roster this offseason in an attempt to persuade Antetokounmpo to stay. They dealt away guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, first-round draft pick R.J. Hampton and two more first-round selections as part of a package to acquire Jrue Holiday.
‘Bama, ND, Clemson, OSU enter champ weekend in CFP position
Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State will enter championship weekend in position to make the College Football Playoff with very little drama.
In fact, where the semifinals will be played might be more in doubt than who will play in them.
The top five teams were locked into their places Tuesday night for the fourth straight week, with the Crimson Tide (10-0) leading the way as it prepares to play Florida for the Southeastern Conference championship.
The Fighting Irish (10-0) are second and Clemson is third going into their Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Ohio State (5-0) is fourth going into the Big Ten title game against Northwestern, and Texas A&M is on deck at No. 5. The Aggies play at Tennessee in their last regular-season game Saturday.
If all the favorites win – that includes Clemson (9-1) in the rematch with Notre Dame – the current top four likely would be reordered a bit and placed in the semifinals.
If the Irish beat the Tigers for the second time this season, the selection committee’s job becomes a little trickier.
After Texas A&M (7-1), Iowa State (8-2) is sixth heading into the Big 12 title game against No. 10 Oklahoma. No team with two losses has ever made the playoff.
Florida (8-2) dropped only one spot to seventh after losing as a big favorite to LSU. Georgia (7-2) is eighth and Cincinnati (8-0) is ninth after not playing for two weeks because of COVID-19 issues.
The unbeaten Bearcats host Tulsa, which is 23rd, in the American Athletic Conference title game.
The semifinals are scheduled to be played Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The current COVID-19 restrictions in California will prohibit the Rose Bowl from having any fans in attendance, including family members of the players.
That has become a point of discussion among the 10 FBS conference commissioners who make up the playoff management committee. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is also a part of the management committee.
CFP executive director Bill Hancock said the Rose Bowl remains the site of the game.
“As we move forward with our planning, we continue to hope that the Rose Bowl’s appeal to government officials to allow the families of student-athletes to attend will be permitted, just as student-athlete families will be welcomed at the Sugar Bowl, the other New Years’ Six games and the Championship game in Miami,” Hancock said in a statement.
During a conference call with reporters Tuesday night, Hancock declined to say if the game would be moved out of California if the restriction was not lifted.
“Given the realities of 2020, we always reserve the right to make decisions as late as possible,” he said.
Game organizers with the Tournament of Roses continue to plan to host a semifinal.
“Under current California state guidelines, we are unable to allow for spectators of any kind at the game, however, a second appeal has been made at the state level to allow for a special exemption for player and coach guests,” the Tournament of Roses said in a statement. “We continue to work with the College Football Playoff and local health officials to provide the safest possible environment at our game.”
Florida’s Johnson speaking, calling teammates via FaceTime
Florida forward Keyontae Johnson is speaking with family members and doctors and was even able to FaceTime his teammates Tuesday, his parents said in a statement released by the school.
Nika and Marrecus Johnson added that they “feel so much love and support from everyone.”
“We’re beyond grateful for the care and attention that Keyontae has received throughout these past several days,” they said.
Johnson remains in stable condition at UF Health. He collapsed on the court during a game at Florida State on Saturday. He was moved to Gainesville via helicopter Monday with his mother by his side.
“We will continue to share updates about Keyontae’s health and progress,” his parents said. “We have seen how much people love and care for him. We hope people recognize that information that doesn’t come from us or the athletic department may not be accurate.
“We are working closely with Keyontae’s doctors and the UAA to provide information to everyone who cares so deeply about Keyontae and has been praying for him.”
USA Today on Monday quoted Johnson’s grandfather, Larry DeJarnett, as saying the player had been in a medically induced coma.
The Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year crumpled to the floor coming out a timeout and received emergency medical attention. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.
ESPN declined to show video of the incident. According to witnesses, Johnson was standing and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face. His eyes were open and he had blood on his face and neck, according to photos obtained by The Gainesville Sun.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior, averaged a team-high 14 points last season to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the Gators with 38 steals.
Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse has not been revealed, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
The SEC mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.
Tara VanDerveer becomes winningest women’s basketball coach
Tara VanDerveer made history, and then took a moment to tell her Stanford players what they mean to her.
“The most important thing I can do as a coach is love you,” VanDerveer said. “I love the game of basketball and I want to help you be the best you can be. You’re the people that I care about. Thank you.”
Typical Tara, wanting to share the joy on a night when the spotlight shined brightly on her – and her alone.
VanDerveer became the winningest women’s college basketball coach Tuesday night, passing the late Pat Summitt with her 1,099th victory as No. 1 Stanford romped to a 104-61 victory over Pacific.
Dressed casually in all black, VanDerveer received the game ball after the final buzzer. Her dancing players chanted “Tara! Tara!” and gave her a new oversized pullover reading “T-DAWG” to celebrate the latest milestone for the Hall of Fame coach in her 35th season on The Farm and 42nd overall as a college head coach. The wearable blanket was forward Francesca Belibi’s idea.
“It’s really sweet,” VanDerveer said.
The 67-year-old VanDerveer improved her career record to 1,099-253. The road to this historic night began with her first head coaching job at the University of Idaho from 1978-80, and then moved to Ohio State (1980-85) and Stanford, where she is 947-202. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma is right behind at 1,093 wins.
“This is special because of the magnitude of that many wins,” VanDerveer said. “You never go into coaching, I never thought, `Well, I’m going to try to win 1,000 games’ or anything like that. This is special, currently having the No. 1 team, being undefeated, playing in a pandemic, I will never forget this, for sure.”
After the history-making win in a draped-off area upstairs that served as Stanford’s locker room, VanDerveer received a plaque containing a piece of the floor from Stanford’s home court at Maples Pavilion. A framed proclamation from Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine was another memento. White long-sleeved shirts commemorating the night were made for the players as well as hand-held confetti poppers and individual mini cakes with an attached sticker that read, “Tara at the top.” Silver balloons with the numbers 1,099 adorned the room.
Just as the humble VanDerveer prefers, she broke Summitt’s mark going largely under the radar and with little fanfare given the game took place in California’s Central Valley – about 80 miles from the Bay Area. No fans were allowed into Spanos Center, either.
“I really hope Pat Summitt is looking down and saying, `Good job Tara, keep it going,'” VanDerveer said. “I loved coaching against Pat, and we miss her.”
Tennessee women’s basketball posted a photo of VanDerveer and Summitt on Twitter and a message that read: “1099. Pat would be proud. Congratulations, Coach VanDerveer!”
“We were friends and obviously competitors,” VanDerveer said. “She had great passion for the game and I think she sees that with me. She loves unselfish basketball which I think she would see with our team. More than anything she helped me get better as a coach because you had to work really hard to prepare. We lost more games than we won against Tennessee. She was a great mentor and a great friend. I think she would be proud of us.”
Stanford (5-0) couldn’t play a home game with the Tigers on Nov. 29 because of a positive coronavirus test in the Pacific program and then again Tuesday because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County that sent the Cardinal on the road for three weeks. It spent much of that stretch in Las Vegas before traveling to Berkeley to play California in a Sunday night game, when VanDerveer tied Summitt’s record.
“I look at it as a blessing in disguise. We’re living in a hotel,” senior Kiana Williams said. “It’s not ideal but we have more time to spend together.”
Traveling from Berkeley on Tuesday, Stanford wound up getting caught in traffic due to an accident that delayed the Cardinal’s arrival at the arena by 30 minutes.
It hardly mattered.
Anna Wilson got Stanford off to a fast start with an opening four-point play.
“That’s why I came to Stanford, I wanted to be coached by a winner,” Wilson said. “Even in this challenge of being in the middle of quarantine and having to deal with all these adjustments, she’s done a really great job of being here for us and providing the very best that we can experience during this time.”
VanDerveer thanked her parents and family.
“Hi Mom! Don’t cry, Mom,” VanDerveer instructed mother Rita, who was watching on TV. “It’s happy.”
VanDerveer planned to donate $10 for each of her wins – $10,990 – to local food banks.
“We’re playing games and we know people are really suffering, they don’t have jobs, their unemployment is running out, they’re hungry, so I’m so thankful for my job and my opportunity that I just want to make sure I’m giving back,” she said.
Harden returns to Rockets, scores 12 in preseason debut
James Harden was back in a Houston uniform.
It’s still unclear how many more times that’ll happen.
The three-time defending NBA scoring champion made his preseason debut with the Rockets on Tuesday night, after starting to practice with his team just one day earlier following a late arrival to training camp amid incessant trade speculation. Harden scored 12 points in 21 minutes and the Rockets beat the San Antonio Spurs 112-98.
Harden also had four assists, three rebounds and two steals. He checked out for the final time with 5:02 left in the third quarter, having missed his final four shots.
John Wall and Ben McLemore each had 15 points for the Rockets, who got 11 points apiece from Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate and 11 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins. As expected, Wall and Harden were the starters in the Houston backcourt.
“It can be really good,” first-year Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “To have two dynamic ballhandlers on the floor who can do a bunch of different things, play off each other, create for each other, it can be really, really good.”
Harden was not planning to address reporters after the game.
“Just happy to see him back out there on the floor,” McLemore said.
Lonnie Walker IV scored 17 for the Spurs, who got 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds from Dejounte Murray. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 12, while Rudy Gay and Devin Vassell each added 11 for San Antonio.
Harden seemed anything but disinterested to start his first live game action of the season. He stood immediately to the right of Silas in the pregame huddle, his eyes staring intently at whatever the coach was sketching on a dry-erase clipboard before taking the floor.
Harden’s first shot was a made straightaway 3-pointer and his second attempt led to him getting fouled from beyond the arc and making three free throws.
So, his shooting touch was there, at least at the outset – as was his touch on passes. He connected with Danuel House on a three-quarter-court chest pass to set up a dunk late in the opening quarter, timing clearly not much of an issue after a couple months off.
Nats GM Rizzo: No ‘serious conversation’ about Kris Bryant
Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo’s top offseason priority is adding a middle-of-the-order hitter, likely a corner outfielder or first baseman – and by the sound of things, he won’t do that by trading for a certain past NL MVP currently with the Chicago Cubs.
Rizzo laid to rest any such speculation pretty plainly during a video conference call with reporters Tuesday.
“We haven’t had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in probably two years. He was not a big guy on our radar, last year or this year,” Rizzo said when asked about the three-time All-Star. “He’s a great player, but at this point in time, with where we’re at and what we have in our farm system, and where we’re going, we think we can allocate our dollars and prospect capital in a better way.”
Both Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez spoke with the media for the first time since September – when Washington wrapped up the pandemic-truncated season at 26-34 and tied for last in the NL East, a year after winning a championship – and while both covered many topics, they made little in the way of real news.
“With conversations with ownership,” Rizzo said, when asked about his payroll parameters, “we feel we have the budget to get a championship-caliber club.”
One positive sign for the team: World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, who threw just five innings in 2020 because of a nerve issue in his throwing hand, was re-examined on Dec. 4 and, Rizzo said, is “coming along great.”
“He should be full-go for spring training,” Rizzo added. “He began his throwing program a couple of weeks ago and he’s progressing nicely.”
Second baseman Starlin Castro also should be set for Florida after breaking his right wrist in August.
On other topics:
– Rizzo said the Nationals “do not have any official offers on the table right now” to free agents.
– Rizzo has spoken to catcher J.T. Realmuto’s representation but wouldn’t comment on Washington’s level of interest in any specific free agents.
– Yan Gomes could be the team’s main catcher and play “90 to 100 games, at least,” Rizzo said, but said he would want to add a “complement” or “partner” at that position.
– Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick are expected to play in 2021, although Rizzo hasn’t spoken to either, lately; Rizzo said Kendrick is “a guy that’s dear to everyone’s heart. If there’s the right role and the right situation, I’d love to have him back.”
– NL batting champion Juan Soto could play right field or left field – and, Martinez said, even offered to play center, if need be – depending on who the team adds to the outfield after Adam Eaton was let go.
– Carter Kieboom will face competition to be the starting third baseman. “I’m behind him 100%,” Martinez said. “I talked to him, and I told him: `Hey, you’re our future third baseman. And the future is now. So you’ve got to come to spring training and be ready to go. The job is yours, but you’ve got to earn it.'”
Indiana-Purdue, bowl also called off
Two of the seven Big Ten Champions Week games were canceled Tuesday because of COVID-19 outbreaks as an uncertain postseason looms for college football.
The annual rivalry game between Indiana and Purdue set for Friday was canceled for the second time in two weeks and the third time this season. Michigan’s game at No. 18 Iowa on Saturday also was canceled, the third straight Wolverines game to be called off.
Athletic directors Scott Dolson of Indiana and Mike Bobinski of Purdue acknowledged the history and tradition of playing for the Old Oaken Bucket.
“Both universities worked extremely hard in an effort to play,” they said, “but at this time it just isn’t possible.”
The final month of the season, including bowl games, is already being affected by the pandemic, just as the regular season was. Approximately 125 games since late August have been postponed or canceled, including the Frisco Bowl scheduled for Saturday. SMU had to withdraw from the game about 25 miles from its Dallas campus and its opponent, UTSA, is switching to the First Responders Bowl Dec. 26 against a team to be determined.
In Indiana, the cancellation came just as the Boilermakers (2-4) appeared ready to resume football activities after pausing them a week ago on the same day Indiana took the same step.
It’s unclear whether the cancellation will end a bizarre year which began with Purdue coach Jeff Brohm missing the season opener after testing positive for COVID-19.
“We’re not looking down that road,” Brohm said Monday when asked whether Purdue might be interested in playing in a bowl since there is no minimum number of wins needed this season.
The cancellation was a disappointing blow to the Hoosiers (6-1), who are having one of their best seasons in decades. The Hoosiers haven’t won a bowl game since 1991 and coach Tom Allen believes that would be a good way to wrap up a historic season.
Michigan had its Dec. 5 home game against Maryland and its visit to No. 3 Ohio State last week wiped out because of an ongoing outbreak. Athletic director Warde Manuel said there would have been more than 50 players unavailable because of positive tests and contact tracing requirements – more than last week or the week before.
“I am very proud of the way that our players worked to try and get back onto the field but the numbers simply don’t support us taking the field on Saturday,” Manuel said. “This has been a very challenging and difficult 2020 for everyone and we want to make sure we are doing what is right for our student-athletes at every step along the way, and that ultimately is ensuring their health, safety and welfare.”
Michigan cancels game at No. 18 Iowa
An ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at Michigan has forced the Wolverines to cancel their football game at No. 18 Iowa on Saturday.
This will be the third straight game canceled. The Wolverines didn’t play Dec. 5 at home against Maryland or last week at No. 3 Ohio State.
The Michigan athletic department said in a statement the decision on the Iowa game was made after conversations among medical experts, health advisers and university administration.
Athletic director Warde Manuel said the team would be without a significant number of players because of COVID-19 and, coupled with attrition because of injuries, would not have enough players at multiple positions. He said there would be more than 50 players unavailable because of positive tests and contact tracing requirements.
Ohio State’s Fields chosen Big Ten Offensive Player of Year
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, according to a vote by conference coaches and media released Tuesday.
A Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 when he delivered one of the most productive seasons by a Buckeyes quarterback, Fields has been spectacular this year for the third-ranked Buckeyes. The junior leads the nation in completion percentage and the Big Ten in total yards per game by a wide margin at 392.2. He has 1,407 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games.
The Buckeyes (5-0) are scheduled to play Northwestern (5-1) in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Fields, the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, was picked first-team, all-conference by both the coaches and media. So were running backs Tyler Goodson of Iowa and Mohamed Ibrahim of Minnesota; guards Kendrick Green of Illinois and Wyatt Davis of Ohio State; and tackles Alaric Jackson of Iowa and Thayer Munford of Ohio State.
Also receiving first-team honors from the coaches were Ohio State receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson; Buckeyes center Josh Myers, Wisconsin tackle Cole Van Lanen and Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth.
The media picked receivers Ty Fryfogle of Indiana and David Bell of Purdue, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson.
Fryfogle (Receiver of the Year), Ibrahim (Running Back of the Year), Freiermuth (Tight End of the Year) and Davis (Offensive Lineman of the Year) took individual honors.
Defensive honors are scheduled to be announced Wednesday.
2020 Big Ten Individual Award Winners
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Fields, Ohio State
Named for Northwestern’s Otto Graham and Ohio State’s Eddie George
Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: Justin Fields, Ohio State
Named for Purdue’s Bob Griese and Drew Brees
Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year: Ty Fryfogle, Indiana
Named for Wisconsin’s Pat Richter and Michigan’s Desmond Howard
Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year: Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota
Named for Wisconsin’s Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne
Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year: Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Named for Penn State’s Ted Kwalick and Iowa’s Dallas Clark
Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Named for Nebraska’s Dave Rimington and Ohio State’s Orlando Pace
Dozen Cardinals Named All-MAC, Indy Product Martin Claims Top Defensive Honor
MUNCIE, Ind. — The MAC West Division champion Ball State football team placed 12 players, including 10 seniors, on the 2020 All-MAC teams, led by inside linebacker Brandon Martin as the league’s co-defensive player of the year.
Martin was one of four All-MAC first-teamers for the Cardinals, joining two others from the defense — outside linebacker Anthony Ekpe and safety Bryce Cosby — and Justin Hall who earned spots on the first team as both a receiver and kick returner.
Ball State had five representatives on the second team in quarterback Drew Plitt, offensive lineman Curtis Blackwell, outside linebacker Christian Albright, cornerback Antonio Phillips and punter Nathan Snyder. The Cardinals had three players on the third team in receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler, inside linebacker Jaylin Thomas and running back Caleb Huntley.
Six of BSU’s honorees are multiple-time All-MAC selections, with Hall earning All-MAC honors for the fourth consecutive season.
The 5-1 Cardinals will play this week in the Rocket Mortgage MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2008 as they seek their first league title since 1996. Friday’s kickoff versus unbeaten No. 23 Buffalo is set for 7:30 p.m. from Detroit’s Ford Field on ESPN and the Ball State Radio Network at 104.1 WLBC.
Ball State Championship Week is presented by Northwest Bank and Community Hospital of Anderson.
All-MAC First Team
Co-Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Martin, who returned this year after sustaining a season-ending injury in the 2019 opener, ranks fourth nationally with 12.0 tackles per game. The redshirt junior from Indianapolis had 6.5 tackles for loss, including 5.0 in the past three games. Martin is the first Ball State player to win the defensive player of the year honor since Brad Maynard won it as a punter in 1996 and the first traditional defensive player to win the award for BSU since linebacker Greg Garnica did it three straight years from 1987-89.
Justin Hall has five All-MAC honors to his name, four as a receiver and one as a kick returner. The senior from Douglasville, Georgia, ranks second in the league with 44 catches and 620 receiving yards. The nation’s active leader and the Ball State career record holder with 252 career receptions, Hall has three touchdowns receiving and one rushing this season. He ranks fourth in the country with 178.8 all-purpose yards per game.
Anthony Ekpe leads the MAC with 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. His second strip-sack of the season secured the Cardinals’ win at Toledo. The Pflugerville, Texas, product leads the Cardinals with 7.0 tackles for loss. A grad transfer in his first season at BSU, Ekpe was previously an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection at Rice.
Bryce Cosby owns 44 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, and registered an interception in the win at Toledo. The senior from Louisville, Kentucky, has started 41 of the 42 games in his career at safety. He owns seven career interceptions and ranks second among all active MAC players with 264 career tackles.
All-MAC Second Team
Drew Plitt ranks second in the MAC with 1,674 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. The redshirt senior from Loveland Ohio, also has a pair of scores on the ground. Plitt has been at his best over the second half of the season, accounting for 11 total touchdowns over the past three games. He surpassed 6,000 career passing yards last week and moved into a tie for third in BSU history with 46 career touchdown passes.
Curtis Blackwell earned All-MAC honors for the second straight year despite a position change on the offensive line. The senior from Uniondale, Indiana, shifted from right guard to right tackle and helped pave the way for the Cardinals’ balanced offense. He has started all six games this year and 36 total in his BSU career.
Christian Albright, who earned All-MAC honors for the second time, owns 6.0 tackles for loss this season, including 3.0 sacks. The senior from Kennesaw, Georgia, has started all 30 games over the past three seasons. He is the Cardinals’ active leader in tackles for loss (28.5), sacks (14.0) and forced fumbles (8). His forced fumbles total ranks fifth among all active FBS players.
Antonio Phillips earned All-MAC honors for the second year in a row. The senior from St. Louis, Missouri, ranks fourth in the league this season with five pass breakups. A preseason candidate for the Chuck Bednarik, Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards, Phillips owns six career interceptions and 17 career pass breakups.
Nathan Snyder leads the MAC with eight punts of 50 yards or longer in only 19 attempts this season. The senior from Marysville, Ohio, ranks third in the league with a 42.9-yard punting average. Snyder booted three 50-plus yard punts, including a season-best 61-yarder, in the MAC West Division-clinching win over Western Michigan.
All-MAC Third Team
Yo’Heinz Tyler ranks third in the MAC with six receiving touchdowns and fifth with 32 total receptions. The junior from New Orleans, Louisiana, has caught at least one touchdown pass in each of the past five games. Tyler, who owns 413 receiving yards, had his third career two-touchdown game in the win at Toledo.
Jaylin Thomas, who ranks fourth in the MAC with 66 tackles, earned all-league honors for the second straight year. The senior from Lima, Ohio, has 5.0 tackles for loss. His 16 tackles in the West Division-clinching win over Western Michigan were the second-most by a MAC player this season. Thomas is the league’s active leader with 277 career tackles.
Caleb Huntley, an All-MAC selection for the second straight year, ran for 437 yards and six touchdowns in the first three games of the season before sustaining an injury that kept him out the rest of the way. The senior from Atlanta, Georgia, finished his career seventh on Ball State’s all-time rushing list with 2,902 yards and 10th in school history for rushing touchdowns with 21.
2020 MAC Specialty Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Offensive Player of the Year: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Brandon Martin, LB, Ball State; Troy Hairston II, DE, Central Michigan
Special Teams Player of the Year: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR/KOR, Western Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC First Team Offense
Quarterback – Dustin Crum, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Kayode Awosika, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Mike Novitsky, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Tommy Doyle, Miami
Offensive Lineman – Bryce Harris, Toledo
Offensive Lineman – Mike Caliendo, Western Michigan
Tight End – Quintin Morris, Bowling Green
Wide Receiver – Justin Hall, Ball State
Wide Receiver – Isaiah McKoy, Kent State
Wide Receiver – Tyrice Richie, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Running Back – Teon Dollard, Akron
Running Back – Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
Placekicker – Marshall Meeder, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Anthony Ekpe, Ball State
Outside Linebacker – Troy Brown, Central Michigan
Inside Linebacker – Brandon Martin, Ball State
Inside Linebacker – James Patterson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Ralph Holley, Western Michigan
Down Lineman – Troy Hairston II, Central Michigan
Down Lineman – Mohammed Diallo, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Bryce Cosby, Ball State
Defensive Back – Willie Reid, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Noski LaFleur, Eastern Michigan
Defensive Back – Bricen Garner, Western Michigan
Punter – Luke Elzinga, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Justin Hall, Ball State
Kickoff Return Specialist – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
2020 All-MAC Second Team Offense
Quarterback – Drew Plitt, Ball State
Offensive Lineman – Curtis Blackwell, Ball State
Offensive Lineman – Jake Fuzak, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Derek Smith, Central Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Bill Kuduk, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
Tight End – Danie Crawford, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – Antonio Nunn, Buffalo
Wide Receiver – Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan
Wide Receiver – Jack Sorenson, Miami
Wide Receiver – Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
Running Back – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
Running Back – La’Darius Jefferson, Western Michigan
Placekicker – Chad Ryland, Eastern Michigan
2020 All-MAC Second Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Christian Albright, Ball State
Outside Linebacker – Jamal Hines, Toledo
Inside Linebacker – Bubba Arslanian, Akron
Inside Linebacker – Terry Myrick, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Turan Rush, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Weston Kramer, Northern Illinois
Down Lineman – Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
Down Lineman – Austin Conrad, Ohio
Defensive Back – Antonio Phillips, Ball State
Defensive Back – Jordan Gandy, Northern Illinois
Defensive Back – Tycen Anderson, Toledo
Defensive Back – Nate Bauer, Toledo
Punter – Nathan Snyder, Ball State
2020 All-MAC Second Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Tray Rudolph, Northern Illinois
Kickoff Return Specialist – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
2020 All-MAC Third Team Offense
Quarterback – Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Nathan Monnin, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Danny Godlevske, Miami
Offensive Lineman – Brayden Patton, Northern Illinois
Offensive Lineman – Brett Kitrell, Ohio
Tight End – Zac Lefebvre, Buffalo
Wide Receiver – Yo’Heinz Tyler, Ball State
Wide Receiver – Hassan Beydoun, Eastern Michigan
Wide Receiver – Isaiah Winstead, Toledo
Wide Receiver – Jaylen Hall, Western Michigan
Running Back – Caleb Huntley, Ball State
Running Back – Kevin Marks, Buffalo
Placekicker – Alex McNulty, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC Third Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Kholbe Coleman, Bowling Green
Inside Linebacker – Jaylin Thomas, Ball State
Inside Linebacker – Kyle Pugh, Northern Illinois
Inside Linebacker – Treshaun Hayward, Western Michigan
Down Lineman – Eddie Wilson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Kam Butler, Miami
Down Lineman – Lonnie Phelps, Miami
Defensive Back – A.J. Watts, Akron
Defensive Back – Devonni Reed, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Emmanuel Rugamba, Miami
Defensive Back – Dev Lafayette, Northern Illinois
Punter – Nick Mihalic, Western Michigan
2020 All-MAC Third Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Bryson Denley, Bowling Green
Kickoff Return Specialist – Ron Cook, Buffalo
USC MBB Cancels games
Southern California has postponed or canceled its next three men’s basketball games while team activities continue to be halted because of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
The school said it canceled home games against San Francisco on Wednesday and Texas Southern on Dec. 23, and postponed its road game at Oregon State on Dec. 20.
The Pac-12 is working with USC and Oregon State to find a mutually agreeable date to reschedule their game.
USC postponed its Pac-12 opener at home against Stanford over the weekend when it first reported the positive COVID-19 test.
NFL not allowing mandated local bubbles during postseason
NFL teams won’t be allowed to create local bubbles during the postseason by mandating that players stay in a hotel, except for the night before a game.
“Clubs may not require players and staff to stay at a hotel in their local area,” reads a league memo obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. “This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel.”
Teams will be allowed to continue paying for players who want to move into a hotel to avoid the risk of catching COVID-19 from family or roommates throughout the postseason, according to the memo.
When teams stay in hotels before games, players and staff now will be required to wear a tracing device until they return to their rooms for the night whether staying at home or on the road.
The NFL also reminded teams that gathering socially at team hotels remains prohibited, while requirements to wear masks and physical distance from each other are still in effect.
In the postseason, teams will be reimbursed for using two planes to travel to road games. The limits on how many people can travel remain unchanged, and the NFL reminded teams to assign seats strategically to reduce risks of spreading the virus.
The NFL and NFL Players Association also agreed to update COVID-19 protocols adding a new test, clearing people to work game days, extending the time for people testing positive but asymptomatic to return, and extending testing to players’ family and their service providers, according to the memo.
Anyone testing positive but showing no symptoms will not be allowed to return until after 10 days pass from the day the positive test was collected, with the team doctor notifying Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. Previously, asymptomatic players or staff could return after two consecutive negative PCR tests.
Anyone testing positive under the new Mesa Accula Rapid PCR test must be tested again and placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list that day rather than waiting a day for the other test result. This new test also will be used to clear close contacts the day before games and on game day.
Starting this week, anyone clearing testing on game day will be able to take part on game days.
But anyone testing positive first must clear isolation before being able to play. That player can’t travel with the team or stay at the team hotel the night before a game. Someone counted as a high-risk close contact can play if game day is the first day out of the five-day isolation period.
Newly acquired players can play if their sixth day of entry testing falls on game day but also can’t travel or interact with the team until that day.
“Even as infection rates decreased across the league during the last two weeks, we continue to see community exposure as the primary means of infection for club personnel,” the memo reads.
That’s why teams are “strongly encouraged” to arrange testing immediately at least twice a week for players’ family or roommates and people hired by players such as barbers, personal chefs, chiropractors, masseuses and stretching assistants.
American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball makes changes in schedule
NEW CONFERENCE FORMAT
American Athletic Conference play begins Tuesday night (Dec. 15). For the first time in conference history, the format consists of a 20-game, double round-robin conference schedule for each of The American’s 11 member institutions.
IN THE NATIONAL POLLS
Houston is ranked No. 6 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 this week. This is the highest Houston has been ranked in the AP poll since finishing the 1983-84 season at No. 5. It is the highest ranking for the Cougars in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll since checking in at No. 6 in the Feb. 25, 2019, poll.
SMU is receiving votes in both the USA TODAY Coaches Top 25 and the AP Top 25. SMU has been ranked or among others receiving votes in the AP Top 25 in seven out of the last eight years.
TULANE GETS DEFENSIVE
Tulane held Southern Miss to 38 points on Dec. 9, tied for the fifth-fewest points allowed in The American’s history. The Green Wave only allowed 12 first-half points, which is tied for the fifth-fewest points points against in a half in conference history.
USM’s 38 points were tied for the fewest points Tulane has ever allowed in the 81 meetings with the Golden Eagles. In addition, Tulane held an opponent to under 40 points for the first time since 2010.
PIRATES STARTING STRONG
With a win over North Florida on Thursday night (Dec. 10), East Carolina is off to a 5-0 start for the fifth time in school history and third time in Division I. The last time the Pirates started 5-0 was 2012-13.
IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
SMU guard Kendric Davis is sixth in the nation with 8.0 assists per game.
Houston’s Marcus Sasser is eighth with 4.0 3-point field goals per game.
East Carolina’s Tristen Newton is 13-13 from the free throw line and UCF’s Brandon Mahan is 9-for-9. They are two of 29 players nationally that are perfect from the line and have made at least 2.5 per game.
Houston is fourth in the nation in 3-point field goal defense at 18.8 percent.
UCF ranks sixth in free throw percentage at 83.3 percent.
Tulane is ninth in the country in scoring defense at 54.2 points allowed per game.