INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES THURSDAY

Crothersville 39 Christian Academy Madison 35
Indianapolis International 66 Indianapolis Herron 48
Jimtown 60 South Bend Clay 52
John Glenn 67 New Prairie 46
Lakeland 74 South Bend Career 55
Living Water HomeSchool 66 GEO Next Generation 27
Penn 55 South Bend St. Joseph 46
Rochester 54 Whitko 39
South Bend Riley 68 Elkhart 50
South Bend Washington 73 Bremen 64
University 71 Indianapolis Scecina 54
Henry County Tournament
Knightstown 36 Blue River 33 R1
Tri 48 Shenandoah 44 R1


Randolph County Tournament
Monroe Central 46 Union City 44 OT | SF
Winchester 57 Randolph Southern 38 SF


Rivertown Tournament
Switzerland County 74 South Dearborn 72 R1
Lawrenceburg 65 Rising Sun 40 R1


Wayne County Tournament
Centerville 83 Cambridge City Lincoln 45 R1


White River Valley Tournament
Barr-Reeve 70 Shakamak 29 R1

INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE FRIDAY

ALL TIMES EASTERN
Angola at Prairie Heights 7:30 pm
Argos at Bethany Christian 7:30 pm
Austin at North Harrison 7:30 pm
Benton Central at Twin Lakes 7:30 pm
Bloomington South at Bloomington North 7:30 pm
Boonville at Princeton 8:00 pm
Borden at New Washington 7:30 pm
Brebeuf Jesuit at Zionsville 7:30 pm
Brownstown Central at Jennings County 7:30 pm
Carmel at Marion 7:30 pm
Carroll (Fort Wayne) at Fort Wayne Dwenger 7:45 pm
Castle at Evansville Memorial 8:00 pm
Christel House at Indianapolis Washington 7:30 pm
Churubusco at Fremont 7:30 pm
Clinton Central at Eastern (Greentown) 7:30 pm
Corydon Central at Floyd Central 7:30 pm
Covington at Riverton Parke 7:30 pm
Crawford County at Springs Valley 7:30 pm
Crown Point at Michigan City 8:00 pm
Culver at Caston 7:30 pm
Daleville at Cowan 7:30 pm
Decatur Central at Martinsville 7:30 pm
Delphi at Carroll (Flora) 7:30 pm
Delta at New Palestine 7:30 pm
Demotte Christian at Tri-County 7:30 pm
East Noble at Huntington North 7:30 pm
Eastside at Fairfield 7:30 pm
Edgewood at Brown County 7:30 pm
Elkhart Christian at Lakeland Christian 7:00 pm
Evansville Central at Evansville Bosse 8:00 pm
Evansville Christian at Linton-Stockton 8:00 pm
Evansville Day at Pike Central 8:00 pm
Evansville North at Evansville Harrison 8:00 pm
Evansville Reitz at Bedford North Lawrence 8:00 pm
Forest Park at Mount Vernon (Posey) 8:00 pm
Fort Wayne Concordia at Fort Wayne Luers 7:30 pm
Fort Wayne North at Fort Wayne Wayne 7:30 pm
Fort Wayne Northrop at Fort Wayne Snider 7:45 pm
Franklin County at Union County 7:30 pm
Frontier at Pioneer 7:30 pm
Garrett at Central Noble 8:00 pm
Gary West vs. TBA TBA
Goshen at Concord 7:45 pm
Greensburg at Connersville 7:30 pm
Greenwood at Whiteland 7:30 pm
Greenwood Christian at Speedway 7:30 pm
Guerin Catholic at Indianapolis Chatard 8:00 pm
Hamilton Southeastern at Lawrence Central 7:30 pm
Hammond Noll at Hanover Central 8:00 pm
Hammond Science & Tech at Kouts 8:00 pm
Harrison (West Lafayette) at West Lafayette 7:30 pm
Hauser at North Decatur 7:30 pm
Henryville at Medora 7:30 pm
Heritage Christian at Covenant Christian 7:30 pm
Heritage Hills at Gibson Southern 8:00 pm
Homestead at Fort Wayne South 7:45 pm
Horizon Christian at Irvington Prep 7:30 pm
Indiana Christian at Mooresville Christian 7:00 pm
Indiana Math & Science at Purdue Poly North 6:00 pm
Indianapolis Lutheran at Trinity Lutheran 7:30 pm
Indianapolis Metropolitan at Park Tudor 7:30 pm
Indianapolis Ritter at Monrovia 7:30 pm
Indianapolis Riverside at Bethesda Christian 7:30 pm
Jeffersonville at New Albany 7:30 pm
Knox at Winamac 8:00 pm
Lafayette Central Catholic at McCutcheon 7:30 pm
Lake Central at LaPorte 8:00 pm
Lakewood Park at Smith Academy 7:30 pm
Lanesville at South Central (Elizabeth) 7:30 pm
Lawrence North at Warren Central 7:30 pm
Lebanon at Frankfort 7:30 pm
Lewis Cass at Northfield 7:45 pm
Lighthouse Christian at Columbus Christian 7:45 pm
Logansport at Kokomo 7:30 pm
Loogootee at Vincennes Rivet 7:30 pm
Maconaquah at Tipton 7:30 pm
Madison at Scottsburg 7:30 pm
Madison-Grant at Blackford 7:30 pm
Marquette Catholic at Trinity Greenlawn 7:30 pm
Mishawaka Marian at Fort Wayne Blackhawk 7:30 pm
Mooresville at Franklin 7:30 pm
Morgan Twp. at Boone Grove 8:00 pm
Mount Vernon (Fortville) at Greenfield-Central 7:30 pm
Muncie Central at Lafayette Jeff 8:00 pm
Munster at Kankakee Valley 8:00 pm
New Castle at Richmond 7:30 pm
North Central (Indianapolis) at Ben Davis 7:30 pm
North Daviess at Eastern Greene 7:30 pm
North Miami at Manchester 7:45 pm
North Newton at West Central 8:00 pm
North Vermillion at Attica 7:30 pm
Northeast Dubois at South Knox 7:30 pm
Northview at Greencastle 7:30 pm
Northwestern at Hamilton Heights 7:30 pm
NorthWood at Wawasee 7:30 pm
Oak Hill at Peru 7:45 pm
Orleans at Salem 7:30 pm
Owen Valley at Cloverdale 7:30 pm
Paoli at Mitchell 7:30 pm
Parke Heritage at South Vermillion 7:30 pm
Pike at Fishers 7:30 pm
Plymouth at Mishawaka 7:30 pm
Providence at Clarksville 7:30 pm
Providence Cristo Rey at Seton Catholic 7:30 pm
River Forest at South Newton 8:30 pm
Rossville at Taylor 7:30 pm
Rushville at East Central 7:30 pm
Seymour at Charlestown 7:30 pm
Shawe Memorial at Oldenburg Academy 7:30 pm
Sheridan at Tri-Central 7:30 pm
Silver Creek at Eastern (Pekin) 7:30 pm
South Central (Union Mills) at Hebron 8:00 pm
South Putnam at Sullivan 7:30 pm
Southridge at Tecumseh 8:00 pm
Southwestern (Hanover) at South Decatur 7:30 pm
Terre Haute North at Columbus North 8:00 pm
Valparaiso at Portage 8:00 pm
Vincennes Lincoln at Jasper 7:30 pm
Wapahani at Eastern Hancock 7:30 pm
Warsaw at Northridge 7:45 pm
Washington at North Knox 7:30 pm
Washington Catholic at Clay City 6:30 pm
Washington Twp. at Tri-Township 8:00 pm
West Noble at Lakeland 7:30 pm
West Vigo at North Putnam 7:30 pm
West Washington at Perry Central 8:00 pm
Westfield at Yorktown 7:30 pm
Westview at LaVille 7:30 pm
Westville at Hobart 8:00 pm
Wood Memorial at South Spencer ppd.


Hendricks County Tournament
Avon at Plainfield 7:45 pm SF
Danville at Tri-West 7:45 pm SF


Madison County Tournament
Elwood at Alexandria 6:00 pm 7th
Pendleton Heights at Anderson Prep 7:30 pm 5th
Lapel vs. Frankton 6:00 pm 3rd
Anderson vs. Liberty Christian 7:30 pm 1st


Shelby County Tournament
Triton Central vs. Waldron 6:00 pm R1
Morristown at Southwestern (Shelbyville) 8:00 pm R1


Sugar Creek Tournament
North Montgomery vs. Southmont 6:00 pm R1
Western Boone at Crawfordsville 7:30 pm R1


Wayne County Tournament
Northeastern at Hagerstown 7:30 pm R1


White River Valley Tournament
Shakamak vs. Eminence 7:30 pm 3rd

INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORES THURSDAY

Austin 56 Southwestern (Hanover) 46
Bethesda Christian 49 Indiana Deaf 32
Bloomington North 57 New Palestine 49
Boone Grove 39 River Forest 30
Brebeuf Jesuit 40 Covenant Christian 23
Castle 52 Evansville Reitz 49
Caston 69 Culver 29
Charlestown 55 Madison 49
Chicago McAuley (Ill.) 65 Fishers 58
Christian Academy 57 Crothersville 11
Corydon Central 49 Eastern (Pekin) 34
Covington 45 Attica 40
Crawford County 43 Paoli 34
East Chicago Central 58 Gary West 36
Elkhart Christian 51 Lakeland Christian 21
Evansville Central 59 Evansville Bosse 11
Evansville Christian 50 Cannelton 16
Gibson Southern 80 Boonville 46
Goshen 30 Mishawaka Marian 23
Hamilton Southeastern 65 Warren Central 54
Hauser 47 Greenwood Christian 35
Heritage Hills 51 South Spencer 47
Illiana Christian 48 Whiting 34
Indianapolis Attucks 53 Irvington Prep 9
Indianapolis Cathedral 58 Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 54
Indianapolis Lutheran 55 Indianapolis Herron 45 OT
Jasper 55 Forest Park 34
Kankakee Valley 44 North Judson 38
Lafayette Central Catholic 49 Twin Lakes 40
Lakewood Park 50 Bethany Christian 38
Lanesville 47 Floyd Central 41
Lawrence Central 52 Carmel 29
Linton-Stockton 49 Vincennes Rivet 34
McCutcheon 37 Benton Central 36
Mount Vernon (Fortville) 27 East Central 18
New Prairie 44 John Glenn 33
North Decatur 37 South Decatur 36
North Posey 62 Tecumseh 49
North Vermillion 39 Riverton Parke 29
Northeast Dubois 45 Bloomfield 22
Northside HomeSchool 48 Indianapolis Shortridge 30
OPH (Ill.) 57 Dugger Union 31
Orleans 66 North Daviess 43
Paris (Ill.) 52 Terre Haute South 23
Pioneer 52 Frontier 37
Purdue Poly Englewood 84 Indianapolis Tindley 40
Rensselaer Central 61 North White 20
Rock Creek Academy 55 Shawe Memorial 42
Seeger 55 Clinton Prairie 30
Seymour 52 Columbus East 35
South Knox 92 Washington Catholic 10
Southmont 42 North Montgomery 31
Tippecanoe Valley 61 Knox 15
Tri-County 51 North Newton 32
Trinity Lutheran 83 West Washington 79
Wapahani 39 New Castle 35
Washington 58 Pike Central 12
Wheeler 37 Kouts 26
Wood Memorial 48 Loogootee 32
Woodlan 57 Fort Wayne Blackhawk 52


Madison County Tournament
Anderson Prep 43 Elwood 38 Con
Alexandria 47 Frankton 32 SF
Lapel 63 Pendleton Heights 59 SF


Shelby County Tournament
Morristown 51 Southwestern (Shelbyville) 29 R1
Triton Central 53 Waldron 43 R1


Wayne County Tournament
Northeastern 75 Hagerstown 17 R1


White River Valley Tournament
Shakamak 38 Barr-Reeve 33 R1

INDIANA GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL SCHEDULE FRIDAY

ALL TIMES EASTERN
Angola at Prairie Heights 6:00 pm
Bluffton at Jay County 7:30 pm
Calumet at River Forest 7:00 pm
Carroll (Fort Wayne) at Fort Wayne Dwenger 6:00 pm
Chesterton at Merrillville 8:00 pm
Christel House at Indiana Math & Science 6:00 pm
Churubusco at Fremont 6:00 pm
Clinton Central at Eastern (Greentown) 6:00 pm
Columbia City at Bellmont 7:30 pm
Crown Point at Michigan City 6:30 pm
Daleville at Cowan 6:00 pm
Decatur Central at Martinsville 6:00 pm
DeKalb at New Haven 7:30 pm
Delphi at Carroll (Flora) 6:00 pm
Eastside at Fairfield 6:00 pm
Edgewood at Brown County 6:00 pm
Fort Wayne Concordia at Fort Wayne Luers 6:00 pm
Fort Wayne North at Fort Wayne Wayne 6:00 pm
Fort Wayne Northrop at Fort Wayne Snider 6:00 pm
Garrett at Central Noble 6:00 pm
Greenwood at Whiteland 6:00 pm
Griffith at Wheeler 8:00 pm
Guerin Catholic at Indianapolis Chatard 6:00 pm
Hanover Central at Hammond Noll 8:00 pm
Heritage at Adams Central 7:30 pm
Hobart at Highland 8:00 pm
Homestead at Fort Wayne South 6:00 pm
Huntington North at East Noble 7:30 pm
Indiana Deaf at Indianapolis Washington 7:30 pm
Indianapolis Ritter at Monrovia 6:00 pm
Indianapolis Tech at Indianapolis Scecina 6:00 pm
Knox at Winamac 6:30 pm
Lake Central at Mishawaka Marian 1:30 pm
Lebanon at Frankfort 6:00 pm
Lewis Cass at Northfield 6:15 pm
Lighthouse Christian at Columbus Christian 6:15 pm
Logansport at Kokomo 6:00 pm
Marion at Richmond 6:00 pm
Mooresville at Franklin 6:00 pm
Mount Vernon (Posey) at Southridge 8:30 pm
Muncie Central at Lafayette Jeff 6:30 pm
North Central (Indianapolis) at Ben Davis 6:00 pm
North Newton at West Central 6:00 pm
Northview at Greencastle 6:00 pm
Northwestern at Eastbrook 7:30 pm
Norwell at Leo 7:30 pm
Owen Valley at Cloverdale 6:00 pm
Penn at South Bend St. Joseph 7:30 pm
Phalen Academy at Purdue Poly North 6:00 pm
Portage at Valparaiso 8:00 pm
Providence at Clarksville 6:00 pm
Rossville at Taylor 6:00 pm
Shawe Memorial at Oldenburg Academy 6:00 pm
Sheridan at Tri-Central 6:00 pm
South Adams at Southern Wells 7:30 pm
South Bend Clay at Jimtown 7:30 pm
South Bend Riley at Elkhart 7:30 pm
South Bend Washington at Bremen 7:30 pm
South Putnam at Sullivan 6:00 pm
Washington Twp. at Tri-Township 6:30 pm
West Noble at Lakeland 6:00 pm
West Vigo at North Putnam 6:00 pm
Whitefield (Ky.) at Rock Creek Academy 7:30 pm
Whiting at Lake Station 8:00 pm


Hendricks County Tournament
Brownsburg at Plainfield 6:00 pm SF
Danville at Tri-West 6:00 pm SF


Henry County Tournament
Shenandoah at Knightstown 6:00 pm R1
Blue River vs. Tri 7:30 pm R1


Randolph County Tournament
Monroe Central vs. Winchester 6:00 pm SF
Union City at Union (Modoc) 7:30 pm SF


Ripley County Tournament
Milan at Jac-Cen-Del 6:00 pm 3rd
South Ripley vs. Batesville 7:30 pm 1st


Rivertown Tournament
Rising Sun at South Dearborn 6:00 pm 3rd
Lawrenceburg vs. Switzerland County 7:30 pm 1st


Wayne County Tournament
Centerville vs. Cambridge City Lincoln 6:00 pm R1


White River Valley Tournament
Barr-Reeve vs. Shoals 6:00 pm 3rd

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

SATURDAY, JAN. 6, 2024

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS4:30PESPN/ABC
HOUSTON TEXANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS8:15PESPN/ABC


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

#15 MEMPHIS 78 TULSA 75

#19 JAMES MADISON 68 LOUISIANA 61

#24 GONZAGA 86 PEPPERDINE 60

#10 ARIZONA 97 COLORADO 50

ELSEWHERE:

MICHIGAN STATE 92 PENN STATE 61

ROBERT MORRIS 92 IUPUI 48

SOUTHERN INDIANA 69 TENNESSEE STATE 67

MINNESOTA 73 MICHIGAN 71

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25 SCORES

NORTH CAROLINA 75 #25 SYRACUSE 51

#13 VIRGINIA TECH 82 WAKE FOREST 73

#16 NOTRE DAME 71 PITTSBURGH 66

#14 INDIANA 80 MICHIGAN 59

#1 SOUTH CAROLINA 89 FLORIDA 66

#3 NORTH CAROLINA STATE 88 #22 FLORIDA STATE 80 OT

#17 LOUISVILLE 61 DUKE 44

#18 GONZAGA 74 PORTLAND 53

#7 LSU 92 MISSOURI 72

ELSEWHERE:

SOUTHERN INDIANA 78 TENNESSEE STATE 57

PURDUE FORT WAYNE 68 ROBERT MORRIS 56

NORTHERN IOWA 82 EVANSVILLE 52

IUPUI 81 DETROIT 76 OT

DRAKE 77 INDIANA STATE 47

MISSOURI STATE 67 VALPARAISO 47

NEBRASKA 69 WISCONSIN 57

NBA SCOREBOARD

MILWAUKEE 125 SAN ANTONIO 121

DENVER 130 GOLDEN STATE 127

NHL SCOREBOARD

BUFFALO 6 MONTRÉAL 1

PITTSBURGH 6 BOSTON 5

COLUMBUS 3 PHILADELPHIA 2

NY RANGERS 4 CHICAGO 1

CALGARY 6 NASHVILLE 3

ST. LOUIS 2 VANCOUVER 1

TAMPA BAY 4 MINNESOTA 1

COLORADO 5 DALLAS 4 OT

NY ISLANDERS 5 ARIZONA 1

FLORIDA 5 VEGAS 1

SEATTLE 4 OTTAWA 1

DETROIT 4 LOS ANGELES 3

WINNIPEG 2 SAN JOSE 1

NATIONAL SPORTS RELEASES/HEADLINES

COLLEGE SPORTS NEWS

NCAA AGREES TO $920 MILLION, 8-YEAR DEAL WITH ESPN FOR WOMEN’S MARCH MADNESS, 39 OTHER CHAMPIONSHIPS

The NCAA and ESPN announced on Thursday a $920 million, eight-year agreement that will give the network exclusive rights to 40 championships, including the Division I women’s basketball tournament, an event growing in popularity that the association has been accused of undervaluing in the past.

NCAA President Charlie Baker told The Associated Press the deal has an average annual value of $115 million, an increase of more than 300% per year on what the previous 14-year deal with ESPN was paying the association.

“Yes, it’s a bundle, but it’s a bigger bundle and it’s a bigger bundle that will be much better,” Baker said.

The deal covers 21 women’s and 19 men’s sports, adding tennis, track and field, men’s gymnastics, the women’s Division II and III volleyball and basketball championships and the men’s DII and DIII basketball championships.

The deal guarantees national championship events in Division I women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics, and the second-tier of Division I football known as FCS will be aired on ABC, though it does not guarantee any start times.

ESPN will also air selection shows for at least 10 championships on its linear networks.

“We had lots of conversations with lots of third parties and lots of interested parties, but we stayed with ESPN as long as they continued to make progress on the deal,” Baker said. “I do believe this was the best deal that was available.”

Baker said the NCAA’s media consultant, Endeavor’s IMG and WME Sports, has estimated about 57% of the value of the deal — or $65 million annually — is tied to the women’s March Madness tournament.

The popularity of the women’s tournament has steadily increased during its time as an exclusive ESPN property, setting viewership records last year. The title game between LSU with Angel Reese and Iowa with Caitlin Clark drew nearly 10 millions viewers.

“From Day 1, we made it very clear to Charlie and team that we were interested in an extension on the exclusivity side as well as the fact that we were interested in acquiring more rights, not less,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said.

Baker said NCAA membership will discuss creating performance units paid out to conferences for success in the women’s tournament similar to those paid out for the men’s tournament.

The rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are owned by CBS and Warner Brothers Discovery, a deal that pays the association about $900 million per year and runs through 2032.

After being criticized for having inequitable resources and facilities at the the 2021 men’s and women’s single-site basketball tournaments, the NCAA — under previous president Mark Emmert — commissioned a law firm to do an outside review of gender equity throughout the association.

Among the numerous recommendations in the Kaplan report was to consider unbundling the women’s basketball tournament from the rest of the championships. Within that report, there was an estimate from Desser Sports Media that the tournament could be worth worth between $81 and $112 million annually beginning in 2025, when the new deal begins.

Hillary Mandel and Karen Brodkin, executive vice presidents for Endeavor, said those estimates set unrealistic expectations.

“We thought that there was a lot of flaws in that report,” Brodkin told the AP. “We think that every media partner we’ve ever spoken to thought that when it came out, they didn’t change their mind at any point in time, notwithstanding their interest in the property or properties.”

Endeavor modeled valuations for the women’s basketball tournament both bundled and unbundled, Mandel said.

“It’s important to know that the exercise was done, and it was looked at and they were open to (unbundling) and there were no sacred cows in this whatsoever. And where they landed is because ESPN came up with the best package for the women’s basketball championship,” Mandel said.

Patrick Crakes, a media consultant and former Fox Sports executive, said he was skeptical of the estimated values for the women’s tournament as a standalone property considering the uncertainty traditional media companies are dealing with due to consumers moving away from cable TV.

“Some of these numbers people were talking about, were not realistic,” Crakes said. “They just weren’t.”

Crakes said ESPN, with ABC broadcast, multiple cable networks, and a subscription streaming service, was the most sensible partner for the NCAA.

“This is worth more to ESPN as a bundle than it would be if the women’s basketball tournament was probably broken out and offered to fill in the blank (network),” he said. “Where’s it going to go? There’s not a lot of programming windows available for it. Who’s going to program that and pay?”

The deal was also struck within ESPN’s exclusive negotiating window and never brought to the open market.

“We had a good sense of who was interested in what, where they were going to put it and, generally speaking, what it would garner financially, production, promotion, distribution,” Brodkin said.

Brodkin and Mandel said the changing media landscape makes bringing a property to the open market riskier and cited the Big 12 moving quickly to extend partnerships with ESPN and Fox while the Pac-12 went to market and failed to find a deal that could keep the conference together.

“There is a more conservative approach right now because the simple economics are changing,” Mandel said.

NBA NEWS

GIANNIS DROPS 44 AS BUCKS TOP WEMBY, SPURS IN THRILLER

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The first battle between Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and San Antonio Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama exceeded the hype.

Antetokounmpo had 44 points and 14 rebounds and Milwaukee overcame an electric performance by Wembanyama on his 20th birthday to beat San Antonio 125-121 on Thursday night.

Wembanyama had 27 points, and Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 34.

“That was a fun game,” Milwaukee coach Adrian Griffin said. “That was a fun game to coach, a fun game to watch. Two of the most unique, talented big men. I use that (big-man term) loosely because they are very versatile players. Man, that was fun. I thought Wemby was great, I thought Giannis was phenomenal.”

Wembanyama’s first meeting with Antetokounmpo was delayed by the French rookie’s sprained ankle Dec. 19 in Milwaukee, but it proved to be worth the wait.

“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Antetokounmpo said. “Can score any time he wants. Plays the right way. Plays to win. It was great playing against him.”

The 7-footers dueled in the final minutes with both hitting clutch 3-pointers and making critical plays defensively.

Antetokounmpo drew a charge on Wembanyama after hitting a 3-pointer for a tie at 118 with three minutes remaining. The Greek star hit his second 3-pointer of the game 34 seconds later to give the Bucks a 121-118 lead.

Wembanyama responded by blocking Damian Lillard’s layup and making a 3-pointer to tie it with 53 seconds left.

“I love to see that from young guys,” Milwaukee Khris Middleton said. “To be competing, not scared of the moment. Not scared of taking the shot and making a move or making a pass or just taking a chance in a close game, especially late in the game. You can tell that he’s not scared of the moment. He loves the challenge. That’s going to be big for him going forward.”

Wembanyama blocked an attempted dunk by Antetokounmpo to set up a potential tying shot. Wembanyama passed up a contested 3-pointer to give the ball to Tre Jones, but the guard missed a 3-pointer from the right corner.

Lillard finished with 25 points and 10 assists.

Wembanyama said Antetokounmpo is one of the players he has studied the most because the 7-footer from Greece is aggressive and “scary for his opponents.”

“I’m a competitor, so I want to go at everyone and be the bad guy on the court,” Wembanyama said. “It was a great matchup.”

Wembanyama dispensed his own dread to the Bucks.

Wembanyama had nine rebounds, five blocks, altered numerous shots and was 10 from 18 from the field.

Wembanyama electrified the crowd by throwing the ball off the backboard to himself for a two-handed dunk early in the second quarter. A few minutes later, he recovered defensively to block Portis’ short jumper after forcing Antetokounmpo to give up the ball near the rim.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Wembanyama picked up a loose ball, drove to the rim, passed the ball around his back to avoid Lillard and threw down a one-handed dunk over Brook Lopez.

His energy spread to his teammates, who put together their most complete game in what has been a dismal season.

“Just the fact we can compete with a championship level team like this, it’s promising,” Wembanyama said.

UP NEXT

Bucks: At Houston on Saturday night.

Spurs: At Cleveland on Sunday.

NIKOLA JOKIC HITS 40-FOOTER AT BUZZER, NUGGETS RALLY TO STUN WARRIORS 130-127

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nikola Jokic hit a 40-footer as time expired and the Denver Nuggets stunned the Golden State Warriors 130-127 on Thursday night after trailing by 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Jokic had 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. He tied it at 127 with a short jumper with 26 seconds left. Golden State’s final possession ended with Stephen Curry’s turnover, setting the the stage for Jokic’s winner from near the right sideline.

The defending champion Nuggets have won 11 of 13 and six straight on the road. They sent the Warriors — who failed to get back to .500 after snapping a three-game skid Tuesday night — to a 1-3 start on their seven-game homestand.

Aaron Gordon scored 30 points for Denver, and Jamal Murray had 25. Curry led Golden State with 30 points. Klay Thompson added 24.

Golden State pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Denver 44-24 after trailing by double-digits early in the half. The Warriors had a 19-6 midway through the quarter, with Brandin Podziemski hitting three corner 3-pointers for a 107-94 lead going into the fourth quarter

The Nuggets took a 70-63 lead into halftime, shooting 62% from the field.

The Warriors weree without Draymond Green, suspended indefinitely three weeks ago, for the 11th straight game. ESPN reported Thursday that Green was expected to return to the team facility in the coming days in anticipation of a return, though coach Steve Kerr did not confirm the report before the game.

Golden State will be without Gary Payton II for another extended stretch because of a strained hamstring. The Warriors said Patyon will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Orlando on Friday night.

Warriors: Host Detroit on Friday night.

NBA FINES NETS $100,000 FOR VIOLATING PARTICIPATION POLICY BY RESTING 4 PLAYERS

The NBA fined the Brooklyn Nets $100,000 on Thursday, marking the first time a team was sanctioned for violating the league’s player participation policy that went into effect this season.

The Nets held out four rotation players — starters Spencer Dinwiddie, Nic Claxton and Cam Johnson, along with key reserve Dorian Finney-Smith — in what became a 144-122 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 27. Three of the players Brooklyn started that night logged 12 minutes or less.

Brooklyn asserted that giving players rest on the second night of a back-to-back — at the start of a stretch where the Nets would play six times in nine days — was best for its club. But the league made clear to teams entering this season that resting multiple players, who are healthy enough to play, at once will no longer be overlooked.

“We’ve talked to all 30 teams about, ‘Hey, there is a way to rest your players,’” NBA executive vice president and head of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. “What we’ve said is sitting four or five guys at one time is not that way. So, if you want to get your players rest, there are ways to do this. But if you do it in a way where it becomes egregious in terms of sitting four or five guys at a time, that’s just not what we’re about in an 82-game league.”

The league’s investigation included a review by an independent physician. The NBA said those resting players “could have played under the medical standard in the Player Participation Policy, which was adopted prior to this season. The organization’s conduct violated the Policy, which is intended to promote player participation in the NBA’s 82-game season.”

After the game against the Bucks, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn insisted the team didn’t treat the game as if it was a meaningless preseason contest. It was the second night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn and Vaughn said he didn’t want to put any player “in harm’s way.”

“I have too much respect for the dudes that suit up and put their body on the line and the competition level to even mention the word exhibition,” Vaughn said that night.

The Nets went 0-4 on the four-game road trip that followed the game against the Bucks, losing each of those last three games by double figures. They are 2-10 in their last 12 contests to fall to 15-20 overall and ninth in the Eastern Conference. They resume play Friday at home against Oklahoma City.

The league’s board of governors approved the new policy — which the NBA says was put together out of “consideration for the interests of fans, integrity of the game, player health, competitive fairness among teams, and transparency” — in September. Teams can be fined $100,000 for the first violation, $250,000 for the second and then an additional $1 million gets tacked on for all subsequent violations.

Commissioner Adam Silver said before the season that the current participation policy boils down to a simple thought: If a player can play, the expectation is they should play.

“This is not about, ‘You can’t rest your players,’” Dumars said. “It’s about how you do it, and that’s not the way to do it.”

GIANNIS, LEBRON TOP INITIAL ALL-STAR FAN VOTING

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James are the leading vote-getters in each conference in the first returns of All-Star fan voting released Thursday.

James and Antetokounmpo are trailed by Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns and reigning MVP Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference frontcourts, respectively.

Meanwhile, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who currently leads the NBA with 12.7 assists per game, received nearly 1.4 million votes and is the only backcourt star in the East to surpass the 1-million mark. Luka Doncic is the top vote-getter in the West among all guards.

Fan voting returns will be released every Thursday prior to the deadline for supporters on Jan. 20. That will constitute 50% of the final vote, with the remaining 50% evenly split between selections by current players and a media panel.

The starters in the midseason exhibition, which returns to the classic East vs. West format this season, will be unveiled Jan. 25 on TNT. The reserves – selected by NBA head coaches – will be announced Feb. 1 on the network.

Indianapolis hosts the 2024 All-Star Game on Feb. 18.

RUBIO ENDS NBA CAREER AFTER REPORTED CAVS BUYOUT

Ricky Rubio has ended his NBA career, he announced Thursday.

The Spanish guard agreed to a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, allowing him to step away from the league after 12 seasons. Rubio cited his mental health as a reason for his decision.

The guard would likely return to Spain if he opts to continue his professional career, according to Wojnarowski.

Rubio had been away from the Cavaliers this season to address his mental health and was not expected to return for the 2023-24 campaign. He played a combined 67 games over two seasons in Cleveland after returning from an ACL tear that sidelined him for just over a calendar year.

“Special mention to Cleveland,” Rubio said in his statement. “My last home. I know the way things ended have been tough.

“I could never have imagined the year would develop this way, but you have an amazing organization, with Koby (Altman) and J.B. (Bickerstaff), who have been extremely respectful and understanding of my situation and caring for me as a person.”

Rubio averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals over 698 career games for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Cavaliers.

A former fifth overall pick in 2009, he also represented Spain internationally, helping the country win silver and bronze at the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, respectively. He was also on the gold-winning side at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

TOP 25 ROUNDUP: NO. 15 MEMPHIS OUTLASTS TULSA

Jahvon Quinerly drilled a 3-pointer with four seconds left as No. 15 Memphis survived blowing a seven-point lead in 17 seconds during the final minute, outlasting host Tulsa 78-75 on Thursday night.

The Tigers (12-2, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) led 75-68 with 1:03 remaining after Nick Jourdain notched a putback dunk, but the Golden Hurricane (9-4, 0-1) rallied. Carlous Williams made a jumper, then Cobe Williams scored five points off two turnovers to tie the game with 33 seconds left.

But Quinerly, whose offensive foul preceded Tulsa’s game-tying 3-pointer, made up for that mistake with the game-winner that extended Memphis’ winning streak to seven games.

Five players scored in double figures for the Tigers, led by David Jones and Nae’Qwan Tomlin with 17 points apiece. Redshirt freshman guard PJ Haggerty starred in defeat for Tulsa with a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

No. 10 Arizona 97, Colorado 50

Pelle Larsson had 18 points and seven rebounds and the Wildcats mauled the Buffaloes from the outset in Pac-12 play at Tucson, Ariz.

Caleb Love had 16 points and Motiejus Krivas added 15 points and nine rebounds for Arizona (11-3, 2-1 Pac-12). Kylan Boswell made four 3-pointers while registering 14 points and three steals for Arizona, which never trailed.

Javon Ruffin scored 11 points for Colorado (11-3, 2-1), which had a six-game winning streak halted.

No. 19 James Madison 68, Louisiana 61

Noah Freidel hit a clutch 3-pointer with 47 seconds left as the Dukes staved off a rally by Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette, La.

Freidel, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds, also made a key jumper just inside the 3-point line with 1:50 left as James Madison (14-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) snapped Louisiana’s 19-game home winning streak.

Kentrell Garnett scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to spearhead the rally by Louisiana (7-7, 0-2).

No. 24 Gonzaga 86, Pepperdine 60

Graham Ike recorded 20 points and seven rebounds and the Bulldogs defeated the Waves for the 46th consecutive time, prevailing in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams in Spokane, Wash.

Anton Watson scored 15 points and Nolan Hickman added 14 as Gonzaga (10-4, 1-0 WCC) won its 28th consecutive WCC opener, including all 25 during coach Mark Few’s tenure at the school.

Houston Mallette scored 15 points but was only 2-of-9 shooting for Pepperdine (7-9, 0-1). Michael Ajayi had 14 points and matched his career best of 14 rebounds for Pepperdine but made just 3 of 15 field-goal attempts.

PROVIDENCE STAR BRYCE HOPKINS (KNEE) TO MISS REST OF SEASON

Providence star Bryce Hopkins has a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.

The loss of the junior forward/guard is big for No. 23 Providence (11-3, 2-1 Big East). Through the first 14 games of the season, Hopkins led the Friars with 8.6 rebounds per game and was second on the team with 15.5 points.

“We all feel for Bryce and his family in this difficult time,” Providence coach Kim English said. “We will be with him throughout this process to help him come back stronger than ever. We ask that all of Friartown keeps Bryce and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Hopkins left Wednesday night’s game against Seton Hall with 14:59 left in the second half of a 61-57 loss. He passed to Devin Carter on a fast break before falling to the floor near midcourt and clutching at his left knee.

He played his freshman season at Kentucky before transferring to Providence ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

Hopkins earned All-Big East honors last season with 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 33 games (all starts).

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S TOP 25 ROUNDUP: NORTH CAROLINA ROLLS PAST NO. 25 SYRACUSE

Alyssa Ustby finished with 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists as North Carolina pulled off an upset win at home over No. 25 Syracuse, 75-51, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Thursday night.

Ustby’s assist total was a career-best, and her triple-double marked the first by any Tar Heel in the history of women’s basketball at North Carolina. The Tar Heels (10-4, 2-0 ACC) also got a career-high-tying 22 points from Maria Gakdeng and 14 points from Lexi Donarski.

Dyaisha Fair paced Syracuse (11-2, 1-1 ACC) with 17 points, while Alyssa Latham added 11 points and 11 boards.

UNC never trailed, but had an advantage of just two points at halftime. Then, in the third quarter, the Heels outscored the Orange 25-6 to comfortably pull away. Donarski had eight points in that frame, knocking down two 3-pointers and two free throws, while Ustby grabbed seven rebounds.

The Tar Heels shot 50 percent from the floor while limiting Syracuse to 29.6 percent.

North Carolina plays a ranked opponent for the second straight game on Sunday, traveling to No. 16 Notre Dame.

No. 1 South Carolina 89, Florida 66

Kamilla Cardoso had 10 points and 15 rebounds to help the Gamecocks open SEC play with a win over the Gators in Gainesville, Fla.

South Carolina (13-0, 1-0 SEC) also got 17 points from Te-Hina Paopao, 16 points from Raven Johnson, 15 points from Bree Hall and 10 points from Milaysia Fulwiley. Leilani Correa powered Florida (9-4, 0-1 SEC) with 28 points.

The Gamecocks never trailed and led by as much as 32 points. South Carolina outscored Florida in the paint 56-26.

No. 3 NC State 88, No. 22 Florida State 80 (OT)

Before she left the game with an apparent injury in the fourth quarter, River Baldwin tallied 21 points and eight rebounds to help the Wolfpack remain unbeaten with a tough victory over the visiting Seminoles in Raleigh, N.C.

Aziaha James added 18 points and Zoe Brooks chipped in 15 for NC State (14-0, 2-0 ACC). The Wolfpack also got nine points and 11 rebounds from Mimi Collins, and 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals from Saniya Rivers.

Ta’Niya Latson dropped 30 points for Florida State (11-4, 2-1 ACC) while shooting 9-of-9 from the free-throw line.

No. 13 Virginia Tech 82, Wake Forest 73

Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore each notched double-doubles as the Hokies captured a road victory over the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Kitley — playing in the same gym that her father Ralph did — had 27 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, while Amoore had 20 points and 10 assists for Virginia Tech (11-2, 2-0 ACC). The Hokies also got 11 points from Matilda Ekh and 13 from Rose Micheaux.

Wake Forest (4-10, 0-2 ACC) was led by 29 points from Elise Williams.

Virginia Tech led by 17 points at halftime and later by as much as 21. The Hokies won the rebounding battle 35-17 and outscored Wake 11-4 on fast breaks.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS

MICHIGAN QB MCCARTHY SAYS SIGN-STEALING SAGA MASKED WORK OF PLAYERS WHO ‘DID THINGS THE RIGHT WAY’

The sign-stealing scandal that has hung over Michigan’s season has overshadowed the work the team has put in to go unbeaten and reach the College Football Playoff championship game, quarterback J.J. McCarthy said Wednesday.

Michigan plays Washington for the national title in Houston on Monday as the NCAA continues to investigate allegations that the Wolverines, over three years extending into this season, had a staff member do in-person advance scouting against NCAA rules and used video equipment to pick off future opponents’ play-call signs from the sideline.

Asked during a CFP media teleconference about the possibility of the NCAA ordering Michigan to vacate wins, McCarthy said it would be unfortunate for the players not to be recognized for what they’ve achieved.

“But at the end of the day,” he said, “it’s not going to change the amount of accomplishment and the amount of pride for being on this football team and just everything that we accomplished because we know what we put in, we know the work that we’ve put in, and we know that we did things the right way as players.”

Coach Jim Harbaugh deflected a question about possible sanctions, saying he is focused on the game against Washington.

“I don’t know if you want to live in rumorville or speculation, but we just don’t really have any room to be doing that at this point,” he said. “That’s done elsewhere.”

The NCAA does not directly ban the stealing of signs, but there are rules against using electronic equipment to record an opponent’s signals and in-person, advanced scouting of future opponents in season. There are also rules against unsportsmanlike or unethical activities by coaches, and head coaches are generally considered to be responsible for violations that occur under them.

The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the final three regular-season games for violating the conference’s sportsmanship policy. Harbaugh has denied having knowledge of sign-stealing activities. Michigan suspended Harbaugh for the first three games of the season amid allegations of recruiting violations.

McCarthy estimated 80% of college football teams steal signs.

“It’s just a thing about football,” he said. “It’s been around for years. We actually had to adapt because in 2020 or 2019 when Ohio State was stealing our signs — which is legal and they were doing it — we had to get up to the level that they were at, and we had to make it an even playing field.”

McCarthy later clarified that comment to The Associated Press.

“When I said we need to level the playing field, I meant in terms of how we change our own signs, how we develop our signs and how and when we distribute those changes when we know signs are likely to have been stolen,” he said.

McCarthy and defensive lineman Mason Graham said they and their teammates put in significant time operating inside the rules to find clues about how opponents might react in different situations.

“We do watch so much film and look for those little tendencies and spend like 10, 15 minutes on one clip alone just looking at all the little details,” McCarthy said, referring to the posture of linebackers or defensive linemen and differences in where cornerbacks and safeties are lined up. “You could say it’s all sign stealing, but there’s a lot more that goes into play, and a lot of stuff that gets masked, a lot of work that gets masked just because of the outside perception of what sign stealing is all about.”

JIM HARBAUGH FAVORED TO BOLT MICHIGAN FOR NFL

While Jim Harbaugh and his staff are preparing to face Washington’s high-powered offense in Monday’s College Football Playoff championship, pundits are speculating whether it will be his final game at Michigan.

His name is annually tied to various NFL coaching vacancies, but that speculation was heightened this season with Harbaugh being suspended from the Wolverines’ sideline on two separate occasions. It ratcheted up even further following reports that he has hired agent Don Yee.

Yee is well known for his NFL connections, most notably as the agent for Tom Brady and Sean Payton.

Michigan reportedly offered

Michigan reportedly offered Harbaugh a 10-year, $125 million extension earlier this season that would make him the highest-paid coach in college football. It would also prevent him from entertaining an NFL job in 2024.

Harbaugh, 60, has yet to sign an extension with Michigan, which has stirred the pot further ahead of the title game.
There are currently two vacancies in the NFL, with the Los Angeles Chargers (Brandon Staley) and Carolina Panthers (Frank Reich) firing their coaches mid-season. Several more are expected to join them after Sunday’s conclusion to the regular season.

Among them is likely to be New England, where the Patriots and Bill Belichick are widely expected to part ways.

Harbaugh previously coached in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, compiling a 44-19-1 record from 2011-14.

SportsBetting.ag is offering -150 odds that Harbaugh returns to the NFL, compared to +100 that he remains at Michigan and +700 odds that he takes the year off from coaching.

Should he bolt for the pros, Harbaugh is already among the favorites to become either the Chargers’ next head coach or fill the legendary shoes Belichick has occupied in New England for the past 24 years.

Next Chargers Coach Odds
Jim Harbaugh (+150)
Ben Johnson (+240)
Bill Belichick (+350)
Kellen Moore (+750)
Bobby Slowik (+1200)
Eric Bieniemy (+1200)
Frank Smith (+1200)
Lincoln Riley (+1600)
Dan Quinn (+1800)
Ryan Day (+1800)
Brian Flores (+2000)
Jerod Mayo (+2800)
Brian Johnson (+3300)
Raheem Morris (+3300)
Deion Sanders (+5000)
Philip Rivers (+10000)

Next Patriots Coach Odds
Jerod Mayo (+150)
Ben Johnson (+500)
Jim Harbaugh (+800)
Eric Bieniemy (+900)
Bill O’Brien (+1100)
Kliff Kingsbury (+1600)
Brian Johnson (+2500)
Joe Brady (+2500)
Dan Quinn (+2800)
Josh McCown (+2800)
Kellen Moore (+2800)
Josh McDaniels (+3300)
Kyle Shanahan (+3300)
Mike Kafka (+3300)
Zac Robinson (+3300)
Jim Schwartz (+4000)
Nick Caley (+4000)
Rick Bissacia (+4000)
Teddy Bruschi (+10000)
Tom Brady (+10000)

What Belichick’s future holds is one of the biggest pending dramas in coaching circles. If the 71-year-old does leave New England, does he want to continue coaching? If he does, it would likely be with a franchise where he believes the roster is primed to compete in the short term.

Bill Belichick 2024 Team Odds
Commanders (+200)
Chargers (+275)
Panthers (+375)
Bears (+800)
Raiders (+800)
Saints (+1800)
Seahawks (+2000)
Falcons (+5000)

(Odds provided for entertainment purposes only. SportsBetting.ag is not a regulated sportsbook in the United States.)

ALL-SEC RB, OLE MISS TD MACHINE QUINSHON JUDKINS TO TRANSFER

All-SEC running back and Ole Miss touchdown machine Quinshon Judkins reportedly informed the coaching staff he plans to enter the transfer portal.

Judkins would be one of the most coveted players available, but he could still return to Ole Miss even after officially starting the transfer process.

He totaled more than 3,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 15-plus touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, posting 34 total scores in 2022 and 2023, a claim no player in the SEC could make since Hershel Walker at Georgia.

The Alabama native strongly considered Notre Dame before landing in Oxford and his departure was unexpected. Judkins was with the Rebels and rushed for 106 yards against Penn State’s No. 1-ranked run defense in the Peach Bowl.

Judkins led the SEC in rushing each of his two seasons at Ole Miss. He gained 1,567 yards as a freshman and 1,158 yards with 15 touchdowns yards in 13 games in 2023.

Momentum had been flowing in a positive direction for Ole Miss after signing a top-20 recruiting class and making major waves in the transfer portal.

Judkins was considered a centerpiece on the 2024 roster with most of the noteworthy contributors on offense committed to return to the Rebels. Quarterback Jaxson Dart, tight end Caden Prieskorn and wide receivers Tre Harris and Jordan Watkins all said during Peach Bowl preparations they’d be back in 2024.

MISSOURI ALL-AMERICAN RB CODY SCHRADER ENTERS NFL DRAFT

Missouri star running back Cody Schrader, who set the school single-season record with 1,627 rushing yards this season, declared for the NFL draft on Thursday.

Schrader rushed for 14 touchdowns and earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors while helping Missouri to an 11-2 record. He was a consensus first-team All-American and finished eighth in Heisman Trophy balloting.

Schrader emerged as a star at Missouri the past two seasons after playing his four college campaigns at Division II Truman State.

“It was a dream of mine as a kid to be a Missouri Tiger,” Schrader said in his announcement on social media. “I want to thank Coach Drink (Eliah Drinkwitz) and Coach Loop (running back coach Curtis Luper) for believing in me when no one else did and developing me, not only as a football player, but as a man.”

Schader rushed for 745 yards and nine touchdowns in 2022 for the Tigers before breaking out big this season.

Cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine and defensive lineman Nyles Gaddy also announced they were entering the NFL draft.

Abrams-Draine was a first-team All-SEC selection after intercepting four passes this season. He had seven overall in three seasons after focusing on defensive back. He arrived at Missouri as a receiver.

Gaddy played just one season at Missouri after playing two seasons at Jackson State. He had four sacks this season.

REPORTS: OHIO STATE LANDS K-STATE QB WILL HOWARD

Will Howard is Ohio State’s solution at quarterback.

The prolific Kansas State veteran is transferring to the Buckeyes, ESPN and On3 reported Thursday.

Howard was a popular target in the transfer portal, with Southern California and Miami also wooing him. It was reported earlier in the week that Howard would visit the Buckeyes’ campus in Columbus, Ohio.

Howard spent four seasons with the Wildcats and holds the school record with 48 career passing touchdowns. In 2023, he tied the school single-season record of 24 TDs set by Ell Roberson in 2003.

“When I started talking to Ohio State, everything kind of lined up,” Howard told ESPN. “I had a list of things I was looking for, in terms of needing to go somewhere where there was a lot of talent around me and … compete for a national championship.”

Last year’s starting quarterback, Kyle McCord, transferred from Ohio State to Syracuse following the 2023 regular season.

Quarterbacks Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz completed 10 of 23 pass attempts for 106 yards as stand-ins during a 14-3 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

With Howard at the helm, Kansas State went 8-4 in 2023. He threw 15 TD passes in his final six games and posted a four-TD performance against Texas. Howard also had a big game against the same Mizzou team that manhandled Ohio State in the bowl game (270 yards, three TD passes in a 30-27 loss in September).

Howard helped guide Kansas State to a memorable 31-28 overtime upset of TCU in the 2022 Big 12 championship game.

He passed for 5,786 yards and threw 25 interceptions in 34 games (27 starts) for the Wildcats. He also rushed for 19 touchdowns.

NFL NEWS

FIRE AT HOME OF DOLPHINS RECEIVER TYREEK HILL STARTED BY CHILD PLAYING WITH CIGARETTE LIGHTER

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A fire at the $6.9 million home owned by Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill was started by a child playing with a cigarette lighter in a bedroom, a fire official said Thursday.

“It was an accidental fire,” Davie Fire Marshal Robert Taylor told The Associated Press.

Taylor did not provide the age of the child, or the amount of damage caused by the fire. He said the investigation is now closed.

Hill was at Dolphins practice for the upcoming regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills when the fire broke out. He left practice when he got word about the blaze.

The house is located in Southwest Ranches, which is about 30 miles northwest of Miami, and was purchased by Hill in May 2022 shortly after the Kansas City Chiefs traded him to the Dolphins.

Miami television station WSVN showed a large amount of black smoke coming from the roof as firefighters doused the house with water. Firefighters appeared to be working on the highest parts of the structure. Many of the bedrooms, a home theatre and a den were among the rooms upstairs, according to the property listing.

Hill’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told reporters gathered outside the house on Wednesday that some family members were home at the time of the fire.

“He and his family are safe,” Rosenhaus said. “No one was injured No. 1, no pets, so for that, we’re very grateful. We’re very grateful to the firefighters that put the fire out. Thankfully, the fire was contained to a limited area in the home. Obviously, there’ll be some smoke and water damage. It’s very difficult for anybody obviously to have your home catch on fire, but Tyreek was handling it, he and his family, with as much poise as you could hope.”

Hill has not yet commented on the matter.

Hill is currently the NFL’s leader in receiving yards with 1,717. He is the only player in NFL history to record at least 1,700 yards in multiple seasons. He is hoping to help lead the Dolphins to a win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night. A victory would clinch the AFC East for Miami for the first time since 2008.

Hill’s teammates expressed their concern and support for him.

“You don’t think that it’s ever going to happen to you until it does,” fullback Alec Ingold said. “It’s something as a team, we’ve got to be able to come together and make sure that we can reach out to Tyreek and be human beings with him and make sure everything is squared away and we can do everything we possibly can to help our teammate.”

THE RAMS AND THE 49ERS TURN TO BACKUP QBS WENTZ AND DAROLD IN SEASON FINALE

LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-7) at SAN FRANCISCO (12-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, Fox

OPENING LINE: 49ers by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Rams 8-6-2, 49ers 9-6-1.

SERIES RECORD: 49ers lead 78-68-3.

LAST MEETING: 49ers beat Rams 30-23 on Sept. 17, 2023, in Los Angeles.

LAST WEEK: Rams beat Giants 26-25; 49ers beat Commanders 27-10.

RAMS OFFENSE: OVERALL (7), RUSH (10), PASS (8), SCORING (8)

RAMS DEFENSE: OVERALL (19), RUSH (12), PASS (24), SCORING (19)

49ERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (3), PASS (2), SCORING (3)

49ERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (7), RUSH (3), PASS (15), SCORING (2)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Rams minus-4; 49ers plus-10.

RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Carson Wentz. Los Angeles is giving starter Matthew Stafford the week off, clearing the way for Wentz to make his first start for the Rams. The former No. 2 overall pick by Philadelphia in 2016, has bounced around the league spending the previous three seasons with Washington (2022), Indianapolis (2021) and the Eagles (2020). He has thrown for 22,129 yards with 151 TDs in his career.

49ERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Sam Darnold. With Brock Purdy getting the week off to rest, Darnold is set to make his first start for San Francisco. Darnold is 12 for 20 for 108 yards, one TD and one interception in brief action this season for San Francisco. The former No. 3 overall pick by the Jets in 2018 has a 78.1 career passer, the lowest among the 39 quarterback with at least 1,000 attempts since he entered the league.

KEY MATCHUP: Rams edge rusher Byron Young vs. 49ers tackle Colton McKivitz. Young has been impressive with seven sacks as a rookie and could provide a big challenge for McKivitz, who has struggled at times in pass protection for San Francisco.

KEY INJURIES: Along with Stafford, Los Angeles plans to rest DT Aaron Donald, RB Kyren Williams, WR Cooper Kupp and LB Ernest Jones. … Los Angeles TE Tyler Higbee (dislocated shoulder) and swing tackle Joe Noteboom (plantar fascia) also will sit out. … Niners coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t decided whether he will keep out any healthy players besides Purdy but San Francisco has several injured players who will likely get the week off: RB Christian McCaffrey (calf), DT Arik Armstead (foot), S Tashaun Gipson Sr. (quadriceps), S Ji’Ayir Brown (knee), OL Jon Feliciano (back), CB Ambry Thomas (hand) and TE Ross Dwelley (ankle).

SERIES NOTES: The 49ers have won nine straight regular-season meetings against the Rams, but lost to Los Angeles in the 2021 NFC title game. … The Rams’ most recent regular-season win in the series came in Week 17 of the 2018 season at home and their most recent road win against San Francisco came earlier that season.

STATS AND STUFF: The Rams clinched their third playoff berth in four seasons last week and will be either the sixth or seventh seed in the NFC. … Los Angeles WR Puka Nacua has 101 catches for 1,445 yards this season. He needs four catches to break Jaylen Waddle’s rookie record set in 2021 and 29 yards to break Bill Groman’s record set in 1960. … Nacua has seven games with at least 100 yards receiving, including 147 on 15 catches in Week 2 against San Francisco. … NT Kobie Turner had 2 1/2 sacks last week and leads all rookies with nine this season. … Los Angeles has scored on a league-best 98.1% of red zone drives, including 61.5% for TDs. … The Rams have the third-fewest takeaways in the NFL with 14. … Los Angeles has missed a league-worst 15 combined extra points and field goals this season — five more than any other team. The Rams waived Lucas Havrisik after he missed two PATs last week and brought back Brett Maher, who missed six FGs and one PAT in seven games earlier this season. … The 49ers clinched the No. 1 seed for the 10th time in franchise history last week. … San Francisco has won 12 straight games against NFC West opponents, tied for the longest streak ever in the division. … TE George Kittle topped the 1,000-yard mark from scrimmage mark last week, joining teammates Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. San Francisco is the sixth team ever with four players with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage in the same season. … Aiyuk has at least 100 yards receiving in his past four home games. … Samuel needs 4 yards rushing to join Charley Taylor as the only players with at least 4,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing in his first five seasons. … The Niners have scored 69 points on the opening drive. The only teams since at least 2000 to score more on the opening drive are the 2020 Packers (73 points) and the 2007 Patriots (71). … San Francisco K Jake Moody is 58 for 58 on extra points this season for the longest streak of makes without a miss ever for a rookie.

FANTASY TIP: With McCaffrey out this week with a strained calf, Elijah Mitchell should get the bulk of the rushing load for San Francisco. Mitchell had 17 carries for 80 yards and a TD last week, showing off the form that helped him set a franchise rookie rushing record in 2021.

BROWNS RESTING QB JOE FLACCO, OTHER STARTERS FOR FINALE AGAINST BENGALS TO BE READY FOR AFC PLAYOFFS

CLEVELAND (11-5) at CINCINNATI (8-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS.

BETTING LINE: Bengals by 7, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Browns 10-5-1; Bengals 6-8-2

SERIES RECORD: Bengals lead 52-48.

LAST MEETING: Browns beat Bengals 24-3 on Sept. 10 in Cleveland.

LAST WEEK: Browns beat Jets 37-20; Bengals lost to Chiefs 25-17.

BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (11), PASS (19), SCORING (9).

BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (1), SCORING (11).

BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (22), RUSH (32), PASS (11), SCORING (20).

BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (26), PASS (29), SCORING (T21).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Browns minus-8; Bengals plus-9.

BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jeff Driskel. With Joe Flacco sitting out the finale to rest for the playoffs, Driskel makes his Cleveland debut as the fifth quarterback to start for the Browns this season. The 30-year-old Driskel was recently signed off Arizona’s practice squad and this could be an audition for him to back up Flacco in the postseason. Driskel made five starts for the Bengals in 2018.

BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Trey Hendrickson is tied with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt for the NFL lead in sacks with a career-high 17. His strip-sack of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes last week marked his seventh straight game with at least a full sack. No Cincinnati player has led the NFL in sacks since the league began tracking them in 1982. Hendrickson was elected to the Pro Bowl Wednesday.

KEY MATCHUP: The Browns vs. their painful injury history. Cleveland just wants to get out of this game as healthy as possible in advance of its wild-card matchup. Coach Kevin Stefanski is sitting many of his starters for rest and to hopefully avoid losing anyone else.

KEY INJURIES: Browns K Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) could miss his second straight game and his status remains unclear for the playoffs. Before he got hurt against Houston on Dec. 23, Hopkins was the league’s most accurate kicker. … Browns WR Elijah Moore (concussion) remained in protocol after getting hurt last week. … Browns DE Ogbo Okoronkwo (pectoral) could be back after missing two games. … Browns P Corey Bojorquez (quad) will be back following a one-game absence. … Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase — selected to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday — is still recovering from a sprained shoulder joint but said earlier in the week he plans to play. … Bengals WR Tee Higgins (hamstring) is questionable.

SERIES NOTES: The Browns have won six of the past seven meetings, and nine of the past 11. Cincinnati has played more games against Cleveland (100) than any foe except Pittsburgh (109). … When Cleveland swept Cincinnati in 2018, it was the Browns’ first season sweep over the Bengals since 2002. … Cincinnati’s longest win streak was seven in 2014-17. The Browns won seven straight in 1992-95. … Cincinnati lost to Cleveland 21-16 on Jan. 9, 2022, as the Bengals rested most of their starters ahead of the playoffs. The Bengals advanced to the Super Bowl.

STATS AND STUFF: The Browns clinched just their third playoff berth since 1999 last week. … Cleveland’s 11 wins are tied for the second most in team history. The Browns went 12-4 in 1986. … The Browns have not had a five-game winning steak since 1999. … Stefanski wouldn’t divulge names other than Flacco, but DE Myles Garrett, WR Amari Cooper, LG Joel Bitonio, CB Denzel Ward and TE David Njoku — all Pro Bowlers — are expected to sit. … Cleveland will face the still-to-be-determined AFC South champion in the wild-card round. … Flacco has been far better than expected since signing on Nov. 20. He’s 4-1 as a starter and thrown for 1,616 yards and 13 TDs — both league highs since Week 13. … Flacco, who turns 39 on Jan. 16, is the first Cleveland QB to throw for at least 300 yards in four straight games. … The Browns are one of eight teams since 1950 to win with four QBs. The 1987 New England Patriots are the only team to win with five. … The Browns have continued to win despite leading the league with 35 giveaways (21 INTs, 14 fumbles). … Njoku leads Cleveland with 81 catches and 6 TDs. … Hopkins is four points from breaking Jim Brown’s single-season scoring record (126). … Bengals QB Jake Browning is 3-3 as the starter after taking over for injured starter Joe Burrow, who tore a ligament in his wrist Nov. 16. … Hendrickson’s 17 sacks are second in team history only to DE Coy Bacon, who had 22 in 1976. … The Bengals failed to win the AFC North and advance to the playoffs for the first time since Burrow’s rookie season in 2020. … Cincinnati has won the turnover battle in 10 of its 16 games season and is 7-3 in those games. … Cincinnati offensively has lost just two fumbles, the fewest in the NFL.

FANTASY TIP: Veteran Bengals WR Tyler Boyd has gotten fewer chances since Chase and Higgins came to town. But with those stars banged up, Boyd could get some more targets.

JAGUARS VISIT LOOKING TO CLINCH 2ND STRAIGHT AFC SOUTH TITLE AGAINST THE TITANS

JACKSONVILLE (9-7) at TENNESSEE (5-11)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS.

OPENING LINE: Jaguars by 5 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Jacksonville 9-7; Tennessee 6-9-1.

SERIES RECORD: Titans lead 34-24.

LAST MEETING: Jaguars won 34-14 at Jacksonville on Nov. 19.

LAST WEEK: Jaguars beat Panthers 26-0; Titans lost to Texans 26-3.

JAGUARS OFFENSE: OVERALL (14), RUSH (23), PASS (9), SCORING (13)

JAGUARS DEFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (8), PASS (27), SCORING (15)

TITANS OFFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (18), PASS (28), SCORING (28)

TITANS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (18), PASS (16), SCORING (16)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Jaguars minus-2; Titans minus-7.

JAGUARS PLAYER TO WATCH: Pass rusher Josh Allen is coming off his third three-sack game of the season and could wreak havoc on a bad Tennessee offensive line that has allowed 62 sacks, tied for the third most in the league and most in the team’s 25 seasons as the Titans. Allen broke the franchise record for single-season sacks last week and now has 16½. He joined Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor as the only players since 1982 with four games in a season with at least 2½ sacks.

TITANS PLAYER TO WATCH: Four-time Pro Bowl RB Derrick Henry could be playing his final game in a Tennessee uniform. He turned 30 Thursday, and this is his final game under his current contract. The two-time NFL rushing leader and eighth man to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season ranks fifth in the league rushing this season. Henry needs 105 yards rushing to become the career leading rusher of anyone drafted out of Alabama, trailing only Shaun Alexander who had 9,453 yards in nine NFL seasons.

KEY INJURIES: The Jaguars are keeping a close eye on QB Trevor Lawrence (right passing shoulder and finger injury) and WRs Christian Kirk (groin) and Zay Jones (hamstring/knee), hoping all three will be able to play in the regular-season finale. KR/PR Jamal Agnew (lower leg) is out for the season. … Titans rookie QB Will Levis now has an injury to both feet after a Texans defender stepped on his right foot while dealing with a left ankle issue. … RG Daniel Brunskill (ankle) was limited to 12 snaps after missing the game before. LT Jaelyn Duncan has a neck issue after coming off the bench in the previous game. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting and TE Kevin Rader both are dealing with hip injuries.

SERIES NOTES: The Jaguars have won three straight, ending Tennessee’s streak of five consecutive wins in this AFC South rivalry. … The Jaguars are trying to win back-to-back division titles since the 1998-99 seasons. The Titans are 18-10 at home against the Jaguars.

STATS & STUFF: The Jaguars are 6-2 away from home this season, but have lost consecutive games on the road. They are 0-3 in marquee games, losing to defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City in September and in prime-time games against Cincinnati and Baltimore in December. … Evan Engram is the eighth tight end in NFL history to catch at least 100 passes in a season. He now has 104, 12 shy of the franchise record set by Jimmy Smith in 1999. Engram had 11 catches for a career-high 162 yards and two TDs against Tennessee last season. … RB Travis Etienne is the first player in team history to run for at least 10 scores since Maurice Jones-Drew accomplished the feat in 2009. His 11 rushing scores are tied for fourth in the AFC. … Pass rusher Travon Walker has at least half a sack in six of the team’s past seven games. He has nine sacks in his second season. … QB C.J. Beathard, who subbed for Lawrence last week, hasn’t thrown an interception in his past four starts. … LB Foye Oluokun ranks third in the NFL with 166 tackles. … The Titans have lost three straight and 18 of the past 23 going back to last season. … A victory would give the Titans 117 wins at Nissan Stadium, topping the 116 wins at the old Astrodome in Houston for most at any venue in franchise history. … Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins has a team-high 68 catches for 1,011 yards and six TDs. He needs seven more receptions for the franchise’s first 75-catch season since Delanie Walker in 2015. … The Titans are the NFL’s only team with two defenders with 10 or more sacks apiece going into the final weekend. Denico Autry has a career-high 11 1/2 sacks, and OLB Harold Landry III has 10 1/2. Landry needs 1 1/2 sacks to become the franchise’s third player with multiple 12-sack seasons since individual sacks became an official statistic in 1982. … K Nick Folk has made an NFL-record 78 straight field goals on attempts from less than 40 yards. He needs one more made field goal for his sixth season with at least 30, joining Justin Tucker of Baltimore (nine) as the only players to do that in NFL history. … The Titans are 32-20 when Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry start. … The Titans used a season-high 13 rookies last week, including a season-high seven starters.

FANTASY TIP: Henry needs one more rushing TD to reach 90 for his career, which would tie him with Eric Dickerson and Curtis Martin for 13th all time. One more rushing TD would give Henry 12 for the fifth time in his career, joining LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson, Alexander and Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history with five such seasons.

COWBOYS ARE DOUBLE-DIGIT FAVORITES TO BEAT THE COMMANDERS AND WIN THE NFC EAST

DALLAS (11-5) at WASHINGTON (4-12)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, Fox

BETTING LINE: Cowboys by 13 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cowboys 9-7; Commanders 6-9-1

SERIES RECORD: Dallas leads 77-48-2.

LAST MEETING: Cowboys beat Commanders 45-10 on Nov. 23 at Dallas.

LAST WEEK: Cowboys beat Lions 20-19; Commanders lost to 49ers 27-10.

COWBOYS OFFENSE: OVERALL (6), RUSH (14), PASS (4), SCORING (3)

COWBOYS DEFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (20), PASS (5), SCORING (5)

COMMANDERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (21), RUSH (24), PASS (18), SCORING (23)

COMMANDERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (25), PASS (31), SCORING (32)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Cowboys plus-8; Commanders minus-12

COWBOYS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR CeeDee Lamb is 66 yards behind Miami’s Tyreek Hill for the NFL lead in yards receiving going into the final weekend. Lamb has set single-season franchise records for yards with 1,651 and catches with a league-leading 122. The fourth-year star is coming off a career day against the Lions. His 13 catches and 227 yards were personal bests. He scored a touchdown in an eighth consecutive game. Lamb is the first Dallas receiver with a TD streak that long.

COMMANDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: S Kam Curl. One of several pending free agents on defense, Curl has had plenty of ups and downs this season. Whether his future is with Washington or elsewhere, this is a final chance to show what he can do in coverage and making open-field tackles against an elite passing offense.

KEY MATCHUP: The Cowboys defense vs. Sam Howell. If this is anything like San Francisco or the New York Jets, Dallas will be able to feast on Howell’s mistakes and take advantage of Washington’s banged-up offensive line missing at least two starters. Howell has clearly worn down as the season has gone on and could be ripe for another pick-6 from DaRon Bland, who intercepted him and returned it for a TD on Thanksgiving to break the single-season NFL record.

KEY INJURIES: Cowboys DT Johnathan Hankins could return after missing three games with a sprained ankle. … Backup RB Rico Dowdle has returned to practice after sitting against Detroit with an ankle injury. … LG Tyler Smith tore the plantar fascia in a foot against Detroit. If he plays, it will likely be without practicing all week. Undrafted rookie T.J. Bass is the likely starter if Smith can’t play. … DE Dorance Armstrong was limping noticeably in the locker room Wednesday, the same day rookie DE Viliami Fehoko (knee) was activated from injured reserve. … The Commanders could be without a couple of veterans dealing with knee injuries: DT Jonathan Allen and CB Kendall Fuller. … Young DBs Christian Holmes (concussion) and Tarik Castro-Fields (shoulder) are also trending toward being out.

SERIES NOTES: The Cowboys have won 34 of 64 visits to Washington in franchise history. While Dak Prescott is 10-2 against the Commanders, each of the losses came on the road. That includes last season, when he had a career-worst completion rate of 37.8% (14 of 37) and his third-worst passer rating (45.8). Prescott did have a season-best 142.1 passer rating in Dallas’ win at home this season. He threw for 331 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

STATS AND STUFF: The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title with a victory. They are tied with defending division champion Philadelphia. The Eagles need a victory and a Dallas loss to be the first team to win the division back to back since they won four in a row from 2001-04. … A victory gives Dallas 12 wins for a third consecutive season. It’s a first for the club since four consecutive seasons at least 12 wins from 1992-95. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in that stretch but haven’t even been to an NFC championship game since. … Dallas has a plus-122 point differential in NFC East games this season. That’s the second-highest for a team against division opponents since 2000. … Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is 41-25 in the regular season. That’s the most wins for a Dallas coach in his first four seasons. … Prescott leads the NFL with 32 touchdown passes, five shy of his career high from 2021. The eighth-year pro made his third Pro Bowl. … LB Micah Parsons has half a sack over his past three games. The third-year pro has never gone four games without at least one sack. Parsons made his third Pro Bowl, the third Dallas defender to earn that honor each of his first three seasons. … Bland has gone four games with an interception but still leads the NFL with eight, including the record for pick-6s with five. … K Brandon Aubrey has the NFL record with 35 field goals without a miss to start a career. The 28-year-old rookie and former Major League Soccer prospect is tied with Gary Anderson (Minnesota, 1998) for the second-most field goals without a miss in a single NFL season. Mike Vanderjagt holds the record with 37 for Indianapolis in 2003. … The Commanders have lost seven in a row. They would get the second pick in the draft with a loss and a Patriots win or a loss and the Saints victory against the Falcons. … QB Sam Howell leads the NFL with 19 interceptions and has been sacked a league-high 61 times. His 585 passing attempts rank second. … Howell is set to be the first Washington QB to start every game of a season since Kirk Cousins in 2017. With 207 yards passing, he can also be the franchise’s first to 4,000 in a season since Cousins. … WR Terry McLaurin is 54 yards receiving away from a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season.

ANALYSIS: FALLING SHORT IN THE PLAYOFFS WON’T CUT IT FOR LAMAR JACKSON AND THE RAVENS

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens played their best football in the biggest games of the regular season.

Now, they’ve got to do it in the playoffs.

Jackson has been one of the NFL’s top players for several years, but the Ravens are just 1-3 in the playoffs with him.

This season seems different. The Ravens have not only beaten the better teams, they’ve dominated them.

Jackson boosted his chances for his second AP NFL MVP award with back-to-back sensational performances in lopsided wins over the 49ers (12-4) and Dolphins (11-5) to help the Ravens (13-3) secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

He threw for 573 yards and seven touchdowns with a 145.3 passer rating and ran for 80 yards in the two games as the Ravens outscored both teams 89-38.

In five games this season against teams that currently have 11 wins, Jackson has completed 90 of 125 passes (72%) for 1,339 yards, 13 TDs and two picks with a 134.7 passer rating. The Ravens were 4-1 in those games with average margin of victory of 27 points and each win by at least 14.

Overall, Jackson has a career-high 3,678 yards passing with 24 TDs, seven interceptions and a 102.7 passer rating. He’s also run for 821 yards and five scores. He had 36 TD passes, 1,206 yards rushing and seven TDs on the ground in 2019 when he was the NFL MVP.

But the Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs in the divisional round after earning the top seed that season.

That won’t cut it this time.

“We gotta finish the season the right way,” Jackson said.

WOUNDED BIRDS

That 10-1 start for the Philadelphia Eagles is a distant memory.

Four losses in the past five games knocked the Eagles out of the running for the NFC’s No. 1 seed and likely into a wild-card spot. Blowing a 21-6 halftime lead in a 35-31 loss to lowly Arizona cost Philly control of the NFC East and now the Eagles need Dallas to lose to Washington to have a shot at winning the division.

Fans are calling for coach Nick Sirianni’s job, even though he’s 34-16 with three playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl trip, in three seasons.

They’ve wanted offensive coordinator Brian Johnson fired for a while. First-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai already lost play-calling duties to Matt Patricia.

A.J. Brown is not happy with the offensive play-calling and refusing to talk to reporters to avoid criticizing coaches. Anonymous players have questioned Jalen Hurts’ leadership.

Things most definitely aren’t sunny in Philadelphia.

“We’re all frustrated,” Sirianni said.

Despite their troubles, the Eagles are capable of going on a run. They beat Dallas, Miami, Buffalo and Kansas City this season before losing to the 49ers, Cowboys, Seahawks and Cardinals. If they somehow get back on track, they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs.

WINNING THE SOUTH

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew their first chance to clinch a third straight NFC South title. A four-game losing streak prevented the Jacksonville Jaguars from securing a second consecutive AFC South title until Week 18.

Both teams are in excellent position to do it this week. The Buccaneers (8-8) visit the woeful Carolina Panthers (2-14). The Jaguars are on the road at Tennessee (5-11).

If the Buccaneers stumble, the Falcons-Saints winner takes the division. If the Jaguars slip up, the Texans-Colts winner takes the crown.

The teams that come out of the South in both conferences could be home underdogs in the wild-card round.

The AFC South winner will host the Cleveland Browns (11-5). The NFC South winner will host either the Eagles or Cowboys.

ONE YEAR LATER

On Jan. 2, 2023, Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and needed to be resuscitated after undergoing a cardiac arrest. Hamlin made a remarkable recovery and has played in five games this season.

The NFL and other major sports leagues and leading health advocacy organizations launched the Smart Heart Sports Coalition in March 2023 in response to Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. The coalition’s goal is for every state across the country to adopt life-saving policies that will prevent fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest among high school athletes and others.

Those policies are:

— An Emergency Action Plan for each high school athletic venue that are widely distributed, posted, rehearsed, and updated annually.

— Clearly marked automated external defibrillator (AEDs) at each athletic venue or within 1-3 minutes of each venue where high school practices or competitions are held.

— CPR and AED education for coaches.

Since the coalition’s work began, five states have moved to enact one or more of the policies, including New Mexico, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana and California.

PRO PICKS: BILLS WILL BEAT THE DOLPHINS TO WIN THE AFC EAST TITLE

The Miami Dolphins went from playing for the AFC’s No. 1 seed to playing for their division to avoid the sixth spot this week.

Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills stand in their way.

The Bills-Dolphins will face off Sunday night in the NFL’s final regular-season game in a showdown for the AFC East title.

The Dolphins (11-5) had a shot at earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs but were pounded by Baltimore 56-19. If they beat Buffalo, they’ll secure the No. 2 seed.

The Bills (10-6) would get the two seed with a win. If they lose, they’d drop to sixth, seventh or completely out of the playoffs.

Miami is 1-4 against winning teams. A dynamic offense led by Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill couldn’t get going against the Ravens. They’ll need to get back on track against Buffalo.

The Bills routed the Dolphins 48-20 in Week 4. They’re 3-point favorites on the road, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Pro Picks leans toward the playoff-tested Bills.

BILLS, 34-27

PHILADELPHIA at NEW YORK GIANTS

Line: Eagles minus 5 1/2

The free-falling Eagles (11-5) have lost four of five and now need a victory plus Dallas to get upset to win the division. The Giants (5-11) almost rallied for a win in Philly on Christmas.

BEST BET: EAGLES, 28-17

HOUSTON at INDIANAPOLIS

Line: Texans minus 1 1/2

The winner clinches at least a wild-card spot and would win the AFC South if the Jaguars lose. The Colts beat the Texans 31-20 on the road in Week 3 behind Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew, who stepped in after the rookie starter got hurt.

UPSET SPECIAL: COLTS 24-23

PITTSBURGH at BALTIMORE

Line: Steelers minus 3 1/2

The Steelers (9-7) are fighting for a playoff spot and sticking with Mason Rudolph at quarterback after two straight impressive games. The Ravens (13-3) locked up the No. 1 seed and are looking to avoid injuries.

STEELERS, 24-17

ATLANTA at NEW ORLEANS

Line: Saints minus 3

The winner would clinch the NFC South if the Buccaneers lose to Carolina. The Saints (8-8) kept their hopes alive with an impressive win at Tampa. The Falcons (7-9) have lost three of four.

SAINTS, 23-18

CLEVELAND at CINCINNATI

Line: Bengals minus 6

The Bengals (8-8) are playing for a winning record. The Browns (11-5) already have locked up the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

BENGALS, 26-17

JACKSONVILLE at TENNESSEE

Line: Jaguars minus 5 1/2

A four-game losing streak after an 8-3 start forced the Jaguars (9-7) into having to win the game to clinch their second straight AFC South. C.J. Beathard led them to a 26-0 win last week filling in for Trevor Lawrence. The Titans (5-11) are aiming to play spoiler.

JAGUARS, 23-20

TAMPA BAY at CAROLINA

Line: Buccaneers minus 5 1/2

A banged-up Baker Mayfield gets his second chance to lead the Buccaneers (8-8) to the NFC South title. The lowly Panthers (2-14) were embarrassed on and off the field as owner David Tepper was fined $300,000 for throwing a drink at Jaguars fans toward the end of last week’s loss.

BUCCANEERS, 27-13

NEW YORK JETS at NEW ENGLAND

Line: Patriots minus 2 1/2

The Patriots (4-12) could cost themselves draft positioning if they beat the Jets (6-10) in what could be Bill Belichick’s last game after an unprecedented run of success that included six Super Bowl titles.

PATRIOTS, 16-12

MINNESOTA at DETROIT

Line: Lions minus 3

The Vikings (7-9) need a win and plenty of help to make the playoffs. The Lions (11-5) can tie the franchise record of 12 wins in a season. They’ll be the NFC’s No. 2 or 3 seed.

LIONS, 30-20

CHICAGO at GREEN BAY

Line: Packers minus 3

A victory secures a playoff berth for Jordan Love and the Packers (8-8). The Bears (7-9) have won four of five and are facing an important offseason decision on Justin Fields.

PACKERS, 26-22

DALLAS at WASHINGTON

Line: Cowboys minus 13 1/2

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys (11-5) need a win to clinch the NFC East title and the No. 2 seed. The Commanders (4-12) would ruin their rival’s hopes with an upset.

COWBOYS, 30-18

SEATTLE at ARIZONA

Line: Seahawks minus 2 1/2

After losing five of seven, the Seahawks (8-8) now need a win and loss by the Packers to make the playoffs. The Cardinals (4-12) ruined Philadelphia’s division hopes last week and aim to mess up Seattle’s season.

SEAHAWKS, 24-20

LOS ANGELES RAMS at SAN FRANCISCO

Line: 49ers minus 3

The 49ers (12-4) have clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Rams (9-7) will be either the No. 6 or 7 seed. Staying healthy is the priority for both teams so expect to see plenty of backups.

RAMS, 24-23

DENVER at LAS VEGAS

Line: Raiders minus 2 1/2

The Broncos (8-8) aim to finish with a winning record heading into a difficult offseason that starts with how to handle Russell Wilson’s situation. Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce gets one more chance at proving he deserves the job after going 4-4 in his first eight games.

RAIDERS, 24-16

KANSAS CITY at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Line: Chargers minus 3

Patrick Mahomes and the many starters on the Chiefs (10-6) could rest with the AFC West title already secured. The Chargers (5-11) are better off losing for draft positioning.

CHARGERS, 23-21

___

Last week: Straight up: 11-5. Against spread: 10-6

Overall: Straight up: 157-99. Against spread: 133-113-9.

Best Bet: Straight up: 9-8. Against spread: 6-10-1.

Upset Special: Straight up: 8-9. Against spread: 10-7.

Thursday: Straight up: 13-6. Against spread: 14-4-1.

Monday: Straight up: 9-12. Against spread: 13-7-1.

QUESTIONS SURROUND AIDAN O’CONNELL’S FUTURE WITH THE RAIDERS AS HE PREPARES FOR BRONCOS

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The Raiders not only will have a major decision to make soon on interim coach Antonio Pierce, but Las Vegas management also will have a call to make on quarterback Aidan O’Connell.

Drafted in the fourth round out of Purdue last year, O’Connell became the starter at midseason when Pierce was promoted after coach Josh McDaniels was fired.

O’Connell has produced some promising moments, but the past four weeks underscore the ups and downs of his rookie season. Shut out by the Vikings. Four touchdown passes and a team-record 63 points against the Chargers. No completions after the first quarter against the Chiefs. And 299 yards and two TDs against the Colts.

Two wins and two losses.

All of it a learning process — and not just on game day.

“The ability to get practice reps throughout the week is huge, something I didn’t know how valuable it was before I was playing,” O’Connell said. “Just to get out there when the real bullets are flying is huge. I try to learn as much as possible. It’s been crazy. I’ve definitely learned more football than a lot of years in the past, but it’s been a fun process.”

The Raiders likely will focus on trying to land one of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, which could be among the deepest in history at that position. Barring a trade up, Las Vegas likely won’t be able to select Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, but there are other QBs such as Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix who could be available.

Part of the uncertainty regards who will be making the decision. Like with Pierce, the Raiders have an interim general manager in Champ Kelly. It’s possible both return, but if owner Mark Davis replaces either or both of them, it’s unknown what the organization will do at quarterback.

O’Connell can’t control any of that, only what he can do in Sunday’s final audition when the Denver Broncos visit.

“Each week has so much,” O’Connell said. “There’s a lot of studying I have to do to get ready to play the game, so it’s almost a blessing there is so much to do because you can’t really think of anything else in the future.”

O’Connell has maintained a measured approach all season, whether he was committing three turnovers in his first start against the Los Angeles Chargers or putting together a breakout performance in the rematch.

“He does a really good job of commanding the offense and staying poised,” wide receiver Davante Adams said. “At no point have I really seen him too rattled. The game can be difficult. It’s not like it’s easy all the time for him. I’ve definitely seen his composure and his poise evolve. He was a rookie a little bit in the huddle before, and that quickly changed as he got a little more confident and more experienced.”

Part of that growth was learning from mistakes.

O’Connell threw seven interceptions in his first seven starts. He has none in his past three.

“I think he’s gotten better each and every week,” Pierce said. “There’s been some good and some bad. I think one thing he’s really done a good job (of) over the last couple weeks is taking care of the football.”

Now O’Connell has to take care of preparing for his final start of the season.

Will it be his final start for the Raiders? Either way, he has the chance to end a tumultuous season on a positive note.

“For the offense in particular, it’s been up and down,” O’Connell said. “One week we’ll have a good week and the next we won’t execute as well. It’s going to take hopefully a statement at the end of the year to give us some momentum.”

ADAMS SUPPORTS PIERCE

Adams has never been shy about expressing his opinion in two seasons with Las Vegas, and what he says carries weight in the organization.

So he made his position clear Wednesday regarding’s Pierce’s future.

“It’s obviously who I want,” Adams said. “That’s my vote, and I’ve been vocal about that. That’s basically how the whole locker room feels, with good reason. He’s come in and done a great job and continues to win us over. It’s not just the comfortable thing. Having AP here will be good for this organization. He embodies what it means to be a Raider.”

INJURIES

Running back Josh Jacobs (quadriceps) and tight end Michael Mayer (toe) were held out of the walkthrough practice. Jacobs has missed the past three games and Mayer the past two.

NFL PREVIEW: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Below are among the milestones that can be reached in Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season:

  • Rushing quarterbacks (Josh Allen & Jalen Hurts)
  • Houston (C.J. Stroud)
  • Young quarterbacks with 4,000+ passing yards
  • Miami (Tyreek Hill)
  • Dallas (CeeDee Lamb)
  • Las Vegas (Davante Adams)
  • L.A. Rams (Puka Nacua)
  • Detroit (Sam LaPorta)
  • Jacksonville (Evan Engram)

  ALLEN & HURTS RUSHING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS

Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN and Philadelphia quarterback JALEN HURTS each have 15 rushing touchdowns, tied for the most by a quarterback in a season in NFL history. In total, quarterbacks have rushed for 112 touchdowns this season, marking the third season all-time with at least 100 rushing touchdowns by quarterbacks, joining 2020 (126) and 2022 (105).

The quarterbacks with the most rushing touchdowns in a season in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRUSH TDs
Josh AllenBuffalo202315*
Jalen HurtsPhiladelphia202315*
Cam NewtonCarolina201114
*Entering Week 18

Allen has a rushing touchdown in five consecutive games and on Sunday night in Miami (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), can become the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era with a rushing touchdown in six consecutive games, joining JUSTIN FIELDS (six consecutive games in 2022).

Allen ranks second among quarterbacks all-time with 53 career rushing touchdowns, trailing only Newton (75 rushing touchdowns). Hurts ranks fourth with 41 rushing touchdowns and, with two rushing touchdowns in Week 18 at the New York Giants (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS), can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG (43 rushing touchdowns) for the third-most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NFL history.

Additionally, with two rushing touchdowns, Hurts would become the first quarterback all-time with multiple rushing touchdowns in five games in a season.

The quarterbacks with the most rushing touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYERRUSH TDs
Cam Newton75
Josh Allen53*
Steve YoungHOF43
Jalen Hurts41*
Jack Kemp40
*Active

Allen enters Week 18 with 3,947 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes. On Sunday night, he can join DREW BREES (nine consecutive seasons from 2008-16) as the only players in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes in four consecutive seasons.

Allen has 42 combined passing and rushing touchdowns this season and had 45 combined touchdowns in 2020. With three touchdowns in Week 18, he can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least 45 combined passing and rushing touchdowns in multiple career seasons, joining TOM BRADY (2007 and 2021), PATRICK MAHOMES (2018 and 2022), Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (2004 and 2013) and AARON RODGERS (2011 and 2020).

Allen has 165 touchdown passes since entering the NFL in 2018 and, with three touchdown passes this week, can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (167 touchdown passes) for the third-most by a player in his first six seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (196 touchdown passes) and PATRICK MAHOMES (192) have more.

The players with the most touchdown passes in their first six seasons in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMPASS TDs 
Dan MarinoHOFMiami196 
Patrick MahomesKansas City192 
Peyton ManningHOFIndianapolis167 
Josh AllenBuffalo165* 
*In sixth season

 STROUD AND TEXANS ON VERGE OF MILESTONES

With a win on Saturday night against Indianapolis (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC), the HOUSTON TEXANS, led by first-year head coach DEMECO RYANS and rookie quarterback C.J. STROUD, can become the first team with a rookie head coach and qualifying rookie quarterback to make the postseason since the 2012 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (CHUCK PAGANO and ANDREW LUCK).

Stroud has 3,844 passing yards this season and on Sunday he can become the fifth rookie all-time to reach 4,000 passing yards.

The rookies with the most passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONPASSING YARDS 
Andrew LuckIndianapolis20124,374 
Justin HebertL.A. Chargers20204,336 
Cam NewtonCarolina20114,051 
Jameis WinstonTampa Bay20154,042 
C.J. StroudHouston20233,844* 
*Entering Week 18

Stroud has six games with at least 300 passing yards, tied for the most in the league this season. With 300 passing yards in Week 18, Stroud will surpass ANDREW LUCK (six games in 2012) for the second-most 300-yard games ever by a rookie. Only JUSTIN HERBERT (eight in 2020) has more.

​Stroud enters Week 18 with a 99.0 passer rating and can join DAK PRESCOTT (104.9 rating in 2016), ROBERT GRIFFIN III (102.4 in 2012) and RUSSELL WILSON (100.0 in 2012) as the only qualifying rookie quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100-or-higher.

 YOUNG QUARTERBACKS ON VERGE OF 4,000 YARDS

Two quarterbacks age 25 or younger – Miami’s TUA TAGOVAILOA (4,451 passing yards, age 25) and San Francisco’s BROCK PURDY (4,280, age 24) – have already reached 4,000 passing yards this season while five other quarterbacks age 25 or younger – Houston’s C.J. STROUD (3,844, age 22), Green Bay’s JORDAN LOVE (3,843, age 25), Philadelphia’s JALEN HURTS (3,803, age 25), Washington’s SAM HOWELL (3,793, age 23) and Jacksonville’s TREVOR LAWRENCE (3,736, age 24) are within 300 passing yards of the 4,000-yard mark entering Week 18.

The 2023 season can become the first season in NFL history with five-or-more quarterbacks age 25 or younger each registering at least 4,000 passing yards in the same season, surpassing the 2020 season (four quarterbacks).

The 2023 season can also become the first season in NFL history with four-or-more quarterbacks age 24 or younger each recording at least 4,000 passing yards in the same season, surpassing the 2018 (three quarterbacks) and 2012 (three) seasons.

 HILL CAN BECOME SEVENTH WITH 1,800 RECEIVING YARDS​

Miami wide receiver TYREEK HILL leads the NFL with a career-high 1,717 receiving yards and is the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,700 receiving yards in multiple seasons.

With 118 receiving yards in Week 18, Hill can surpass ANTONIO BROWN (1,834 receiving yards in 2015) for the fifth-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history. With 83 receiving yards, he would become the seventh player all-time to reach 1,800 receiving yards in a season.

The players with the most receiving yards in a season in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEIVING YARDS
Calvin JohnsonHOFDetroit20121,964
Cooper KuppL.A. Rams20211,947
Julio JonesAtlanta20151,871
Jerry RiceHOFSan Francisco19951,848
Antonio BrownPittsburgh20151,834
Justin JeffersonMinnesota20221,809
   
Tyreek HillMiami20231,717*
*Entering Week 18   


Hill has 710 receptions for 10,057 yards and has 82 scrimmage touchdowns (75 receiving, seven rushing) in his first eight career seasons. In Week 18, he needs:

  • Three receptions to surpass TORRY HOLT (712 receptions) and BRANDON MARSHALL (712) for the fourth-most receptions by a player in his first eight career seasons in NFL history.
  • Ninety-one receiving yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (10,147 receiving yards) for the fifth-most receiving yards by a player in his first eight seasons in NFL history.
  • Two scrimmage touchdowns to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers MARVIN HARRISON (83 scrimmage touchdowns) and TERRELL OWENS (83) for the third-most scrimmage touchdowns by a wide receiver in his first eight seasons all-time.

Entering Week 18, Hill ranks second in the NFL with 12 touchdown receptions while teammate RAHEEM MOSTERT leads all players with 18 rushing touchdowns. Miami can join the 2014 DALLAS COWBOYS (DEZ BRYANT and DEMARCO MURRAY) as the only teams since 1970 with the league’s leader in touchdown receptions and rushing touchdowns in the same season.

 LAMB CAN BECOME SIXTH WITH 130 RECEPTIONS

Dallas wide receiver CEEDEE LAMB leads the NFL with 122 receptions this season, ranks second with 1,651 receiving yards and tied for third with 10 touchdown receptions. Last week, he became the sixth player all-time with four games with at least 10 receptions and 150 receiving yards in a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers TIM BROWN (1997), CALVIN JOHNSON (2012) and JERRY RICE (1995) as well as ANTONIO BROWN (2017) and TYREEK HILL (2022).

With eight receptions in Week 18, Lamb can become the sixth player in NFL history with at least 130 receptions in a season, joining MICHAEL THOMAS (149 receptions in 2019), COOPER KUPP (145 in 2021), Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (143 in 2002), ANTONIO BROWN (136 in 2015) and JULIO JONES (136 in 2015).

The players with the most receptions in a season in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEPTIONS
Michael ThomasNew Orleans2019149
Cooper KuppL.A. Rams2021145
Marvin HarrisonHOFIndianapolis2002143
Antonio BrownPittsburgh2015136
Julio JonesAtlanta2015136
    
CeeDee LambDallas2023122*
*Entering Week 18   

With three receptions this week, Lamb can become the fourth player all-time with at least 125 receptions and 10 touchdown receptions in a season, joining ANTONIO BROWN (2014 and 2015), Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (2002) and COOPER KUPP (2021).

The players with at least 125 receptions and 10 touchdown receptions in a season in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEPTIONSREC. TDs
Cooper KuppL.A. Rams202114516
Antonio BrownPittsburgh201513610
Antonio BrownPittsburgh201412913
Marvin HarrisonHOFIndianapolis200214311
    
CeeDee LambDallas2023122*10*
*Entering Week 18

Lamb has 5,047 receiving yards since entering the NFL in 2020 and with 42 receiving yards in Week 18, can surpass TORRY HOLT (5,088 receiving yards) for the fourth-most by a player in his first four seasons.

Lamb has nine career games with at least 10 receptions and can join MICHAEL THOMAS (18 games) and CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (10) as the only players with at least 10 such games in their first four seasons in NFL history.

 NACUA LOOKS FOR ROOKIE RECEIVING RECORDS

Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver PUKA NACUA ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,445 receiving yards this season and ties for eighth with 101 receptions. Last week marked his seventh game with at least 100 receiving yards, tied for the second-most such games by a rookie in NFL history.

With four receptions at San Francisco (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX), Nacua will surpass JAYLEN WADDLE (104 receptions in 2021) for the most receptions by a rookie in NFL history. 

​The rookies with the most receptions in NFL history:

​PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEPTIONS
Jaylen WaddleMiami2021104
Anquan BoldinArizona2003101
Puka NacuaL.A. Rams2023101*
*Entering Week 18   

With 29 receiving yards, Nacua will surpass BILL GROMAN (1,473 receiving yards) for the most receiving yards by a rookie all-time and with at least 100 receiving yards on Sunday will join Groman (nine games in 1960) as the only rookies all-time with eight games of 100-or-more receiving yards.

The rookies with the most receiving yards in history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEIVING YARDS
Bill GromanHouston Oilers19601,473
Ja’Marr ChaseCincinnati20211,455
Puka NacuaL.A. Rams20231,445*
*Entering Week 18   

 ADAMS APPROACHES 100 RECEPTIONS

In 2023, 10 players have already eclipsed 100 receptions, with Las Vegas’ DAVANTE ADAMS (98 receptions) and Cincinnati’s JA’MARR CHASE (95) representing the two closest players to reaching the mark in Week 18. If two more players reach 100 receptions, 2023 would become the first season in NFL history with 12-or-more players each having 100-or-more receptions, surpassing the 2018 season (11 players).

With two receptions in Week 18, Adams would become the fourth player in NFL history with at least 100 receptions in four consecutive seasons, joining ANTONIO BROWN (six consecutive seasons from 2013-18), STEFON DIGGS (four from 2020-23) and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (four from 1999-2002).

Adams has 867 receptions since entering the NFL in 2014 and with three receptions can surpass TORRY HOLT (869 receptions) for the third-most receptions by a player in his first 10 seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (927 receptions) and BRANDON MARSHALL (882) have more.

 LAPORTA SETTING MARKS FOR ROOKIE TIGHT ENDS

Detroit rookie tight end SAM LAPORTA leads all tight ends with nine touchdown receptions, ranks tied for fourth with 81 receptions and sixth with 860 receiving yards this season.

LaPorta can become the third rookie tight end in NFL history to record at least 10 touchdown receptions, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA (12 touchdown receptions in 1961) and ROB GRONKOWSKI (10 in 2010).

The rookie tight ends with the most touchdown receptions in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONTD RECEPTIONS
Mike DitkaHOFChicago196112
Rob GronkowskiNew England201010
Sam LaPortaDetroit20239*
Junior MillerAtlanta19809
*Entering Week 18   

With one reception, LaPorta will surpass KEITH JACKSON (81 receptions in 1988) for the most receptions by a rookie tight end in NFL history.

The rookie tight ends with the most receptions in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEPTIONS
Keith JacksonPhiladelphia198881
Sam LaPortaDetroit202381*
Jeremy ShockeyN.Y. Giants200274
*Entering Week 18   

With 40 receiving yards, LaPorta will become the third rookie tight end all-time with at least 900 receiving yards, joining Ditka (1,076 receiving yards in 1961) and KYLE PITTS (1,026 in 2021).

The rookie tight ends with the most receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEIVING YARDS
Mike DitkaHOFChicago19611,076
Kyle PittsAtlanta20211,026
Jeremy ShockeyN.Y. Giants2002894
Keith JacksonPhiladelphia1988869
Sam LaPortaDetroit2023860*
*Entering Week 18   

 ENGRAM CAN CATCH 110

Jacksonville tight end EVAN ENGRAM leads all tight ends with a career-high 104 receptions entering Week 18. With six receptions this week, he can become the fourth tight end in NFL history with at least 110 receptions in a season, joining ZACH ERTZ (116 receptions in 2018), TRAVIS KELCE (110 in 2022) and JASON WITTEN (110 in 2012).

The tight ends with the most receptions in a season in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONRECEPTIONS 
Zach ErtzPhiladelphia2018116 
Travis KelceKansas City2022110 
Jason WittenDallas2012110 
Mark AndrewsBaltimore2021107 
Darren WallerLas Vegas2020107 
Travis KelceKansas City2020105 
Evan EngramJacksonville2023104* 
*Entering Week 18

BASEBALL NEWS

BRAVES SIGN SALE TO 2-YEAR, $38M EXTENSION

The Atlanta Braves signed left-hander Chris Sale to a two-year, $38-million contract extension with a 2026 club option for $18 million, the team announced Thursday.

Sale will make $16 million next season and $22 million in 2025.

The Braves acquired Sale from the Boston Red Sox last Saturday for infielder Vaughn Grissom.

“Leaving Boston wasn’t easy. At the same time, I felt like this was an opportunity to put me in a situation to help myself and to help them, too,” Sale – who waived his no-trade clause – said, according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “I owed them something because the last few years haven’t lived up to what I wanted to be there. It was in favor of both parties.”

Sale was slated to make $27.5 million in 2024 under his old contract, which included a $20-million club option for 2025. Boston reportedly sent Atlanta $17 million to help cover the seven-time All-Star’s remaining salary at the time of the trade.

The 34-year-old authored a 4.30 ERA with 1.13 WHIP and 125 strikeouts over 102 2/3 innings (20 starts) last season. However, he hasn’t recorded more than 158 innings in a campaign since 2017 due to significant injuries.

Sale owns a 3.10 ERA with 2.97 FIP and 11.1 K/9 over 13 seasons with the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. He’s finished at least top six in AL Cy Young voting seven times between 2012 and 2018. The veteran hurler also helped Boston win the 2018 World Series.

“The best days of my life were there (Boston). The worst days of my life were there,” Sale said.

REPORTS: METS SIGNING OF HARRISON BADER TO $10.5M DEAL

The New York Mets agreed to one-year, $10.5 million contract with Gold Glove outfielder Harrison Bader, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

It’s a homecoming for the 29-year-old Bronxville, N.Y., native, who played for the Yankees for part of the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Bader batted .232 with seven homers, 40 RBIs and a career-high 20 stolen bases in 98 games last season with the Yankees and Cincinnati Reds.

The 2021 National League Gold Glove winner is a career .243 hitter with 59 home runs, 217 RBIs and 77 steals in 635 games with the St. Louis Cardinals (2017-22), Yankees and Reds.

NHL NEWS

NHL ROUNDUP: PANTHERS DEFEAT KNIGHTS FOR 6TH STRAIGHT WIN

Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves to lead the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Sam Bennett also scored and Brandon Montour added two assists for Florida, which scored three times on the power play while extending its win streak to a season-high six games.

It was the first regular-season win in six tries at T-Mobile Arena for the Panthers, who closed within two points of first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division.

Pavel Dorofeyev scored for Vegas, which suffered its sixth loss in its last seven games. Logan Thompson finished with 32 saves.

Flames 6, Predators 3

Blake Coleman scored in his third straight game and added an assist, and Calgary beat host Nashville.

Yegor Sharangovich, Connor Zary and Rasmus Andersson each had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who have won six of their past eight. Dan Vladar made 29 saves for Calgary, which won the season series 2-1.

Filip Forsberg scored his 19th goal of the season for the Predators, who had earned points in three straight games (2-0-1). Juuse Saros stopped 20 of 25 shots over two periods and Kevin Lankinen made 13 saves in the third.

Sabres 6, Canadiens 1

Jeff Skinner had a goal and three assists to help visiting Buffalo beat Montreal.

Tage Thompson had two goals and one assist, while Casey Mittelstadt, Jack Quinn and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres. Devon Levi, a Montreal native, made 32 saves in his first game in his hometown.

Joel Armia scored and Jake Allen made 32 saves for the Canadiens, who have lost four of their past five games.

Rangers 4, Blackhawks 1

Artemi Panarin collected a goal and an assist, Chris Kreider reached 20 goals for the ninth time in his career, and host New York defeated Chicago.

Jacob Trouba and Jimmy Vesey also scored, their scores coming 70 seconds apart in the third period, as the Rangers avoided what would have been consecutive losses for just the second time this season and improved to 10-1-0 after a loss this season.

Vincent Trocheck collected three assists and made a key defensive play on Chicago rookie Connor Bedard to set up Panarin’s first goal.

Penguins 6, Bruins 5

Sidney Crosby’s game-winning power-play goal with 8:41 remaining capped his three-point effort and lifted visiting Pittsburgh to a win over Boston.

The Penguins captain scored his third game-winner of the season from the top of the left circle, following a faceoff win and Erik Karlsson’s pass. Drew O’Connor and Lars Eller each finished with a goal and an assist, while Kris Letang had three assists to fuel Pittsburgh’s fourth win in five games. Ryan Graves, Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter also scored, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 24 saves for the Penguins.

David Pastrnak and Morgan Geekie each had a goal and two assists to lead Boston, which had won four straight. Brad Marchand scored twice, Jake DeBrusk also lit the lamp and Charlie McAvoy had two assists for the Bruins.

Blues 2, Canucks 1

Robert Thomas celebrated his first NHL All-Star Game appointment by scoring one goal and setting up the other as St. Louis edged visiting Vancouver.

Colton Parayko also scored and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for the Blues, who snapped a two-game losing streak while improving to 6-3 under interim coach Drew Bannister.

Conor Garland scored and Thatcher Demko made 30 saves for the Canucks, who opened a seven-game road swing by suffering just their second regulation loss in their last 12 games.

Kraken 4, Senators 1

Joey Daccord made 32 saves and oft-injured Andre Burakovsky scored his first goal of the season as Seattle defeated visiting Ottawa.

Yanni Gourde, Tomas Tatar and Vince Dunn also scored for the Kraken, who won their sixth game in a row.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24 of 27 shots for the Senators, who dropped to 0-2-0 on their five-game road swing.

Avalanche 5, Stars 4 (OT)

Nathan MacKinnon capped a two-goal, three-point night by scoring with 1:20 left in overtime for Colorado’s comeback road victory against Dallas.

Via a two-on-zero rush, MacKinnon kept the puck and beat Dallas’ Scott Wedgewood (29 saves) for his 22nd goal and 64th point this season. With 1:09 remaining in the game, Colorado tied it via some net-front chaos as the puck went in off Mikko Rantanen’s skate.

The Stars, who lost two straight for the first time since Dec. 4 and 6, took advantage of an Avalanche turnover to open the scoring with 8:03 remaining in the first.

Blue Jackets 3, Flyers 2 (SO)

Damon Severson and Jake Bean each scored one goal in regulation and Daniil Tarasov stopped all three shots in a shootout as Columbus rallied to defeat host Philadelphia.

Tarasov made 39 saves through regulation and overtime.

Travis Konecny scored two goals for the Flyers, who have lost four in a row (0-2-2).

Lightning 4, Wild 1

Darren Raddysh scored his first two goals of the season to lead Tampa Bay over Minnesota in Saint Paul, Minn.

Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel also scored for Tampa Bay, which won for the second time in three games.

Zach Bogosian scored Minnesota’s lone goal. The Wild have lost four consecutive games after winning four straight.

Islanders 5, Coyotes 1

Bo Horvat had two goals and an assist as New York beat Arizona in Tempe, Ariz.

Mathew Barzal and Noah Dobson each had two assists for New York. Julien Gauthier, Anders Lee and Mike Reilly scored the Islanders’ other goals.

Nick Schmaltz scored the only goal for the Coyotes, who have lost two in a row.

Red Wings 4, Kings 3 (SO)

Alex Lyon made 40 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped both attempts in the shootout to lift visiting Detroit over Los Angeles.

Robby Fabbri scored two goals, Jeff Petry also scored and Lucas Raymond and Patrick Kane tallied in the shootout for the Red Wings, who have won two in a row for the first time in a month.

Adrian Kempe supplied two goals, Matt Roy also scored and David Rittich made 24 saves for the Kings, who have lost a season-worst four in a row.

Jets 2, Sharks 1

Gabriel Vilardi broke a third-period deadlock and sparked visiting Winnipeg past struggling San Jose.

Morgan Barron also scored for the Jets, who are riding a four-game winning streak.

Alexander Barabanov scored for the Sharks, who sit at the bottom of the league standings and are on a 10-game skid, with all those defeats in regulation time. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 28 shots in defeat.

INDIANA SPORTS NEWS RELEASES/NEWS REPORTS

COLTS NEWS

RUNNING BACK ZACK MOSS NEARS RETURN TO THE FIELD AFTER MISSING LAST TWO GAMES

During head coach Shane Steichen’s final media address before Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans, he announced that the team had not yet ruled out any players.

That’s a positive sign, especially for running back Zack Moss, who was listed as questionable on Thursday’s final practice report. While recovering from a forearm injury, he has had to miss the last two games.

Prior to his injury, he’d played in 13 games and rushed for 764 yards and five touchdowns on 177 carries. He also had 37 receptions for 192 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

One half of the Colts’ dynamic rushing duo, Steichen said having Moss on the field gives the offense a big boost.

“It’d be big obviously to get Zack back out there if he’s available to go,” Steichen said. “It would be great. And to have that one-two punch back there – what he’s done all year has been awesome.”

If Moss does play this week, it would be a chance for him to extend his already impressive resume against the Texans.

In three career games versus Houston, Moss has averaged 87.7 yards per game and scored three rushing touchdowns. When the Colts faced them in Week 2, he rushed for a team-high 88 yards and a touchdown.

COLTS FOOTBALL

COLTS DO NOT RULE OUT ANY PLAYERS FOR WEEK 18 GAME VS. HOUSTON TEXANS

The Colts on Thursday did not rule out any players for their Week 18 game against the Houston Texans.

Among the players on the Colts’ practice report this week who were not ruled out are left guard Quenton Nelson (ankle), center Ryan Kelly (ankle), running back Zack Moss (forearm) and cornerback Kenny Moore II (back). Moss sustained his forearm injury in the Colts’ Week 15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and hasn’t played since; Moore missed the Colts’ Week 17 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Check back later Thursday for the Colts’ final practice report of the regular season, which will include game status designations.

HOUSTON TEXANS RULE OUT DE JONATHAN GREENARD AND WR NOAH BROWN AHEAD OF WEEK 18 GAME VERSUS COLTS

The Texans on Thursday ruled out starting defensive end Jonathan Greenard with an ankle injury.

He leads the team with 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He’s tied for 10th in the league in sacks.

Wide receiver Noah Brown has also been ruled out with a back injury. This season, he’s caught 33 passes for a career high 567 receiving yards.

The Texans have several starters listed as questionable such as defensive end Will Anderson Jr., left tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Sheldon Rankins.

GAME PREVIEW: HOUSTON TEXANS (9-7) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (9-7)

DATE: Saturday, January 6, 2024 GAME TIME: 8:15 PM ET

ESPN/ABC: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Lisa Salters

Westwood One: Bill Rosinski, Derek Rackley

SiriusXM (also available on the SXM App) HOU: 82 or 226 IND: 83 or 225 National: 88

ALL-TIME SERIES HISTORY

REG. SEASON: IND leads series, 32-10-1 (won 5 of past 7)

POSTSEASON: IND lead series, 1-0

THE LAST TIME …

REG. SEASON: 9/17/23: IND 31 at HOU 20

POSTSEASON: 1/5/19 AFC-WC: IND 21 at HOU 7

TEXANS NOTES:

QB C.J. STROUD (rookie) completed 24 of 32 atts. (career-high 75 pct.) for 213 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with 102.7 rating last week, 7th game with 100+ rating. Aims for his 5th in row overall with 0 INTs & has 0 INTs in 5 of 6 road starts. Passed for 384 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 103.5 rating in Week 2 meeting. Has 8 TDs (7 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 109.6 rating in 4 starts vs. division. Needs 156 pass yards to become 5th rookie in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards. • RB DEVIN SINGLETARY rushed for 80 yards last week, 4thstraight game with 60+ scrimmage yards. Has 396 scrimmage yards (132 per game) over his past 3 on road. Needs 74 scrimmage yards for new career high (1,099 in 2022 w/ Buf.). • WR NICO COLLINS led team with 7 catches for 80 yards last week, 7th game this season with 80+ rec. yards, tied 3rd-most in AFC. Has 80+ rec. yards in 3 of his 4 games vs. division this season. Had 7 catches for 146 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting. • WR NOAH BROWN has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. Has career-best 567 rec. yards this season. • WR ROBERT WOODS had 58 rec. yards last week. Had 6 catches for season-high 74 yards in Week 2 meeting. • TE DALTON SCHULTZ has 55+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. • TE BREVIN JORDAN had 5th-career TD catch in Week 17. • CB DESMOND KING aims for 4th in row with 8+ tackles & 3rd in row with PD. Has 2 TFL in 2 of past 3. • CB DEREK STINGLEY had 6 tackles & TFL last week. Has 2+ PD in 5 of his past 7. Since Week 11, ranks 2nd in NFL with 12 PD. • DE WILL ANDERSON (rookie) had 2 sacks last week & has 2+ sacks in 2 of his past 3. Has 7 sacks, most-ever by Texans rookie. • DE DEREK BARNETT had season-high 6 tackles & 1.5 sacks in Week 17. Aims for 5th in row with TFL & has sack in 2 of past 3.

COLTS NOTES:

QB GARDNER MINSHEW completed 15 of 23 atts. (65.2 pct.) for 224 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with 111.5 rating last week. Aims for 3rd in row at home with 0 INTs & 110+ rating. Has 90+ rating in 3 of 4 career games vs. Hou., with 112.1 rating in Week 2 meeting. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with 300+ pass yards. Needs 108 pass yards for new career high (3,271 in 2019 w/ Jax.). • RB JONATHAN TAYLOR had 104 scrimmage (season-high 96 rush, 8 rec.) & rush TD last week, 2nd 100-yard game this season. Aims for his 6th in row with TD. Has 412 scrimmage yards (103 per game) & 4 rush TDs in his past 4 at home. Has 706 scrimmage yards (141.2 per game) & 7 TDs (6 rush, 1 rec.) in 5 career games vs. Hou., with 95+ scrimmage yards & TD in each game. • RB ZACK MOSS had 2nd TD catch of season last week. Has 55+ scrimmage yards in 3 of past 4. Has rush TD in each of 3 career games vs. Hou., with 100+ scrimmage yards in 2 of 3 games. Has rush TD in 3 of 4 games vs. division this season. Needs 44 scrimmage yards for 1st-career 1,000-yard season. • WR MICHAEL PITTMAN had 12th game with 5+ catches last week, tied 4th-most in NFL. Has 75+ rec. yards in 5 of his past 6. Had 8 catches for 56 yards in Week 2 meeting & has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Hou. Is 3rd WR in franchise history with 100+ catches (104) in a season (HOFer Marvin Harrison & Reggie Wayne). • LB ZAIRE FRANKLIN aims for 4th in row with PD & 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. Has 10+ tackles in 6 of 8 home games this season. Had 13 tackles & TFL in Week 2 meeting. Leads NFL with career-best 170 tackles in 2023. • LB E.J. SPEED aims for 4th in row with 10+ tackles. • DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had sack last week. Had 2 TFL & sack in Week 2 meeting. Is 1 of 3 in NFL with 7+ sacks in each past 6 seasons.

PACERS BASKETBALL

GAME PREVIEW: PACERS VS HAWKS

The Pacers (19-14) will look to extend the NBA’s longest active win streak to six games on Friday, when they welcome the Atlanta Hawks (14-19) to Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

If the first matchup was an indication, the second contest between the two Eastern Conference teams could prove to be another shootout.

The last time Indiana and Atlanta met, the scoreboard could’ve combusted, as the Pacers recorded an NBA franchise record 157 points in a 157-151 In-Season Tournament win over the Hawks at State Farm Arena.

In a battle between All-Star point guards, Tyrese Haliburton scored 37 points — including a Blue & Gold record of 26 points in the third quarter — and dished out 16 assists, while Trae Young logged 38 points and eight assists for the Hawks.

Indiana continues to lead the league at 126.9 points per game and the Hawks are averaging 122.8, which ranks third. Both teams are in the top six for offensive rating, and the Pacers and Hawks also rank in the league’s top five for pace.

This week, the Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks (24-10) — the second-highest scoring team in the league — twice to move to 2-0 in 2024.

On Wednesday in Indianapolis, the Pacers trailed by two at halftime before erupting for 47 points in the third quarter and holding on in the final frame for a 142-130 win. Seven players scored in double figures for the Pacers, led by 31 points and 12 assists from Haliburton and 16 points by Bennedict Mathurin off the bench.

Haliburton has put up incredible numbers over his last five games, averaging 26.2 points, 15.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 51.5 percent shooting overall and 39.6 percent from 3-point range. Mathurin has also played his best basketball thus far during the stretch, averaging 17.2 points on 57.7 percent shooting while pulling down 4.6 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Pacers have scored at a 129.4 point-per-game clip during the winning streak while giving up 118.0 on average — a significant defensive improvement compared to the beginning of the season.

Atlanta enters the matchup coming off a 141-138 Wednesday night home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-10).

The Hawks scored at least 37 points in each of the first three quarters before holding off a late charge by the Thunder in the final 12 minutes.

Four players scored at least 20 points for the Hawks, led by 28 points from forward Jalen Johnson and 24 by Young. A lot of work by the Hawks was done at the free throw line, as they finished 31 for 33 from the charity stripe as a team.

Indiana’s game against Atlanta will be the second in a five-game homestand, with the Blue & Gold hosting the Eastern Conference leaders the Boston Celtics (26-7) on both Saturday and Jan. 8.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G – Tyrese Haliburton, G – Bruce Brown, F – Aaron Nesmith, F – Jalen Smith, C – Myles Turner

Hawks: G – Trae Young, G – Dejounte Murray, F – Saddiq Bey, F – Jalen Johnson, C – Clint Capela

Injury Report

Pacers: Andrew Nembhard – questionable (mid-back sprain)

Hawks: TBA

Last Meeting

Nov. 21, 2023: The Indiana Pacers scored an NBA franchise record for points in a single game by posting a 157-151 In-Season Tournament (IST) victory over the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. With the win, the Pacers punched a ticket to the IST quarterfinals.

Tyrese Haliburton led the scoring onslaught, recording a franchise-record 26 points in the third quarter before finishing with a team-high 37 points (11-for-18 from the field, 9-for-15 from 3-point range). Haliburton also logged 16 assists, five rebounds, and three steals in the game.

Indiana trailed the Hawks by 13 points at halftime, but went ahead by five heading into the fourth quarter thanks to Haliburton’s red-hot shooting.

With 1:20 left in the game, Buddy Hield — who scored 13 of his 24 total points in the fourth quarter — drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Pacers ahead 155-152. The Pacers then got a defensive stop on the ensuing possession, and Hield scored an uncontested layup at the buzzer to end it.

The Pacers made 57 of 94 shots, including 21 of 28 from 3-point range, while the Hawks were 57-for-95 (15-for-31 from 3-point range). In the second half alone, the Pacers shot 69.6 percent to score a new NBA franchise record 86 second half points. Seven Pacers scored in double figures in the game, with Hield (24 points), Obi Toppin (21), and Bennedict Mathurin (19) following Haliburton.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 38 points, Dejounte Murray scored 28, and Bogdan Bogdanovic supplied 26 points off the bench.

Noteworthy

Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield is two 3-pointers away from hitting 1,800 for his career. He will be the 25th player in NBA history to accomplish the feat.

Veteran center Myles Turner is seven blocks away from 1,200 for his career. He is currently tied for 63rd all-time in NBA history with Bo Outlaw and Adonal Foyle.

After missing five games due to a bruised knee, Pacers starting guard Bruce Brown returned to the floor on Wednesday against Milwaukee.

The Pacers and Hawks will play two more times after Friday: on Jan. 12 in Atlanta and back in Indianapolis on April 14. The Hawks have won the season series the last two seasons.

Hawks assistant coach Ronald Nored was a Pacers assistant from 2021-2023 and played for Butler University from 2008-2012.

Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)

HALIBURTON LEADS EAST GUARDS IN FIRST FAN RETURNS FOR 2024 ALL-STAR VOTING

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton leads all Eastern Conference guards in the first returns from fan voting for the 2024 All-Star Game, which the NBA released Thursday.

Haliburton leads the Pacers and ranks 19th in the NBA in scoring at 24.9 points per game and leads the entire lead in assists at 12.7 per contest. The 23-year-old guard is shooting 50.1 percent from the field, 40.8 percent from 3-point range, and 86.3 percent from the free throw line. His 25 doubles are the most of any guard in the NBA and tied for the most by any player in the Eastern Conference.

A first-time All-Star last season, Haliburton is making a strong bid for a second straight All-Star selection to potentially start this year’s game, which will be hosted at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 18.

All-Star voting will continue on NBA.com and in the NBA app until Saturday, Jan. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Votes will be tripled on upcoming “3-for-1 Days” on Friday, Jan. 5, Friday, Jan. 12, Monday, Jan. 15 and Friday, Jan. 19.

NBA players and media will continue to join fans in selecting the NBA All-Star Game starters.  Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.  Players and media will be able to complete one ballot.

TNT will reveal the NBA All-Star Game starters on Thursday, Jan. 25 during TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax. TNT will also announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Thursday, Feb. 1 during TNT NBA Tip-Off.

NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2023: THIRD FAN RETURNS

Eastern Conference

Guards

1. Tyrese Haliburton (IND) 1,380,795

2. Damian Lillard (MIL) 955,751

3. Trae Young (ATL) 873,979

4. Donovan Mitchell (CLE) 624,819

5. Tyrese Maxey (PHI) 480,062

6. Jalen Brunson (NYK) 374,448

7. LaMelo Ball (CHA) 233,017

8. Derrick White (BOS) 175,940

9. DeMar DeRozan (CHI) 175,233

10. Jrue Holiday (BOS) 145,144

Frontcourt

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 2,171,812

2. Joel Embiid (PHI) 1,844,025

3. Jayson Tatum (BOS) 1,765,919

4. Jimmy Butler (MIA) 767,913

5. Jaylen Brown (BOS) 426,589

6. Bam Adebayo (MIA) 238,485

7. Mikal Bridges (BKN) 203,009

8. Kristaps Porzingis (BOS) 197,234

9. Kyle Kuzma (WAS) 178,563

10. Paolo Banchero (ORL) 163,588

Western Conference

Guards

1. Luka Doncic (DAL) 1,452,733

2. Stephen Curry (GSW) 1,394,980

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC) 966,927

4. James Harden (LAC) 431,951

5. Kyrie Irving (DAL) 388,170

6. Anthony Edwards (MIN) 289,744

7. Ja Morant (MEM) 288,667

8. De’Aaron Fox (SAC) 210,911

9. Klay Thompson (GSW) 183,274

10. Austin Reaves (LAL) 170,500

Frontcourt

1. LeBron James (LAL) 2,008,645

2. Kevin Durant (PHX) 1,807,394

3. Nikola Jokic (DEN) 1,636,041

4. Anthony Davis (LAL) 988,225

5. Kawhi Leonard (LAC) 669,320

6. Paul George (LAC) 420,606

7. Alperen Sengun (HOU) 335,115

8. Victor Wembanyama (SAS) 221,220

9. Chet Holmgren (OKC) 186,582

10. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 139,642

INDY FUEL

INDY ADDS VETERAN PRESENCE WITH BULMER

INDIANAPOLIS- The Indy Fuel have announced on Thursday that they have signed forward Brett Bulmer to a standard player contract. Additionally, Rockford has loaned defenseman Andrew Perrott to the Fuel.

Bulmer, 31, joins the Fuel after three seasons in the Germany3 league where he played for the Tilburg Trappers and Hanover Indians. In 112 games, he tallied 205 points and helped his team to the playoffs twice where he collected 18 points in 14 games.

Prior to that, the 6’4 forward played in three different European leagues from 2016 to 2020 with the exception of the 2017-18 season which he spent with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. With Florida he tallied 42 points in 70 games while racking up 144 penalty minutes. They were the ECHL regular season champions that year and he went on to score thirteen points in 20 playoff games during their playoff run that year.

Bulmer made his NHL debut with the Minnesota Wild during the 2011-12 season after being drafted by them 39th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He played in the Wild’s organization for five years before shifting his career to Europe.

FUEL HEAD TO VIRGINIA FOR FIRST EVER GAME IN NORFOLK

INDIANAPOLIS – The Fuel will head to the East Coast for their first of three games to kick off 2024 in Norfolk, Virginia.

LAST TIME OUT

It has been a long time since these two teams have met. So long ago that Chase Lang opened up the scoring for Norfolk in the first period. The last game between these two franchises was over three years ago on December 29, 2021, at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

The Admirals would ultimately come out on top 3-2 after losing 4-0 to the Fuel the day prior in the only two matchups between these franchises in their histories.

MAKING HISTORY

The three games this weekend will mark the first-ever games the Fuel will play in Norfolk. This will be the longest domestic road trip the team will make this season as they travel down John Denver’s Country Roads to Norfolk Scope Arena to spend a long weekend on the coast.

All signs point to a hard-fought battle as both teams come in recording at least one point in the standings in six of their last 10 times out on the ice.

AROUND THE DIVISION

The Toledo Walleye clear and away leads the Western Central Division with 44 points, a decisive nine points in front of Fort Wayne in second place but the difference between third and last place is a tight race.

Wheeling has 32 points in third place and the Iowa Heartlanders are in last place with 27 points. The Fuel currently sit all alone in sixth place with 28 points and a win tonight could propel them to fourth in the division with losses by Cincinnati and Kalamazoo.

INDIANA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

FIRST QUARTER PROPELS NO. 14 HOOSIERS PAST MICHIGAN

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 14 Indiana opened the game by going 15-for-15 from the floor and leading wire-to-wire in an 80-59 win over RV/RV Michigan on Thursday night in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

KEY MOMENTS

Indiana started the game blistering, shooting 13-for-13 in the first quarter as it built a 36-17 lead. The Hoosiers connected on six triples in the frame including back-to-back efforts from senior guard Sydney Parrish and three-in-a-row from senior guard Sara Scalia.

Graduate student guard Mackenzie Holmes added back-to-back buckets to open up the second quarter and went just over 12 minutes without missing a field goal.

Things cooled off slightly in the second quarter, but the Hoosiers would build its largest lead of the half on a Lilly Meister bucket with 4:51 to play. Combined in the first half, the Hoosiers shot 81 percent from the field (17-for-21).

The third quarter opened on an 11-0 run for the Cream and Crimson, who held the Wolverines without a field goal for the first six-plus minutes. They would edge Michigan in the final two quarters of play as the lead grew to a game-high 26 points on sophomore guard Yarden Garzon triple.

NOTABLE

For the first time this century, Indiana became the first team to start a game 15-for-15, according to StatsPass. Portland went 15-of-15 in the first half against Pepperdine on Jan. 8, 1999.

The Hoosiers have increased their season win streak to 11 games and also pushed their home conference win streak to 12 games, which dates back to the 2021-22 season. 

This is the first 20 or more-point win in the series since Jan. 2, 2006, when IU defeated Michigan by 25.

IU has now won three-straight in the series with the Wolverines, its longest win streak in the series since three straight wins from 2008-10.

Parrish and Scalia both went 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the first quarter.

Scalia hit a season-high in assists, leading the team with six in the win against Michigan.

Parrish shot a perfect 5-5 in field goals and 3-3 from the 3-point line in the first half of the game.

Indiana had three players score in double figures – Holmes (20), Scalia (16), and Parrish (14).

Moore-McNeil hit a season-high in rebounds, pulling down six for the Hoosiers. She also added 9 points and three assists for Indiana.

Holmes led the team in both scoring and rebounding, contributing 20 points and seven rebounds in the Indiana win.

On the night, Indiana shot 57.8 percent, including going 13-13 from the floor in the first quarter.

Indiana won the battle on the glass 30-27 and held Michigan to a season low 1-9 from the 3-point line.

QUOTABLE

Indiana head coach Teri Moren

“I love the start we got off too. I think you guys would agree, it was hot I loved how we shared the ball in the first quarter. I loved how fast we played. We knew we had to get out of the gates early. We had to strike first. We talked a lot about being the more aggressive team, so I loved our mindset in the first quarter. As the game started to settle in,. Michigan especially in the second half, started to settle in as well. The good part was that we had the lead and they really forced us to do some different things offensively and what I learned about our team is that we have to be better at being able to execute against pressure and not be forced to get out of some of our continuity offense that we want to run. Syd(ney Parrish) said get back on track tonight in the first half, which was which was great. Mack(enzie Holmes), had a good night as well, except for the turnovers. Sara (Scalia), I thought shared the ball. A lot different people stepped up and gave us great minutes. We got into foul trouble, so we had to play lots of different combinations out there. To give up only one three pointer to a team like Michigan, that averages right around eight made threes a game, was pretty terrific as well. They are an eleven-plus on the on the boards and we won that battle tonight, so great win for our program and for our team. I’m really proud of our guys and how they just came out from the from the from the jump.”

UP NEXT

Indiana travels to Nebraska for a Sunday afternoon matchup in Pinnacle Bank Arena at 2 p.m. ET on BTN.

INDIANA BASEBALL NEWS

2024 BASEBALL PRESEASON WATCH LIST CENTRAL

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.  –  Ahead of an anticipated 2024 baseball season, several Hoosiers have been named to preseason watch lists by various outlets including D1 Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America.

Below is an all-inclusive list of IU players with news, notes and honors before the 2024 season which begins on February 16 vs. Duke in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

This list will be updated throughout the preseason.

Perfect Game Preseason All-American (2nd Team)

#5, Taylor, Devin

Devin Taylor, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was tabbed as a Second Team Preseason All-American by Perfect Game as announced on Thursday (January 4th) afternoon.

The organization chose its First, Second and Third Team Preseason All-Americans just over a month out from the beginning of the season. Taylor was among three outfielders on the second team, joined by fellow sophomores Cam Cannnarella (Clemson) and Jace LaViolette (Texas A&M).

The sophomore outfielder enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, earning Freshman All-American honors after compiling 16 home runs, 59 RBI’s and a .315 batting average in 55 appearances for the Hoosiers.

TAYLOR NAMED PERFECT GAME PRESEASON SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.  –Devin Taylor, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was tabbed as a Second Team Preseason All-American by Perfect Game as announced on Thursday (January 4th) afternoon.

The organization chose its First, Second and Third Team Preseason All-Americans just over a month out from the beginning of the season. Taylor was among three outfielders on the second team, joined by fellow sophomores Cam Cannarella (Clemson) and Jace LaViolette (Texas A&M).

The sophomore outfielder enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, earning Freshman All-American honors after compiling 16 home runs, 59 RBI’s and a .315 batting average in 55 appearances for the Hoosiers.

Taylor, a Cincinnati native, became the third freshman in school history to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors in his first season of college (Larry Blackwell – 1979, Joey DeNato – 2011).

A three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week last season, Taylor’s 16 home runs were second most in program history by a freshman. Only teammate Carter Mathison (19 in 2022) hit more as a freshman for the Hoosiers.

Taylor is among a core of five position players that return for the Hoosiers in 2024 which also features juniors Mathison, Brock Tibbitts and Josh Pyne as well as a fellow sophomore Tyler Cerny.

IU begins the 2024 season in Myrtle Beach (Feb. 16-18) with contests against Duke, Coastal Carolina and George Mason. All four teams in the ‘Baseball at the Beach’ event made the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

INDIANA FOOTBALL

IU GETS TRANSFERS TERRY JONES, SHAWN ASBURY, SARRATT AND GREEN

Indiana football Coach Curt Cignetti continues to build his first program in Bloomington by adding transfers Terry Jones and Shawn Asbury. Jones played in 40 games (26 starts) in four seasons at James Madison. He earned honorable mention All-Sun Belt honors last year with 107 tackles (30 solo) with tackles for a loss, four pass breakups and one forced fumble. Asbury made his announcement late Thursday night and with Jones they combined for over 200 tackles in their careers. . Elijah Sarratt was named All-Sun Belt last season with 1,191 receiving yards and eight TD’s. In his two years in Harrisonburg he posting 124 receptions for 1,891 yards and 21 touchdowns. North Carolina running back Elijah Green (Roswell GA.) announced his commitment to IU on Thursday night. A three-star prospect tabbed as the state’s No. 65 player and the nation’s 46th-ranked running back according to ESPN • Listed as the No. 102 player in Georgia and the nation’s 61st-ranked running back • Ranked as the No. 91 player in the state according to Rivals • Rushed for 3,165 yards and 30 TDs in 32 games over his final three prep seasons.

PURDUE MEN’S BASKETBALL

#1 PURDUE HOSTS #9 ILLINOIS IN TOP-10 SHOWDOWN AT MACKEY ARENA

GAMEDAY INFORMATION — GAME 15

[1] Purdue (13-1, 2-1) vs. [9] Illinois (11-2, 2-0)

Friday, January 5, 2024

8:30 p.m. ET | West Lafayette, Ind.

Mackey Arena | 14,876

TELEVISION: FS1 (Brandon Gaudin, Robbie Hummel)

RADIO: Purdue Global Radio Network (Rob Blackman, Bobby Riddell)

THE NOTES TO KNOW

• The No. 1-ranked Purdue Boilermakers open the home portion of its 2024 slate with one of its toughest games to date, as No. 9-ranked Illinois visits Mackey Arena for a Friday night showdown, tipping at 8:30 p.m. ET, on FS1. The two squads are ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, the NCAA NET rankings and KenPom.com, marking Purdue’s fifth game this season against a team ranked in the top 10 of the NET.

• A win would give Purdue its second straight, 15-game start of 14-1 overall and hand Illinois its first Big Ten setback of the season.

• The contest marks the first top-10 showdown in Mackey Arena, since Jan. 1, 2010, when No. 4 Purdue defeated No. 6 West Virginia, 77-62. It is just the 10th top-10 matchup all-time in Mackey Arena and only the third in the last 30 years.

• Head coach Matt Painter owns an 8-4 record in top-10 matchups, including a 3-0 mark this year (Tennessee, Marquette, Arizona).

• There are quite a few connections between the Illinois and Purdue squads. Fletcher Loyer and Luke Goode were teammates for a year (2020-21) at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne. Goode’s parents and Caleb and Josh Furst’s parents are good friends and actually have car-pooled together to the games between Illinois and Purdue. Lastly, Purdue’s Lance Jones and Illinois’ Marcus Domask were teammates at Southern Illinois from the 2019-20 to 2022-23 seasons, both playing in their fifth years this year.

• Purdue was voted No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll on New Year’s Day for the third straight week and for the fourth time during the 2023-24 season. With its No. 1 ranking this week, Purdue has now been ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll for 25 straight weeks, the longest-active streak in America by 11 weeks (Kansas – 14). It has been ranked in the top 3 in 19 of those 25 weeks.

• Purdue started the year ranked No. 1 (first poll of 2023) and ended the year ranked No. 1 (final poll of 2023). The Boilermakers are the only team in the country to be ranked No. 1 in each of the last three seasons (2021-22, 2022-23, 2023-24), and have now been ranked No. 1 in four different calendar years (2021, 2022, 2023, 2024).

• The 25 straight weeks ranked in the top 5 is the fifth-longest streak in Big Ten history, but the second-longest streak in the last 45 years.

• Purdue owns a 42-7 record (.857) since the start of last season, the fifth-most wins nationally in that span. Thirty of the 42 wins have come against teams ranked in the KenPom top-100, including 23 against teams ranked in the top-50. The seven losses during that span are the tied for the second fewest in the country (Houston – 4; Florida Atlantic – 7), and have come by 1, 5, 6, 14, 8, 5 and 4 (OT) points.

• Purdue is 15-3 all-time against Illinois at Mackey Arena when the Boilermakers are ranked. When both teams are ranked, Purdue leads 4-1.

• Illinois ranks 12th in the country in offensive efficiency, meaning Purdue will have faced six of the top-30 offensive teams in its first 15 games of the season (Alabama – 1st; Arizona – 7th; Illinois – 12th; Marquette – 25th; Gonzaga – 26th; Tennessee – 30th).

• A win over Illinois would give Purdue a 43-7 mark over its last 50 games, the best 50-game stretch in school history (tied with 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons). Both Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer will be making their 50th career start on Friday, coinciding with the run.

• Purdue’s starting lineup of Braden Smith, Lance Jones, Fletcher Loyer, Trey Kaufman-Renn and Zach Edey have started all 14 games. It’s the longest stretch for a starting group to start the season since the 2017-18 season (28 games).

• Zach Edey has moved into second on the school’s career rebounding chart (991) and is now ninth in points (1,857) and 5th in blocks (180). He needs 143 points, nine rebounds and 20 blocks to become the third player in NCAA history (Patrick Ewing, David Robinson) to have scored 2,000 career points with 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks while shooting at least 60.0 percent from the field.

• Purdue is in search for its 26th Big Ten Championship, already owning the most Big Ten titles in league history. Should Purdue win the Big Ten title in 2024, it will mark its fourth title in the last eight seasons and back-to-back titles for the first time since 1994-95-96.

NOTRE DAME MEN’S BASKETBALL

IRISH FALTER DOWN THE STRETCH IN TOUGH 54-52 LOSS

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It was starting to feel like three wins in a row for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team on Wednesday night when they hosted NC State inside Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish (6-8, 1-2) had a lead as large as 11 points with 10:15 remaining and six points with just 2:10 left on the lock. However, the Wolfpack (10-3, 2-0) ended the game on an 8-0 run over the final two minutes to escape with the 54-52 victory.

The loss was a hard one to swallow given that Notre Dame held its second straight opponent to just 54 points. In fact, in all three ACC games this year the Irish have held their opponent to significantly under their season average.

NC State shot just 28.8 percent from the field and 3-of-17 from three. A team that ranked 11th in the country in fast-break points, averaging 17 per game, was held to just six tonight. However, the Wolfpack crashed the offensive glass and reeled in 17 offensive boards. They out-rebounded the Irish 42-37 and ultimately took 19 more shot attempts.

Markus Burton paced the offense once again with 18 points to go with his four assists. Kebba Njie grabbed a career best 11 rebounds.

HOW IT HAPPENED

For the second straight game the Irish offense got off to hot start, converting its first five-of-six from the field to jump out to a 12-4 lead (five points each from Burton and Davis) at the 15:42 media timeout.

A 6-0 NC State run cut the lead to 18-12, but the Irish weathered the storm by getting threes from Konieczy and Burton to open it back up at 26-14 with 6:18 left in the opening half. 

The Wolfpack threatened with a late first half run, this one being an 8-0 spree over two minutes and thirty seconds that cut the lead to just four points. Yet, the Irish answered with the three ball once more, getting contributions from Shrewsberry and Zona.

Booth would add a layup and the Irish defense would hold to garner a 34-26 halftime lead. The 26 points were the fewest scored by NC State in a first half this season. In addition, the Irish held NC State to its lowest first half shooting percentage as well at 35.5 percent (11-31 FG).

The Irish got the first three points of the second half before missing their next seven shots. Burton ended the drought at the 13:20 mark and then just moments later Zona hit his second trey of the game to make it 44-34.

NC State made just two field goals from 15:09 to the 5:42 mark. Unfortunately for the Irish, their offense lulled late in the second half as well, suffering a six-minute drought that allowed the Wolfpack to pull within five at 46-41.

Burton stepped up in this moment, ending the drought with 4:14 remaining. Then when NC State immediately went down and buried a three, Burton responded with another pull-up jumper, now 50-44 at the 2:38 media timeout.

That’s when it went downhill for the Irish. The next four possessions consisted of two turnovers and two misses on the front end of a one-and-one from the free-throw line.

With the Irish up just two, NC State put it in the hands of D.J. Burns Jr. who converted in the paint and tied the game. With 3.6 seconds left they gave it to Burns Jr. again who hit the game-winner.

UP NEXT

The Irish end the six-game homestand with a ranked opponent. No. 14 Duke rolls into town for a Saturday evening showdown inside Purcell Pavilion. Tip is set for 6 p.m. ET on the ACC Network.

NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

HIDALGO DROPS 24 AS IRISH OUTLAST PITT, 71-66

PITTSBURGH — Battling through foul trouble in their second ACC game of the season, No. 16 Notre Dame (10-2, 1-1) was able to pull out a 71-66 win over Pittsburgh (6-9, 0-2) on Thursday night. In usual Hannah Hidalgo fashion, the freshman posted an impressive 24 points, while dishing out 5 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

“We found a way to win,” Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach Niele Ivey said. “It’s super tough to play in this league. There are a lot of things that we can learn from, but down the stretch, when we needed to get defensive stops, we got them.”

Ivey’s message to her team this week involved a fast start, and the group answered that call. Westbeld eurostepped her way into a basket just 6 seconds into the game. The Irish scored 12 before Pitt hit a shot, including a 2-2 showing from deep from Hidalgo. The 3s continued to fly; Notre Dame took nine of them in Q1. The Irish entered the game averaging 15.2 a game, which is tied for 304th nationally. Of note, Anna DeWolfe’s first trey of the game took her from 1,997 to 2,000 career points. Just 14 active D1 players entered Thursday with 2,000+ points.

Notre Dame led by as much as 20 in the first frame, but foul trouble continues to be an issue. Five players picked up a foul in the first quarter. The Irish were up 28-12 after 10 minutes.

The second quarter was a different story. Pitt started the quarter on a 15-0 run (2 points carried over from Q1), during which Notre Dame was called for 4 fouls. It was the first time Notre Dame has allowed a run of 10 or more since the opener against South Carolina.

While the Irish were fouling, the Panthers were not. Pittsburgh had just five personals through the first half, and Notre Dame attempted just a pair of free throws. Becky Obinma went to the line with 5:36 left in the second for her first charity stripe shots of the year. More than a minute later (4:07), Westbeld hit Notre Dame’s first field goal of the second quarter.

Pitt won that frame 18-11, but Notre Dame took a 39-30 lead into the locker room. Westbeld led the group with 15 points and 4 boards. Pitt’s leading scorer Liatu King had 15 and 4 of her own.

The Irish entered the game outscoring opponents by 107 points out of the break, the highest point differential of any quarter. That was not the case on Thursday. The Irish shot just 4-16 from the floor in the quarter. No one had more than 2 points, and Hidalgo scored her first points since the first quarter. It was 48-47, advantage home team, heading into the final quarter.

Enter Kylee Watson and KK Bransford, who had been extremely quiet to that point. Between them and Hidalgo, the Irish went 10-11 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Hidalgo had 11 points in the frame, while Watson and Bransford had 5 each. Notre Dame took the lead at 7:46. The Irish kept it.

Five players finished with at least 4 fouls. Injuries already have Notre Dame with limited players, but the fouls nearly created a dire situation.

“It was a focus of ours — they had to defend without fouling,” Ivey said. “I’ve never been in that situation, but I’m just happy we only had one [player] foul out.”

Nat Marshall fouled out in the third quarter.

Up next, Notre Dame has a three-game homestand beginning with North Carolina. The Tar Heels will visit on Sunday after putting up a 24-point win over No. 25 Syracuse on Thursday night. Sunday’s game tips off on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.

BUTLER MEN’S BASKETBALL

BUTLER RETURNS TO HINKLE FRIDAY NIGHT TO HOST NO. 4 UCONN

Butler (10-4, 1-2 BIG EAST) vs. #4/4 UConn (12-2, 2-1)

Friday, Jan. 5;  6:30PM

Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Ind.

TV: FS1 – Connor Onion & LaPhonso Ellis

Radio: WXNT 1430AM, Varsity Network Radio App, SiriusXM 380, SXM App 970 – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)

The Series with UConn

• Six of the seven meetings have come since UConn re-joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2020-21 season.

• The most high-profile meeting was the first match-up between the two programs and came in the 2011 NCAA National Championship Game, which UConn won, 53-41, in Houston.

Series: UConn Leads, 7-0

Streak: UConn, W7

At Hinkle: UConn Leads, 3-0

First Meeting: UConn, 53-41, 4/4/11 (NCAA National Championship Game)

Last Meeting: UConn, 86-56, 1/22/23 (at UConn)

Of Note

• After playing their final game of 2023 and their first game of 2024 both on the road, the Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse Friday night to host No. 4/4 UConn.

• The Bulldogs have not played at home since Dec. 19.

• Butler is 8-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

• DJ Davis scored a game-high 25 points in Tuesday’s loss at St. John’s. It marked his second consecutive (and third overall) 20-point scoring output of the season. Pierre Brooks II also had back-to-back 20-point games earlier this season (Nov. 24 vs. Penn State and Nov. 26 vs. Boise State).

• Davis went 10-for-17 from the field and his 10 makes were a career-high; his five three-pointers were a season-best and one shy of his career-high.

• In his return to Carnesecca Arena, Posh Alexander had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

• Alexander is among the BIG EAST leaders in steals per game (second at 2.0 per game) and assists per game (fifth at 5.1 per game).

• Brooks pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, matching his career-high. He has registered seven rebounds in three of the team’s most recent five games. Brooks added a career-best three blocks at St. John’s Tuesday.

• Brooks added 11 points and is the only Bulldog to score in double figures in every game this season.

• Brooks’ 16.4 points per game scoring average is sixth in the BIG EAST.

• Davis (22) and Brooks (20) both eclipsed 20 points in the team’s Dec. 23 game at Providence; it marked the third game this season when two Bulldogs scored 20 or more.

• Davis, Brooks, Jahmyl Telfort and Alexander all have games scoring 20 or more points this season.

• St. John’s was just the third Butler opponent to shoot 50 percent or better from the field this season.

• The Bulldogs rank third nationally, committing just 12.9 fouls per game.

• Butler has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in seven games this season, including a season-low five against Providence Dec. 23. Butler is 8-1 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

• Butler owned a 46-22 advantage in points in the paint over Georgetown in the BIG EAST opener Dec. 19. Butler has outscored its opponent in the paint in 11 games this season.

• Butler out-rebounded Georgetown, 37-29, in the BIG EAST opener. Butler is 9-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.

• Butler has scored at least 80 points in eight of its 14 games to start the season; the Bulldogs only hit the 80-point mark six times total a season ago.

• Butler’s 82.2 points per game rank among the Top 50 nationally.

• For the season, the Bulldogs are shooting 77.2 percent from the line, which is 20th nationally. Butler has shot 70 percent or better from the line in all but one game this season.

• Davis ranks sixth nationally in free throw percentage (95.6). He has two separate games going 10-for-10 from the charity stripe and has hit 43 of his 45 attempts on the season.

• Landon Moore scored 14 points Dec. 23 at Providence, his highest scoring output in a Butler uniform.

• Butler shot 52 percent from the field Dec. 9 vs. Cal; the Bulldogs have shot 50 percent or better in six games this season.

• The Bulldogs trailed 37-34 at halftime Dec. 9 vs. Cal, giving the team its first win of the season when trailing at intermission (1-4).

Home, Sweet Hinkle

• Butler is 8-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse so far this season.

• Thad Matta is 31-7 at Hinkle Fieldhouse as the head coach at Butler (2000-01 and his current stint that began prior to the 2022-23 season).

• Butler has scored at least 80 points in six of its eight home games this season (going over the 90-point mark five times).

• Butler is 77-2 over its last 79 non-conference home games, winning 15 straight.

Balancing Act

• Ten different Bulldogs have scored in double figures in at least one game so far this season.

• Butler’s balanced attack has seen at least five players score in double figures in the same game six times this season, including most recently in the Dec. 15 win over Saginaw Valley.

IUPUI WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

JAGUARS HOST DETROIT MERCY IN #HLWBB MATCHUP

INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI women’s basketball team will host Horizon League foe, Detroit Mercy on Thursday, January 4 for a 7:00 PM tipoff inside the Jungle. The game will also be available on ESPN+.

The Detroit Mercy Titans enter the game 10-4 overall and 3-0 in Horizon League play. Irene Murua leads the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game. The Jags lead the all-time series 9-1 with the Titans taking the last matchup on February 16, 2023, 57-48. 

In IUPUI’s last game, graduate student Tahlia Walton tallied a season-high tying 18 points – a team high – but IUPUI couldn’t hold off the Youngstown State Penguins, falling in the final minutes, 58-56.

Katie Davidson made her IUPUI debut in a loud way and continues to lead the Jags. The junior transfer from Miami (Ohio) sat out last season for personal reasons but made her presence known with career-high 32 points and seven rebounds in the season opener against Eastern Illinois. Davidson has been a consistent starter for the Jags and despite sitting out the last two games due to injury, she leads the team in scoring with 18.2 points per game, ranking her at second in the Horizon League.

Since Jazmyn Turner’s injury, Abby Wolterman entered the starting five and stepped up for the Jags. The sophomore recorded a career-high 16 points in the Jaguar’s loss at Ohio and has lead the team in rebounds per game with an average of 5.2.

IUPUI has continued to fight injury to start the 2023-24 season with at least seven different players sitting out at least two games for injury or other reasons. The Jags were without #HLWBB Preseason All-League First Team Selection Jazmyn Turner for seven games as she suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Ohio State game. Turner recorded a double-double in the opening game of the season with 19 points and 17 rebounds. She made her return to the court against Eastern Michigan when she came off the bench. The Jags leading scorer, Katie Davidson is the latest to sit due to injury. Davidson started in 11 straight games to begin the season and has now missed the last two. Tahlia Walton, a grad transfer from Kentucky Wesleyan, senior Jaci Jones, and freshman Azyah Newson-Cole, Kaylin Moorehead and Brooklyn Stubblefield have also found themselves on the bench for at least two games.

Coach Bruce’s squad is looking to hunt their way through the Horizon League standings this season as they were picked to finish ninth of 11 teams in the conference, according to the league’s coaches. IUPUI finished third in the regular season standings during the 2022-23 season with a 13-7 record and entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed. They were shocked in the quarterfinal round by the No. 6 seed Purdue Fort Wayne. The Jags have fallen 0-4 in #HLWBB play to start the 2023-24 season.

IUPUI WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

JAGUARS EARN FIRST #HLWBB VICTORY OVER TITANS IN OVERTIME, 81-76

INDIANAPOLIS – In the first contest of the new year, the IUPUI women’s basketball team defeated the Detroit Mercy Titans in an overtime thriller, 81-76. Katie Davidson recorded her second 30-point game with 30 points. Jazmyn Turner added a season-high 21 points.

IUPUI’s Davidson opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but Detroit Mercy’s Irene Murua quickly matched to tie the game at three in the opening minute. The teams then struggled to find the bottom of the net over the next few minutes of play, leading to a 11-8 Detroit Mercy lead at the first media timeout.

The offensive blunders continued out of the break, with neither team scoring in the first eight offensive possessions. Despite combining for just 26 points in the first nine minutes of play, the squads tallied seven points in the final 35 second of the quarter, with five coming from Detroit Mercy to extend its lead to seven, 20-13.

The Jaguars squared the match at 27 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half on a difficult layup by Turner. After holding the Titans scoreless for nearly five minutes, the Jags took the lead—their first since the 6:16 mark in the first quarter—on a driving layup from Logan Lewis.

Just like the first quarter, the Titans turned it on in the final minute of the half, notching seven points in the final 1:07 to take a 34-31 lead into the locker room.

After back-to-back and-one’s, the Jaguars again took the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Titans, however, tied the game at 47 the next time down the court.

IUPUI scored on its first four offensive possessions in the final quarter, including a three from Thalia Walton that gave the team a 56-55 advantage.

Out of the media timeout Detroit Mercy was firing on all cylinders, going on a 9-0 run to take a six-point lead and force head coach Kate Bruce to call her first timeout. Turner was quickly fouled and sent to the line where she knocked down both attempts to chip into the advantage. On the other end, Turner was credited with a steal, and after an offensive rebound, the graduate student was again sent to the charity stripe, cutting into the lead after two more points. Following another defensive stop, Davidson’s tough finish through traffic notched the score at 68 with 1:17 remaining on the clock.

After a trap forced a thirty-second timeout by Detroit Mercy, the team executed coach Achter’s play call to perfection, resulting in an Amaya Burch three-pointer. Davidson, however, tied the game with a three from the wing.

Coach Bruce called a timeout with 4.1 seconds and the ball to draw up a play with an opportunity to win the game. Turner got the ball right where she wanted it, in the middle of the paint, but her shot rolled around the rim and out to send the game to overtime.

Davidson scored the first five points of the extra period for the Jaguars, including yet another shot from beyond the arc to claim an early overtime advantage. Jaci Jones would extend the lead to five after connecting on a layup despite being fouled. Murua, however, made it a single-possession contest after easily getting to the basket for a layup.

After failing to generate any open looks in the first 25 seconds of the possession, Bruce called a timeout to draw up a play with 15.6 second remaining in the game. Turner was fouled on the ensuing inbound, leading to two free throws and a five-point lead.

The Jaguars’ defense held the Titans scoreless in the final 15 seconds to secure its first Horizon League victory, 81-76.

Davidson went 12-for-18 from the field and 3-for-5 from three for 30 points while Turner totaled 21 points shooting 5-for-13 from the field with an 11-for-13 mark at the free throw line. Walton added 13 points while Abby Wolterman totaled eight. Turner led in rebounds with eight.

The Jaguars are now 3-11 overall and 1-4 in the Horizon League. They next host the Wright State Raiders on Thursday, January 11 for a 7:00 PM tipoff.

BALL STATE FOOTBALL

JEFF KNOWLES NAMED DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR; DAN WENGER ELEVATED ON FOOTBALL STAFF

MUNCIE, Ind. – Ball State University head football coach Mike Neu has named Jeff Knowles as the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, replacing Tyler Stockton who took a position at Boise State in late December. Elsewhere on the staff, Dan Wenger has been appointed to lead the strength and conditioning staff.

An Illinois native who spent three seasons coaching at Northern Illinois, Knowles makes a return to the Mid-American Conference while joining the Ball State coaching staff. He spent the past two seasons guiding defensive efforts at Butler where he shaped the Bulldogs into one of the best defenses in college football’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Butler was among FCS leaders in Red Zone defense, and finished in the top 10 in scoring defense and the top 25 in total defense.

Knowles has a pedigree of success that includes stints at Temple, NIU and NC State. He was tabbed the defensive coordinator at Butler in January of 2022 and was promoted to assistant head coach prior to the 2023 campaign.

“Jeff’s defenses have been respected at every stop of his career,” said Neu, “and we encountered first-hand the great job that he did at NIU. He has a great reputation, especially here in the Midwest, and I am excited to see our defense continue to evolve under his leadership.”

Prior to joining Mike Uremovich’s coaching staff at Butler, he served three years at Temple, working as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2019-21. Before joining the Owls, Knowles spent two seasons on the defensive staff at Northern Illinois University where he was hired as the linebacker coach in 2017 and added the defensive coordinator title in 2018.

In 2018, the NIU defense ranked second in the country with a school-record 50 sacks. They were also ranked third in the country with 2.7 rushing yards per carry and had the MAC’s best scoring defense with 20.6 points per game allowed. In his first year on the NIU staff in 2017, the Huskies enjoyed one of the top defensive seasons in recent history as NIU led the Mid-American Conference in total defense and scoring defense and broke the school record for most punts forced by its opponents.

Previously, Knowles was in charge of defensive quality control at NC State for three seasons. He also spent six years coaching at his alma mater, the University of Saint Francis. Knowles played collegiately at Saint Francis from 1996-00, serving as team captain his final two seasons.

Wenger, meanwhile, has been promoted to director of football strength and conditioning, where he takes over for his former boss, Ben Armer, who accepted a similar role at Duke.

“Dan’s been great with our players and our program,” said Neu. “His work ethic is tremendous and he’s made it a priority to build relationships with our student-athletes. I am excited to see our strength and conditioning program under his leadership.”

Wenger started at Ball State prior to the 2021 season begins his fourth season on the Cardinals’ strength and conditioning staff, after previous stints at Stephen F. Austin, Western Michigan and Florida. He played his college ball as an offensive lineman at Notre Dame and Florida.

BALL STATE MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

NO. 11 MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO NO. 9 BYU FOR TWO MATCHES THIS WEEKEND

No. 11 Ball State vs. No. 9 BYU

Friday, Jan. 5 (9 pm ET)

Saturday, Jan. 6 (9 pm ET)

 Provo, Utah (Smith Fieldhouse)

 Watch | Live Stats

Match Recap:

The No. 11 Ball State men’s volleyball team opened its season at home with two victories over Wabash and one win against Thomas More, each resulting in 3-0 sweeps for the Cardinals.

In three matches, the Cardinals were led offensively by Trevor Phillips and Ryan Bartz each having 14 kill’s total. What was even more impressive was Ball State’s serving as the team combined for a total of 28 service aces which was led by Patrick Rogers with six. Offensively, the Cardinals hit .417 from the floor of 216 swings.

 Notes:

The AVCA/NVA National Collegiate MVB Poll came out Wednesday which had the Cardinals ranked at No. 11 to start the season.

The Cardinals will now head to No. 9 BYU for two matches Friday and Saturday. First serves are scheduled for 9 pm ET each match. Last season the Cardinals split the two-match series in Muncie against the Cougars after losing 3-1 on Feb. 2 and then came back to win the second match by the same score Feb. 4. This will also mark the 22nd and 23rd all-time meetings between BSU and BYU with the Cougars leading the series, 18-5.

Currently assistant coach Christian Rupert played men’s volleyball at BYU. Rupert was a middle blocker for BYU from 2015-2018. He helped the Cougars make appearances in the NCAA Championship match in 2016 and 2017 and reach the semifinals in 2018. Rupert was a member of three Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) regular season championships (2016, 2017, & 2018) and also won two MPSF Tournament titles (2016 & 2018).

Ball State head coach Donan Cruz enters his third season at the helm of the Cardinals and owns an overall record at BSU of 46-13 (.767) along with a Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament Championship, two MIVA regular season titles and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

The 2024 roster is a good mixture of some familiar faces along with several newcomers. One of the Cardinals returnees is sophomore outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva who was recently named to the 12-member preseason All-MIVA conference team. Ndavazocheva turned in quite the rookie season for the Cardinals last year. He earned MIVA Offensive Player of the Week honors and Off the Block National Honors on Feb. 7. He turned in a career high 27 kills against Lewis (2/9) and had 22 double digit kill performances in 2023. Ndavazocheva ended the season ranked second on the team in kills (342) and in points (397.5). He also received All-MIVA First Team honors and AVCA Honorable Mention All-American.

BALL STATE WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS

GYMNASTICS OPENS 2024 SEASON FRIDAY AT UNC QUAD

» THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE GYMNASTICS: The Ball State gymnastics program officially opens the 2024 season Friday when it travels to North Carolina for the UNC Quad … Along with the host Tar Heels, the Cardinals will battle Rutgers and Utah State starting at 7:30 p.m. inside Carmichael Arena.

» QUICK 2023 RECAP: Ball State is coming off perhaps the most successful campaign in program history with the 2023 squad earning a team berth into the NCAA Regionals, as well as the first-ever Mid-American Conference regular season championship in program history … The Cardinals recorded nine of the top 10 team scores in the Ball State record book last season, led by a program record score of 196.900 in the March 12 dual versus Western Michigan.

» MORE FROM NCAA REGIONALS: While Ball State suffered a 196.075 to 195.375 setback to NC State in the First Round of the NCAA Norman Regional, the team still sent five student-athletes to compete as individuals in the second round … Hannah Ruthberg (sixth place) represented Ball State in the all-around, while Megan Teter competed on floor (fifth place) and bars (10th place), Grace Sumner performed on beam (seventh place) and Suki Pfister (13th place) and Victoria Henry (26th-place) competed on vault … All five NCAA Second Round individual competitors return for the 2024 season.

» A PROGRAM FIRST: Suki Pfister made history last season, becoming the first Ball State gymnast to earn regular season All-America honors as announced by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) … By finishing the regular season tied for 14th nationally with a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 9.915 on vault, Pfister earned a spot on the WCGA All-America Second Team … The Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Year in each of the last two seasons, Pfister registered six vault scores of 9.900-or-higher last season … Her best vaults came versus Central Michigan (Feb. 26) and Western Michigan (March 12) when she tied her career-best score of 9.950.

» 2023 MAC ACCOLADES:

– For the second straight season, Suki Pfister was named the MAC Specialist of the Year after leading the league and tying for 14th nationally with a vault NQS of 9.915 … In addition, Pfister earned a spot on the All-MAC First Team for the second consecutive season.

– Victoria Henry was also awarded for her effort on vault this season, earning Second Team All-MAC honors after finishing the regular season ranked second in the league and 38th nationally with a NQS of 9.885 … Henry, who also earned Second Team All-MAC honors as a freshman in 2021, went on to win the vault competition with a career-best 9.950 at the 2023 MAC Championships to raise her NQS to 9.895 which tied for 35th nationally.

– After helping guide the Cardinals to nine of the top 10 team scores in the BSU record book last season, as well as a share of the league’s regular season championship for the first time in program history, head coach Joanna Saleem was named the 2023 MAC Coach of the Year … It is the second career MAC Coach of the Year honor for Saleem, who was also tabbed the league’s top coach in 2021.

– For their efforts at the 2023 MAC Championship Victoria Henry, Hannah Ruthberg and Megan Teter were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team … In addition to winning the vault, Henry tied for fourth on floor with a score of 9.900 and tied for eighth in the all-around at 39.075 … Ruthberg turned in a solid all-around performance of her own, placing fifth overall with a score of 39.300 … The effort, which included a 9.850 on bars, 9.825s on vault and floor, and a 9.800 on beam, tied as the eighth-best all-around score in program history … Teter also had a strong day for the Cardinals, tying for second on bars with a 9.925 and closing the meet with a 9.900 on floor to tie for fourth and help catapult Ball State into second place.

» TEAM RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCES IN 2023:

– Ball State’s score of 196.900 versus Western Michigan (March 12) marked the second time the Cardinals broke the program record for team score in 2023, the first was a 196.550 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic (Jan. 20).

– Of the top 10 team scores in program history, nine come last season.

– Ball State broke the vault team score record with 49.250 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic and tied the mark at Bowling Green (March 3) … In fact, BSU registered the four best team vault scores in program history last season.

– The Cardinals also registered the top four beam team scores in program history last season, led by a program record of 49.350 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic.

» INDIVIDUAL RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCES IN 2023:

– Ball State tallied a program record seven individual scores of 9.900-or-higher at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic (Jan. 20) … The previous best was three scores of 9.900-or-higher in the same meet set March 5, 2017 versus Western Michigan and tied Feb. 6, 2021 in a quad at Eastern Michigan and March 3, 2021 in a home quad.

– Megan Teter set the program record on bars with a 9.950 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic and has four career bars routines of 9.900-or-higher.

– Suki Pfister tied the program record on floor with her 9.950 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic … She has also tallied three scores of 9.950 on vault over her career, with the latest coming versus Western Michigan (March 12) last season.

– Four Cardinals tied the program record on beam last season, starting with Taylor Waldo and Grace Evans scoring 9.925s at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic … Waldo and Grace Sumner earned 9.925s on beam during the Ball State Quad (Jan. 29), while Waldo and Lauren Volpe landed 9.925s versus Northern Illinois (Feb. 12).

– Ball State also saw the all-around program record topped last season when Victoria Henry scored a 39.400 versus Central Michigan (Feb. 26) … She started the day with a 9.875 on vault, followed by a 9.775 on bars, and a career-best 9.850 on beam … Henry then closed the meet on floor, earning the event win with a 9.900.

– Hannah Ruthberg would follow with a 39.400 of her own in the quad meet at Missouri (March 10) … Her performance was highlighted by a career-best 9.900 on beam and included 9.850s on vault and bars, as well as a 9.800 on floor.

» RECORDS UNDER SALEEM:

– In the program’s first decade under head coach Joanna Saleem, Ball State has tallied the 25 best team scores in program history … In fact, of Ball State’s 29 scores of 195.450-or-higher, 27 have been set by Saleem’s squads.

– Saleem’s squads own the event records on vault (49.250), beam (49.350), and floor (49.500), along with the second-best score in program history on bars (49.250).

– All 35 entries on the vault record book are held by Saleem’s teams, as are 19 of 24 scores on beam, 19 of 25 scores on floor, and 19 of 26 scores on bars.

» VAULTING OFF STRONG:

– Ball State’s best event last season was vault, with the Cardinals ranking first in the MAC and tied for 23rd nationally with an NQS score of 49.170.

– Ball State’s program-record vault score of 49.250 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic (Jan. 20), and later tied at Bowling Green (March 3), was the second-best in the MAC last season and tied as the 33rd-best team high score in the nation.

» SCORING HIGH IN 2023:

– Overall, the Cardinals registered 179 scores of 9.800-or-higher last season … 58 of those performance have come on floor, including a 9.950 from Suki Pfister and 9.925s from Victoria Henry, Zoe Middleton, and Megan Teter.

– Ball State added 45 scores of 9.800-or-better on vault, paced by a pair of 9.950s, a 9.925, and a trifecta of 9.900s by Suki Pfister … Victoria Henry also has a 9.950, a pair 9.925s and a 9.900 on vault last season.

– The Cardinals also boasted 40 scores of 9.800-or-better on bars and 36 on beam last season … Megan Teter’s program record score of 9.950 led the team on bars, while Taylor Waldo, Grace Evans, Grace Sumner, and Lauren Volpe all tied the program record on beam at 9.925 … In fact, Waldo has hit the mark three times last season, most recently in the dual win over Northern Illinois (Feb. 12).

» 2023 FRESHMAN IMPACT:

– Freshman Zoe Middleton found an immediate home in the Ball State lineup, competing in three events in all 13 meets last season … Her best meet came versus Northern Illinois (Feb. 12) when she scored a 9.925 on floor, a 9.800 on vault, and a 9.800 on bars … She also scored a 9.800 on vault at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic (Jan. 20) and a career-best 9.825 on bars in the last three meets regular season meets.

– Of Zoe Middleton’s 39 routines last season, 37 of her scores counted towards Ball State’s team total.

– Middleton also scored a 9.800 in an exhibition on beam versus Northern Illinois (Nov. 12) … If that score would have been in competition, she would have had an all-around score of 39.325 which would have tied as the sixth-best mark in program history.

» MORE FROM THE 2023 NEWBIES:

– Leah White made her first appearance in the competitive lineup on vault at the Rutgers January Quad (Jan. 14) and has competed on the apparatus ever since with a career-best 9.775 coming at Eastern Michigan (Jan. 22), versus Northern Illinois (Feb. 12) and against Western Michigan (March 12).

» SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE SEASON:

– After a strong freshman campaign in 2022, Grace Sumner did not miss a beat last season, including tying the program record on beam with her 9.925 at the Ball State Quad (Jan. 29) … In addition, she scored a career-best bars routine of 9.850 versus Northern Illinois (Feb. 12).

– Overall, Sumner tallied 14 scores of 9.800-or-better last season, including a 9.925 and a pair of 9.900s on beam.

» FRESH FACES FOR 2024:

– The Cardinals welcome six new faces for the 2024 season, including junior Carissa Martinez  who transferred in from Centenary College … In her two seasons with the Ladies, Martinez registered career-best scores of 9.800 on both beam and floor, as well as 9.750 on vault.

– True freshmen coming in for Ball State are Lindsay Fuller, Lindsay Girard, Delaney McMahon, Ava Molina and Ashley Szymanski.

INDIANA STATE FOOTBALL

SYCAMORES, MVFC ANNOUNCE 2025 AND 2026 CONFERENCE SCHEDULES

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Missouri Valley Football Conference has announced the 2025 and 2026 competition dates and matchups as Indiana State continues preparations ahead of the upcoming spring practice slate.

Indiana State will take on North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Murray State, Illinois State, South Dakota, and Youngstown State as the conference announced the league slate. ISU is not scheduled to compete against Northern Iowa or North Dakota in conference play.

League members (there will be 11 MVFC institutions in 2025 and 2026) will play eight Conference games each year. While the Conference cannot play a full round robin each season, it should be noted that every MVFC institution plays every other MVFC institution at least two-thirds of the time in a six-year cycle (at least 4 out of every 6 seasons), supporting continuation of league identity and increasing competitive fairness over time.

Game dates for each MVFC institution accommodated facility and nonconference scheduling conflicts.

2025 Indiana State MVFC Schedule

Sept. 27 – vs. North Dakota State

Oct. 11 – at South Dakota State

Oct. 18 – vs. Missouri State

Oct. 25 – at Southern Illinois

Nov. 1 – at Murray State

Nov. 8 – vs. Illinois State

Nov. 15 – vs. South Dakota

Nov. 22 – at Youngstown State

2026 Indiana State MVFC Schedule

Sept. 26 – vs. Southern Illinois

Oct. 3 – at North Dakota State

Oct. 10 – vs. Murray State

Oct. 17 – at South Dakota

Oct. 24 – at Missouri State

Oct. 31 – vs. Youngstown State

Nov. 7 – at Illinois State

Nov. 14 – vs. South Dakota State

The Sycamores will announce their spring practice schedule at a later date.

INDIANA STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

SECOND QUARTER SURGE SENDS DRAKE PAST INDIANA STATE

DES MOINES, Iowa – Homestanding Drake used a 16-0 run across the first and second quarters Thursday night and never looked back on its way to a 77-47 win over Indiana State inside the Knapp Center.

Asia Donald led the Sycamores with nine points off the bench, while Chloe Williams added seven. Savannah White pulled down a team-high five rebounds, while Deja Jones dished out three assists in her first Missouri Valley Conference contest.

Indiana State got within a point early on following a 10-0 run which featured six points from Mya Glanton. The ensuing 16-0 run for Drake saw the Trees go down by double-digits, and the Bulldogs further extended their lead by outscoring the Sycamores 29-8 in the second quarter. Indiana State showed fight in the second half and outscored Drake in the fourth quarter, but the early run was too much for the Sycamores to overcome.

First Half

Drake opened the game on an 11-0 run, but the Sycamores countered with a double-digit scoring run of their own. Glanton opened the scoring for the Trees with a pair of layups and Bella Finnegan added a midrange jumper to cut the deficit in half. Consecutive layups from Ella Sawyer and Glanton whittled Drake’s lead down to 11-10, but the Bulldogs ended the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 17-10 advantage into the second.

Similar to the first quarter, Drake opened the second on a 10-0 run and never looked back. White and Williams connected from the charity stripe to end the run, and Donald added a layup for the Sycamores’ first basket of the quarter, but Indiana State found itself down 33-15 by that point. A 9-0 run from Drake further extended the Bulldogs’ lead, before Kiley Bess knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing. Drake added four points inside the final minute, and took a 46-18 lead into the intermission.

Second Half

Chelsea Cain opened the third quarter with a layup and Donald connected on a jumper, as Indiana State attempted to get itself back in the game. Donald added a layup in the late stages of the quarter, while Indiana State went 8-for-12 from the free throw line in the third, but the Sycamores found themselves down 64-32 heading into the fourth.

Indiana State turned to its bench for the fourth quarter, as Williams got things started with a basket down low. Leah Yarbrough and Jailah Pelly got on the scoreboard for the first time in their Indiana State careers, while Saige Stahl added a second chance bucket midway through the period. Williams tacked on a pair of late baskets for the Sycamores, but Drake closed out a 77-47 win over the Trees.

News and Notes

Newcomers accounted for 74 percent (35 out of 47) of Indiana State’s points scored Thursday.

Despite the outcome,

Despite the outcome, Indiana State outscored Drake 15-13 in the fourth quarter.

Indiana State had a 32-23 advantage in bench points Thursday.

Indiana State registered a season-high eight blocks Thursday. The Sycamores have averaged seven blocks per game across their first two MVC games.

11 different players scored for Indiana State Thursday, while nine had at least one rebound.

Up Next

Indiana State closes its five-game road trip Saturday at Northern Iowa, with tipoff from Cedar Falls set for 3 p.m.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

MASTODON MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OPENS 2024 SEASON THIS WEEKEND

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s volleyball team returns for 2024 this weekend when Thomas More and North Greenville visit the Gates Sports Center.

Game Day Information (Friday)
Who: Thomas More Saints
When: Friday, January 5 | 6 PM
Where: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Gates Sports Center
Live Stats: Link
Watch: ESPN+
Tickets:Link
Game Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne | Thomas More | MIVA

Game Day Information (Saturday)
Who: North Greenville Crusaders
When: Saturday, January 6 | 7 PM
Where: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Gates Sports Center
Live Stats: Link
Watch: ESPN+
Tickets:Link
Game Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne | North Greenville | MIVA

Know Your Foes

• Thomas More was 13-13 a year ago, with the Saints’ best win coming early in the year: a five-set win at Alderson Broaddus. The Saints have their top four attackers and both of their primary setters back from last year. Ben Albers was Thomas More’s biggest offensive threat in 2023, finishing with 171 kills for 2.22 per set.

• North Greenville was 19-8 last season and return all eight players that had at least 15 kills in 2023. NGU also has their setter, Jorge Riesgo, back for his senior season. The Crusaders were upset in the Conference Carolinas final last April in their bid for their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.

Last Season Reset

Purdue Fort Wayne was 16-13 and 7-7 in the MIVA last season. The Mastodons were a stout 11-4 in the Gates Sports Center. The season was highlighted by a 3-2 victory over No. 9 Loyola Chicago, which saw Jon Diedrich and Bryce Walker record 19 and 14 kills, respectively.

Hello Old Friends

Thomas More was a member of the MIVA in the 1995-97 seasons, in which they played the Mastodons six times. The Mastodons won all six matches 3-0. The last time the two teams met, head coach Ryan “Rock” Perrotte was a sophomore for the Mastodons. The Thomas More program was cut, then reinstated prior to the 2019 season. After competing in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference for the last four years, Thomas More made the jump to Division II and are now independent. The Saints compete in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference for most sports.

And Hello New Friends

This is the first-ever meeting between the Mastodons and the North Greenville Crusaders. NGU is a Division II member of the Conference Carolinas, which the Crusaders won in 2022 to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament. NGU beat Princeton 3-0 in the opening round behind the leadership of setter Sergio Carrillo, who played for the Mastodons a year later.

Century Club

Ryan “Rock” Perrotte’s next win will be his 100th as the head coach of Purdue Fort Wayne. It will also be the program’s 300th win with Perrotte as a member of the coaching staff.

Movin’ Up The List

Jon Diedrich joined the 1,000-kill club in 2023 in a match against Charleston. He is among the 20 Mastodons that have eclipsed this mark. Here’s where he ranks.

12. Andrew Sellan – 1315 (2008-11)

13. Darryl Shank – 1310 (2008-11)

14. Raul Papaleo – 1264 (1990-93)

15. Ted Owen – 1206 (1984-87)

16. Jon Diedrich – 1115 (2020-24)

Hello, My Name Is Bryce And I’ll Be Your Server

Bryce Walker is nearing the program’s all-time top-10 list for aces.

13. Loren Gebert – 97 (1983-86)

14. Scott Lane – 95 (1999-00)

15. Hector Soto – 90 (1997-00)

16. Omar Rivera – 89 (2012-15)

17. Bryce Walker – 83 (2021-23)

Bryce the Beast

Bryce Walker has the second-best career hitting percentage among active MIVA players with a .339 clip. His percentage of .332 last season was fifth in the conference.

Now Walk It Out

Bryce Walker’s career mark of 0.34 aces per set is the second-most among active middle blockers in the country (behind North Greenville’s Michael de la Cruz) and the most in the MIVA. This mark is also top-25 overall and fifth in the MIVA among all positions.

Players and Players and Players… of the Week

Last season, the Mastodons had five different players earn a Player of the Week award: Jon Diedrich, Emmanual Jurineack, Noah Melendez, Mark Frazier and Sergio Carrillo. This matched Ohio State for the most unique selections among all MIVA teams last season.

Papa Jon

Fifth-year player Jon Diedrich is the active NCAA career leader with 1,115 kills. Ohio State’s Jacob Pasteur is right behind at 1,102.

Indeed-rich

Jon Diedrich is the only player in Mastodon history to be named MIVA Player of the Week in four different seasons since the honor was first awarded in 1998.

High Expectations

Jon Diedrich and Bryce Walker were selected by MIVA head coaches to the 2024 Preseason All-MIVA Team. Both Diedrich and Walker were All-MIVA First Team honorees in 2023. The year before, Diedrich was a First Teamer and Walker was a Second Team pick.

Even Higher For Jon

Jon Diedrich was named a Preseason All-American Second Team honoree by Off the Block in December. The fifth-year player was an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in 2022 as a junior when he averaged 3.98 kills per set.

New MIVA Tournament Format

The MIVA Tournament has a new format for the 2024 season. The top eight teams will qualify for the tournament. The top four seeds will host the bottom four, then the four semifinalists will reseed and play at the highest remaining seed. Then the finalists will play the same site as the semifinals for the newly named Don Shondell MIVA Championship Trophy.

Hall Of Fame Newcomers

A pair of Mastodon men’s volleyball alumni will be inducted in the Mastodon Hall of Fame on February 4. Felipe Ralat (1992-95) helped the Mastodons to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 1992 and 1994 and left Fort Wayne as one of the best blockers in program history. Tim Heffron (1986-90) helped the ‘Dons to the 1989 regular season title, then went on to coach the women’s program and serve in multiple administration roles. He was a two-time GLVC Coach of the Year with a career record of 157-62 (.717).

Coming Up

The Mastodons will hit the road for a pair of matches on the East Coast. The ‘Dons will visit Sacred Heart on January 12 and NJIT the following day. Purdue Fort Wayne has a combined all-time record of 26-6 against those two teams.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

MASTODON WBB REACHES 10 WINS WITH VICTORY OVER ROBERT MORRIS

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne women’s basketball hit 10 3-pointers against Robert Morris on Thursday (Jan. 4) to lift the Mastodons to a 68-56 victory.

Thursday’s win was the 10th of the season for the ‘Dons, which marks the fastest the team has reached double-digit wins since the 2010-11 season. The ‘Dons were also 10-5 to start that year.

The ‘Dons shot 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from 3-point range. It’s the eighth game this season the Mastodons have hit double-digit 3-pointers. Six different Mastodons had at least one triple, and Destinee Marshall led the team with three. Shayla Sellers and Audra Emmerson each hit two.

While Marshall was the clear player of the game with 15 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds, Jazzlyn Linbo had her best game since returning from injury. She finished with 12 points on five shots and six rebounds. She was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.

Purdue Fort Wayne started out hot with four triples in the first quarter and an overall shooting percentage of 56.3. The ‘Dons locked down on defense in the second quarter with five steals and held Robert Morris to just six points.

The Mastodons shot 66.7 percent from range in the third quarter and saw their lead swell to 23 points after opening the second half on a 14-5 run. A 3-pointer from Marshall put the ‘Dons ahead 49-26 with 6:26 left in the period.

The Mastodons finished the game with 13 steals in their sixth double-digit steal performance of the season. They scored 26 points off of RMU’s 21 turnovers.

Purdue Fort Wayne finished at 41.5 percent from the field (22-of-53), 41.7 percent from 3-point range (10-of-24) and 14-of-18 for 77.8 percent from the charity stripe.

Marshall led all scorers with 15 points while Linbo (12), Sellers (11), and Amellia Bromenschenkel (10) joined her in double figures.

Purdue Fort Wayne improves to 10-5 and 4-1 in the Horizon League. Robert Morris falls to 6-8, 2-3. The Mastodons travel to Detroit for an afternoon with Detroit Mercy on Sunday (Jan. 7).

EVANSVILLE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

QUIET FIRST HALF HINDERS ACES IN ROAD LOSS TO NORTHERN IOWA

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Evansville women’s basketball team struggled to overcome a slow first half in a 52-82 loss to the Northern Iowa Panthers.

A close second half wasn’t enough to overcome a tough first half for the Purple Aces against preseason favorites UNI. UE kept themselves in the game by shining on the offensive glass with 15 offensive rebounds. Freshman forward Maggie Hartwig was key for Evansville in its second-half turnaround with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and tying a career-high four blocks.

Both teams struggled on offense early with a meager 6-3 score three and a half minutes into the game. The three-ball was the only shot working for either squad as Hartwig had the first for the Aces in the third minute. UNI broke out on a ten-point run after the first timeout, keeping the game away from UE in the first half. Center Barbora Tomancova added back-to-back layups to help get Evansville within 11 while Hartwig had the final bucket of the quarter for the Aces. UE headed into the second quarter down 25-11.

It was a tough second quarter for Evansville as the team scored just five points on 11.8% shooting. It took just over five minutes for the Aces to score their first basket as guard Tene Smith hit a three to end the scoring drought. Tomancova added the other bucket for UE with under four minutes left in the half on a jumper in the paint. Evansville headed into the second half with a 27-point deficit.

The Aces learned from their first half as they broke out to a 10-3 start to the third quarter. A catch-and-shoot three from guard Lexie Sinclair three minutes in forced a timeout from UNI. UE continued to have success outside the arc in the third, going 3-7 from three different players. Evansville kept the Panthers from breaking out on any major scoring run as they had the better scoring percentage in the third frame. Hartwig had the final bucket of the quarter for the Aces on a contested three-pointer with 39 seconds left.

UE started scoring early in the final quarter as well with a quick five-point run. Evansville benefited at the line in the first five minutes of the fourth three trips from three separate players. But a hot stretch outside the arc for UNI pushed the Aces deficit to 26. UE couldn’t get back into the game on offense after their early streak in the 82-52 loss.

Hartwig picked up her fourth double-double of the year in her first game at Cedar Falls. Tomancova also pulled in double-digit rebounds, leading the team with 14 boards. Sinclair tied her career-high in assists with three helpers in 23 minutes while point guard Kynidi Mason Striverson added three as well.

Evansville continues its Iowa road trip with a stop in Des Moines on Saturday. The Aces take on the league-leading Drake Bulldogs at 2 p.m. from the Knapp Center on Jan. 6.

SOUTHERN INDIANA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

EAGLES WIN FOURTH STRAIGHT, START 3-0 IN OVC PLAY

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball seized its fourth consecutive victory Thursday night with a 78-57 home win against Tennessee State University.

Thursday’s win gave Southern Indiana, who moved to 8-5 overall, its third Ohio Valley Conference win in three conference games played. Through Thursday’s action around the OVC, USI is currently the only team with a 3-0 start. Eastern Illinois University sits right behind USI with a 2-0 mark to begin league play. The Screaming Eagles’ 3-0 start to the OVC slate is USI’s first 3-0 start in conference play since the 2021-22 season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Additionally, Thursday’s victory also gave the Eagles their first four-game winning streak since near the tail end of the 2021-22 season.

Southern Indiana took advantage of its first three possessions at Screaming Eagles Arena on Thursday, scoring on two triples and one basket in the paint to grab an early 8-0 lead on Tennessee State. USI also connected on its first three attempts from beyond the arc. Graduate guard Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) jumped out with five quick points, helping USI take a 20-9 lead by the first media timeout at the 3:34 mark of the first quarter. In the last 90 seconds of the opening period, senior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) drilled two three-pointers as part of an 11-0 USI run. The Screaming Eagles led 31-11 going into the second quarter, as Southern Indiana went 11-15 from the field and forced the Tigers to cough up seven turnovers in the first.

Early in the second period, Tennessee State made a push to cut USI’s lead down to 13. Junior guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) slowed down the Tigers’ momentum by swishing in a three. Following a defensive stretch in the middle of the frame, Southern Indiana led by 15, 39-24, with 3:25 remaining in the first half. As part of another 11-0 run by the Eagles, Shafford cashed in two more treys. Raley and Shafford had a dozen first-half points each, as USI went into the locker room ahead 50-24 after holding the Tigers scoreless for the last 3:25 of the first half.

In a gradual start out of halftime, Southern Indiana doubled up Tennessee State, 52-26, before redshirt senior guard Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) knocked down USI’s eighth three of the contest at the 7:26 mark in the third. In the middle of the third, the Eagles led by as many as 31 points, 59-28. Then Tennessee State tightened up defensively and capitalized on the offensive end with a 10-0 run to close the gap down to 19, 61-42, by the end of the third quarter.

Southern Indiana began the fourth quarter with a long-range make by Shafford, giving USI a 64-42 advantage. As the two sides continued to battle, Shafford canned her fifth triple of the game to hit the 20-point plateau and put USI up 67-46 with 6:43 remaining. Despite some fightback by the Tigers, USI went on a 9-0 run later in the period, highlighted by a three from Blackwell and Shafford. The late run gave Southern Indiana the necessary cushion to seal the win.

For the game, the Screaming Eagles were 28-57 for 49 percent shooting, featuring a season-high 12 three-pointers made. USI also connected on 10 free throws and won the rebounding battle, 41-26. Individually, Shafford poured in a career-high 26 points on 9-15 shooting and drained six of her 10 attempts from beyond the arc. Shafford also added nine rebounds. The junior guard has scored double figures in 11 consecutive games following Thursday night. Raley posted 12 points, her fourth straight outing with double digits, while freshman forward Chloe Gannon (Manchester, Tennessee) tallied 10 points.

Tennessee State (4-9, 1-2) shot just over 39 percent (21-53) from the floor with 13 made foul shots. The Tigers were held to two made threes. Junior forward Lyric Cole was the only Tiger in double figures with 10 points.

The Screaming Eagles conclude this week’s home pair of games on Saturday at 5 p.m. against Tennessee Tech University from Screaming Eagles Arena. Tickets are available for purchase online at usiscreamingeagles.com.

SOUTHERN INDIANA MEN’S BASKETBALL

EAGLES FEND OFF TIGERS, 69-67

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana had to fend off a pair of last second shots and held on to defeat Tennessee State University, 69-67, Thursday evening at Screaming Eagles Arena. The Eagles rise to 5-11 overall and start OVC play 2-1, while the Tigers are 8-8 overall, 1-2 OVC.

The USI Eagles soared out to a 17-2 lead before five minutes were gone to start the game. USI hit five of its first seven shots, including a trio of three-pointers, while holding TSU to one-of-four from the field. The game opening run would last through 13:43 and was extended to 20-2. The Eagles would reach a second 18-point lead at 22-4 at 12:45 when sophomore guard/forward AJ Smith (Edwardsville, Illinois), who had 15 first half points, dropped the hammer.

The Tiger offense came to life at the midway half of the opening 20 minutes with 14-2 run of their own to cut the gap to 22-16 at 8:53 before halftime. The Eagle shooters would go cold during the TSU run, going scoreless for 4:33 going 0-7 from the field.  

TSU would shrink the USI margin to four points, 35-31, before USI was able to take a seven-point lead into halftime, 40-33.

The second half saw the Tigers outscore the Eagles, 11-4, and tied the game, 44-44, with16:20 to play. A defensive battle would ensue with both teams going scoreless for the next four minutes and without a field goal for over five minutes until USI junior forward Jack Mielke (Downers Grove, Illinois) gave USI back the lead, 47-44, at 11:31.

The Eagles and the Tigers would trade baskets and leads over the next nine minutes (10 lead changes and seven ties) when a quick surge gave TSU a 64-61 lead with 2:33 left in the game. Junior guard Jeremiah Hernandez (Chicago, Illinois) pulled the Eagles back to within one, 64-63, with a rebound and lay in before junior forward Nick Hittle (Indianapolis, Indiana) put USI back in the lead, 65-64, with a jumper in the lane with 1:14 left.

Hernandez padded the USI margin with a pair of free throws, 67-64, but TSU was not done, closing the gap once again to one, 67-66, with 13.5 to play. USI sophomore guard Jack Campion (Milton, Wisconsin) put the Eagles back up three, 69-66, with a pair of charity shots with 10 seconds to play.

The USI defense and Smith would close the door in the final six seconds in the 69-67 win. Following a made free throw on the front end of a one-and-one, USI fended off three TSU shots, including a block by Smith, in a thrilling final sequence.

In the scoring column for USI, Hernandez scored 12 second half points and finished game with a game-high 20 points. The junior guard was five-of-11 from the field and 10-of-12 from the line after drawing 11 fouls in the game.

Smith would round out he double-digit scorers with his 15 first half points and recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. The seven double-doubles are tied for first in the OVC.

Mielke recorded his first double-digit rebound game of the season with a career-high 10 rebounds in the win.

Next Up For USI:

USI concludes the quick two-game homestand versus Tennessee Tech University Saturday for USI Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night. Tipoff is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. The USI Women’s Basketball will lead off the doubleheaders at 5 p.m. each night.

The Golden Eagles of TTU are 5-11 in 2023-24, 0-3 in the OVC, after falling at Morehead State University, 82-57, in Morehead, Kentucky this evening. TTU took both meetings with USI last year, winning in Cookeville, Tennessee, 84-69, and at Screaming Eagles Arena, 82-79.

VALPO WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS AT MISSOURI STATE THURSDAY

A slow start to the game doomed the Valpo women’s basketball team on Thursday night, as despite playing the last three quarters against host Missouri State nearly even, the Beacons fell to the Lady Bears by a 67-47 final. Senior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) surpassed the 500-rebound mark for her career in the fourth quarter, becoming the 19th player in program history to hit that milestone.

How It Happened

Ava Interrante (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) hit a shot from outside the paint to beat the shot clock 1:41 into the game, getting Valpo on the board as MSU led 4-2.

That proved to be the Beacons’ lone field goal of the first quarter, as Valpo added its other three points in the period from the foul line. The Lady Bears enjoyed a 20-5 lead after the opening 10 minutes.

Missouri State extended its lead to as many as 20 points in the second quarter, but the Beacons held the Lady Bears to just three points over the final five minutes of the period to close the deficit to 30-14 at intermission.

Nevaeh Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) connected on a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter, and when Earnest drove for a layup with 6:15 to play in the period, the Beacons had moved to within 12 points at 34-22.

Valpo cut its deficit to 12 points multiple times in the third quarter, and were within 13 at 44-31 after a 3-pointer from Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) with 1:53 to play in the quarter. MSU scored the final five points of the quarter, though, extending its lead out to 49-31 with 10 minutes remaining.

The Beacons had one more run left in the fourth quarter. The Lady Bears led 52-33 with under nine minutes to play before Brown connected on 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Two trips later, Earnest finished inside, forcing an MSU timeout with 6:52 remaining as Valpo was as close as it had been in the second half, trailing just 52-41.

The Beacons were unable to keep the momentum after the stoppage, however, going over four minutes in between field goals as MSU went on a 10-2 run to put the game away.

Inside the Game

Brown knocked down a trio of 3-pointers, going 3-of-5 from behind the arc, on her way to a game-high 15 points.

Earnest scored in double figures for the 10th time in the season’s first 11 games, finishing with 10 points. The senior also led all players with nine rebounds and handed out a team-high three assists.

With her seventh rebound of the game, an offensive board halfway through the fourth quarter, Earnest reached 500 career rebounds. The 19th player in program history to hit that mark, Earnest ended the night in 18th place in program history with 502 career boards.

Raeven Raye-Redmond (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) ensured she would remain among the conference’s leaders in steals as she racked up five takeaways on Thursday, her second-best single-game effort of the year.

Layla Gold (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) blocked a pair of shots while playing 21 minutes off the bench.

It was a tale of two halves shooting the ball for the Beacons. Valpo hit just 5-of-20 from the field in the first half and was 0-of-6 from deep. In the final 20 minutes, the Beacons hit 12-of-24 from the floor and were 5-of-12 from 3-point range.

Valpo committed 21 turnovers while forcing 16 Missouri State miscues, but the Lady Bears held a significant 22-8 edge in points off turnovers.

Next Up

Valpo (1-10, 0-2 MVC) continues conference play with the final game of its current five-game road stretch, as the Beacons head to play Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. That game can be seen live on ESPN+.

VALPO MEN’S BASKETBALL

VALPO VISITS UIC ON SATURDAY

Valparaiso (4-10, 0-3 MVC)

at UIC (7-7, 0-3 MVC)

Game No. 15 – Saturday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m. CT

Credit Union 1 Arena (8,000) – Chicago, Ill.

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will make the short jaunt to the Windy City on Saturday as the Beacons prepare to clash with UIC in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup. This showdown will extend a long all-time series between the two nearby foes and represent Valpo’s first road game of the new year.

Last Time Out: Junior Darius DeAveiro had his best game in a Valpo uniform with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but visiting Bradley went home with an 86-61 victory in Wednesday’s return to Missouri Valley Conference action. For the second straight game, the Beacons were without leading scorer Isaiah Stafford, who was sidelined by an injury. Jahari Williamson had 12 points including a 4-point play. Valpo shot 50 percent (10-of-20) in the second half, but was plagued by an uncharacteristic 15 turnovers after halftime and 20 for the game.

Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN+ – Jonathan Hood (play-by-play) and Kenny Williams (analyst)

Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)

Twitter updates – @ValpoBasketball

Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.

Head Coach Roger Powell Jr.: Roger Powell Jr. (4-10) is in his first season as the head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program. After helping guide Gonzaga to a 121-13 record during his four seasons as an assistant coach, Powell returned to Valpo, where he was part of head coach Bryce Drew’s staff from 2011-2016 and led the team to 124 wins in five seasons, including a program-record 30 victories and a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) title game appearance in 2015-16. He was part of head coach Mark Few’s Gonzaga staff as the Bulldogs reached the 2021 national championship game after winning their first 31 games of the season. During Powell’s first season on staff in 2019-20, Gonzaga was 31-2 at the time the NCAA college basketball season was halted due to COVID-19. The Bulldogs reached the Sweet Sixteen in each of his final three seasons on staff, including two Elite Eight appearances and the aforementioned trip to the 2021 national title game. Prior to his arrival at Gonzaga, Powell served as the associate head coach at Vanderbilt University under Bryce Drew from 2016-2019. During his stint as an assistant at Valpo, he was part of four Horizon League regular-season championships in a five-year period while also leading the 2012-13 and 2014-15 squads to Horizon League tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. A product of Joliet West High School and a native of Joliet, Ill., Powell capped a prolific collegiate playing career at Illinois with a national title game appearance in 2005 before going on to a successful professional playing career.

Series Notes: UIC owns a 32-27 lead in an all-time series that dates back to 1979 as these two teams have shared conference affiliation in three different leagues – the AMCU/Mid-Continent Conference (1982-1994), the Horizon League (2008-2017) and now the Missouri Valley Conference (2022-pres.). UIC has won three of the last four matchups, but before that Valpo had won 17 straight. The two teams split last season, with Valpo winning 76-66 on Jan. 17 at the ARC before falling 74-73 on Feb. 19 at UIC despite a career-high 34 points from Ben Krikke. This year, the two teams will face off twice in a five-game span as UIC comes to the ARC on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Williamson Captures MVC Honor

Valpo’s Jahari Williamson was named the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Week on Jan. 2 following his career-high 24 points on Dec. 29 at Elon.

Making his first collegiate start in the game against the Phoenix, Williamson knocked down five 3s and was a perfect 7-of-7 at the free-throw line. He also had five rebounds and two assists. The scoring output outdid his previous season best of 20 that came on Dec. 16 vs. Chicago State.

Williamson’s 24 points marked the most by a Valpo rookie since Javon Freeman-Liberty had 27 on Feb. 5, 2019 at Illinois State.

Williamson became the third Beacon to achieve a Missouri Valley Conference weekly award this season, joining Isaiah Stafford (Nov. 20, Newcomer of the Week) and Cooper Schwieger (Nov. 27, Freshman of the Week). This year’s team has already tied for Valpo’s second most weekly awards in a single season since joining the MVC and needs just one more weekly honor to tie for the program’s most since joining the conference.

Valpo became the first Valley team this season to have two different players who have won the MVC Freshman of the Week Award (Williamson and Schwieger).

Stafford’s recognition came after he averaged 24.0 points per game against Green Bay and No. 23 Illinois including 30 against the Fighting Illini. Schwieger’s came after a week where he averaged 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in wins over Western Illinois and Southern.

Scouting the Flames

Picked to finish 10th of 12 in the MVC preseason poll.

Went 12-20 overall and 4-16 in league play a year ago in their first season as MVC members.

Dropped their first three MVC games this season vs. Illinois State (69-64, Nov. 30), at Southern Illinois (62-50, Dec. 30) and at Murray State (85-73, Jan. 2).

Led in scoring by Isaiah Rivera at 14.9 points per game and rebounding by Toby Okani, who averages 13.1 points and 7.8 boards per outing.

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

Football History Headlines

January 5, 1964

January 5, 1964 – Balboa Stadium, San Diego – AFL Championship game for the 1963 season matched the San Diego Chargers against the Boston Patriots. It was all Chargers in this one as they won 51-10. The stat lines on Pro-Football-Reference.com show Chargers RB Keith Lincoln rushed for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns to secure him as the game’s MVP.

January 5, 1990 – Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats executive J Donald Crump was appointed as the 8th Commissioner of Canadian Football League.

January 5, 1996 – Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula announces his retirement. This was the day after the legendary coach’s birthday. We cover the details of Shula’s great coaching career in the Football History Headlines of January 4.

January 5, 2007 – Is the fifth day of the year a day that Hall of Fame Coaches retire? Bill Cowher on this day stepped down as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cowher who took over the Steelers in 1992 from another HOF legend, Chuck Noll, coached the team for 15 seasons. During his tenure the Steelers enjoyed playing in two Super Bowls including winning it all in SB XL. Cowher holds an incredible regular season record of 149-90-1, .623 and a postseason record of 12-9, .571 for an overall record of 161-99-1. He was voted as the NFL Coach of the Year twice, in 1992 by the AP and in 2004 by the Sporting News.

January 5, 2010 – Mike Shanahan is formally introduced as head coach of the Washington Redskins

January 5, 2021 – Alabama Senior Wide Reciever, Devonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy Award for his outstanding play during the 2020 season! Check out the full story on Devonta on Heisman.com.

Hall of Fame Birthday for January 5

January 5, 1891 – Monaca, Pennsylvania – The fantastic end from the University of Pittsburgh, Hube Wagner was born.  The National Football Foundation selected Hube Wagner to enter into their College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

January 5, 1892 – Eightmile, Oregon – John Beckett the tackle from Oregon celebrated his birth. Both of Beckett’s teams, Oregon in 1916, and Mare Island in 1917, were undefeated. John Beckett is the only player to captain two different Rose Bowl teams. The College Football Hall of Fame welcomed John Beckett into their museum of collegiate gridiron legends in 1972.

January 5, 1901 -Massena, New York – Cornell tackle Frank Sundstrom arrived into this life. After the 1923 season Frank was named to Walter Camp’s All-America team according to the NFF. Frank Sundstrom was placed into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

January 5, 1910 – Gonvick, Minnesota – Ed Widseth a tackle of the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota was born. The National Football Foundation explains how Ed was a disruptive force on defense for the Gophers. In fact in every one of Widseth’s varsity seasons, the Gophers claimed national championships. They lost but once in 24 games, the blemish a 6-0 upset decision to Northwestern in 1936. He was a three- time All-America tackle and the College Football Hall of Fame inducted him in 1954.

January 5, 1919 – Garfield, New Jersey – Al Blozis the Georgetown Hoya tackle was born. The NFF Bio on Al on the NFF’s website says that he was a large powerful man who stood 6’-6” tall and weighed 245 pounds which was extremely large for a man in that era. In 1986 the NFF voters sent Al Blozis and his stats to the College Football Hall of Fame. After college he joined the New York Giants and was an all- pro tackle because he was too tall to join the US military.

January 5, 1921 – Bronx, New York – Paul Governali the halfback from Columbia University found his way into this world. The National Football Foundation calls Paul a “skillful passer” and the accolades he received really prove that to be true. Paul won honors as an All-American from multiple sources including the Associated Press, Colliers and United Press. He also earned the AP Best All- Around Eastern College Athlete, was the 1942 Maxwell Memorial Award Winner and First Runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. The College Football Hall of Fame welcomed Paul Governali to their lodge of legends in 1986. After giving his service to the US Marines, Paul played football for two years for the Boston Yanks and the New York Giants.

January 5, 1924 – Calhoun Falls, South Carolina- The nifty Army and University of Miami Florida Quarterback Arnold Tucker was born. Tucker was the recipient of the 1946 Sullivan Award, won All-American honors that same year and was a member of three Army National Championship teams of 1944 through 1946. In fact Arnold had never experienced a loss while playing for the Cadets. The NFF raises the case that he may have played in the best backfield ever assembled on the gridiron as the other members were Tom McWilliams and Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.  In 2008 Arnold Tucker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

January 5, 1926 – Chicago, Illinois – The terrific Illinois halfback Claude Henry K. “Buddy” Young arrived into this world. Buddy Young was a terrific back at Illinois and in fact he challenged many of Red Grange’s records at the school. The Footballfoundation.org website states that Buddy rushed for an average of 8.9 yards a carry in 1944, finishing second among the nation’s ball carriers.  He was blessed with blinding speed and could ran the 100 yards in 9.5 seconds.  Buddy was an All-America selection in 1944 and was accepted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. After college Young embarked on a nine-year professional career, playing for teams in New York, Dallas, and Baltimore. As a pro, Buddy scored 44 touchdowns and gained 9,419 yards, an average of more than 1,000 yards per season. Later after his playing days were over Buddy served on the staff of the National Football League Commissioner. My friend  and fellow partner on the Sports History Network, Warren Rogan has a great episode on his Sports Forgotten Heroes Podcast dedicated to Buddy Young that I invite you to check out that goes into some great detail.

January 5, 1932 – Cleveland, Ohio – Four time Super Bowl winning Coach, Chuck Noll was born. He didn’t get his feet wet coaching in the NFL, in fact he played  guard and linebacker on some great Cleveland Browns teams of the 1950s under the guidance of Paul Brown. After his playing days were complete, Chuck was an assistant coach in San Diego and in Baltimore before landing the Steelers job according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website bio on him. It wasn’t also rosey for Noll who took over a franchise that had never even won an NFL playoff game before he arrived. In Noll’s first season, the Steelers were a dismal 1-13 on the season. Chuck took all of those lemons of poor finishes of the Steelers and made lemonade as he used the advantageous draft position to fill his sidelines with stars. Noll paced the sidelines of the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 seasons and unlike most of his peers in that profession walked away from the position on his own accord. He won 4 Super Bowls in a six year period in the 1970’s and coached countless Hall of Fame Players. Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrined Chuck Noll as a contributor in their class of 1993.

January 5, 1938 – Wausau, Wisconsin – The great center from the University of Miami, Jim Otto was born. Otto anchored the Oakland Raider offensive line for 15 seasons according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website bio on him. He was a great blocker and was voted as an All-League player in 12 consecutive years in respectively in the AFL and NFL. The Pro Football Hall of Fame fitted Jim Otto for his gold jacket in 1980.

January 5, 1938 – Schulenburg, Texas -Texas Tech’s great center/linebacker E. J. Holub was born.  He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

January 5, 1964 – Gainesville, Florida – Tracy Ham, Georgia Southern’s fine quarterback celebrates his birth. The NFF tells of how Ham was a dual threat. When his career ended he was the only collegiate player to have ever run for 3,000 yards and passed for 5,000 yards. College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Georgia Southern had his #8 jersey retired. Tracy then enjoyed a long career in the Canadian Football League. In 1989, he won league MVP honors. In the CFL he played for 13 seasons and appeared in two Grey Cups.

NUMBERS IN SPORTS

42 – 22 – 24 – 44 – 30 – 6

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson of course is our Number 42 in the historic news as on January 5, 1957 he retired from Major League Baseball rahter than be traded to the New York Giants from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Number 22 is significant to January 5 as on this date in 1964, the AFL’s San Diego Chargers had a running back Keith Lincoln, Number 22 rush for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Bolts blew out the Boston Patriots 51-10 to win the AFL Championship.

January 5, 1991 – Kevin Bradshaw, Number 24, of US International Gulls team scored an NCAA Division 1 opponent record of 72 pts. Ironically the Gulls somehow lost the contest 186–140 loss to Loyola Marymount University.

The Number 44 is for legendary baseball slugger Reggie Jackson is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 5, 1993. Jackson wore a few different numbers including 9 and 31 in addition to 44 that he wore for at least 9 of his 21 seasons.

January 5, 2019 – Golden State and Sacramento combine for 41 3-pointers in Warriors’ 127-123 win; set new NBA record for 3s in a game; Number 30, Stephen Curry hits 10 triples while Number 24, Buddy Hield leads Kings with 8, Number 44, Justin Jackson adds 5

January 5, 2021 –  86th Heisman Trophy Award: Number 6, DeVonta Smith, Alabama (WR)

TV FRIDAY

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MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALLTIME ETTV
UConn at Butler6:30pmFS1
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SOCCER MATCHESTIME ETTV
Serie A: Bologna vs Genoa2:45pmParamount+
FA Cup: Brentford vs Wolverhampton Wanderers2:15pmESPN+
FA Cup: Fulham vs Rotherham United2:30pmESPN+
FA Cup: Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley3:00pmESPN+