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WHITEFIELD ACADEMY (KY.)77SOUTH CENTRAL (ELIZABETH)23 

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#1 BAYLOR 104 NORTHWESTERN STATE 68

#4 GONZAGA 93 N. ALABAMA 63

#17 TEXAS 78 INCARNATE WORD 33

#25 TEXAS TECH 75 ALABAMA STATE 53

NBA SCOREBOARD

MILWAUKEE 127 ORLANDO 110

MIAMI 119 WASHINGTON 112

PHILADELPHIA 114 TORONTO 109

NEW ORLEANS 108 CLEVELAND 104

LA LAKERS 132 HOUSTON 123

NEW YORK 96 MINNESOTA 88

DENVER 89 GOLDEN STATE 86

SACRAMENTO 117 OKLAHOMA CITY 111

NHL SCOREBOARD

TAMPA BAY 5 MONTRÉAL 4

VEGAS 6 LOS ANGELES 3

SAN JOSE 8 ARIZONA 7

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD

#20 HOUSTON 17 AUBURN 13

AIR FORCE 31 LOUISVILLE 28

TEXAS TECH 34 MISSISSIPPI STATE 7

MINNESOTA 18 WEST VIRGINIA 6

Top national headlines

John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster, dies at 85

(AP) — John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, died Tuesday morning, the league said. He was 85.

The NFL said he died unexpectedly and did not detail a cause.

Madden gained fame in a decade-long stint as the coach of the renegade Oakland Raiders, making it to seven AFC title games and winning the Super Bowl following the 1976 season. He compiled a 103-32-7 regular-season record, and his .759 winning percentage is the best among NFL coaches with more than 100 games.

But it was his work after prematurely retiring as coach at age 42 that made Madden truly a household name. He educated a football nation with his use of the telestrator on broadcasts; entertained millions with his interjections of “Boom!” and “Doink!” throughout games; was an omnipresent pitchman selling restaurants, hardware stores and beer; became the face of “Madden NFL Football,” one of the most successful sports video games of all-time; and was a best-selling author.

Most of all, he was the preeminent television sports analyst for most of his three decades calling games, winning an unprecedented 16 Emmy Awards for outstanding sports analyst/personality, and covering 11 Super Bowls for four networks from 1979-2009.

“People always ask, are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?” he said when was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I’m a coach, always been a coach.”

He started his broadcasting career at CBS after leaving coaching in great part because of his fear of flying. He and Pat Summerall became the network’s top announcing duo. Madden then helped give Fox credibility as a major network when he moved there in 1994, and went on to call prime-time games at ABC and NBC before retiring following Pittsburgh’s thrilling 27-23 win over Arizona in the 2009 Super Bowl.

“I am not aware of anyone who has made a more meaningful impact on the National Football League than John Madden, and I know of no one who loved the game more,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement.

Burly and a little unkempt, Madden earned a place in America’s heart with a likable, unpretentious style that was refreshing in a sports world of spiraling salaries and prima donna stars. He rode from game to game in his own bus because he suffered from claustrophobia and had stopped flying. For a time, Madden gave out a “turducken” – a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey – to the outstanding player in the Thanksgiving game that he called.

“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today.”

When he finally retired from the broadcast booth, leaving NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” colleagues universally praised Madden’s passion for the sport, his preparation, and his ability to explain an often-complicated game in down-to-earth terms.

Al Michaels, Madden’s broadcast partner for seven years on ABC and NBC, said working with him “was like hitting the lottery.”

“He was so much more than just football – a keen observer of everything around him and a man who could carry on a smart conversation about hundreds and hundreds of topics. The term `Renaissance Man’ is tossed around a little too loosely these days, but John was as close as you can come,” Michaels said.

For anyone who heard Madden exclaim “Boom!” while breaking down a play, his love of the game was obvious.

“For me, TV is really an extension of coaching,” Madden wrote in “Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!).”

“My knowledge of football has come from coaching. And on TV, all I’m trying to do is pass on some of that knowledge to viewers.”

Madden was raised in Daly City, California. He played on both the offensive and defensive lines for Cal Poly in 1957-58 and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the school.

Madden was chosen to the all-conference team and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, but a knee injury ended his hopes of a pro playing career. Instead, Madden got into coaching, first at Hancock Junior College and then as defensive coordinator at San Diego State.

Al Davis brought him to the Raiders as a linebackers coach in 1967, and Oakland went to the Super Bowl in his first year in the pros. He replaced John Rauch as head coach after the 1968 season at age 32, beginning a remarkable 10-year run.

With his demonstrative demeanor on the sideline and disheveled look, Madden was the ideal coach for the collection of castoffs and misfits that made up those Raiders teams.

“Sometimes guys were disciplinarians in things that didn’t make any difference. I was a disciplinarian in jumping offsides; I hated that,” Madden once said. “Being in bad position and missing tackles, those things. I wasn’t, `Your hair has to be combed.'”

The Raiders responded.

“I always thought his strong suit was his style of coaching,” quarterback Ken Stabler once said. “John just had a great knack for letting us be what we wanted to be, on the field and off the field. … How do you repay him for being that way? You win for him.”

And boy, did they ever. Many years, the only problem was the playoffs.

Madden went 12-1-1 in his first season, losing the AFL title game 17-7 to Kansas City. That pattern repeated itself during his tenure; the Raiders won the division title in seven of his first eight seasons, but went 1-6 in conference title games during that span.

Still, Madden’s Raiders played in some of the sport’s most memorable games of the 1970s, games that helped change rules in the NFL. There was the “Holy Roller” in 1978, when Stabler purposely fumbled forward before being sacked on the final play. The ball rolled and was batted to the end zone before Dave Casper recovered it for the winning touchdown against San Diego.

The most famous of those games went against the Raiders in the 1972 playoffs at Pittsburgh. With the Raiders leading 7-6 and 22 seconds left, the Steelers had a fourth-and-10 from their 40. Terry Bradshaw’s desperation pass deflected off either Oakland’s Jack Tatum or Pittsburgh’s Frenchy Fuqua to Franco Harris, who caught it at his shoe tops and ran in for a TD.

In those days, a pass that bounced off an offensive player directly to a teammate was illegal, and the debate continues to this day over which player it hit. The catch, of course, was dubbed the “Immaculate Reception.”

Oakland finally broke through with a loaded team in 1976 that had Stabler at quarterback; Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch at receiver; tight end Dave Casper; Hall of Fame offensive linemen Gene Upshaw and Art Shell; and a defense that included Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Tatum, John Matuszak, Otis Sistrunk and George Atkinson.

The Raiders went 13-1, losing only a blowout at New England in Week 4. They paid the Patriots back with a 24-21 win in their first playoff game and got over the AFC title game hump with a 24-7 win over the hated Steelers, who were crippled by injuries.

Oakland won it all with a 32-14 Super Bowl romp against Minnesota.

“Players loved playing for him,” Shell said. “He made it fun for us in camp and fun for us in the regular season. All he asked is that we be on time and play like hell when it was time to play.”

Madden battled an ulcer the following season, when the Raiders once again lost in the AFC title game. He retired from coaching at age 42 after a 9-7 season in 1978.

Madden was a longtime resident of Pleasanton, California, a Bay Area suburb. A 90-minute documentary on his coaching and broadcasting career, “All Madden,” debuted on Fox on Christmas Day. The film featured extensive interviews that Madden sat for this year. His wife, Virginia, and sons Joseph and Michael were also interviewed for the documentary.

John and Virginia Madden’s 62nd wedding anniversary was two days before his death.

Wentz joins COVID-19 list as Colts try to earn playoff spot

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Carson Wentz is expected to miss Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after the Indianapolis Colts placed their starting quarterback on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear whether Wentz tested positive for the virus or was deemed a close contact to someone else who had tested positive.

But Wentz is unvaccinated and NFL protocols require players who test positive to sit out 10 days. While the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic, recommending a five-day quarantine period and masking over the second five days, it’s unclear if the NFL will change its requirements.

The Tennessee Titans, who can clinch the AFC South with either a win or a Colts’ loss, added two more in linebacker Jayon Brown and practice squad receiver Cody Hollister, who has played three of the past four games including one start. That brings the Titans’ total to nine, not counting a 10th player out for the season on injured reserve.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Colts, who have rebounded from a 1-4 start to win eight of their past 10. They can clinch one of the seven AFC playoff spots with a win over the Raiders.

Indy’s move comes one day after five players including right tackle Braden Smith were added to a rapidly expanding COVID-19 list and less than 24 hours after coach Frank Reich was asked whether any additional precautions would be taken to protect Wentz.

“Yes, there has been with the team, as far as – really for every player,” Reich said. “So, we’ll have a plan for the whole team, a plan for certain individuals, Carson being one of them but not the only person. I don’t want to go into detail on every person we might do something a little extra with, but those things are being talked about.”

Wentz’s backup is rookie Sam Ehlinger, who has played in three games but has not thrown a pass this season. He was a sixth-round draft pick.

Veteran Brett Hundley and James Morgan are on Indy’s practice squad. Hundley has gone 3-6 as a starter during his NFL career.

Indy won Saturday at Arizona despite missing six starters because of COVID-19 and losing two more in the first half. The absences forced Indy to play with only one of its five regular offensive line starters, Smith.

It’s unclear how many, if any, of those players may return Sunday.

But Reich made one thing clear Monday – the Colts did not ask last season’s starter, Philip Rivers, about coming out of retirement to help.

“No,” Reich said. “Right now we’re just in the situation that we’re in. We’re happy with the guys that we’ve got here.”

NFL cuts isolation time for players who test positive

(AP) — The NFL is reducing isolation time for players who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, including unvaccinated players, to five days from 10.

The league and the NFL Players Association revised the protocols on Tuesday after the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic, recommending a five-day isolation period and masking over the second five days.

The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return for Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It was not immediately clear whether Wentz, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for the virus or was deemed a close contact to someone else who had tested positive. However, if Wentz has no symptoms, he could be cleared to play.

In a memo sent to teams and obtained by The Associated Press, players and essential football personnel can return under the following conditions:

– Five days have passed since a positive COVID-19 test.

– At least 24 hours have passed since the individual last had a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

– Other symptoms, including a cough, have resolved or improved.

– The club’s head primary care sports medicine physician, after consultation with Infection Control for Sports and notification of the NFL chief medical officer, determines that the individual may return to the club facility and interact with other club employees/contractors.

– Any local regulations or requirements are satisfied.

Fully vaccinated individuals may continue to “test out” of isolation sooner than five days after the positive test, and should stop testing at Day 5 and return under the updated guidance, assuming all other perquisites have been satisfied.

Masks must be worn on the sideline and at all times except when playing and practicing for five days after return.

Masks must be worn by all players and staff indoors at team facilities. Players and staff are not permitted to eat together. A limit of 15 people applies for weight rooms. Also, even fully vaccinated staff and players are encouraged to avoid public areas including restaurants, bars and social gatherings.

The Tennessee Titans, who can clinch the AFC South with either a win or a Colts loss, added linebacker Jayon Brown and practice squad receiver Cody Hollister, who has played three of the past four games including one start. They later added defensive end Denico Autry, who has eight sacks this season, to bring the Titans’ total to 10, not counting an 11th player out for the season on injured reserve.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Colts, who have rebounded from a 1-4 start to win eight of their past 10. They can clinch one of the seven AFC playoff spots with a win over the Raiders.

Indy’s move comes one day after five players, including right tackle Braden Smith, were added to a rapidly expanding COVID-19 list.

Wentz’s backup is rookie Sam Ehlinger, who has played in three games but has not thrown a pass this season. He was a sixth-round draft pick. Veteran Brett Hundley and James Morgan are on Indy’s practice squad. Hundley has gone 3-6 as a starter during his NFL career.

Indy won Saturday at Arizona despite missing six starters because of COVID-19 and losing two more in the first half. The absences forced the Colts to play with only one of their five regular offensive line starters, Smith.

It’s unclear how many, if any, of those players may return Sunday.

Elsewhere, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating at home.

The team said Tuesday that assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin will serve as interim head coach in Arians’ absence. The reigning Super Bowl champions visit the New York Jets on Sunday.

Arians said in a statement released by the team: “I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning but have only experienced mild symptoms to this point. Harold Goodwin will take over my duties during my absence. I have complete confidence in him and the rest of our coaching staff to prepare the team for this week’s game against the Jets. I look forward to rejoining the team and being back in the facility as soon as I can test back in.”

Meanwhile, the Bucs also placed cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That increases the number of Tampa Bay players on the list to five.

Also:

– Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones could be without his top backup against the Jaguars after veteran Brian Hoyer was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with linebackers Josh Uche and Brandon King.

Hoyer, who is on his fourth stint in New England, has previously served in backup roles to Tom Brady and Cam Newton. He has been Jones’ backup for each of the first 15 games this season.

If Hoyer is unavailable, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham could move into that role. The promotion would come a little more than a month after Stidham was added back onto the active roster after starting the season on injured reserve with a back injury. He has appeared in eight career games.

Hoyer, Uche and King make it five Patriots players who have been added to the COVID-19 list in two days. Linebackers Matt Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley, two of the Patriots’ most productive defensive players, were added Monday. While New England has some depth at linebacker, Judon has been its best pass rusher and leads the team with 12 1/2 sacks.

Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo said Tuesday that the team is prepared to adjust as necessary on defense.

“We still have guys in our room that played a lot of ball, and I would also say, you either can replace people with another person or you can replace it through scheme,” Mayo said. “So we’re still going through that process right now. Who do we want to put out on the field, what the game plan is for this week, but at the end of the day, the guys that are out there, they’ll be ready to go. Hopefully we get those guys back, but just like I said earlier, we’ve just got to treat it as an injury.”

– The Green Bay Packers placed tight end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Oren Burks on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That comes one day after the Packers placed guard Ben Braden, linebacker Tipa Galeai, wide receiver/punt returner Amari Rodgers and linebacker Ty Summers on the list and put defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh on the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list.

– The Baltimore Ravens lost another starter to the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting linebacker Tyus Bowser on it Tuesday. Bowser has a career-high six sacks on the season. The Ravens also put defensive back Ar’Darius Washington on the list. They did activate cornerback Chris Westry from the list.

– The Jacksonville Jaguars placed three more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list: tight end Jacob Hollister, defensive tackle Jay Tufele and linebacker Damien Wilson. That brings the team’s total to 19 players on the list, including eight defensive linemen and four tight ends.

– The Cincinnati Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tate hasn’t played since Week 7 and is on injured reserve because of a calf injury.

– The Philadelphia Eagles placed wide receiver John Hightower on the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list.

Jaguars line up 8 interviews for head coaching vacancy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars lined up eight interviews for their head coaching vacancy Tuesday, including five coordinators who are headed to the playoffs.

The Jaguars requested permission to interview: both Dallas coordinators, Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn; both Tampa Bay coordinators, Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles; and Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. They also requested a sit-down with Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on the first day teams with vacancies can start the hiring process.

Jacksonville also plans to interview two former NFL head coaches, Jim Caldwell (Detroit, Indianapolis) and Doug Pederson (Philadelphia).

Four of the eight have NFL head coaching experience: Caldwell, Pederson, Bowles (New York Jets) and Quinn (Atlanta).

Leftwich and Hackett have ties to Jacksonville. The 41-year-old Leftwich was the team’s quarterback between 2003 and 2006. The 42-year-old Hackett served as the team’s quarterbacks coach (2015-16) and offensive coordinator (2016-18) before getting fired in the middle of the 2018 season.

Hiring someone with NFL experience makes sense for the Jaguars following Urban Meyer’s tumultuous tenure that included missteps at every turn. Owner Shad Khan fired Meyer on Dec. 16, three days after he said he wasn’t going to make a decision based on “helter-skelter” emotion.

Khan and general manager Trent Baalke are scheduled to handle the pending interviews together. Many thought Khan would move on from Baalke, who reportedly clashed with every coach he worked with in San Francisco (2011-16) and has done little to make the Jaguars better in his two years with the organization.

The Jaguars (2-13) have lost 28 of 31 games since Baalke joined the franchise’s front office, first as director of player personnel in 2020 and then getting promoted to general manager to work alongside Meyer this year.

Baalke’s only draft picks who have done much this season are quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the easiest pick in franchise history, and second-round cornerback Tyson Campbell. Baalke’s free-agent class was filled mostly with “value signings” who have been marginally better, if at all, than their predecessors.

Jacksonville plays at New England (9-6) on Sunday. The Jaguars are 0-8 there.

Holiday Bowl scrapped as virus issues hit UCLA before kick

SAN DIEGO (AP) The Holiday Bowl became the fifth postseason college football game to be canceled when UCLA was forced to pull out just hours before Tuesday’s kickoff because of COVID-19 issues with the team.

The Bruins were scheduled to face No. 18 North Carolina State at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.

A surge in COVID-19 cases across the country has disrupted a second straight bowl season.

The Hawaii, Military, Fenway and Arizona bowls have already been canceled due to virus outbreaks leaving teams without enough available players. The Sun and Gator bowls have had to scramble to find replacement teams for their games.

North Carolina State is the fifth Atlantic Coast Conference team to have its bowl disrupted by the virus.

Miami, Virginia and Boston College all had to withdraw from their games. Wake Forest is set to play in the Gator Bowl, but will face Rutgers instead of Texas A&M as originally scheduled.

Coaches Dave Doeren of NC State and Chip Kelly of UCLA spoke Monday about tightening protocols to assure their game would be played. The cancellation has to have stung the Wolfpack, whose goal was to finish with double digit wins for just the second time.

“Prevention’s the best medicine right now,” Doeren said then. “Our guys have been through this. They understand how to follow protocols … to protect the mission. We’re here to try to win our 10th game. That’s happened one time in school history. There’s a lot at stake.”

UCLA’s football team is the fourth Bruins program sidelined due to COVID-19 issues, joining both basketball programs and gymnastics.

Petco Park had to be modified so a football field would fit. The Holiday Bowl needed a new home after 70,000-seat SDCCU Stadium was razed to make room for San Diego State’s new stadium.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten became the latest conference to tweak its forfeit policy, joining the other Power 5 conferences, the Big East and most others. The Big Ten said games won’t automatically be forfeited if a team or teams are unable to participate due COVID-19. Instead, games can be rescheduled, declared a no contest or a forfeiture.

No. 21 Houston edges Auburn 17-13 in Birmingham Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Clayton Tune and the Houston Cougars punctuated an impressive season with a win in Southeastern Conference country.

Jake Herslow caught a 26-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass from Tune with 3:27 left to help lift No. 21 Houston to a 17-13 victory over Auburn on Tuesday in the Birmingham Bowl in front of a mostly orange-and-blue crowd at Protective Stadium.

The Cougars (12-2) marched 80 yards in eight plays to cap the third season in program history with at least 12 wins. They snapped a four-game bowl losing streak and won 12 of their final 13 games, the only loss after the opener coming to No. 4 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said this win was similar to “some other ones that we’ve had this year.”

“Just a bunch of guys that fight hard and win,” Holgorsen said. “Basically, winning this game solidified this 2021 football team at the University of Houston as a great football team.”

The Tigers (6-7) went in the opposite direction at the end of coach Bryan Harsin’s first season. They ended with five straight losses for the first time in 71 years and dropped their third bowl game in a row.

Harsin was already looking ahead to, he hopes, better things.

“Nobody’s going to go in there and just hang their head and say, `Well, this is just how it is,’ ” Harsin said. “We’re going to change it. We’re going to fix it, and we’re going to get better.

“I mean, there is no Plan B. There’s Plan A, and we’re here to make this work.”

Game MVP Tune completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns with an interception while also rushing for 43 yards. Nathaniel Dell caught 10 passes for 150 yards, while Alton McCaskill ran for 66 yards and caught a touchdown pass.

“That’s kind of been our offense this whole season, is when we’ve needed to make plays we do,” Tune said. “There was no panic.”

And Herslow, who walked on after playing for Old Dominion from 2017-19, delivered the biggest catch. He’s a player Horgorsen called “one of the best stories in college football.”

Auburn, which fired offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after the regular season, had one more chance but couldn’t get a first down. Tank Bigsby ran for 8 yards on first down and then T.J. Finley threw three straight incompletions on short passes.

Houston ran out the clock.

Finley completed 19 of 34 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in his third start since replacing injured Bo Nix. Bigsby had 88 rushing yards and 68 receiving yards.

The Cougars had moved across midfield for the go-ahead score after Auburn’s second targeting ejection, this time against Jaylin Simpson.

Tune set it up with a 20-yard pass to tight end Christian Trahan.

The Tigers rallied from a 10-0 deficit to take the lead late in the third quarter on Kobe Hudson’s 12-yard touchdown catch from Finley on third and goal.

Auburn had several promising drives stall.

“It was pretty frustrating,” tight end John Samuel Shenker said. “We moved the ball pretty well, then we’d get down there and we’d have little mental errors. That’s just little things that you can’t afford to happen this late in the season.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Houston lost its opener to Texas Tech but was awfully hard to beat after that. The Cougars got their first bowl since since beating then-No. 9 Florida State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2015

Auburn had another game that slipped away late, including a quadruple-overtime loss to No. 1 Alabama. The Tigers were without some key players who were hurt, transferred or opted out.

TARGETED

Auburn safety Smoke Monday was the first player ejected for targeting after an earlier flag against him was overturned. This call came during Nehemiah Pritchett’s interception return. The penalty knocked the Tigers back 47 yards and cost them one of their top defenders.

NEXT?

Holgorsen noted that Cincinnati has been on a roll since a win in Birmingham. Now, the Bearcats are set to play No. 1 Alabama Friday in the College Football Playoff semifinals in Arlington, Texas.

“Maybe they can beat the SEC, too,” the Cougars coach said.

UP NEXT

Houston will try to close the gap on Cincinnati with an offense that is expected to return Tune and tailback Alton McCaskill. The Cougars open against UTSA.

Auburn has an important offseason that includes replacing Nix, who was injured and subsequently transferred to Oregon. The Tigers open against Mercer.

Minnesota beats West Virginia 18-6 in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

PHOENIX (AP) Ky Thomas ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, Mar’Kiese Irving added 129 yards rushing and Minnesota shut down West Virginia on defense to win the Guaranteed Rate Bowl 18-6 on Tuesday night.

Thomas and Irving became the Gophers’ 1-2 punch after Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts sustained season-ending injuries. The two running backs carried most of the load offensively against West Virginia (6-7), accounting for 273 of Minnesota’s 358 total yards.

The Gophers (9-4) overwhelmed the Mountaineers defensively, holding them to 206 total yards to win their fifth straight bowl game, third under coach P.J. Fleck.

It wasn’t much of a surprise. Minnesota finished fourth nationally in total defense, allowing 284.8 yards per game, and was ninth against the pass and run.

West Virginia was without leading rusher Leddie Brown, who opted to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL, and struggled to find much of an offensive rhythm early against the swarming Gophers.

The Mountaineers finally clicked a little in the second quarter, moving 75 yards in 12 plays. Jarret Doege capped the drive by diving for the pylon on 4th-and-goal from the 1. They were moving the ball again later in the second quarter before Doege threw an interception at Minnesota’s 14-yard line.

West Virginia couldn’t get anything going against Minnesota’s defense in the second half, crossing midfield only once while being held to 79 yards.

Minnesota’s offense did a little pounding of its own.

The Gophers got in their own way after getting good field position on their first two drives, missing a 33-yard field goal and losing a fumble by Thomas at West Virginia’s 6-yard line.

Then they turned to someone who could move everyone out of his way: Daniel Faalele.

The 6-foot-9, 380-pound offensive lineman lined up at fullback, took the handoff and bulled his way into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown. Minnesota threw in a fake extra point for good measure, going up 8-0 after converting the 2-point conversion.

Thomas put the Gophers up 15-6 at halftime, scoring on a 5-yard run two plays after bursting up the middle for a 50-yard gain.

Minnesota reached West Virginia’s 3-yard line in the final minutes, but opted to kneel out the clock instead of trying to score.

THE TAKEAWAY

West Virginia could have used Brown to perhaps spark its offense. Then again, the way Minnesota swarmed to the ball, it may not have mattered.

Minnesota’s defense dominated most of the year and capped it with a smothering performance to finally win the Guaranteed Rate – previously Insight – Bowl for the first time in four tries.

UP NEXT

West Virginia will get Doege back and its two-deep offense is filled with underclassmen, though Brown will not be back. The defense also has plenty of players coming back, but will lose LB Josh Chandler-Semedo, S Sean Mahones and DT Dante Stills.

Minnesota has several key players returning for a sixth season, including Morgan, Ibrahim, WR Chris Autman-Bell and C John Michael Schmitz.

Curry makes 3,000th 3-pointer, Nuggets edge Warriors 89-86

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Stephen Curry became the first player in NBA history to make 3,000 career 3-pointers on Tuesday night in a game where the Denver Nuggets barely held off the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors 89-86.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic blocked a potential game-tying shot by Jonathan Kuminga in the final seconds to preserve the win after his team nearly blew a 24-point halftime lead. The Warriors got one more chance to tie the game, but Andre Iguodala missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I thought Will Barton, down the stretch, made a couple of big, big plays.”

Barton had 21 points, while Jokic led Denver with 22 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

“Nikola having 18 rebounds, 22 points and making a key, key play down the stretch is why he’s a great player,” Malone said. “You need those types of plays to pull out wins like this.”

Andrew Wiggins had 21 points and eight rebounds for Golden State in his first game back from the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Curry, who scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, made a corner 3-pointer late in the third quarter to give him 157 consecutive games with a 3-point field goal. It ties his own NBA record, which he set from 2014-16.

The Warriors trailed 60-36 at the half, but kept Denver down offensively while opening the third quarter on a 17-5 run to cut Denver’s lead to 65-53. They pulled within five on a Curry step-back 3-pointer with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter before he made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Nuggets’ lead to 84-82 with 2:08 left.

Golden State tied the game at 84 on a dunk by Gary Payton II with 1:04 remaining. Barton put the Nuggets back in front 86-84 with a tip-in on the ensuing possession and Denver held on to win despite scoring just 29 points in the second half.

“They were the aggressor from the start,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I loved the way we fought back in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. … Really proud of the guys for the effort, but obviously we’ve got to play better.”

The Nuggets started the game on a 10-0 run and built a 31-16 lead after the first quarter. Curry remained scoreless deep into the first half, finally getting his first points with 2:08 remaining in the second quarter.

Golden State’s 86 points were a season low, and the team made just 16 of 31 free throws.

“We just came out flat,” Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson said. “We sucked in the first half. … We just dug ourselves a hole too deep to get out of.”

HONORING MADDEN

Before the game, the Chase Center held a moment of silence for John Madden. The longtime Raiders coach and NFL broadcaster died Tuesday morning at 85.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Monte Morris sat out with left knee soreness. … Aaron Gordon missed his third straight game with left hamstring soreness.

Warriors: Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Damion Lee and Moses Moody remained in health and safety protocols. … Iguodala returned after missing two games with right knee soreness.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Golden State on Thursday to complete the home-and-home.

Warriors: At Denver on Thursday to begin a brief two-game road trip.

Nets’ Irving clears NBA protocols, Hawks add to COVID list

(AP) — Kyrie Irving is a step closer to making his season debut.

The Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday that Irving, along with Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, have cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols – a major step toward getting them back on the court.

Irving has not played this season, largely because of his decision not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and the Nets initially not being willing to have the perennial All-Star with them on a part-time basis. Irving has not been eligible to play home games because of a local rule in New York requiring vaccinations, and he and the Nets decided earlier this month that having him back – even if only for road games – will allow the team “to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster.”

Durant hasn’t played since Dec. 16, but he has missed only three games so far because the Nets had three others postponed due to their virus issues. Aldridge has not played since Dec. 12, missing five games.

While the Nets were closer to becoming whole again – and it was not clear when any of the protocols-clearing players would actually be able to play again – other teams were still in the throes of serious virus-related depletion. Atlanta added three players to its list of those in the protocols, giving the Hawks 13 currently dealing with a virus-related issue.

And Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault became the latest NBA coach to enter health and safety protocols, joining the Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Vogel, Chicago’s Billy Donovan, Portland’s Chauncey Billups and Phoenix’s Monty Williams.

Daigneault was ruled out from coaching the Thunder game Tuesday against Sacramento. Mike Wilks will be the acting coach for that game, the team said.

Another notable addition to the protocols Tuesday: Miami’s Udonis Haslem, who has had to play far more than usual lately because the Heat have been without centers Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon because of injury. Haslem was ruled out of the Heat game Tuesday against Washington, a matchup where the Wizards were bracing to miss at least a half-dozen players for virus issues alone.

The league began Tuesday with about 120 players in the protocols. Numbers tend to change frequently as players test in and out over the course of each day, and the league updated its protocols Monday to allow shorter return-to-play procedures for players provided they meet certain criteria related to symptoms and test results.

That should mean some players who are on the current protocols list could be back on the floor quicker than first planned.

The surprising Cleveland Cavaliers, who have managed to win seven of eight while dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, got back rookie forward Evan Mobley while placing guard Darius Garland into protocols. But Washington – which was hoping to see Rui Hachimura make his season debut at Miami on Tuesday – will wait a bit longer, after he got added to the protocols.

With so many players in protocols this season, the NBA has allowed teams in need to sign players to hardship contracts in recent weeks without the burden of adding those unplanned salaries to salary cap and luxury tax totals. That is the biggest reason why the NBA has already seen more players appear in a game this season than in any other year in league history – 546 and counting, entering Tuesday, with the season not even to the midway point yet.

The previous record for players used in a full season was 540.

Temple, Jones rally Pelicans past Cavaliers after Rubio hurt

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Garrett Temple nailed four of his five fourth-quarter 3-pointers in a decisive flurry and rookie Herb Jones scored a career-high 26 points to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a near-record 108-104 comeback victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

The resurgent Cavaliers lost guard Ricky Rubio to a late knee injury after he nearly finished with a triple-double.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 23 points in the first quarter, but the Pelicans chipped away with aggressive defense to record the second-biggest comeback in franchise history. The largest was from 24 points down to the Boston Celtics last Feb. 21.

Rubio, starting with Darius Garland sidelined due to health and safety protocols, had 27 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists before injuring his left knee on a non-contact stop in the lane with 2:20 left. Rubio had to be carried off the court by teammates.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the extent of Rubio’s injury had not yet been determined.

“He’s still being evaluated,” Bickerstaff said.

However, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, one of Rubio’s closest friends, offered a sober assessment of what looked like a nasty injury.

“It’s really hard for me because I could see the pain he was in when he went down,” said Love, who finished with 24 points. “Him and I have such a history. I really care for him. I’m just praying that he’s going to be OK. We don’t know what the near future is going to hold for him. We’re just completely gutted. He was having such a great season.”

Trailing 95-83, the Pelicans used a 10-0 run in a 2:18 span – with a pair of 3-pointers by Temple – to move within 95-93 with 4:44 left. Temple added two more long-range jumpers to complete the comeback. He had a fifth 3-pointer earlier in his 17-point fourth period.

“He didn’t have a good first half, but he got himself going,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Garrett’s been huge for us, on and off the floor.”

Jonas Valanciunas made four free throws in the final 28.7 seconds to seal the victory, the Pelicans’ fifth in six games.

Rubio had 10 of the Cavaliers’ first 18 points as Cleveland cruised to an 18-4 lead. Love added three from long range within a 63-second span to extend the Cavs’ lead to 27-8 in the first 8:14.

In building a 39-20 first-quarter lead, Cleveland made 9-of-12 3-pointers, with Love making all four from long range for 12 points.

The Cavs’ perimeter shooting went ice cold in the second quarter – Cleveland missed all 10 3-pointers – allowing the Pelicans to trim the deficit to 58-48 at halftime. Jones, normally a defensive specialist, led all scorers with 17 first-half points.

Asked about his growing offensive prowess, Jones said he had not had a scoring game like that “since maybe high school.”

“I try not to pay attention,” Jones said. “Some teammates kept telling me how many points I had. I just tried to stay focused on the next play. It worked out in my favor tonight. I just tried to attack space.”

The Cavs led 80-68 late in the third quarter but New Orleans closed to 83-76 heading to the fourth.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: C Jarrett Allen and G Garland, averaging 19 points and 7 assists this season, sat out due to COVID-19 protocols. . The Cavs had won seven of their previous eight games, with each victory coming by double digits. . Rookie C Evan Mobley came off 10 days of COVID absence to score 22 points and grab seven rebounds in 30 minutes.

Pelicans: F Brandon Ingram (left Achilles soreness) and G Josh Hart (left ankle sprain) were sidelined. . Valanciunas, who missed the last two games, returned from a non-COVID illness and had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Washington on Thursday night.

Pelicans: Have a three-day break before traveling to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Saturday.

One of a kind: Ohtani wins AP Male Athlete of Year award

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Most of the time in professional sports, it’s easy to think it’s all been done before.

With so many finetuned athletes constantly pushing each other to the peak of human potential, we can experience unprecedented demonstrations of sporting brilliance every week of our lives. But it’s truly rare to witness anything that isn’t fundamentally just a better, more prolific version of something we’ve already seen.

That’s why Shohei Ohtani’s astonishing redefinition of modern baseball captured the world’s attention so vividly in 2021 – and that’s why the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way superstar is the winner of The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year award.

The unanimous American League MVP put together a season with no analogue in the past century of his sport. Almost no one had been an everyday two-way player for many decades – and nobody has been both one of baseball’s top power hitters and one of its best starting pitchers since Babe Ruth starred at the plate and on the mound for the Boston Red Sox in 1919.

“He’s doing something we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, but he’s also doing it at the very highest level of hitting and pitching,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said late in the regular season. “He’s doing more than other players, but he’s also doing it better than almost everybody else on that field, and those are the greatest players in the game, his contemporaries. He’s playing their game, but he’s also playing a different game.”

Ohtani hit 46 homers and drove in 100 runs with a .965 OPS while playing in 126 games as the AL’s best designated hitter, as evidenced by his Silver Slugger award. He finished third in the majors in homers after leading the sport for much of the season.

Ohtani also started 23 games on the mound, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings as the Angels’ ace and one of the AL’s top right-handers. He has a 100-mph fastball, but his splitter might be the best pitch in baseball, with movement that resembles a ball rolling off the edge of a table.

The 6-foot-4 star also was among the fastest baserunners in the majors while stealing 26 bases and scoring 103 runs. He even led the league with eight triples – and he also played a little outfield when asked.

Any one of these achievements would be impressive for a 27-year-old hitting his prime in his fourth season since moving from Japan to the major leagues.

Doing it all at the same time is something that almost nobody who’s currently alive had ever seen.

Ohtani kept baseball’s historians and statheads metaphorically buried up to their eyes in dusty record books all summer as they dug into the early 20th century annals to identify the last players to accomplish the statistical superlatives Ohtani was currently blazing past.

Mike Trout, Ohtani’s three-time AL MVP teammate, called Ohtani’s season “nothing short of electric.”

“At times, I felt like I was back in Little League,” Trout added. “To watch a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then go play right field was incredible.”

Fans across the world agreed: Despite his soft-spoken personality and single-minded focus on his sport, Ohtani has become an icon wherever baseball is played and a known figure even beyond the game’s traditional borders.

“I’ve never seen fans get to ballparks so early and stay to the end,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in July. “That’s what he’s bringing to the equation. I love it. Seems like every pitch when he’s at the plate, you can hear the oohs and aahs. I think it’s great for baseball.”

Ohtani’s success not only commanded fans’ attention on both sides of the Pacific, but also reignited a debate long considered finished about the merits of sports specialization in a country where young athletes are often encouraged to stop competing in multiple disciplines even before they reach their teens. Nobody currently has Ohtani’s overall talents, but big-league teams are increasingly open to the possibility of two-way contributors across their organizations.

Ohtani lives a quiet life in both Anaheim and Japan, but he is unfailingly gracious when lauded for his unique achievements. Sometimes he seems just as surprised by his multifaceted success as the rest of the world, while at other times he expresses the quiet confidence necessary to do such a thing in the first place.

“I’m a student of the game, so I do feel like I need to grow every year, and I think I’ve been able to do that,” Ohtani said through his interpreter and constant companion, Ippei Mizuhara.

Ohtani’s achievements are even more impressive because they’ve happened with the Angels, arguably the majors’ most disappointing franchise of the last half-decade despite their hefty payroll and elite talent in sunny Southern California.

With Trout missing nearly the entire season due to injury, Los Angeles won only 77 games despite Ohtani’s Herculean efforts, missing the playoffs for the seventh straight year and posting their sixth straight losing record. Ohtani accomplished his feats at the plate with an often terrible lineup protecting him in the batting order.

Better times seem possible for the revamped Angels in 2022, and Ohtani says his biggest goal is winning in his next two years with the club. No matter what his future holds, Ohtani will always be remembered for a 2021 season that blew the sports world’s collective mind.

“Just a fabulous, fabulous year,” Maddon said. “There’s only one person that can duplicate it. That would be him.”

TOP INDIANA SPORTS NEWS/RELEASES

Indiana and UNC Asheville Game Canceled

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University men’s basketball game scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 29th has been canceled and will not be rescheduled due to COVID-19 protocols within the UNC Asheville program.

“As we continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, we are disappointed for both programs, but we will always put the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans as our top priority,” said Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Dolson.

The Hoosiers next scheduled game is Sunday, Jan. 2 at Penn State.

Indiana at Rutgers Postponed

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 8/6 Indiana at Rutgers will not be played on Thursday, Dec. 30 due to positive COVID-19 results within the Scarlet Knights program.

The Big Ten Conference will determine the next steps regarding the postponement and potential rescheduling of this game in conjunction with conference COVID-19 policies

Indiana’s next scheduled game is Jan. 2 against Maryland.

No. 3 Purdue Finishes Non-Conference Play Wednesday vs. Nicholls

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

• [3] Purdue (11-1) vs. Nicholls (8-5)

• Wednesday, Dec. 29 | West Lafayette, Indiana

• BTN | 5 PM ET | Kevin Kugler, Robbie Hummel

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The No. 3-ranked Purdue Boilermakers look to end the 2021 calendar year in style when Nicholls visits Mackey Arena for the final non-conference game of the season. Purdue is 10-0 in non-conference action and are looking for an unbeaten conference mark for just the fourth time in school history. A win would give Purdue a 23-7 mark in the 2021 calendar year, the fewest calendar-year losses of the Painter era (done twice).

Purdue enters the contest with an 11-1 record while Nicholls is 8-5, having won four of its last six games after a 4-3 start.

The contest will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Robbie Hummel on the call. On the radio waves, Rob Blackman and Bobby Riddell will be courtside on the 22-station Purdue Radio Network and online on the Varsity Sports Network (app). Live stats will be provided on StatBroadcast.com and updates will be provided on Purdue’s official Twitter account (@BoilerBall).

THE NOTES TO KNOW

1) Purdue is 11-1 for just the fourth time under head coach Matt Painter, also reaching 11-1 (or better) in 2015-16 (13-1), 2010-11 (15-1) and 2009-10 (14-1). It marks Purdue’s eighth start of 11-1 or better since the 1982-83 season.

2) A win over Nicholls would give Purdue just its fourth season of being unbeaten in non-conference play since the 1939-40 campaign. Purdue went unbeaten in non-conference play in 2009-10 (12-0), 1993-94 (12-0) and 1992-93 (9-0).

3) Purdue is ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 poll this week, the sixth straight week it has been ranked in the top 3. It marks the longest active streak in America and ties for the longest streak in Purdue history.

4) Purdue owns four wins against the KenPom top 40, the most in the country. Ohio State and Gonzaga are second with three wins.

5) Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Purdue is 19-6 at Mackey Arena against nationally-ranked teams.

6) Trevion Williams’ stat line of 22 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals vs. North Carolina State makes him the only player in America in the last 15 years to reach those marks in a single game.

7) Purdue has outscored its opponents by 91 points at the free throw line, the second-best total in the country (Weber State +106). Purdue has made 194 free throws this year, while opponents have shot just 147.

8) Purdue has scored at least 40 points in 14 of the 24 halves played this year. It has shot at least 50.0 percent from the field in 15 halves.

9) Matt Painter needs five wins to tie Ward “Piggy” Lambert (371) for second place on the Purdue career victories list.

Butler WBB Preps for Two Games in Three Days

INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler women’s basketball team will play at Xavier on Wednesday afternoon before hosting Creighton on New Year’s Eve. Each contest will feature a 2 PM tip and will be available on FloHoops.

Bulldog Bits

– Celena Taborn made the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after posting 26 points and six rebounds in the win over Evansville.

– Trinity White has hit a 3-pointer for Butler in every game this year (18-for-48, 37%).

– Zoe Jackson ranks 10th in the BIG EAST in assists per game (3.5). She has also scored in double figures in Butler’s last five games.

– Tenley Dowell has only missed two free throws in her Bulldog career (33-35 / 94.3%). Dowell also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds vs. Evansville. She has led the team in rebounding six times this season.

Scouting Xavier                                                                                     

The Musketeers are 5-6 with an 0-2 mark in conference action after the first two months of the regular season. Xavier’s last game landed on Dec. 19 against Souteast Missouri State. They came out on top at the Cintas Center 65-58. Ayanna Townsend played a large role in the contest. She scored a career-high 18 points and was responsible for 15 rebounds. The redshirt-junior from Pittsburgh is averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Xavier is led in the scoring column by 5-9 guard Nia Clark. The Indianapolis native is scoring 14.1 points per game and is also the team leader in assists and steals.

All-Time Series vs. Xavier                                                                                  

Butler leads the all-time series against Xavier 29-19. The first-ever meeting went down as a 71-64 Bulldog victory during the 1982-83 season. The last meeting was a 73-61 win for BU at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Since joining the BIG EAST at the start of the 2013-14 season, BU has gone 12-5 against their Midwest foe, including winning the last five meetings.

Last Meeting vs. Xavier                                                                        

The Musketeers came to Indianapolis on Feb 22 last season and would leave Hinkle Fieldhouse with a 12-point loss. BU won the first quarter 26-19 and would outscore Xavier by seven in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. BU shot 42.9 percent from the field while limiting Xavier to 32 percent shooting. The ‘Dawgs were also 16-for-19 from the foul line.

Evansville Recap                                                                                                   

The Butler women’s basketball team found the win column on Dec. 22 by posting a 75-67 victory over the visiting Evansville Purple Aces. Celena Taborn led BU with 26 points in 24 minutes of playing time. She hit 11 of her 13 field goal attempts and also pulled down six rebounds. Butler never trailed in the contest, but the Purple Aces would tie the game at 47-47 early in the third quarter. Zoe Jackson was a key contributor with 11 points and four assists. Alex Richard and Tenley Dowell each scored 10 and Kendall Wingler was in the box score with nine points.

Scouting Creighton                                                                                             

The Bluejays are 8-3 overall with a 3-0 mark in the BIG EAST Conference. League wins this season have been recorded against Georgetown, Villanova and Providence. CU most recently defeated Arkansas 81-72 to complete their non-conference schedule. Head Coach Jim Flanery is in his 20th season on the sideline at Creighton. This year’s team is led by 6-1 forward Emma Ronsiek. She is averaging 13.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest.

All-Time Series vs. Creighton                                                             

Butler trails Creighton in the all-time series 10-8. The Bulldogs were victorious in the first-ever meeting 58-52, but the Bluejays won the last meeting a year ago 88-41. The two programs have met in the conference tournament two times with CU winning each matchup.

Last Meeting vs. Creighton                                                                  

Creighton had five players reach a double figure scoring total in the last meeting, leading the Bluejays to an 88-41 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Morgan Maly led the way with 16 points off the Bluejay bench. Butler turned the ball over 29 times resulting in 41 Creighton points.

Four Overtimes                                                                                     

Butler and Denver played 60 minutes of basketball on Dec. 10 with the first-ever meeting between the two programs going into quadruple overtime! Celena Taborn tied her career-high with 33 points while adding 10 rebounds. Denver’s Uju Ezeudu nearly collected a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Butler’s Zoe Jackson played 54 minutes for the Bulldogs and the Pioneers saw Anna Jackson log 57 minutes of playing time. It was the longest game in Butler women’s basketball history surpassing the triple overtime game at Providence in 2018-19. Butler has played in 40 single overtime games and eight double overtime contests. The longest games in NCAA women’s basketball history went into five overtime periods. Memphis defeated Temple 100-97 in 2016 and Drexel beat Northeastern 98-90 in 2007.

94 Points                                                                                                               

Butler scored 94 points in the setback to Denver on Dec. 10. It marked the highest point total by a team coached by Kurt Godlevske. Prior to that contest, the record under Coach G was 92 points (vs. Western Illinois 11/17/18).The last Butler team to hit 100 points was the 2010-11 Bulldogs that scored 105 points at Ball State. The school record is 116 points (vs. Detroit 1/30/99).

Taborn Take Over                                                                                               

Celena Taborn notched her first double-double as a Bulldog on Dec. 5 at Marquette with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She followed that effort with 33 points and 10 rebounds vs. Denver. Taborn has now scored in double figures six times this season (8 games). She has 1,355 points in her collegiate career and is the first Bulldog to score 30+ in a single game since Kristen Spolyar when she scored 30 vs. Marquette on Jan. 17, 2020.

Fantastic Freshmen                                                                              

Butler freshmen have scored 450 of the 695 Bulldog points this season (64.7%). BU first-year players accounted for 39 of Butler’s 75 points vs. Evansville. A freshman has led BU in scoring six times this year. Four freshmen have started in five games; three freshmen have started in four games. Two freshmen started in the season opener vs. IU.

Up Next                                                                                                                 

Butler’s game against Providence scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 2. Has been canceled due to Covid issues within the Friar program. The ‘Dawgs will return to the court Jan. 7 at Seton Hall.

Butler MBB Hosts DePaul Wednesday in Second Attempt at BIG EAST Opener

Butler (7-4, 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. DePaul (9-1, 0-0 BIG EAST)

Wednesday, Dec. 29;  5PM

Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Ind.

TV:  FS1 – @WayneRandazzo & Dickey Simpkins (@ds8bballn)

Radio:  1430AM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)

Varsity Network Radio App, XM388, SiriusXM App 978

The Bulldogs will attempt to open BIG EAST play for the second time by hosting DePaul Wednesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Butler has not played since Dec. 18. The Bulldogs flew to Queens, N.Y., for a scheduled Dec. 23 contest with St. John’s only to have the game cancelled due to COVID issues within the Red Storm program.

DePaul will also open its BIG EAST slate with the contest against Butler as they have not played since Dec. 14 due to COVID issues within their program.

THE SERIES: Butler owns a 15-7 advantage in the all-time series with DePaul. The Bulldogs are 14-2 against the Blue Demons since joining the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season.

Jair Bolden led the Bulldogs with 21 points as Butler posted a 67-53 win in Chicago Jan. 19. Butler won, 68-58, against DePaul Feb. 6 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Bryce Nze and Chuck Harris led the Bulldogs with 22 points apiece. Javon Freeman-Liberty led the Blue Demons with 26 points. Those three players were the only three in double figures in that contest.

Butler Leads, 15-7

Streak: Butler, W3

At Hinkle Fieldhouse: Butler Leads, 7-3

LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. DePaul: 7-1

First Meeting: Butler, 39-29; 1939 (at DePaul)

Last Meeting: Butler, 68-58; 2/6/21 (at Hinkle)

• Over the past five games, Bryce Golden is averaging 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, shooting 67 percent from the field.

• Aaron Thompson is third on Butler’s career assists list (490); LaVall Jordan’s college teammate Thomas Jackson is No. 1 with 540 career assists.

• Butler is allowing only 60.0 points per game so far this season, a mark that is 31st nationally.

• Golden tied his career-high with 20 points vs. Eastern Illinois Dec. 11.

• Golden’s 59.7 field goal percentage is fourth in the BIG EAST.

• Ty Groce scored his 1,000th career point in the Dec. 11 win over Eastern Illinois.

• Thompson posted the fourth double-double of his career in the win over EIU Dec. 11.

• Myles Tate (torn ACL 3/11) saw his first game action of the 2021-22 season in the Dec. 11 game vs. EIU.

• Butler owned a 43-30 rebounding advantage in the win at Oklahoma Dec. 7.

• Chuck Harris scored a season-high 26 points in the Dec. 7 win at Oklahoma.

• Butler committed a season-low seven turnovers against Purdue Saturday.

• Freshman DJ Hughes had career-highs of six points and six rebounds at Oklahoma Dec. 7 in a career-best 23 minutes.

• Jayden Taylor scored a career-best 21 points in Nov. 24 win over Chaminade.

• Butler made 12 three-pointers Nov. 13 vs. Troy, the most by the team since hitting 12 against Nebraska in the 2019 NIT.

• Butler was picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST Preseason Poll by the conference’s head coaches.

• Sophomore Chuck Harris was an honorable mention selection to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team by the conference’s head coaches.

• Butler’s 2021-22 roster includes six players who are entering their fifth or sixth season of college basketball.

• The Bulldogs return 10 of their 11 top scorers from a season ago.

• Butler’s roster returns 97.2 percent of its scoring and 96.2 percent of its minutes played from last season.

QUITE THE BATTLE: As part of the annual BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle, the Bulldogs picked up a 66-62 overtime road win Dec. 7 at Oklahoma. Chuck Harris led the Bulldogs with 26 points. Butler trailed by 10 points at the half and by 13 early in the second half before clawing all the way back. After Oklahoma forced overtime with a three-pointer with two seconds remaining in regulation, the Sooners took a 62-58 lead in overtime before Butler scored the game’s final eight points.

TOUGH SLATE: In addition to a true round-robin format that has Butler playing all 10 BIG EAST foes both on the road and at home, the Bulldogs challenged themselves significantly with this season’s non-conference schedule.

Butler’s non-conference opponents include three of the top 13 teams in this week’s AP poll (No. 3 Purdue — Crossroads Classic, No. 11 Michigan State — Gavitt Games, and No. 13 Houston — Maui Invitational in Las Vegas). Oklahoma, Butler’s BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle opponent, is just outside of this week’s AP poll in the 26th position. Texas A&M, another Maui Invitational opponent, is 8-2.

HOME SWEET HINKLE: Butler is 53-15 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in LaVall Jordan’s five seasons as head coach of the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs have won 64 of their last 66 games at Hinkle Fieldhouse against non-conference opponents.

ON THE WAY: Connor Turnbull, a 6-10 forward/center from Missouri, has signed a national letter of intent to join the Bulldogs beginning with the 2022-23 season.

Turnbull, from Saint Paul, Mo., stars for Fort Zumwalt North High School, where he earned Missouri Basketball Coaches Association All-State honors for Class 6. As a junior, Turnbull averaged 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game, leading the team to a 27-4 record and the Class 6 state semifinals. He shot 34 percent from three-point range. Turnbull helped Brad Beal Elite to a runner-up finish at the 2021 Peach Jam as part of the Nike EYBL circuit.

BULLDOGS ANNOUNCED AS PART OF 2022 BATTLE 4 ATLANTIS FIELD: The Bulldogs will participate in the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis for the third time as the 2022 bracket has been announced. Celebrating its 11th year of elite collegiate tournament play, the 2022 field will include Butler, BYU, Dayton, Kansas, North Carolina State, USC, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Butler was previously part of the Battle 4 Atlantis field in both 2014 and 2018. The Bulldogs went 2-1 in each event.

HAPPY RETURNS: Butler returns 10 of its top 11 scorers from last season. In all, Butler’s roster returns 97.2 percent of its scoring and 96.2 percent of minutes played from the 2020-21 season. Butler returns five double-digit scorers from a season ago and adds Ty Groce, a graduate transfer from Eastern Michigan. Groce led the Eagles in scoring last season, the sixth player on the Butler roster to average double figures in 2020-21. Butler has six players who will play their fifth season of college basketball during the upcoming campaign — Aaron Thompson, Bryce Nze, Jair Bolden, Christian David, Bo Hodges, and Ty Groce. Of that group, Nze, Bolden and Groce are in their sixth year of college after previously redshirting and now taking advantage of the additional season of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

YOUNG GUNS: Both Jayden Taylor and Simas Lukosius got the start in the regular season opener against IUPUI Tuesday night. Freshmen starting in their first Butler game is a rarity. Multiple freshmen starting their first collegiate game at Butler was last done in 2008 (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ron Nored). The only other freshman to start his first Butler game between 2008 and 2021 was Myles Tate in 2020.

PRESEASON PICKS: The BIG EAST head coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish sixth in the league standings in the preseason poll that was announced as part of BIG EAST Media Day in New York City in October.

WHAT WILL HE DO FOR AN ENCORE?: Butler’s Chuck Harris was recognized as an honorable mention selection to the 2021-22 All-BIG EAST preseason team. Harris was one of three unanimous picks on the 2020-21 All-BIG EAST Freshman Team, joining Posh Alexander of St. John’s and Marquette’s Dawson Garcia (Garcia has since transferred to North Carolina). Harris led the Bulldogs in scoring during the 2020-21 season, becoming the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since the 1979-80 season (Tony Warren). Harris led the team in scoring in 17 of his 24 games played, scoring 20 or more points six times.

Harris became the third Bulldog to earn a spot on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team since Butler joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. Kamar Baldwin was also a unanimous selection in 2016-17 and Andrew Chrabascz earned a spot on the 2013-14 team.

Women’s Basketball Home Game Wednesday Against Western Michigan Postponed

MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State women’s basketball game originally scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. ET in Worthen Arena against Western Michigan has been postponed due to the guidelines and safety protocols of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Per the Mid-American Conference’s rescheduling policy, if games cannot be played as scheduled they will be rescheduled. If a game cannot be played and cannot be rescheduled, it will be considered a no contest.

#5 IRISH PREPARE FOR FIESTA BOWL MATCHUP WITH #9 OKLAHOMA STATE


IRISH VS. CARDINAL – BY THE NUMBERS
1The Irish are the only team in the NCAA to have two games this season with multiple defensive touchdowns against Power-5 opponents.
2The Irish are one of two teams (Alabama) to average more than 30 points on offense and averaged fewer than 20 points allowed on defense for four consecutive years (2017-21).
5Running back Kyren Williams surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the win over Stanford. He is just the fifth running back in Notre Dame history to have back-to-back seasons with 1,000 rushing yards or more.
7The Irish won their seventh-game in a row with the win over Stanford. It is the fourth time in the last five years that the Irish have had a win streak of seven games or more.
9The Irish have won 11 or more games for the ninth time in program history.
10.0Defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey is tied for 16th in the NCAA with 10.0 sacks on the season. He is tied for fourth all-time for most sacks in a single season in program history.
15The Irish are tied for 10th nationally with 15 interceptions. It is the most interceptions since 2014 when the Irish had 16.
18.2Notre Dame is ranked ninth in the NCAA in scoring defense allowing 18.2 points per game.
21The 2022 Fiesta Bowl marks the 21st time Notre Dame has played in a bowl game on Jan. 1.
23The Irish have totaled 23 takeaways this season, which ranks tied for 14th nationally.
36Notre Dame has won 36-straight games when allowing less than 20 points dating back to 2016.
3737 of Michael Mayer’s team-leading 64 receptions this season have resulted in a first down for the Irish.
40.0Notre Dame ranks eighth in the NCAA with 40.0 sacks for the season. Fifteen different players have recorded a sack this season and it is one shy of the school record of 41.0 sacks from the 1996 season.
54The Irish have won 54 games over the past five seasons to set the program record for most wins over a five-year period. They surpassed the previous record of 53 from 1988-92.
60Defensive lineman Kurt Hinish has played in 60 career games, which continues to set the all-time program record. Kicker Jonathan Doerer is second all-time with 54 games played.
64Tight end Michael Mayer set the all-time record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (64).

CREATING HAVOC

  • Under Marcus Freeman’s tutelage, the Irish defense has been one of the nation’s best at creating havoc plays this season, as Notre Dame has totaled 40.0 sacks this season, which ranks eighth in the NCAA.
  • The Irish are sixth in the nation in sacks per game with 3.33.
  • The 40 sacks are the most in a single season since 1996, when the Irish set the program record for most sacks in a single season with 41.
  • 15 different players have recorded a sack this season after Isaiah Pryor and Alexander Ehrensberger got their first sacks of the season against Georgia Tech.
  • Notre Dame has been stingy in allowing points this season. They rank ninth in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 18.2 points per game this season.
  • The Irish defense has also been adept at taking the ball away with 23 takeaways, a number that ranks 14th in the NCAA.
  • Of those 23 takeaways, the Irish have tallied 15 interceptions from nine different players after Ramon Henderson tallied his first career interception against Virginia.
  • The 15 interceptions are tied for 10th in the NCAA. It is the most interceptions since 2014 when the Irish had 16 that season.
  • The nine players with an interception is the most since 2014 when they also had nine different players with interceptions.
  • The defense has also been able to find the endzone this season with four defensive scores. The four touchdowns are tied for sixth nationally.
  • The Irish also rank in the top-20 in third down conversion percentage defense (17th – 32.9%) and first down defense (18th – 211).
  • Kyle Hamilton and DJ Brown both lead the team with three interceptions each.
  • Hamilton and Cam Hart both had two interceptions in a game this season, the first time since 2018 that the Irish have had two players with two interceptions in a game in the same season (Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman).
  • The depth of the defense has been on full display as 21 different players have recorded a tackle-for-loss this season.

BE LIKE MIKE

  • Tight end Michael Mayer is one of the best tight ends in the country, as he ranks first among Power-5 tight ends in receptions and receiving yards per game. He is first in receptions (64), receiving yards (768) and first in receiving yards per game (69.8).
  • Mayer set the program record for most receptions in a single season by a tight end (64) after his nine receptions, 105 yards and a touchdown in the win over Stanford.
  • He also tied the Notre Dame record for most receptions in a single game by a tight end. He tied his previous mark against Florida State and Cole Kmet’s that was set against Georgia in 2019.
  • It was the sixth game this season he has brought in seven or more receptions and also the sixth game he has led the team in receptions.
  • For the season, 37 of Mayer’s 64 receptions have resulted in a first down for the Irish.
  • Mayer hauled in his fifth touchdown of the season on a career-long 52-yard pass in the home finale win over Georgia Tech.
  • Mayer led the Irish with team-highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (84) while adding one score in the road win over Virginia.
  • Mayer joined Ken MacAfee and Tyler Eifert as the only Notre Dame tight ends with 50 or more catches in a single season.
  • He notched five receptions for 54 yards in the home win over Southern Cal. He has totaled at least five receptions in seven of his 11 games this season.
  • Mayer led the Irish against Cincinnati with eight receptions and 93 yards on the afternoon.
  • Mayer had seven catches for 61 yards in the win over Wisconsin at Soldier Field.
  • In the win over Toledo, Mayer finished the game with team-high marks in receptions (7), receiving yards (81) and receiving touchdowns (2). It was the first time in Mayer’s career that he has had a multi-touchdown game.
  • Dating back to last season, Mayer collected seven or more receptions in three-straight games (Alabama, Florida State and Toledo). The last Irish receiver to have three-consecutive games with seven or more receptions was Michael Floyd in 2011 (Maryland – 8;  Boston College – 10 and Stanford – 8).

IRISH CHOP DOWN CARDINAL

  • The Irish closed the 2021 regular season with their seventh-win in a row with the 45-14 victory over Stanford.
  • Notre Dame set a program record with 54 wins over the past five seasons. It surpassed the previous record of 53 that was set from 1988-92.
  • The win gave the Irish their 11th of the season, the ninth time in program history they have won 11 or more games in a single season.
  • The win gave the Irish their 42nd-consecutive win over an unranked opponent, the longest active streak in the FBS.
  • The Irish finished the season undefeated in road games (4-0) for the second-straight year. It is the first time since 1992-93 that the Irish had two-consecutive seasons with undefeated road records.
  • With the win, Notre Dame has won 16-straight games in the month of November.
  • It was the 27th-consecutive win for the Irish when they have scored 40 points or more.
  • The Irish claimed their 36th-straight win when allowing less than 20 points.
  • Running back Kyren Williams surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second-straight season in the win over Stanford.
  • He is just the fifth Irish running back to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in program history and the first since Darius Walker in 2005 and 2006.
  • Williams rushed for two touchdowns against the Cardinal for the second-straight game and the fourth time in the last six games.
  • It was the eighth-straight game Williams had a rushing touchdown.
  • Wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. led the way with 125 receiving yards. It was the second time in the last four games that Austin Jr. surpassed the 100-yard mark in a game.
  • Tight end Michael Mayer had his second career game with 100 yards or more after finishing with 105 and nine receptions.
  • Quarterback Jack Coan tied a career high with 26 completions. He finished with 345 yards passing, his second game with 300 passing yards or more this season.
  • Austin Jr. and Mayer become the first Irish receiving duo to have 100 receiving yards or more in the same game since 2017 against Stanford.
  • The Irish defense allowed 55 rushing yards against the Cardinal. It was the fewest rushing yards allowed since 2020 when they limited Clemson to 33 rushing yards.

FREAKY FOSKEY

  • Isaiah Foskey has been the most consistent member of the Irish defensive line this season as he leads the team in sacks (10.0) and tackles-for-loss (11.5).
  • Foskey ranks tied for 16th nationally with 10.0 sacks this season.
  • He has recorded at least one sack in eight of his 12 games this season and at least one tackle-for-loss in nine of the games.
  • His 10.0 sacks are the most by an Irish player since Stephon Tuitt had 12.0 during the 2012 season.

HUBB RALLIES IRISH PAST PITTSBURGH

The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team (7-5, 1-1) rallied to claim its first road victory of the season at Pittsburgh (5-8, 0-2), 68-67, on a fall away jump shot from senior Prentiss Hubb with five seconds remaining. Hubb scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half as the Irish refused to quit and earned their first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the year. 

Graduate student Paul Atkinson Jr. paced the Irish offense with 16 points along with eight rebounds. Freshman Blake Wesley added 12 points while senior Dane Goodwin ended up with 11. John Hugley led Pitt with 18 pints and six rebounds. 

Notre Dame earned an early 7-4 lead behind a three pointer from reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week Dane Goodwin, but Pitt turned up the defense and rallied back to take a 9-7 lead at the first media timeout. 

Both teams hit a cold stretch from the field, but Nate Laszewski connected on a corner three pointer to cut the Pitt lead to one at 11-10 with 11:34 left in the first half. 

Notre Dame was able to pull ahead behind two scoring streaks from two different players. Atkinson worked free down low to score four points in a row around the paint. Wesley then re-entered the game after being whistled for two quick fouls earlier in the half. He promptly connected on back-to-back three point field goals, then drove by his defender for his eighth straight point. 

Pitt edged back to tie up the game 30-30 at the break behind a three point play from Femi Odukale. Neither team could manage more than a five point lead in the first 20 minutes. 

Goodwin started out the second half with a top-of-the-key three pointer, but the Panthers responded with a 9-0 run to go ahead 39-33 as the Irish turned the ball over four times in the first three minutes of the second half. 

Wesley ended the Pitt run with a drive to the hoop, drawing a foul and converting for his 10th point of the game. Pittsburgh maintained their five point lead into the 12:00 break, with both offenses going over four minutes without a field goal. 

Goodwin had a transition look at a three pointer with 10 minutes remaining to tie the game at 44-44 that rimmed out. Pitt then claimed a 49-41 lead with a three pointer of their own taking advantage of the Irish missing nine of 10 shots over a five minute span. 

The Irish would not go down without a fight. Two back-to-back threes from Hubb followed by four consecutive free throws suddenly tied the game at 55-55 as the Irish switched to a zone defense that bogged down the Panther offense. 

Pitt briefly took a 57-55 lead on two free throws, but Hubb stepped up again for his third consecutive three pointer to give the Irish a 58-57 lead with 3:40 left. 

Wesley followed up by finding Goodwin open on the wing for a three pointer to put the Irish up 61-57 – their largest lead of the second half. It didn’t last long, however, as Pitt when right back to Hugley down low who scored, drew a foul and converted to cut the lead right back to one point at 61-60. 

It was back to back scores by both teams the rest of the way. Atkinson put back a Hubb miss, but Pitt’s Jamarius Burton came back with a three pointer to tie the game. The next possession for the Irish ended with Cormac Ryan connecting on his only field goal of the game, a three pointer at the end of the shot clock to give the Irish a 66-63 lead. 

Pitt went right back down low and drew the fifth foul of the game to sit Atkinson. The Panthers connected on both shots to take a one point lead. With Atkinson out, the Irish went to Goodwin who got a clean look at the free throw line that went half way down then rimmed out. 

A missed free throw by the home team gave Notre Dame possession with 32 seconds remaining, trailing by one point. After some offensive movement, Hubb backed his defender down, glanced at the clock and connected on a high arcing fade away jumper from the right side to put ND up one point with five seconds remaining. 

Great perimeter defense on the next possession by the Irish forced Burton into a jumper trailing away from the rim. It glanced off the rim and the Irish earned their seventh win of the year. 

#10 IRISH RETURN FROM BREAK TO HOST NIAGARA

HO: #10/10 Notre Dame (12-5-0) vs. Niagara University (4-10-2)

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET // Sunday, Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. ET

WHERE: Compton Family Ice Arena

WATCHPeacock

LISTEN: 94.3 FM | UND.com

NOTES (PDF)

SETTING THE STAGE

  • The Irish return from winter break to kick off a busy opening few weeks of 2022 with a pair of non-conference games against Niagara on Jan. 1-2 (5 p.m. ET) at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
  • Notre Dame is 6-1-0 outside of the Big Ten this season, with the series against the Purple Eagles and a Jan. 19 home game versus Boston College remaining on the schedule.
  • The Irish are slated to play seven games in the first 19 games of January, including Big Ten series at Penn State (Jan. 7-8) and Ohio State (Jan. 14-15).
  • Notre Dame is fourth in the Big Ten standings (6-4-0-2-1-0/17 points in 10 GP).
  • Senior captain Jake Pivonka returned from injury to play a limited role in the Michigan State series after missing the first 15 games of the season.
  • Sophomore forward Landon Slaggert is playing with Team USA in the World Junior Championship.
  • Max Ellis leads the Irish with 20 points on a team-high 11 goals and nine assists.
  • Ellis’ 11 goals rank tied for 11th in the country (tied for first in B1G), while his 0.647 goals per game ranks 10th in the NCAA (first in B1G).
  • Ellis is also tied for the NCAA lead with two shorthanded goals this season. 
  • Sophomore Ryder Rolston is second on the team with 16 points on six goals and a team-best 10 assists.
  • Rolston also leads the team with three game-winning goals, which is tied for seventh in the country (tied for second in the B1G).
  • All told, 14 Notre Dame players have scored so far this season, while 18 have at least one point.
  • The Irish are 8-1-0 when scoring first this season.
  • Notre Dame is also 8-3-0 at home this season.
  • Notre Dame’s penalty kill is 59-for-64 on the season (.9219), which ranks second in the NCAA.
  • Notre Dame has made each of the last five NCAA Tournaments, the longest streak in program history, and eight of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments overall.

THE NOTRE DAME – NIAGARA SERIES

  • Notre Dame and Niagara will be meeting for just the fourth and fifth times overall and for the first time since a two-game series on Oct. 24-25, 2014 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. 
  • The Fighting Irish took game one of that series 6-3 and followed with a 7-0 game two victory.
  • In game one, Sam Herr and Robbie Russo each scored twice, while Jake Evans had three assists.
  • In game two, Notre Dame boasted seven different goal scorers and Cal Petersen turned in a 23-save shutout to earn the win.
  • The only other meeting between the two teams came on Oct. 14, 2000 when the teams skated to a 3-3 overtime tie in Omaha, Nebraska in the Maverick Stampede tournament.
  • The Irish won the shootout to finish third at the four-team event.

ALEX STEEVES MAKES NHL DEBUT

  • Former Irish forward Alex Steeves (2018-21) made his NHL debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 7 against Columbus (and former Notre Dame teammate Andrew Peeke) in a 5-4 Toronto win.
  • Steeves, who earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors in 2020-21, became the 25th former Irish player under head coach Jeff Jackson to reach the NHL and the Notre Dame program’s 39th NHL player overall. 
  • Prior to Steeves, the most recent Notre Dame players to make their NHL debuts were Jordan Gross, Peeke, Jake Evans and Thomas DiPauli during the 2019-20 season. 

SLAGGERT WITH TEAM USA 

  • Sophomore forward Landon Slaggert has been named to the U.S. National Junior Team, USA Hockey announced (Dec. 16). 
  • Slaggert was named an alternate captain for Team USA and scored the game winner in Team USA’s tournament-opening 3-2 win over Slovakia (Dec. 26).
  • The 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship is taking place from Dec. 26, 2021 – Jan. 5, 2022 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. 
  • Slaggert is one of six players from the 2021 U.S. National Junior Team that won a gold medal in Edmonton.
  • Slaggert is the seventh Notre Dame player to take part in two World Junior Championships.
  • At last season’s World Junior Tournament, Slaggert skated in all seven games for Team USA and became the first Fighting Irish player to medal at the event since 2018 – when current Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke helped the U.S. secure the bronze in Buffalo. 
  • Slaggert’s gold marked the eighth medal by a Notre Dame player at the event as he also joined Anders Bjork (bronze in 2016), Mario Lucia (gold in 2013), Kyle Palmieri (gold in 2010 and bronze in 2011), Kyle Lawson (bronze in 2007) and Ben Simon (silver in 1997). 
  • Slaggert was the 23rd Notre Dame player to take part in the World Junior Championship and the South Bend, Indiana native will look to join Palmieri (2010/11), Ian Cole (2008/09), Rob Globke (2001/02), Connor Dunlop (2000/01), Simon (1997/98) and Jack Brownschidle (1977/79) as two-time Irish participants.

SENIORS WITH CLASS

  • Forward Graham Slaggert and defenseman Spencer Stastney have been named two of the 20 candidates for the 2021-22 Senior CLASS Award®.
  • The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete, who must have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The Notre Dame hockey program consistently produces finalists for the national award, including past winners David Brown (2007) and Jake Evans (2018). 
  • The 20 candidates will be narrowed to ten finalists later in the season. Those ten names will then be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character, and competition.
  • The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four® in April. 

THE BIG TEN STANDINGS

  • This season, teams are awarded three points in the conference standings for a win in regulation. 
  • If the game is tied following regulation, both teams will receive one point, with a second point being awarded to the team that wins in either the 3-on-3 overtime period or the shootout.
  • The conference standings now match a national standard: W-L-T-OTW-OTL-SOW.

Sycamores Close Nonconference Slate Wednesday at Hulman Center

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State returns to action after an eight-day hiatus Wednesday night as the Sycamores host Midway University. The game will tip at 7 p.m. on ESPN3 as well as on the radio on 105.5 The Legend in the Wabash Valley and on GoSycamores.com/Listen worldwide.
 
Fans wishing to purchase tickets can do so by clicking HERE, by calling 877-ISU-TIXS, or by visiting the Hulman Center Ticket Office.
 
*Indiana State University requires all campus visitors, faculty, staff and students to wear a mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Full Hulman Center Guidelines can be found by clicking HERE.
 
THE SERIES
» A late addition to the schedule after basketball activities were paused by Coppin State due to COVID-19, Wednesday’s game will be the first meeting between the two programs. ISU hosted Oakland City on Dec. 20 — a team that also hails from the River States Conference.
 
FLUID SCHEDULING…
» Midway University agreed to play in Terre Haute just one week ago, replacing Coppin State who paused all basketball activities due to COVID-19.
 
» ISU’s Dec. 22 game with Northern Illinois was also canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Huskies’ program.
 
PROTECT THE HOME COURT
» Indiana State is 4-0 inside Hulman Center this season and is currently riding a nine-game streak at home. The streak is the third-longest in the MVC behind Loyola (28) and Drake (11). ISU finished 2020-21 with a 9-3 mark at home while going 12-1 in Hulman Center in 2019-20.
 
LOOKING AT MIDWAY
» Midway enters the contest at 7-4 overall and 2-3 in the River States Conference. The Eagles are led by Donnie Miller who averages 21.9 points per game while Raekwon Evans adds 17.9 points per game. In 11 games, MU is averaging 87.9 points while holding its opponents to 80.2 points and 45.2 percent from the field.
 
NEESE A PROBLEM FOR OPPOSING DEFENSES
» After posting career highs across the board during 2020-21, Cooper Neese has picked up where he left off. The junior is averaging 15.7 points to lead ISU and rank fifth in the MVC. Neese has scored in double-figures in nine games this season, scoring 15 or more in eight games. His 26 makes from distance leads ISU and ranks seventh in the MVC.
 
» Neese put up a career-high 30 points in a loss at North Dakota State last time out. The sharpshooter recorded five makes from behind the arc while playing all 40 minutes. The game marked the 40th double-digit scoring game for Neese in his career and the seventh 20+ point performance.
 
HENRY DOES IT ALL
» Cameron Henry has either made or assisted on 33 percent of all Indiana State field goals. He is averaging 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. His scoring output is 12th, rebounding ranks sixth, while his assist average ranks 7th in the MVC.
 
» Henry has scored in double-figures in nine games for Indiana State — including a pair of double-doubles. Over three games at the Myrtle Beach Invitational, Henry put up All-MVC like numbers. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 17.3 points, nine rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while going for a career-high 25 points against Oklahoma in the semifinals. For his performance, he was named to the All-Tournament Second Team.
 
BLEDSON AN ALL-AROUND THREAT
» You have to see it in person to truly appreciate the offensive awareness of Xavier Bledson. The guard leads the Sycamores with 42 assists, recording multiple assists in all games he has seen action including a season-high 10 assists against Alabama A&M. Bledson leads the MVC with 4.7 assists per game. To go with his passing, Bledson is also averaging double-figure scoring at 12.1 points per game, scoring 15 points or more in five games.
 
MOVING THE ROCK
» Indiana State ranks third in the MVC with 13.8 assists per game while sitting third with a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. Five players have recorded over 10 assists with Bledson leading ISU with 42 dimes. 
 
LINEUP LIMBO
» The Sycamores have used nine different starting lineups in 12 games this season. No starting lineup combination has been used more than three times.

Trip to Cleveland State Replaces UIC and IUPUI Games For Men’s Hoops

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball team will now travel to Cleveland State on Thursday (Dec. 30) for a Horizon League game. The originally scheduled road games at UIC (Dec. 30) and IUPUI (Jan. 1) have been canceled. 

Thursday’s game at Cleveland State will start at 7 p.m. Media coverage of the contest is to be determined. 


See the full release from the Horizon League below for more information. 




Horizon League Announces Changes to #HLMBB Schedule

INDIANAPOLIS – The Horizon League announced Tuesday changes to Thursday’s men’s basketball schedule.

Cleveland State will now host Purdue Fort Wayne on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. ET at the Wolstein Center.

UIC’s and IUPUI’s scheduled contests for Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 have been canceled.

Horizon League policy, vetted by multiple membership groups and approved by the Horizon League Council, states that contests that are canceled due to COVID-19 are to be considered forfeits unless deemed a no contest by the Commissioner. League policy authorizes the Commissioner to deem a cancellation a no-contest when the involved institution can demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances led to the cancellation. Given the surge in positive cases due to the Omicron variant, the Council agreed that a high volume of breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals is considered extraordinary.

UIC and IUPUI sought to deem missed competition December 30 and January 1 no contests since both teams were unable to field teams due to breakthrough cases among vaccinated student-athletes. Commissioner Julie Roe Lach granted the requested relief noting that both teams satisfied the extraordinary standard.

The matchup between Cleveland State and Purdue Fort Wayne is aligned with the League’s intent to allow healthy teams to compete, including pairing opponents that may play more than twice during the regular season.

The announcement follows positive COVID-19 tests within the UIC and IUPUI tier I individuals.

If needed, additional updates to the schedule will be announced at a later date.

TWO UPCOMING MEN’S HOOPS GAMES CANCELED DUE TO COVID

INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI basketball team’s upcoming two Horizon League games have been canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases within the program’s tier one individuals. The Jags were slated to host Cleveland State (Dec. 30) and Purdue Fort Wayne (Jan. 1) to open the resumption of Horizon League play this week at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. 

However, both of those games have been canceled and will not be made up. 

Horizon League policy, vetted by multiple membership groups and approved by the Horizon League Council, states that contests that are canceled due to COVID-19 are to be considered forfeits unless deemed a no contest by the Commissioner. League policy authorizes the Commissioner to deem a cancellation a no-contest when the involved institution can demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances led to the cancellation. Given the surge in positive cases due to the Omicron variant, the Council agreed that a high volume of breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals is considered extraordinary. IUPUI sought to deem the upcoming missed competitions as no contests since the Jags were unable to field a team due to breakthrough cases among vaccinated student-athletes. Commissioner Julie Roe Lach granted the requested relief, noting that IUPUI satisfied the extraordinary standard.

Individuals within the IUPUI program will continue to be tested and monitored. The Athletics Department will continue to adhere to state and local guidelines to determine when the Jaguars can resume play. IUPUI is next scheduled to play on Jan. 6 at Northern Kentucky. 

Valpo Men’s Basketball Game vs. Prairie View A&M Canceled

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball program has announced that Tuesday’s scheduled game against Prairie View A&M has been canceled due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Tickets to Tuesday’s game can be exchanged for tickets to any future Valpo men’s basketball home game. Please contact the Valpo ticket office at 219-464-5233 or valpoathletics@valpo.edu for additional information on ticket exchanges.

The health and safety of everyone involved remains paramount, and Valpo Athletics will continue to follow national, state, local and University COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

Valpo remains scheduled to host Illinois State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The latest schedule information and additional game details will be updated throughout the season on ValpoAthletics.com.

NFL STANDINGS DIVISION | CONFERENCE
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
 WLTPCTGBPFPAHOMEROADVS. CONFVS. DIVSTREAK
XY-KANSAS CITY CHIEFS1140.7330.04213067 – 2 – 04 – 2 – 06 – 4 – 04 – 1 – 08 W
TENNESSEE TITANS1050.6670.03573266 – 2 – 04 – 3 – 06 – 4 – 04 – 1 – 01 W
CINCINNATI BENGALS960.6000.04103244 – 4 – 05 – 2 – 07 – 3 – 04 – 1 – 02 W
BUFFALO BILLS960.6000.04272644 – 3 – 05 – 3 – 06 – 5 – 04 – 1 – 02 W
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS960.6000.04203164 – 4 – 05 – 2 – 07 – 3 – 03 – 2 – 03 W
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS960.6000.03882603 – 5 – 06 – 1 – 07 – 3 – 03 – 2 – 02 L
MIAMI DOLPHINS870.5331.03053155 – 3 – 03 – 4 – 05 – 5 – 03 – 2 – 07 W
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS870.5331.04084114 – 4 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 5 – 02 – 2 – 02 L
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS870.5331.03163874 – 4 – 04 – 3 – 06 – 4 – 02 – 3 – 02 W
BALTIMORE RAVENS870.5331.03553565 – 2 – 03 – 5 – 05 – 6 – 01 – 4 – 04 L
PITTSBURGH STEELERS771.5001.53013715 – 2 – 12 – 5 – 05 – 5 – 02 – 2 – 01 L
CLEVELAND BROWNS780.4672.03143295 – 3 – 02 – 5 – 04 – 6 – 02 – 2 – 02 L
DENVER BRONCOS780.4672.02982604 – 4 – 03 – 4 – 03 – 7 – 01 – 3 – 02 L
NEW YORK JETS4110.2675.02764493 – 5 – 01 – 6 – 04 – 7 – 00 – 5 – 01 W
HOUSTON TEXANS4110.2675.02484012 – 6 – 02 – 5 – 04 – 7 – 03 – 2 – 02 W
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS2130.1337.02173962 – 6 – 00 – 7 – 02 – 8 – 00 – 5 – 07 L
 
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
 WLTPCTGBPFPAHOMEROADVS. CONFVS. DIVSTREAK
XY-GREEN BAY PACKERS1230.8000.03833247 – 0 – 05 – 3 – 08 – 2 – 03 – 1 – 04 W
XY-DALLAS COWBOYS1140.7330.04573075 – 2 – 06 – 2 – 09 – 1 – 05 – 0 – 04 W
X-LOS ANGELES RAMS1140.7330.04163265 – 2 – 06 – 2 – 08 – 3 – 03 – 2 – 04 W
XY-TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS1140.7330.04423126 – 1 – 05 – 3 – 07 – 4 – 03 – 2 – 01 W
X-ARIZONA CARDINALS1050.6670.03943063 – 4 – 07 – 1 – 06 – 4 – 04 – 1 – 03 L
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS870.5330.03773343 – 4 – 05 – 3 – 06 – 5 – 01 – 4 – 01 L
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES870.5330.03983183 – 4 – 05 – 3 – 06 – 4 – 02 – 2 – 03 W
MINNESOTA VIKINGS780.4671.03843724 – 3 – 03 – 5 – 05 – 5 – 03 – 1 – 01 L
ATLANTA FALCONS780.4671.02784002 – 5 – 05 – 3 – 04 – 7 – 02 – 3 – 01 W
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS780.4671.03163052 – 5 – 05 – 3 – 05 – 5 – 02 – 2 – 01 L
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM690.4002.02974073 – 4 – 03 – 5 – 05 – 5 – 01 – 3 – 03 L
CAROLINA PANTHERS5100.3333.02773452 – 6 – 03 – 4 – 03 – 7 – 02 – 2 – 05 L
CHICAGO BEARS5100.3333.02653732 – 5 – 03 – 5 – 03 – 7 – 02 – 3 – 01 W
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS5100.3333.03063072 – 5 – 03 – 5 – 02 – 8 – 02 – 3 – 02 L
NEW YORK GIANTS4110.2674.02483653 – 4 – 01 – 7 – 03 – 7 – 01 – 4 – 04 L
DETROIT LIONS2121.1675.52593862 – 5 – 00 – 7 – 12 – 8 – 01 – 4 – 01 L
 

X – CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT,  Y – CLINCHED DIVISION,  Z – CLINCHED HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

LAST UPDATED DEC. 29, 1:09 A.M. ET

NBA CONFERENCE STANDINGS DIVISION STANDINGS | CONFERENCE STANDINGS
EASTERN CONFERENCE
 WLPCTCONF GBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
BROOKLYN239.71910-613-36-017-67-32 W
CHICAGO2110.6771.511-410-63-212-78-24 W
MILWAUKEE2313.6392.012-511-86-116-97-34 W
MIAMI2213.6292.512-410-96-116-78-24 W
CLEVELAND2014.5884.010-710-73-113-77-31 L
PHILADELPHIA1816.5296.06-812-82-612-105-52 W
CHARLOTTE1817.5146.59-49-135-210-84-62 W
WASHINGTON1717.5007.08-59-123-511-113-72 L
BOSTON1618.4718.09-67-124-411-103-72 L
10 NEW YORK1618.4718.07-119-73-410-154-62 W
11 ATLANTA1518.4558.58-97-94-39-113-72 L
12 TORONTO1417.4528.57-107-74-510-115-52 L
13 INDIANA1420.41210.011-73-132-58-155-51 L
14 ORLANDO728.20017.52-125-161-84-202-83 L
15 DETROIT527.15618.03-122-151-64-161-93 L
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
 WLPCTCONF GBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
GOLDEN STATE277.79416-311-47-115-47-31 L
PHOENIX267.7880.515-411-34-417-77-32 L
UTAH249.7272.513-611-36-014-38-24 W
MEMPHIS2114.6006.511-810-63-217-97-32 W
DENVER1716.5159.58-69-102-410-96-42 W
LA CLIPPERS1717.50010.012-105-73-412-145-52 L
LA LAKERS1718.48610.510-107-81-59-124-61 W
DALLAS1617.48510.58-88-97-213-95-51 W
MINNESOTA1618.47111.010-106-82-311-115-51 L
10 SAN ANTONIO1419.42412.57-107-91-38-146-41 L
11 SACRAMENTO1421.40013.58-116-104-510-153-71 W
12 PORTLAND1320.39413.511-82-121-37-162-82 L
13 NEW ORLEANS1322.37114.57-96-132-48-146-41 W
14 OKLAHOMA CITY1221.36414.57-105-111-210-145-51 L
15 HOUSTON1025.28617.57-83-171-34-142-85 L
 

EIGHT TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE QUALIFY FOR THE PLAYOFFS. 

X – CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT,  Y – CLINCHED DIVISION,  Z – CLINCHED CONFERENCE

NHL CONFERENCE STANDINGS DIVISION | CONFERENCE | WILDCARD
EASTERN CONFERENCE
 GPWLOTLPTSROWGFGAHOMEROADL10
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING31216446191038411-3-210-3-29-1-0
CAROLINA HURRICANES292171432195629-3-012-4-16-4-0
WASHINGTON CAPITALS3118674316108819-3-49-3-35-3-2
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS3020824220987612-4-18-4-17-2-1
NEW YORK RANGERS301974421886778-3-211-4-26-3-1
FLORIDA PANTHERS29187440171048714-3-04-4-44-5-1
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS301785391691768-5-29-3-37-2-1
DETROIT RED WINGS311513333148810411-3-24-10-16-4-0
BOSTON BRUINS2614102301371697-5-17-5-14-4-2
10 COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS2814131291291959-3-15-10-02-7-1
11 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS2912125291277956-6-26-6-34-5-1
12 NEW JERSEY DEVILS3010155259821057-7-33-8-21-8-1
13 BUFFALO SABRES3010155258821046-8-24-7-32-5-3
14 NEW YORK ISLANDERS26812622857772-5-36-7-33-3-4
15 OTTAWA SENATORS289172208791015-9-04-8-25-4-1
16 MONTREAL CANADIENS327214186711145-10-12-11-32-6-2
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
 GPWLOTLPTSROWGFGAHOMEROADL10
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS3321120421812010110-7-011-5-08-2-0
MINNESOTA WILD30199240161129210-2-19-7-16-3-1
ANAHEIM DUCKS32179640151038910-4-37-5-36-1-3
NASHVILLE PREDATORS3019101391889799-5-010-5-18-2-0
ST. LOUIS BLUES31179539151068511-3-26-6-36-2-2
CALGARY FLAMES281576361387624-3-411-4-25-4-1
COLORADO AVALANCHE27178236161159110-2-17-6-17-2-1
EDMONTON OILERS291811036161019010-6-08-5-04-6-0
WINNIPEG JETS30141153313908710-6-14-5-45-4-1
10 SAN JOSE SHARKS3116141331586928-7-18-7-05-5-0
11 LOS ANGELES KINGS3114125331383858-7-26-5-35-4-1
12 DALLAS STARS29151223214828511-3-14-9-15-5-0
13 VANCOUVER CANUCKS3114152301181908-7-16-8-18-2-0
14 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS301115426872976-6-25-9-24-4-2
15 SEATTLE KRAKEN30101732310841086-9-14-8-24-4-2
16 ARIZONA COYOTES306213156631172-10-14-11-22-7-1
 

LAST UPDATED DEC. 29, 1:41 ET

EIGHT TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE QUALIFY FOR THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF FORMAT.  THE TOP THREE TEAMS FROM EACH DIVISION MAKE UP THE FIRST SIX SPOTS.   THE TWO REMAINING TEAMS WITH THE HIGHEST POINTS, REGARDLESS OF DIVISION, QUALIFY FOR THE FINAL TWO WILD CARD SPOTS.  

X – CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT, Y – CLINCHED DIVISION, Z – CLINCHED CONFERENCE