Today is Friday, November 27, 2015.
|Friday, November 27, 2015|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|76ers||vs.||Rockets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By ALAN FERGUSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 12:50 PM (EST)
As poorly as the Houston Rockets have fared lately, their next opponent has already endured much worse this season.
The Philadelphia 76ers will try to avoid hitting another new low Friday night with the longest losing streak in U.S. major professional sports history.
With 26 consecutive defeats dating back to March 27, Philadelphia tied a record established by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-77 for the second time in three seasons. The 76ers' other 26-game skid was from Jan. 31-March 27, 2014.
"How many streaks have I been a part of?" said coach Brett Brown, whose tenure began in 2013-14. "I'm numb to it."
The 76ers (0-16) have blown fourth-quarter leads in each of their last three defeats and squandered an 11-point advantage in Wednesday's 84-80 loss to Boston, scoring three points in the final 6:15.
"It is hard," forward Nerlens Noel said. "You're so close to getting that first W. There's couple of plays that you've got to sleep on."
Philadelphia is also on the verge of matching its franchise-worst 0-17 start from last season and two losses shy of equaling the New Jersey Nets' league-worst 0-18 mark in 2009-10. The 76ers, in the midst of a six-game trip that ends Sunday, have lost 14 straight on the road and are 0-9 this season.
Philadelphia's league-worst offense (89.8 points per game) will try to exploit one of the worst defenses. Houston is allowing 106.8 points per contest.
The 76ers have topped 90 just twice in its last eight games while the Rockets (5-10) have allowed fewer than 100 just once this season, a 96-84 loss in Memphis last Friday.
Another one of James Harden's high-scoring performances and Patrick Beverley's return from an injured left ankle did little to stem Houston's recent woes Wednesday. Harden had 40 points in a 102-93 home loss to Memphis and Beverley scored four in 19 minutes off the bench after missing five games.
The guard also missed two contests earlier this season because of a concussion.
Houston has lost seven of its last eight and earned that lone win, 108-103 in overtime against visiting Portland on Nov. 18, the same day coach Kevin McHale was fired. The Rockets are 1-3 under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
"We've had meetings. We've talked too much. Now things have to turn around," said Harden, averaging a career-high 28.7 points. "Of course, we are all frustrated but the confidence is still there. We're getting a lot of open shots that we normally make but they're just not falling. So it's putting more pressure on our defense. We've got to continue to take those shots."
Houston has won three in a row over Philadelphia, but the latest victory against the moribund franchise was hardly easy. The Rockets needed Harden's layup with nine seconds left for an 88-87 win Nov. 14, 2014.
Harden had 35 points in the Rockets' fourth consecutive home win in the series and is averaging 31.6 in his past five matchups.
This game will feature one of the best emerging centers in the league, Jahlil Okafor, facing Houston's Dwight Howard for the first time.
Okafor, averaging 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds, just missed his third consecutive double-double Wednesday with 19 points and nine boards. Howard, meanwhile, is averaging 13.6 points - his fewest since his 2004-05 rookie season - but is tied for second in the league with 12.7 rebounds per game.
|Bucks||vs.||Magic||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 1:14 AM (EST)
While the Orlando Magic have enjoyed the early return from a lineup adjustment, the Milwaukee Bucks have slipped into a defensive lull that has them desperate for a change.
The Magic hope to notch a second straight win Friday night with one of their best players contributing off the bench while the visiting Bucks continue to search for answers.
Milwaukee has won four of six in this series, including a 115-100 victory on Jan. 29 that snapped a 17-game losing streak at Orlando.
The Magic (7-8) followed wins in four of five games with losses in three of four, leading to a mix-up of coach Scott Skiles' starting five against New York on Wednesday.
Skiles, searching for a boost defensively and some scoring off the bench, started Channing Frye in place of Victor Oladipo, who responded with a season-high 24 points. The third-year shooting guard made just 5 of 15 shots but hit 13 of 15 free throws to provide a spark in a 100-91 victory.
Oladipo averaged just 6.3 points on 32.3-percent shooting in his previous four games while missing two in the middle with a concussion. He started 71 of his 72 games a year ago and the first 12 of this season.
''I came in with a little chip on my shoulder,'' Oladipo said. ''A lot of it was just getting back to being who I am and realizing when I do that, we have a good chance of winning.''
The Magic, who have won five of six at home, shot 39.5 percent but were well balanced. Nikola Vucevic finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Tobias Harris had 17 and 10 and Elfrid Payton added 12 points and 11 assists.
Orlando, which has shot better than 50 percent just once this season, might be in line for another step forward against a Milwaukee defense allowing 114.0 points per game in its last five contests.
The defensive slump included a 109-88 win over Detroit on Monday, but the Bucks followed with their sixth loss in eight games on Wednesday, an ugly 129-118 home loss against Sacramento.
Milwaukee (6-9), loser of four straight on the road, allowed the Kings to score 40 first-quarter points, but it was actions at the end of the game that suggested frustrations have finally boiled over.
Coach Jason Kidd was ejected with 1:49 left after swatting the ball out of referee Zach Zarba's hand following a non-foul call against his team. Kidd needed to be restrained by players and an assistant coach before retreating to the locker room.
The extracurricular activities didn't end there. Directly following the game, Kings and Bucks players were heard shouting at each other in a hallway leading to the locker rooms.
''I was having a Coke and eating some popcorn,'' Kidd said. ''I was sent in early. I don't know what happened.''
Milwaukee players wouldn't shed light on the altercation either, but Kidd did admit that his interaction with Zarba was linked to a lack of whistles for his team.
''But that wasn't the issue of the game," Kidd said. "They got our temperature and saw we didn't want to play defense.''
Sacramento finished at 57.1-percent shooting, the highest against Milwaukee this season. After allowing opponents to shoot better than 50 percent once in their first 10 games, the Bucks have held foes under that number just once in their last five.
Teams have scored more than 100 points in six of seven against Milwaukee and at least 115 in four of five.
|Cavaliers||vs.||Hornets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 9:43 PM (EST)
The Charlotte Hornets have been outstanding offensively in stretches and stifling on the defensive end in others while continuing to roll on their home court.
Now they may have to slow down their biggest nemesis to stay perfect on this homestand.
While Charlotte looks to win its eighth straight home game, LeBron James will try to help the Cleveland Cavaliers avoid their fourth consecutive road loss Friday night by extending his personal 20-game winning streak against the Hornets that includes the postseason.
After averaging 100.7 points during a 5-6 start, Charlotte (9-6) got into an offensive groove by scoring 118.7 per game in the first three on this homestand.
The Hornets cooled off in a 16-point third quarter Wednesday, but closed out the game on a 25-2 run en route to a 101-87 victory over Washington. They allowed a franchise-low six points in the fourth, limiting the Wizards to 0-of-17 shooting over their last 19 possessions.
Charlotte, which has won six in a row when holding an opponent under 100 points, hasn't won eight straight at Time Warner Cable Arena since late in the 2013-14 season.
"When we play defense, we can beat any team in the league," guard Nicolas Batum said.
That kind of effort has been difficult to come by when the Hornets have faced James. The four-time MVP had 25 points and nine assists, while J.R. Smith hit seven 3-pointers as Cleveland capped a three-game sweep in last season's series with a 129-90 home win Jan. 23.
James hasn't lost to Charlotte since Feb. 19, 2010, averaging 29.8 points on 58.8 percent shooting - including a 41.9 mark from 3-point range - during a personal winning streak that includes the playoffs and dates to his time with Miami. That 20-game run is tied for the longest active streak versus any opponent with Matt Barnes' winning streak against Minnesota.
Although it has averaged 108.3 points on 48.5 percent shooting while going 8-0 at home, Cleveland has dropped its last three on the road and scored 98.3 on 43.5 percent shooting in its last four. The club snapped a three-game losing streak at Charlotte with a 91-87 victory Jan. 2.
The Cavs (11-4) hope to avoid dropping both games on this brief road swing after their three-game winning streak was snapped in Wednesday's 103-99 loss at Toronto. James finished with 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds but shot just 6 for 16 from the field.
James insists playing without injured All-Star Kyrie Irving, Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert is not an excuse for the team's poor play on the road.
''We've got to understand that it is our guys versus everyone else, versus the fans, versus the opposing group," he said.
Kevin Love continued his strong play Wednesday with 21 points, five 3-pointers and 13 rebounds. He's averaging 24.2 points while shooting 21 of 42 from long range and 11.7 boards in his last six games.
The Cavaliers will try to continue the solid job they've done against Kemba Walker, who has totaled 18 points while shooting 7 for 30 (23.3 percent) in the last two meetings.
Walker has averaged 24.8 points and hit 11 of 23 from 3-point range in his last five games overall.
|Hawks||vs.||Grizzlies||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 11:00 PM (EST)
The early-season patterns have been opposite for hopeful title contenders Atlanta and Memphis.
While the Hawks seemed to cement their spot toward the top of the Eastern Conference in the opening two weeks, the Grizzlies' struggles left questions about their status in the West.
The trends have reversed since, and the Grizzlies look to continue their climb on Friday night as the visiting Hawks hope to regain their footing.
Atlanta (10-7) won eight of 10 out of the gate while looking much like the team that finished with the best record in the East last season. The Hawks, though, have stumbled since with five losses in seven games, including a 99-95 defeat at Minnesota on Wednesday to start a three-game road trip.
Paul Millsap finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Timberwolves and Jeff Teague scored 22, but Atlanta dropped its fourth straight on the road.
''If a team can say they beat the No. 1 team in the East last year, it looks good on their resume, I guess,'' Millsap said. ''But that's the bed that we made, and you know we've got to accept that. Any time we come into somebody else's place or even at home, we've got to understand that the target's on our backs and we've got to match the other team's physicality and aggression.''
Injuries have impacted the Hawks with Kyle Korver slow to return from offseason ankle surgery and Teague missing three consecutive games this month with a sprained ankle.
Contributors Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha and Tiago Splitter have each missed a handful of games. Splitter will miss his third straight on Friday due to a hip injury, while Bazemore is questionable with a sore ankle.
This time last season was when the Hawks took off, winning 33 of 35 from Nov. 28-Jan. 31 after opening 7-6. The hot stretch closed with a franchise-record 19 straight victories.
''Well, we didn't start off the season great last year either,'' said Korver. ''I think everyone remembers it was after Thanksgiving we had a really good run.''
The clock starts now with the holiday in the rearview mirror. The Hawks close their trip at San Antonio on Saturday before opening a three-game homestand against Oklahoma City and Toronto next week - all three division leaders.
Atlanta has dropped three of four against Memphis, including the last two games at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies (9-7) averaged just 90.2 points while opening the season 3-6, but a rejuvenated offense has helped them win six of seven.
Memphis, which has won four straight at home, has scored more than 100 points five times during the spurt while averaging 103.9.
''In our case we knew it was us,'' point guard Mike Conley said. ''When we can recognize and be accountable for our mistakes it's easier to fix than to start to think that all the teams are better than us.''
Conley finished with 19 points and five assists during a 102-93 win at Houston on Wednesday while Jeff Green had 20 and Courtney Lee scored 10 of his 17 in the fourth quarter.
After averaging 12.5 points on 34.7-percent shooting through Memphis' first 10 games, Conley has averaged 20.7 while making 54.9 percent of his shots in the last six.
|Pistons||vs.||Thunder||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 3:27 PM (EST)
Having proved himself in his opportunity with the Detroit Pistons, Reggie Jackson now gets a chance to show the Oklahoma City Thunder what they gave up.
Jackson returns to Oklahoma City to face his former team which is rolling again with Kevin Durant having returned.
The Pistons identified Jackson as a key piece to their rebuild when acquiring the point guard from Oklahoma City in a three-team trade Feb. 19 and signing him to a five-year, $80 million contract in July. The fourth-year pro has so far rewarded the team's faith by averaging a career-high 19.3 points and 6.0 assists in helping Detroit (8-7) to an encouraging start.
Jackson and the Pistons are coming off impressive performances, with his 18 points and seven assists against one turnover playing a big role in Detroit's 104-81 victory over Miami on Wednesday.
The Pistons halted a two-game skid with much-improved efforts at both ends following Monday's 109-88 loss at Milwaukee. Detroit shot a season-low 34.1 percent and was dominated in the paint by the Bucks, but was 8 of 14 from 3-point range en route to a 60-point first half against the Heat while limiting them to 40.5 percent from the field overall.
The Pistons were 16 of 31 from behind the arc for the game.
''We were upset about what happened in Milwaukee, and we had something to prove,'' Jackson said. ''We can't shoot like that every game, but we can play defense and hustle, and we didn't do that in the last game.''
Andre Drummond put forth a particularly determined effort, compiling 18 points and 20 rebounds along with a season-high five blocks that neutralized Miami's inside game.
''We had a talk (Tuesday) at practice about me not challenging shots, so I made that a job tonight,'' he said. ''I was going after everything, knowing my teammates would have my back against the lob.''
Detroit might have a tougher time slowing down Oklahoma City (10-6), especially with Durant back from a six-game absence due to a strained hamstring. After scoring 27 points and shooting 10 of 13 in his return at Utah on Monday, the 2013-14 MVP was 5 of 8 from 3-point range in a 30-point outing in Wednesday's 110-99 win over Brooklyn.
''He makes it look easy,'' teammate Russell Westbrook said. ''Obviously he makes everything he does look easy, but he works hard and he's put himself in position to come back and show how good a player he is.''
With Durant and Westbrook each averaging over 28 points, the Thunder rank second in the league with 109.8. They've averaged 112.7 points during a three-game winning streak and are 9-1 when scoring 110 or more.
Enes Kanter, obtained from the Jazz as part of the Jackson trade, has made a significant contribution as well. The center is averaging 12.2 points in 21.3 minutes as a core member of a strong second unit.
Conversely, the Pistons have received minimal production from their reserves, ranking last in the league with 22.3 bench points per game.
Detroit, losers of five of six on the road following a 3-0 start there, halted a six-game skid in Oklahoma City with a 96-89 overtime victory Nov. 14, 2014. That's the club's lone win in the 12 past games in the series.
|Spurs||vs.||Nuggets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 11:23 PM (EST)
In another season, San Antonio might have gotten heavy attention as the team off to the best start with the calendar nearing December.
That's not the case with the league's defending champions still unbeaten, but the Spurs have always been OK with quiet and unassuming - and 12-3 is still 12-3 even in the context and shadow of 16-0 Golden State.
After remaining perfect in San Antonio through a three-game homestand, a manageable road test comes Friday night against the sliding Denver Nuggets with winning and losing streaks on the line for each.
San Antonio (12-3) got to 8-0 at home with a third straight win and ninth in its last 10, beating Dallas 88-83 on Wednesday. It was the Spurs' worst scoring effort and their third-worst shooting night (40.7 percent), but they got 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 4 of 7 from 3-point range out of Kawhi Leonard.
While the 24-year-old Leonard has been a fixture in San Antonio for some time, winning the NBA Finals MVP two seasons ago, one of his newest teammates is beginning to appreciate his fellow forward's worth first hand.
"(Kawhi's) growing," LaMarcus Aldridge said. "I never really watched the Spurs play too much last year. I don't know if he played to this level last year, but he's definitely playing at a big-time level. He's taking big-time shots and making them for us."
Leonard has averaged 25.0 points and shot 58.8 percent with 10.5 rebounds in the last two games, but such efforts are becoming commonplace with the fifth-year man out of San Diego State scoring 21.8 per game for the season.
Aldridge is second on the team at 15.5 - modest by the former Portland star's standards - but it's allowed the aging trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to defer some responsibility. Aldridge, who returned from a two-game absence due to a mild left ankle sprain, was 8 for 17 from the field against the Mavericks.
"I gained energy; fresh legs," Aldridge said. "Watching the games, I learned my spots a little bit better. I gained rather than lose anything."
The team results have been impressive throughout the frontcourt learning curve, maybe more so on the defensive end with the Spurs limiting teams to a league-low 90.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting, which ranks fourth. No team has hit 49.0 percent against them, and the average of 6.3 3-pointers they're allowing trails only the Warriors.
San Antonio limited the Nuggets (6-9) to 38.8 percent in a 109-98 home win Nov. 18, its eighth straight victory in the series with those wins coming by an average of 14.0 points. That includes four straight in Denver, and the Nuggets haven't shown any signs of being able to stop that losing streak or their four-game overall slide.
The latest loss to the Spurs began the skid and the last three have come at home after Tuesday's 111-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers marked the worst of the bunch.
"You have to have a short-term memory," coach Michael Malone said. "We have to be a little more mentally tough."
Danilo Gallinari had 20 points and 18 rebounds, but most of his offense continued to come from the foul line. He was 15 of 16 at the stripe and 2 of 10 from the field, dropping his field-goal percentage to 25.0 over the last three games.
It doesn't get any easier against the defense-savvy Leonard, who has also managed 21.7 points in his last three against the Nuggets.
Denver's Kenneth Faried will miss a third straight game with a sprained left ankle. Joffrey Lauvergne (low-back strain) has missed the last 12 but went through a full practice Thursday.
|Timberwolves||vs.||Kings||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Thursday, November 26 at 8:54 PM (EST)
Nobody is playing at a faster pace than the Sacramento Kings, who are finally seeing some positive results.
No team is getting more from players age 20 and younger than the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are also showing improvement.
The Kings may be without DeMarcus Cousins on Friday night when they try to stretch their home win streak to four, while the Timberwolves are in search of their first three-game overall run.
Sacramento (6-10) averages an NBA-best 102.8 possessions per 48 minutes and likes to get the ball to Cousins, who is helping the club average a league-leading 48.4 points in the paint.
Cousins, who is putting up team highs of 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, sat out Wednesday's 129-118 victory at Milwaukee with a strained lower back. The Kings had lost all five previous games that Cousins missed.
Without him, Sacramento capped a 2-3 trip by shooting 57.1 percent for its best mark in two seasons to bounce back from Monday's 127-122 overtime loss to Charlotte.
"We had a pretty damn good trip," coach George Karl said. "We lost three games but in all three games, we were in the game and could have played better in certain situations. I just thought the last two games we played some of the best basketball of the year."
Rudy Gay has totaled 64 points in the last two for the Kings, who are seeking their first four-game home win streak since Dec. 19-30, 2012.
"You go out there and desperately need a win so I had to do whatever I could to get it," Gay said after scoring a season-high 36 on Wednesday.
Minnesota (7-8) can win three straight for the first time since Feb. 4-8. The Timberwolves knocked off Atlanta 99-95 at home Wednesday to sweep the season series.
Andrew Wiggins averages 21.8 points, rookie Karl-Anthony Towns 14.7 and Zach LaVine 14.1 for Minnesota, which is getting an average of 49.1 points from players 20 or younger. No other team is getting more than 24.4 game from players that young.
"Every game we're getting better, we're growing, the chemistry is getting better each day so it's great," Wiggins said.
Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio is questionable after he left Wednesday's game when he re-injured the ankle he had surgery on in the offseason.
"You start wondering why, putting in all the work I've been putting in," Rubio said. "But some things you can't control. I don't want to be worried. I just want to work hard and be ready for the next game."
Rubio averages 8.5 assists to rank third in the NBA and would match up with Rajon Rondo, who averages a league-best 10.9. Rondo, averaging a league-high 79.4 passes, is averaging 14.0 assists in his last 10 games with 33 in the last two.
The Timberwolves' 5-2 road record is second in the league to Golden State's 7-0 mark.
Sacramento won all three meetings last season. Gay averaged 22.7 points on 51.2 percent shooting with a 33-point effort in a 116-111 home win April 7 that Cousins missed.
|Heat||vs.||Knicks||7:30 (EST) Preview|
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 10:50 PM (EST)
Knicks coach Derek Fisher is searching for answers to New York's sluggish offense, especially the drop in production off the bench.
It's not likely to get any better in another meeting with a Miami Heat team that boasts one of the NBA's best defenses.
While Fisher claims he's not tinkering with his personnel, the Knicks could see some changes Friday night as they try to avoid a second loss to the Heat in four days.
New York (8-8) is 28th in the NBA in field-goal percentage at 41.3 and 23rd with 97.2 points per game - and things have been even worse in its previous two games.
The Knicks shot 32.2 percent, including 4 of 24 from long range, in a 95-78 loss at Miami on Monday before falling 100-91 at Orlando two nights later by making just 37.3 percent of their shots and going 9 of 27 from beyond the arc.
Part of New York's recent issues stem from a bench which has totaled 22 points, gone 7 for 47 from the floor and missed all 16 of its 3-point attempts over the last two games. The reserves were averaging 39.3 points through the first 14 games.
Langston Galloway has been a major culprit by going 1 of 14, and his only two points over the last two games came against the Heat (9-5).
"It's a team game," Fisher said. "Earlier in the season our guys off the bench were doing a great job, giving us some energy and intensity and able to score some baskets. They've struggled as of late but that's how it goes sometimes during a season."
Changes aren't necessarily coming despite the Knicks losing seven straight to Miami with an 86.1 scoring average. The Heat surrender a league-low 40.5 field-goal percentage and their 92.6 points allowed per game rank behind only San Antonio's 90.5.
"I think the rotation really happens that night. You can't decide before a game starts exactly what you're going to do," Fisher said. "I think too many things can happen over the course of a game. Right now, we're just continuing to try to find guys that we know are going to consistently give us what we need. That's going to be different every night."
Consistency isn't an issue for Carmelo Anthony, who leads the Knicks with 22.8 points per game. He had 28 points and 13 rebounds against the Magic after scoring 21 at Miami. He's averaging 29.9 points over his last 11 meetings with the Heat.
Kristaps Porzingis had 20 points and 14 rebounds against Miami on Monday, but he followed that with 10 and eight with six blocks while missing 10 of 13 against Orlando.
With Miami trying to bounce back from Wednesday's 104-81 loss at Detroit, Dwyane Wade will have some added motivation after finishing with two points on 1-for-9 shooting in his lowest scoring game when playing at least 20 minutes.
"I just sucked," said Wade, who was averaging 22.3 points over the previous three and is second on the team with 17.2 per game.
Wade is averaging 20.5 points over his last six against the Knicks after scoring 16 earlier this week.
Chris Bosh had 16 points in that matchup, but he scored 11 on free throws while going 2 for 12 from the field. He shot 3 of 9 and tied a season low with nine points Wednesday.
It's uncertain if Luol Deng will be back after missing one game with a hamstring injury he suffered against the Knicks. The forward is averaging 10.3 points.
|Pelicans||vs.||Clippers||7:30 (EST) Preview|
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 5:24 PM (EST)
The New Orleans Pelicans appear to have overcome their early season struggles with a healthy Anthony Davis putting up big numbers.
Blake Griffin is doing the same, though it hasn't brought the Los Angeles Clippers out of their funk.
The resurgent Pelicans aim for a fourth straight win and the Clippers attempt to regain their previous form when the teams meet Friday night at Staples Center.
New Orleans (4-11) lost 11 of its first 12 while handcuffed by a host of key injuries, including a hip contusion that sidelined Davis for two games and a sore shoulder that kept him out of another. The All-Star forward has since returned with a flourish, recording three straight outings of at least 20 points and 17 rebounds.
"It's been a long time coming really," said coach Alvin Gentry, who also has been without starters Jrue Holiday and Omer Asik for stretches. "I think we're getting healthy and we're starting to figure it out a little bit."
Davis tallied 32 points and 19 boards in Sunday's 122-116 home victory over Phoenix, then scored 26 on 11-of-14 shooting with 17 rebounds Wednesday as the Pelicans beat the Suns again 120-114.
Eric Gordon scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to help New Orleans overcome a 17-point deficit and earn their first road win of the season.
"We're playing for each other, playing together, sharing the ball," Davis said. "And when you do that and play hard, it's tough for a team to beat you."
Held under 99 points in eight of their first 11 games, the Pelicans are averaging 115.3 during the win streak behind Davis' return along with continued hot stretches by a pair of bench players.
Sixth man Ryan Anderson has averaged 26.6 points over the last five games while shooting 55.6 percent and hitting 16 3-pointers. Backup point guard Ish Smith is contributing 18.0 points and 9.5 assists per game over the previous four after amassing 20 points and 11 assists Wednesday.
Los Angeles (7-8) has been veering in the opposite direction. Despite Griffin's 40 points and 24 from Chris Paul, the Clippers lost for the eighth time in 11 outings with Wednesday's 102-91 defeat to Utah.
"We should be better than this," said Griffin, who finished 18 of 23 from the field. "It's frustrating. It's hard to pinpoint and say exactly what to do. We've got to stay together and not get too down."
Los Angeles received only 16 points from its reserves Wednesday, with sixth man Jamal Crawford held to a season-low three.
"We are at our best when we have a balanced attack and we didn't do that," Crawford said. "We didn't do our job."
The Clippers are 0-4 when Crawford fails to score in double figures and he's failed to do so twice in the past three games, a stretch in which he's 6 of 27 from the field.
Griffin comes in averaging career highs of 25.5 points and 55.1 percent shooting. He averaged 24.0 points as Los Angeles won two of three from New Orleans last season, and Paul added 21.7 per game along with 11.3 assists.
Davis scored 26 in each of the two matchups in which he played, but the Pelicans won the one he sat out.
They've lost five straight road games against the Clippers.
|Warriors||vs.||Suns||7:30 (EST) Preview|
By CHRIS ALTRUDA - STATS Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 3:04 PM (EST)
The Golden State Warriors realize that, eventually, they're going to lose a game.
But the reigning NBA champions continue to live in the moment as they try to further their record-setting start Friday night in a road matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0 after demolishing the Los Angeles Lakers 111-77 on Tuesday. It was a status quo win for Golden State, which has 11 victories by double digits and comfortably leads the league in scoring at 114.3 points per game.
Making the start all the more impressive, coach Steve Kerr has yet to be on the sidelines as he continues to recover from offseason back surgeries, ceding game-day control to assistant Luke Walton. Kerr's impact on each victory, however, is clearly evident.
''Coach has been great, even behind the scenes. You can tell Luke is kind of an extension from him,'' guard Klay Thompson said after Kerr left a white-board message listing the team's four tenets of joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. ''It's great to hear from him again just to reiterate what we're all about. That's what's carried us over the top and we want to continue to do those four things.''
Thompson had 16 points Wednesday, nearly matching his season average, but that's well off his career-high 21.7 per game of last season. Stephen Curry had 24 points with nine assists and again enters this game well-rested, since the starters didn't play in the fourth quarter against the Lakers.
''So far we've been unblemished and done everything we need to do to get 16 wins. Hope to make that 17 on Friday,'' Curry said. ''There most likely will come a time we take a loss and have to deal with the emotions of that, just like we have in years past.''
Curry's 70 points in his last three represents his lowest three-game total of the season, but he still easily leads the league with 32.1 points per game and has a 62.7 effective field-goal percentage. He's made 10 of 31 from 3-point range in that span, dropping his season mark to 43.1 percent.
The high-powered offense has drawn attention away from the club's strong defensive play. The Warriors have held opponents to a league-low 28.7 percent from 3-point range, and the 91 3s they've allowed are only 13 more than Curry has made.
Golden State has given up 95.8 points per 100 possessions, third-best in the league but an improvement from its NBA-leading 98.2 in 2014-15.
The "Splash Brothers" and the Warriors' perimeter defense should receive a challenge Friday since Phoenix has a high-scoring backcourt duo of its own in Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. The pair is averaging 44.6 points, third-highest among guards behind Curry and Thompson (48.3) and Portland's Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (45.0).
They had 47 and 17 assists Wednesday night, but Bledsoe was 5 of 16 from the field as the Suns (7-8) lost 120-114 at home to New Orleans. It was Phoenix's third straight defeat, with defense being the primary culprit - the Suns have allowed 113.3 points and 49.6 percent shooting during the skid.
''We gave them three 30-point quarters,'' coach Jeff Hornacek said. ''Usually we say if you give up two it's a loss. It's a long game and we didn't put our foot on the gas. I thought our guys just relaxed and we gave them the confidence.''
The Warriors won the final three games between the teams last season after Thompson sat out a 107-95 loss Nov. 9, 2014 with a sprained right hand. Curry averaged 29.3 points in the four games and made 21 of 43 from 3-point range, while Thompson contributed 21.0 points a contest in the three wins.
|Wizards||vs.||Celtics||7:30 (EST) Preview|
By JORDAN GARRETSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 1:09 PM (EST)
The Washington Wizards' lack of resolve continues to baffle Randy Wittman, and John Wall's turnovers keep piling up.
The Boston Celtics haven't impressed lately either ahead of Friday night's meeting.
Washington lost 101-87 at Charlotte on Wednesday despite holding a nine-point lead with fewer than nine minutes remaining. The Wizards (6-6) missed their final 17 shots and were limited to six fourth-quarter points, their lowest total going back to at least 2002-03.
"You've got to make plays in this league. That's what it boils down to," Wittman said. " ... We don't have guys that are making plays right now.
"We start feeling sorry, start pouting and putting our heads down and it just becomes a snowball. We've got to grow up in that aspect."
Wall made a preseason agreement with assistant coach Howard Eisley that would see him pay Eisley $100 for each two-plus turnover game. It's cost him $900 already.
Wall's 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio is the worst of his career, a season after posting a personal-best 2.6 mark. The team is 1-3 when he commits more than five.
He has 13 turnovers and 11 assists in his last two games and his field-goal percentage of 41.4 is also his worst since his rookie season. He was 6 for 18 from the field against the Hornets.
Wall has averaged 7.0 turnovers in his last four meetings with Boston and committed a season high-tying eight in a 118-98 road loss to the Celtics on Nov. 6. The Celtics scored 24 points off 24 Wizards turnovers and got a team-high 21 points from Jared Sullinger.
Boston (8-7) had dropped three of four prior to Wednesday's 84-80 victory over winless Philadelphia. The Celtics shot 34.1 percent and had to come back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit against a team that lost its 26th consecutive game.
"You guys know how much of a disappointment it would have been (to lose)," said forward Jae Crowder, who had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. "Very, very, very disappointing to all of us, coaches and players."
Isaiah Thomas scored 30 and Boston held Philadelphia to three points in the final 6:13, but the performance represented a different kind of letdown from the one a night earlier, when the Celtics lost by 24 at Atlanta.
"I didn't even mention last night's game. I told them what we need to do on a consistent level and said, 'That's all I have to say,'" coach Brad Stevens said. "I just think we need to defend with greater urgency."
Washington continues to be erratic defensively, giving up 96.5 points in wins and 116.3 in losses - the league's third-largest differential.
"Until we are committed all the way, we're going to be up and down," Wittman said.
Marcus Smart, averaging 9.8 points and 3.2 assists, has missed three straight games for Boston due to a lower left leg injury and is expected to be sidelined two more weeks.
|Bulls||vs.||Pacers||8:00 (EST) Preview|
By JORDAN GARRETSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 3:17 PM (EST)
The Indiana Pacers are knocking down 3-pointers with ridiculous accuracy after a mediocre start, and they seem to be showing no signs of slowing down.
They'll try to stay hot from beyond the arc and avenge a loss earlier this month to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana is shooting a league-best 41.6 percent from 3-point range, an unusually good number for a franchise that hasn't finished better than 12th in that category over the last three seasons. The Pacers (9-5) also started off in relatively average fashion, shooting 34.2 percent in their first seven games.
They've won nine of 11 this month, however.
"We're still getting used to the system, but now we're flowing," said Paul George, who is shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range.
They've shot a blistering 52.9 percent from deep over the last four games - the franchise's best mark for a four-game stretch since Jan. 16-23, 1998 - though they were 24 of 42 in that span compared to 55 for 104 during the current run.
Indiana hit a franchise-record 19 of 26 3-pointers in Tuesday's 123-106 win at Washington, and the 73.1 3-point percentage set a league mark with a minimum 25 attempts.
George scored 40 points and hit seven 3-pointers, while C.J. Miles knocked down eight and scored 32. The duo combined for only two misses and became just the fifth teammates in NBA history to hit seven apiece.
"We've been talking about making people try and pick their poison. There's a lot of space out there when he does what he does," Miles said of George. "There's a lot of space out there when he does what he does. I just try and move in the gaps and find spaces and be aggressive when I get my chances."
Indiana lost 96-95 at Chicago on Nov. 16, shooting 9 of 21 from beyond the arc but just 39.4 percent from 2-point range. George scored 26 while Derrick Rose led Chicago with 23.
The Bulls (9-4) are limiting opponents to 33.9 percent 3-point shooting and held Portland to 27.3 percent (6 for 22) in a 93-88 road win Tuesday.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 while Rose added 17 after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. Chicago shot 38.4 percent - the third time in four games it has shot 40.7 percent or worse - but scored a season high-matching 21 points off turnovers.
"I think we played an all-right game," Rose said. "We won so that's the only thing that matters."
Rose was 7 of 20 and has struggled with his shot all season, hitting 37.3 percent from the field - the seventh-worst among players averaging at least 30 minutes.
"I felt all right," he said. "There were some plays where I had no lift on my shot as far as like driving the ball, but that's going to come the more I play and the stronger it gets."
The Bulls are closing a four-game trip before playing nine of the next 10 games at home, while the Pacers are 5-2 at home and have won five of six there in the series. George has shot just 28.3 percent in his last three home meetings with Chicago, however.
|Men's College Basketball|
|Sam Houston State||vs.||Bethune-Cookman||11:30 (EST)|
|UC Irvine||vs.||Boston College||12:00 (EST)|
Alabama-Wichita St. Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 11:32 PM (EST)
With three starters back from a 30-win team that reached the round of 16, Wichita State was expected to continue the success it has had under coach Gregg Marshall.
The Shockers, however, are in an unfamiliar position following an injury to their senior leader.
Fred VanVleet is expected to be sidelined Friday when No. 20 Wichita State looks to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time in 33 months against Alabama in the consolation round of the AdvoCare Invitational at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
With their top two scorers, VanVleet and Ron Baker, and fellow starting guard Evan Wessel returning, the Shockers (2-2) carried a top 10 ranking into the season following their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under Marshall in 2014-15.
After winning 65 of 71 games in the previous two seasons, the promise of another blistering start subsided in the opener Nov. 13 when VanVleet twisted his ankle in the early moments of an 88-63 win over Charleston Southern. The All-America candidate then struggled through a sore hamstring four days later, finishing with 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting in a 77-67 loss at Tulsa.
Wichita State eased past Division II Emporia State without VanVleet on Saturday, but dropped its second November game for the first time in four years with a 72-69 loss to USC in Thursday's opening round. Baker had 25 points and hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range, while Markis McDuffie scored 14.
''We're banged up," Baker said. ''We've got to capitalize on our runs."
With VanVleet expected to miss the rest of the tournament, Baker hopes to keep playing well with a team-high 21.5 points per game and 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) shooting from 3-point range. Anton Grady, second on the team in scoring at 10.5 per game, has totaled 12 on 5-of-15 shooting in his last two.
Making matters worse, Landry Shamet is sidelined for at least 10 weeks because of a stress fracture in his foot. The promising freshman guard was averaging 8.7 points in his first three games.
The Shockers, who are likely to fall out of the Top 25, will try to avoid dropping back-to-back games for the first time since losing to Evansville on Feb. 27 and then Creighton on March 2, 2013.
They could get it done against an Alabama team that hasn't been competitive when facing tougher competition. The Crimson Tide have beaten Kennesaw State and Louisiana-Lafayette by a total of 25 points but have also lost to Dayton and Xavier by a combined 51.
Alabama (2-2) has particularly scuffled offensively in those contests, averaging just 46.5 points on 30.4 percent shooting while committing 38 turnovers. Shannon Hale and Justin Coleman were the only players to score in double figures with 10 on Thursday when the Tide went 5 for 28 (17.9 percent) from 3-point range in a 64-45 loss to the 23rd-ranked Musketeers.
Retin Obasohan has totaled 35 points on 11-of-18 shooting in the two victories, but has scored a combined nine while missing 14 of 16 field-goal attempts in the two defeats.
'''When we've had a game like this, we seem to bounce back," coach Avery Johnson said.
Although the Shockers have taken three of four meetings over the past four years, they had to rally from an 11-point deficit with 5:50 remaining in a 53-52 home victory Dec. 16, 2014.
|San Jose State||vs.||San Diego||12:00 (EST)|
By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 8:32 PM (EST)
The two highest-ranked teams at the Battle 4 Atlantis were placed on opposite sides of the bracket with the chance they'd meet in the championship game.
After No. 10 Gonzaga and 18th-ranked Connecticut each suffered tough losses in the semifinals, they'll have to settle for a date in the third-place game Friday.
Both the Bulldogs (3-1) and Huskies (4-1) hoped this matchup would have more importance than playing for a consolation prize. Gonzaga led No. 25 Texas A&M for much of Thursday's semifinal contest but finished just 4 of 11 from the free-throw line and fell 62-61.
Kyle Wiltjer finished with 18 points and hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range, while Josh Perkins added 15. Silas Melson's missed the potential winning shot at the buzzer.
"I was proud of our guys, especially in the second half I thought we really toughened up," said coach Mark Few, whose team made 30 of 44 free throws in an 80-64 quarterfinal win over Washington on Wednesday. "We just missed a ton of free throws where we could have extended that lead."
The Aggies shot 44.7 percent from the field after the Bulldogs held their first three opponents to 29.9 percent. The opposition is averaging just 58.5 points per game, but Gonzaga scored its fewest points of the season after finishing with at least 80 in its first three.
"We played great defensively and held them to six baskets (in the second half)," Few said. "And the way we were playing defense it probably would have been good enough to get us over the hump."
Part of the reason UConn is in the third-place game is because of its struggles from the field in the semifinals. It shot a season-low 43.3 percent and committed a season-high 13 turnovers in a 79-76 loss to Syracuse.
The Huskies also were outrebounded 41-33 after holding a plus-9.8 average through their first four. They struggled against Syracuse's zone defense and couldn't get much going down low, attempting 26 3-pointers and hitting 10.
UConn held its first four opponents to 33.2 percent shooting, but the Orange made 47.9 percent from the floor and hit 9 of 20 from 3-point range. They also shot 39 free throws, 11 more than any other UConn opponent.
''The second half they really just took it to us offensively,'' coach Kevin Ollie said. ''We were in a drought in the first half and the second half and really allowed them to take over the game, and in transition they really hurt us with the 3s.''
Daniel Hamilton had another solid game, finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists after having 18, nine and nine in Wednesday's 74-60 quarterfinal win over Michigan.
The sophomore has been more aggressive in this tournament, going a combined 14 of 27 from the field after shooting 9 for 22 over his first three.
"We've got to learn from it," Hamilton said. "Bounce back and recover. We didn't get back on defense and that's what we got to key in on."
Gonzaga and UConn haven't met since 2008, but this contest also could be a tight battle if history is an indication. The last four matchups have been decided by a total of 15 points, with the Huskies winning three.
|Chicago State||vs.||Jacksonville State||1:30 (EST)|
|Lipscomb||vs.||South Carolina||2:00 (EST)|
|Boise State||vs.||Michigan State||2:00 (EST) Preview|
Boise St.-Michigan St. Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 2:15 AM (EST)
With Denzel Valentine filling out the stat sheet in historic fashion, Michigan State is showing no weaknesses as it tries to get the most of out a business trip to California.
Coach Tom Izzo, however, is quick to warn the Spartans about the dangers that lie ahead.
After recording a couple of milestones in an impressive opener, No. 3 Michigan State hopes to take another step toward a tournament championship Friday when it takes on Boise State in the second round of the Wooden Legacy on the campus of Cal State Fullerton.
It wasn't long ago when Valentine became the fourth Spartan to record a triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 79-73 win over No. 4 Kansas in Chicago on Nov 17.
While playing in front of one of those former stars, the senior guard had 29 points, 11 boards and 10 assists in Thursday's 99-68 first-round win over Boston College. He joined Magic Johnson (eight) and Draymond Green (three) as the school's only players to accomplish that feat more than once.
Green, who now plays for Golden State, attended the contest on his way to Phoenix for the Warriors' next game and even received a high-five from Valentine after a dunk.
"(Green and Valentine are) similar players in these respects: unselfishness, winning more than focusing on individual stats, they're both great leaders," said Izzo after his 500th career win.
The Spartans (5-0) reached season highs in points, assists (28), field-goal percentage (62.7) and 3-point percentage (11 for 21) while committing only seven turnovers. They rank near the top among Big Ten teams with 88.2 points, 52.6 percent shooting and a 42.6 mark from beyond the arc.
Michigan State has been nearly as impressive defensively, limiting opponents to 61.4 points and a 36.9 field-goal percentage - including just 27.6 percent from 3-point range. Boston College, however, became the first opponent to shoot better than 37 percent against the Spartans at 47.3.
Although Eagles coach Jimmy Christian referred to Michigan State as the best team in the country, Izzo isn't quite ready to agree with that assessment just five games into the season.
"We're playing good right now, and I told my guys we'll see how we handle that early success," he said. "Now we're going from hunting to being hunted. Teams are going to give us their best game. What impresses me is that I believe we still have a higher ceiling that we can reach."
Boise State (3-2) hopes to give the Spartans its best shot after opening the tournament with a 71-64 victory over UC Irvine on Thursday. Anthony Drmic led the way with 21 points, while Nick Duncan scored 14 and Chandler Hutchinson added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Drmic seemed to be fine after missing Monday's 100-53 win over NAIA Concordia due to a knee injury. The senior swingman is averaging 18.8 points while hitting 15 of 33 (45.5) from beyond the arc.
"The rest was nice," Drmic said. "It was good for my knee to get those couple days off."
The Broncos have lived and died from the 3-point line, shooting 35 for 81 (43.2 percent) in victories and 18 of 56 (32.1) in their defeats. Duncan hit four 3s as they went 11 for 28 against the Anteaters.
Boise State has dropped two all-time meetings, most recently a 74-70 road loss in November 2012.
|Quincy||vs.||Illinois State||2:00 (EST)|
|William Woods||vs.||Missouri State||2:05 (EST)|
|Liberty||vs.||Western Michigan||2:30 (EST)|
|UTEP||vs.||Southern Illinois||2:30 (EST)|
|Xavier||vs.||USC||2:30 (EST) Preview|
Xavier-Southern Cal Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 12:44 AM (EST)
Xavier might have cruised in the opening round of the AdvoCare Invitational, but it could be argued it was Southern California who impressed.
The 23th-ranked Musketeers brace for a Trojans squad fresh off a win over another ranked team when the schools meet in Friday's semifinals in Orlando.
Xavier (5-0) had little trouble with Alabama Thursday, advancing 64-45 to win its first five games for the third straight season. The previous two haven't reached 6-0 - Xavier last did that as part of an 8-0 start in 2011-12 - and it could be a third straight season with such a setback if the Trojans (5-0) keep it up.
Southern Cal, off to its best start since going 8-0 in 2000-01, started the tournament with Thursday's 72-69 win over No. 20 Wichita State.
"We feel like that we have a very young, talented team, but need some more experience," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "We're certainly not a great team yet, we have a lot of things to work on, but this is a big win for us. It means a lot."
Bennie Boatwright is one of the players Enfield speaks of, and the freshman forward took some strides against Wichita State with his best game of the season, scoring 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
"Bennie had it rolling today," Enfield said.
Prior to that, it had been Jordan McLaughlin on a roll. The sophomore guard didn't exactly slow down with 15 points on 6 of 10 Thursday, but he's averaging 19.2 points and shooting 61.1 percent with an 11-of-21 mark from 3-point range for the season.
In all, the Trojans are averaging 88.4 points per game and hitting 42.0 percent of their shots from long range.
USC had lost its previous five against the Top 25 and it's 2-12 against ranked foes since last winning consecutive games against such opponents in 2010-11.
Xavier, meanwhile, has won its last seven against unranked opponents. It's also faced some relatively strong early season competition with wins at home over Miami (Ohio) and Missouri, at then-No. 24 Michigan and home versus Northern Kentucky prior to taking down the Crimson Tide.
Coach Chris Mack still isn't thrilled with the Musketeers' offensive effort. They're averaging 77.4 points on 40.6 percent, including 34.0 from long range.
"Hopefully as we settle in, we'll get better on offense," Mack said. "I thought we were much better in the second half than we were in the first."
While Trevon Bluiett led with 15 points, the rest of the starting five combined for 18 on 6 of 25. J.P. Macura came off the bench for 14 points in 21 minutes, and is averaging 11.4 in 21.4 minutes so far.
"I just needed to provide energy to the team," Macura said.
Mack, however, can't ask for a whole lot more on the other end. The Musketeers have held teams to 63.8 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent. Xavier outrebounded Alabama 47-31 to continue a trend that's resulted in a 44.2-29.4 advantage on the glass thus far, including a ridiculous 15.0-6.8 advantage on the offensive end. That could come into play against USC, which has allowed 16.4 offensive rebounds so far.
The all-time series is tied 1-1 with USC winning 84-78 on Nov. 30, 2013, in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
The winner advances to play the winner of Monmouth and Dayton in Sunday's title game.
|East Carolina||vs.||Stetson||2:30 (EST)|
|Western Carolina||vs.||Charleston||3:00 (EST)|
|Syracuse||vs.||Texas A&M||3:00 (EST) Preview|
Texas A&M-Syracuse Preview
By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 8:07 PM (EST)
Syracuse wasn't allowed to compete in a postseason tournament in 2014-15, so it is making the most of its first opportunity to play in a bracketed event this season.
The Orange look to beat a second ranked opponent in the Bahamas when they face No. 25 Texas A&M in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship Friday afternoon.
Following an investigation into a cheating scandal, Syracuse banned itself from competing in the ACC and NCAA tournaments following last season, and the NCAA later stepped in and suspended coach Jim Boeheim for the first nine conference games this season for a lack of program control.
He's got the Orange off to a 5-0 start, though, and hasn't let the negative attention affect his players. After scoring a season-high 26 points in an 83-70 quarterfinal win over Charlotte, Michael Gbinije finished with 17, seven assists and six steals in Thursday's 79-76 victory over No. 18 Connecticut.
Trevor Cooney also scored 17 points and freshman Tyler Lydon had 16 in 35 minutes off the bench as Syracuse essentially used a six-man rotation. Franklin Howard and Kaleb Joseph played a combined five minutes.
Lydon has yet to start but hasn't played fewer than 26 minutes and is averaging 11.2 points and had 18 against Charlotte. He's becoming more aggressive as well, going 11 for 20 from the field in the tournament after attempting a total of 15 shots over his first three.
''Tyler Lydon's done an unbelievable job. In the middle of the defense, and offensively he sees plays that nobody sees,'' coach Jim Boeheim said. ''He's had two monstrous games down here.''
The Aggies (6-0) pulled off a surprise of their own in the semifinals, knocking off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 earlier Thursday. Danuel House scored the last of his game-high 19 points on a free throw with 1:05 left that proved to be the winner.
Tonny Trocha-Morels hit all four of his 3-point attempts and was the only other A&M player in double figures with 14 points.
''Any time we have a tough game, it's teaching us all how to be poised, how to play under control and how to execute so we can give ourselves a chance to win a game,'' House said.
The Aggies hadn't played any close ones prior to facing Gonzaga. They won their first five by an average of 29.2 points, with the slimmest margin of victory being an 84-73 win over Texas in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
Their 44.7 shooting percentage Thursday was their worst of the season, but they hit 7 of 14 from behind the arc. Gonzaga's 46.2 percent mark from the field was the best of any Texas A&M opponent, but the Aggies allowed fewer than their average of 62.2 points per game.
''I was really proud of our guys defensively down the stretch," coach Billy Kennedy said. "Our goal was to hold their big three guys to 30 points or less and we were able to do that.
The best thing about our team is we didn't panic. Emotionally I thought we were locked in the whole game.''
These teams last faced each other when 12th-seeded Texas A&M upset fifth-seeded Syracuse 66-58 in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
|Georgia Tech||vs.||Villanova||3:00 (EST) Preview|
Georgia Tech-Villanova Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 1:09 AM (EST)
Villanova overcame its worst shooting effort of the season and being dominated on the boards to reach the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
It's not going to be any easier on the glass against Georgia Tech.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats look to remain undefeated by getting their first win over the Yellow Jackets on Friday in New York.
Villanova (5-0) arrived at Barclays Center averaging 84.8 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the field through four games. The Wildcats weren't anywhere near those numbers Thursday at 30.6 percent, including 7 of 34 from beyond the arc, and were outrebounded 55-35, but still came through with a 59-45 win over Stanford.
"I didn't think it would be this ugly on the boards but if we could have made a couple of shots it might not have been as ugly," coach Jay Wright said. "But I was proud the guys really grinded defensively."
The Wildcats are in for another tough battle in the post against Georgia Tech (4-1), which is dominating opponents by an average of 13.8 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets were even better Thursday, holding a 50-32 advantage on their way to an 83-73 win over Arkansas. Charles Mitchell did a lot of the damage with 18 points and 18 rebounds - 11 defensive - for his fifth straight double-double to start the season.
"Chuck has always been a great offensive rebounder because he just goes," coach Brian Gregory said. "He's got a hunger and a pretty good feel. He has not been a great defensive rebounder because it's a different dynamic."
Mitchell, who lost more than 20 pounds during the offseason, is averaging 15.2 points and 12.8 rebounds after scoring 9.8 per game with 7.0 boards last season.
"I'm just trying to give my team second-chance possessions," said the senior forward.
Marcus Georges-Hunt leads Georgia Tech with 17.2 points per game. He scored 19 against the Razorbacks, hitting three 3-pointers and all six free throws to overcome a 5-for-13 performance from the field.
Villanova could use better performances from Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart. Arcidiacono had a season-low eight points Thursday while missing 9 of 11 attempts from the floor and 8 of 9 from behind the arc. Hart wasn't much better with 10 points while making 4 of 13 from the floor and missing all six 3-point attempts.
Despite the effort, Hart is averaging 15.2 points while Arcidiacono is scoring 12.2.
Jalen Brunson, however, is coming off his best performance. The freshman guard had 18 points against the Cardinal, doubling his total from each of the previous three games.
"I was doing what I always do," Brunson said. "I try to play aggressive all the time."
Villanova has lost all three meetings with Georgia Tech but the most recent came in December 1991.
|Northeastern||vs.||Miami (FL)||4:00 (EST) Preview|
By JON PALMIERI - STATS Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 9:37 AM (EST)
It wouldn't be hard at all to make the case that no team has been more impressive this season than Miami.
Clearly, the voters in the AP poll were impressed.
After bursting into the national rankings, the No. 15 Hurricanes hope to avoid a letdown Friday when they return home to face Northeastern.
Few noticed when Miami (5-0) rolled through its first three games, but consecutive victories over ranked opponents to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship were too much to ignore.
The Hurricanes became just the sixth team to be unranked one week and rise to at least No. 15 in the following week's poll. Their current ranking is the highest ever for the program during the month of November.
The short trip to Puerto Rico proved very beneficial for Miami, which opened the tournament with a 26-point rout of Mississippi State before coasting to a 90-66 victory over then-No. 16 Utah. The championship game was a little tougher, but the Hurricanes hung on to beat then-No. 22 Butler 85-75 on Sunday.
Angel Rodriguez scored 19 points and Ja'Quan Newton added a career-high 17 for Miami, which went 20 of 22 at the foul line after halftime and 22 of 24 overall.
The Hurricanes have outscored their last four opponents by 19.0 points per game while shooting 54.7 percent, including 50.6 from 3-point range.
''It's only November,'' coach Jim Larranaga said. ''Teams are going to get better. The really great teams are going to improve dramatically between now and March. And we want to be one of those teams. ... Whether we're ranked or not, ranked is not the motivation.''
Rodriguez was named tournament MVP after averaging 13.7 points on 54.2 percent from the field. Senior guard Sheldon McClellan also made the all-tournament team, connecting on 60.7 percent of his shots while scoring 17.7 per game.
Center Tonye Jekiri appears poised to become more of an offensive presence, averaging 13.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in Puerto Rico. He was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday.
McClellan (17.4), Rodriguez (12.8), Newton (11.8) and Jekiri (10.2) are joined in double-figure scoring by Davon Reed (10.8) and Ivan Cruz Uceda (10.0).
Fast starts are not uncommon for the Hurricanes, who are 5-0 for the second straight year. They won last season's Charleston Classic, only to return home and suffer losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky.
Rodriguez said players were already bringing that up after winning Sunday.
''That to me is truly more special than just simply winning this tournament,'' he said, ''to know that the guys are hungry for more.''
Northeastern (4-1) is hoping for a better result after its four-game win streak was snapped with Sunday's 67-61 loss to Miami (Ohio).
David Walker scored 21 points and Quincy Ford added 14 for the Huskies, who had a season-high 18 turnovers.
Walker is the focal point of the offense, averaging 20.8 points to rank second in the Colonial Athletic Association. The senior guard is shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 45.5 from long range.
This contest closes a four-game road trip for Northeastern, loser of 19 straight to ranked opponents since knocking off No. 2 Louisville in 1986.
Miami has won both meetings against Northeastern, the most recent in 2000.
|Saint Francis U||vs.||Maryland Eastern Shore||4:00 (EST)|
|Mount St. Mary's||vs.||Furman||4:30 (EST)|
|Georgia Southern||vs.||USC Upstate||5:00 (EST)|
|Southeastern Louisiana||vs.||Gardner-Webb||5:00 (EST)|
|Appalachian State||vs.||Mercer||5:00 (EST)|
|Richmond||vs.||California||5:00 (EST) Preview|
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 3:58 AM (EST)
A second-half collapse combined with its worst shooting performance of the season have California looking for its first bounce-back effort.
Richmond can surely empathize.
The No. 14 Golden Bears face the Spiders in a matchup of teams looking to regain their scoring touch in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday night.
California (4-1) averaged 85.3 points and shot 48.9 percent while barely being challenged through its first four games. That changed Thursday when the Golden Bears connected on a season-low 37.5 percent of their shots and squandered a 15-point second-half lead to fall 72-58 to San Diego State.
Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews are among the Golden Bears looking for redemption after the starting guards combined to shoot 11 for 31 for 26 points with just three assists and seven of the team's 15 turnovers.
Despite the subpar effort, Wallace leads Cal with 19.4 points per game and is shooting 54.5 percent from the field, while Mathews has put up an average of 12.6 points.
Ivan Rabb was one of the Golden Bears' few bright spots against the Aztecs, scoring a season-high 18 points with nine rebounds. The freshman forward is averaging 13.2 points and 8.6 boards while starting each of his first five games.
Richmond (3-2) averages 84.4 points while hitting 50.2 percent from the floor and 36.8 from beyond the arc. However - like Cal - the Spiders' three-game winning streak ended with their worst shooting effort of the season.
They converted just 39.1 percent of their shots, including 2 of 15 from 3-point range, in Thursday's 67-59 loss to West Virginia.
Still, coach Chris Mooney came away encouraged.
"I thought that our effort and toughness were tremendous," he told the team's website. "We responded to each one of their runs, and played with a lot of heart. We needed just a few more shots to fall to get us over that hump at different points in the game.
"We're a good shooting team that missed shots. I couldn't be more proud of our effort."
Terry Allen continues to do his part while leading the team with 19.8 points per game. The senior forward scored 20 points against the Mountaineers, sinking 5 of 10 shots and 10 of 12 free throws. That came five days after he scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds with five assists in an 89-64 win over Bethune-Cookman.
T.J. Cline had 14 points in that matchup but followed it with a season-low five while going 2 for 4 from the floor and 1 for 4 at the line Thursday. The junior forward had at least eight field-goal attempts in each of the previous four games.
The Spiders have won their last two meetings with ranked opponents but both came last season against VCU. They've dropped their last four against Top 25 teams from outside the Atlantic 10.
This is the second meeting after the Golden Bears won the first in December 1993.
|Abilene Christian||vs.||Florida A&M||5:00 (EST)|
|Kentucky||vs.||South Florida||5:00 (EST) Preview|
Kentucky-South Florida Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 12:48 PM (EST)
Kentucky wasn't totally dominant in its first game as the nation's No. 1 team. It might have some added incentive to aim for a more complete effort in the next one.
Facing their former assistant and current South Florida coach Orlando Antigua, the Wildcats meet the Bulls on Friday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
''O is my dude,'' Kentucky forward Alex Poythress said. ''... I can't wait to see him when we go down to Miami. He's been one of my guys ever since he recruited me and I can't wait to see him again.''
Poythress had 14 points with 10 rebounds and freshman Skal Labissiere had 16 points as Kentucky (5-0) won 82-62 over Boston University on Tuesday - one day after ascending to the top of the AP poll.
Though the Wildcats shot 51.6 percent, they trailed by one with 3:14 remaining in the first half before taking a seven-point advantage into the break. They closed the game on a 22-9 run to improve to 63-5 as a No. 1 under coach John Calipari.
"We're going to play teams like that all year long," said Poythress, who has two straight double-doubles after averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 boards in the first games.
"We just have to fight through it and grind it out. We have to keep on chipping away."
That might not be necessary in this first meeting with South Florida (1-4), which won nine games in 2014-15 and earned its first victory this season Tuesday, 63-61 over Albany. The Bulls are in their second season under Antigua, who assisted Calipari for one at Memphis and five with Kentucky.
"I hope he loses the next one," Calipari said. "But after that I hope he wins them all.
"He's somebody that's helped me in two different situations ... I think not only is he a great guy, a good person, a great heart, good family man, he's also a terrific basketball coach."
South Florida is 0-4 when facing No. 1 teams and has lost 17 straight against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 19 Louisville on Feb. 29, 2012.
"I obviously have a lot of great respect for that program, and for Cal and the staff and the players there. But that's all the personal stuff," said Antigua, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
"For us, it's another opportunity to go out and compete against a good team to see how we can continue to grow and mature."
The challenge is quite daunting for a South Florida squad that's shooting 39.5 percent and went 1 for 21 from 3-point range in the last two games. Six-foot-11 senior Jaleel Cousins, brother of Sacramento Kings big man and former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins, has scored 27 points in the last two games and grabbed 35 boards in the last three.
He'll face a major test against the 6-11 Labissiere, who is averaging 14.2 points on 61.7 percent shooting and has recorded 11 blocks.
''Just his length - he reminds me of Sam Perkins," Boston University coach Joe Jones said. "He has a very soft touch and is a very skilled player. He's hard to guard. I really like him as a player and think his upside is phenomenal at the next level."
Tyler Ulis is averaging 18.0 points in the last three games, but he's 4 of 19 from 3-point range this season and Kentucky is at 26.0 percent. The Wildcats could improve on that mark against a Bulls team which let Boston University hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc in a 78-66 home loss Saturday.
''This opportunity is once in a lifetime," USF forward Chris Perry said, "going up against some guys that are supposed to be the best.''
|Toledo||vs.||Loyola Chicago||5:30 (EST)|
|Evansville||vs.||Santa Clara||6:00 (EST)|
|Robert Morris||vs.||Tennessee Tech||6:00 (EST)|
|Virginia Tech||vs.||Iowa State||6:00 (EST) Preview|
Virginia Tech-Iowa St. Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 2:36 PM (EST)
Iowa State has looked comfortable in its own gym, especially behind the 3-point arc in its latest game, but it was a different story in its only game away from home.
The fourth-ranked Cyclones will try for a better performance in northwest Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic, including the opener against Virginia Tech on Friday night.
Iowa State (3-0) has been at home for its last two games and won them by a combined 62 points while shooting 54.8 percent, going 14 of 29 from long range in an 83-63 victory over Chattanooga on Monday.
Nazareth Mitrou-Long made six 3-pointers en route to a team-best 24 points. Georges Niang scored 19 points, and Jameel McKay had a career-high 17 rebounds.
"We really shot the 3 well. We hadn't done that extremely well in the first two games. But this team's offense is very capable of doing a lot of special things," coach Steve Prohm said.
Iowa State shot 44.6 percent in its season opener Nov. 13 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and went 2 for 10 from beyond the arc in a 68-62 win over Colorado.
The Cyclones will get two more neutral-site games this weekend in Niceville, Florida, and they will either face Illinois on Saturday or get a rematch with UAB. The Blazers upset third-seeded Iowa State 60-59 in the second round of last season's NCAA Tournament.
"The last time we looked ahead, UAB snubbed us. We'll just take Tech first and, we know who we want, but we'll (focus on) Tech first," Niang said.
The Hokies have won three in a row since an 85-82 loss to Alabama State in its season opener. Zach LeDay matched his career high with 26 points and had 12 rebounds in a 90-60 rout of North Carolina A&T on Tuesday.
The junior forward, averaging 20.0 points and 11.5 boards, had 26 points and 15 rebounds in the upset loss to Alabama State in his Virginia Tech debut after transferring from South Florida.
The Hokies (3-1) have lost 17 in a row to ranked teams since beating No. 15 Oklahoma State on Dec. 1, 2012.
With only two days off since last playing, coach Buzz Williams knows his team will have a tough time halting that drought.
"I think all coaches would say that they would like more time (to prepare)," Williams said. "I think when you're playing a team that's potentially good enough to beat Kansas in the Big 12 regular season and a team with the talent that they have, you always want more time. But you can't change it. We'll see where we stack up."
McKay signed with Williams' Marquette team before the 2013-14 season after playing in junior college but transferred without appearing in a game. Cyclones junior guard Deonte Burton also played for Williams in 2013-14 but is forced to sit out until next month following his transfer last season.
Williams beat Prohm in the only matchup between the coaches in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, leading Marquette to a 62-53 win over Murray State.
"His teams are known for their toughness, the way they compete with their resiliency. They play extremely hard," Prohm said.
Virginia Tech won its only other matchup against Iowa State 80-53 on Dec. 14, 1984, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
|Cincinnati||vs.||Nebraska||6:30 (EST) Preview|
By PAUL DIGIACOMO - STATS Senior Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 11:02 AM (EST)
Cincinnati cruised during the first 10 days of the season before finally being tested its last time out.
The 24th-ranked Bearcats seem to be in for another challenge this weekend in the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, starting with Friday night's matchup against a Nebraska team that won last season's meeting in double overtime.
The Bearcats (5-0) won their first four games by an average of 42.3 points to move into the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons Monday, but they found themselves leading by three midway through the second half the next night against visiting Southeastern Louisiana.
Cincinnati was able to pull out a 64-49 win thanks to a closing 15-7 run, though it shot a season-low 40.7 percent and was held 32.3 points below its season average.
"We had not been in a game, so it's good for us to get in a little bit of a game, maybe wake our guys up a little bit," coach Mick Cronin said. "We're not very tough right now. Things have been too easy for us, way too easy for us."
That wasn't the case in Nebraska last season. The Bearcats beat the visiting Cornhuskers 74-59 in December 2013 before traveling to Lincoln last December and losing 56-55 in double OT.
"As bad as (Tuesday) was, I think it gives us a chance on Friday because Nebraska has been in a game at Villanova in that little pavilion," Cronin told the school's official website. " ... I really believe that we would have been in deep trouble Friday if we had not been in some sort of a game, not that I'm happy. That's the only thing that gives me joy tonight."
The visit to then-No. 11 Villanova resulted an 87-63 loss Nov. 17. The Cornhuskers (4-1) have since won three in a row after beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67-44 on Tuesday.
They shot 38.2 percent and went 2 of 19 from 3-point range for the game but were able to build an 18-point halftime lead by holding the Golden Lions to 16 points.
Freshman Glynn Watson Jr. provided a spark off the bench by hitting a 3-pointer and adding three assists during a 15-3 spurt to close the first half.
"That was a good opportunity for him to kind of lead the team, lead the bunch," said guard Andrew White III, who led the Huskers with 16 points. "When you're the point guard, the ball is in your hands. I think he made good decisions. I think he grew up a little bit before our eyes."
Shavon Shields was the only other Husker in double figures with 15 points, and he scored 13 in last season's meeting with Cincinnati. Troy Caupain had 13 points for the Bearcats in that matchup and scored a season-high 15 on Tuesday.
Nebraska has lost seven in row against ranked teams and is 64-240 all-time in such matchups.
"We'll be ready for Cincinnati and if we're not it is going to be a bloodbath. It will not be pretty because they are a very talented team," coach Tim Miles said. " ... Their press is really difficult to go against. I would say it's like Villanova's on steroids. They stay on you and make it a very physical game. That will be great for this team to see who steps up to the challenge."
Friday's winner will face George Washington (5-0) or Tennessee (4-1) in the championship game Saturday.
|North Carolina Central||vs.||Louisiana Tech||6:30 (EST)|
|Idaho State||vs.||Utah||7:00 (EST)|
|Bob Jones University||vs.||Citadel||7:00 (EST)|
|Charleston Southern||vs.||Akron||7:00 (EST)|
|Winthrop||vs.||North Carolina State||7:00 (EST)|
|Notre Dame||vs.||Iowa||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Notre Dame-Iowa Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 2:42 AM (EST)
An early season tournament title might not have been a huge concern of Notre Dame's coming into the season, but now it's not an option.
Same goes for Iowa.
Instead, it's onto consolation play maybe a little earlier than anticipated Friday night in the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, and it's the 17th-ranked Fighting Irish looking to overcome a bit of an upset.
Notre Dame (3-1) opened the tournament with a 70-68 loss to Monmouth Thursday. However, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hawks aren't exactly slouches - they've won at UCLA and Drexel and played USC tough in Los Angeles - and Irish coach Mike Brey is leaving it at that.
"They're a good team than can win their league," Brey said. "We lost to a good team."
The Hawkeyes (3-1) title shot was also a one-day thing, falling 82-77 Thursday to a Dayton team that's had plenty of NCAA Tournament success the past two seasons.
"Our offense didn't move smoothly at all first half," coach Fran McCaffery said. "The start of the second half, it got away from us a little bit. A couple goofy plays. But the last 14 minutes I thought execution offensively was tremendous. We had great looks at the basket."
And they hit many of them. Iowa went 12 of 24 from 3-point range, but after overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit for a four-point lead, things again went south.
"The last 14 minutes, our execution offensively was tremendous," McCaffery told the school's official website. "I was proud of our guys for how they managed the game and clock and we were able to get the lead.
"We were up four after being down 14. We got some great looks again, but didn't convert, and they did. You have to give them credit."
The Hawkeyes are shooting 48.6 percent from beyond the arc in their last three, and that could come into play against a Notre Dame team that's allowed opponents to hit 30 of 61 from outside in its last three.
Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff made four of Iowa's 12 3s on seven chances Thursday on his way to a team-high 18 points, and the senior forward is averaging 16.8 while connecting on 9 of 18 from long range.
For Notre Dame, Demetrius Jackson scored 20 against Monmouth, and the junior guard is averaging 20.5 on 58.2 percent and 8 for 19 from 3 in his first four games as the team's go-to option on offense after the departures of Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton.
It sounds like Brey will continue to look to guard-heavy sets for offensive production.
"Our best flow came when we played small," he said. "That group has to continue to … be more efficient offensively, because that hurt us early in the half. They're going to play a lot of minutes together. Our efficiency on that end - we could've used more because you're just not going to stop them. They're really a tough offensive group to deal with."
Iowa's lost 20 of its last 25 games against the Top 25, though the last time the schools met, it was the Hawkeyes in the rankings. On Dec. 3, 2013, they beat the Irish 98-93 in Iowa, and another high-scoring affair could be in order.
The Hawkeyes are averaging 86.3 points per game and shooting 49.0 percent, while Notre Dame is at 81.0 and 47.0. Of the 346 Division I teams, Iowa ranks 26th in scoring since the start of 2013-14 (76.1) and Notre Dame is 31st (75.6).
|UC Riverside||vs.||Rice||7:00 (EST)|
|Delaware State||vs.||Fresno State||7:00 (EST)|
|IUPUI||vs.||Georgia State||7:00 (EST)|
|North Florida||vs.||Hartford||7:00 (EST)|
|Elon||vs.||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||7:00 (EST)|
|Savannah State||vs.||Jackson State||7:00 (EST)|
|Long Beach State||vs.||Oklahoma State||7:30 (EST)|
|Ohio State||vs.||Memphis||7:30 (EST)|
|Northwestern State||vs.||Auburn||7:30 (EST)|
|James Madison||vs.||Marshall||7:30 (EST)|
|UAPB||vs.||Army West Point||7:30 (EST)|
|Stephen F. Austin||vs.||Tulane||7:30 (EST)|
|West Virginia||vs.||San Diego State||7:30 (EST)|
|Portland||vs.||Colorado State||7:30 (EST)|
|Middle Tennessee||vs.||UNC Asheville||8:00 (EST)|
|Providence||vs.||Arizona||8:30 (EST) Preview|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Friday, November 27 at 3:40 AM (EST)
One or two plays could have easily kept Arizona from a semifinal everybody expected it to reach in a walk, but the 11th-ranked Wildcats avoided a dose of deja vu and will continue their bid for an early-season championship.
Arizona has a quick turnaround after a close call in the DirecTV Wooden Legacy when it meets Providence in Friday night's semis on the campus of Cal State-Fullerton.
The Wildcats (5-0) struggled against winless Santa Clara in Thursday's opening round, which may sound familiar since Steve Nash's Broncos were just the second No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 when they upset Arizona to open the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
Arizona avoided a similar shocker when Gabe York brushed off a 1-of-12 shooting effort in regulation with seven of his 11 points coming in overtime of a 75-73 win. The Wildcats narrowly avoided their first November loss since 2011.
"We got a heavy dose of a lot of lessons," said coach Sean Miller, whose team won its opening four home games by an average of 19.8 points.
The last time Arizona faced Providence was in the regional finals at the 1997 NCAAs, winning 96-92 in overtime to advance to one of the school's four Final Fours en route to its only national championship.
The stakes aren't nearly as high this time, but a win for the Wildcats could wash away the bad taste of a middling performance against Santa Clara.
They blew a 17-point first-half lead, committed a season-high 17 turnovers, made just 3 of 22 shots from 3-point range and hit 14 of 20 free throws. The Broncos shot 43.4 percent - a season high for an Arizona opponent - and went 10 of 26 from long range.
"We have such a long way to go on defense it's not even close," Miller said.
The Wildcats couldn't contain Santa Clara's Jared Brownridge, who torched them for a tournament-record 44 points, surpassing James Harden's 40 set with Arizona State in 2008.
"He put 44 on us and it wasn't like we weren't trying," Miller said. "It's not just 44, it's 44 out of 73. That's a lot of points in the college game, especially that ratio."
Arizona will draw another defensive test against Providence (5-0).
Kris Dunn is the Friars' main threat after he passed up on the NBA draft in June as a potential lottery pick. He was tabbed a preseason top 50 candidate for the Wooden Award for his ability to make a massive impact on both ends of the floor.
Dunn leads the Friars with 18.6 points per game, and he stacks the scorebook with 7.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 4.8 steals. He's followed in scoring by Rodney Bullock (16.0 points per game) and Ben Bentil (15.6), who poured in a career-high 24 in a 74-64 semifinal win over Evansville on Thursday.
More bad news from Arizona's tight win over Santa Clara was an aggravated injury to senior Kaleb Tarczewski. Miller said his 7-foot center has been bothered by injuries to both his ankles, and he reinjured one of them.
"I don't know the severity, but certainly that's not good," Miller said.
|Tennessee||vs.||George Washington||9:00 (EST)|
|Thursday, November 26, 2015|
|Men's College Basketball|
|UALR||54||vs.||46||East Carolina||Final Recap|
UALR rallies to beat East Carolina 54-46
Thursday, November 26 at 6:37 PM (EST)
LAS VEGAS (AP) Marcus Johnson Jr. scored 13 points and made all six of his free throws and Arkansas-Little Rock rallied to beat East Carolina 54-46 on Thursday at the Las Vegas Invitational to win its fourth straight.
Josh Hagins scored 11 points for the Trojans (4-0), who shot 20 of 24 (83 percent) from the free-throw line but just 26 percent from the field.
Trailing 23-15 at halftime, UALR went ahead 36-29 after 3-pointers by Kemy Osse and Johnson then pulled away on Hagins' 3 and Mareik Isom's layup with 7:42 left. B.J. Tyson's 3 pulled ECU within 54-46 with 28 seconds to go, but Johnson made four free throws to seal the win.
Prince Williams broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-pointer, Tyson hit another 3, and the Pirates led at halftime after a 14-4 run.
Tyson had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pirates (2-3), who were hurt by 22 turnovers.
Bluiett scores 15, No. 23 Xavier beats Alabama 64-45
By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 3:19 PM (EST)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla, (AP) Xavier found its scoring touch in the second half to put away Alabama.
Trevon Bluiett scored 15 points, J.P. Macura added 14, and No. 23 Xavier beat Alabama 64-45 in the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday.
Macura helped the Musketeers (5-0) overcome an early first-half deficit, while Bluiett was part of a second-half surge that gave Xavier a comfortable advantage.
''Hopefully as we settle in, we'll get better on offense,'' Xavier coach Chris Mack said. ''I thought we were much better in the second half than we were in the first.''
Shannon Hale and Justin Coleman had 10 points each for Alabama (2-2). Dazon Ingram added six points and nine rebounds.
''They seem like they have a little bit more mental and physical stamina than we have,'' said Alabama coach Avery Johnson of Xavier, which has reached the NCAA tourney in nine of the last 10 years. ''We're not there yet. We're still playing catch up in those areas.''
Consecutive long-range jumpers by Myles Davis and Bluiett put Xavier ahead 36-28 early in the second half. Bluiett had a steal and basket before another 3-pointer by Davis, and James Farr's layup made it 43-28 with 13 minutes to play. Xavier made 8 of its first 13 second-half shots after shooting just 24.1 percent during the opening half.
Jalen Reynolds' basket extended the lead to 60-37 with 4 minutes left. He had 10 points.
''We just broke down,'' Hale said.
Macura came off the bench and had 11 points as Xavier rallied from an early seven point hole to go up 27-24 at halftime. He entered averaging 10.8 points, the team's third-best average.
''I just needed to provide energy to the team,'' Macura said.
Hale had all his points in the first half, including a 3 in the final seconds.
Both teams struggled offensively during the first 20 minutes.
The Crimson Tide made 3 of 15 from 3-point range, and were 10 for 29 overall. Xavier made 7 of 29 shots, including seven straight misses to start the game.
''The positives are, we played pretty good defense in the first half,'' Johnson said. ''When we've had a game like this, we seem to bounce back.''
The Crimson Tide ended 5 for 28 (17.9 percent) from 3-point range.
Alabama guard Retin Obasohan, averaging 14 points, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with two points,
Xavier: The Musketeers are 17-5 since 2008 against current SEC opponents, including 3-0 in games with Alabama.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide's last victory over a ranked opponent on a neutral court came Nov. 29, 2009, a 68-66 win over then No. 15 Michigan at the Old Spice Classic.
ON THE GLASS
Xavier outrebounded Alabama 47-31 to continue a trend this season. The Musketeers entered with a 14.5 average advantage in that department.
Alabama was coming off an 105-93 win over Louisiana-Lafayette where it made 60 percent (15 for 25) from 3-point range.
Xavier: Advances to Friday's semifinals and will go against the winner off No. 20 Wichita State and USC.
Alabama: Will play the loser of No. 20 Wichita State-USC in Friday's consolation round.
|Texas A&M||62||vs.||61||Gonzaga||Final Recap|
House scores 19, No. 25 Texas A&M beats No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61
By KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 4:40 PM (EST)
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Texas A&M knew it would need to play tough underneath the basket to compete with the size of No. 10 Gonzaga.
The Aggies did that to earn a place in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.
Danuel House scored 19 points, and Texas A&M edged Gonzaga 62-61 on Thursday.
''I was really proud of our guys defensively down the stretch. Our goal was to hold their big three guys to 30 points or less and we were able to do that,'' coach Billy Kennedy said. ''The best thing about our team is we didn't panic. Emotionally I thought we were locked in the whole game.''
The Aggies took the lead on House's free throw with just over a minute to play, and the Zags' Silas Melson missed a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer with House contesting the shot.
''Any time we have a tough game it's teaching us all how to be poised, how to play under control and how to execute so we can give ourselves a chance to win a game,'' House said.
Tonny Trocha-Morelos added 14 points for Texas A&M (6-0).
Gonzaga (3-1) led for much of the game but missed some key free throws down the stretch. After making six 3-pointers in the first half, the Zags connected on just three in the second.
Kyle Wiltjer led Gonzaga with 18 points. Josh Perkins added 15.
The Zags had to play without big man Domantas Sabonis for a large chunk of the second half after he picked up his fourth foul.
They were able to keep the Aggies in check until he returned with less than four minutes to play. But Sabonis was lost for good with 2:39 left when he fouled out.
Texas A&M went in front 61-60 on a pair of free throws by Alex Caruso. The Zags tied it back up a trip later when Przemek Karnowski got one of two on his trip to the line.
House was fouled with 1:05 to play and also connected on one of two for the final margin.
With the clock under a minute, the Aggies forced Gonzaga's Josh Perkins to turn it over on a bad pass. But Texas A&M lost a scramble out of bounds on its ensuing possession to set up the Zags' final shot.
Gonzaga was up by as many as four points in the closing minutes but could never increase the lead.
''A stat that jumps out, and it's a shame - we missed a ton of free throws there where we probably could have extended that lead,'' coach Mark Few said.
Both teams had 20 points in the paint. ... Texas A&M had a 13-7 advantage in bench scoring.
HALF-COURT ATTACK: After both teams earned opening-round wins in fast-paced games that were played in the 80s, each relied on its half-court sets for most of the afternoon Thursday. As defense stiffened inside, outside shots flew at will. The Aggies were the more active team defensively and came away with five steals and 11 points off Gonzaga's turnovers.
LET 'EM PLAY: There were just 11 total fouls called in first half between Gonzaga and Texas A&M and 33 for the game. The fewest total fouls for any of the opening-round games Wednesday was 59.
Gonzaga plays the loser of the UConn-Syracuse matchup in the third-place game Friday.
Texas A&M plays the winner in the championship game.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
|UC Irvine||64||vs.||71||Boise State||Final Recap|
Boise State hands UC Irvine first loss, 71-64
Thursday, November 26 at 6:47 PM (EST)
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) Anthony Drmic scored 21 points and Boise State beat UC Irvine 71-64 on Thursday in the opener of the Wooden Legacy tournament.
Chandler Hutchinson added 13 points and 10 rebounds and Nick Duncan 14 points for the Broncos (3-2).
Alex Young scored 15 points, 10 in the first half, and Luke Nelson 13 for the Anteaters (4-1), who were off to their best start since the 1982-83 season. Seven-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye dealt with foul trouble and had just four points, one block and one rebound in 19 minutes.
Drmic's 3-pointer at the end of the first half gave Boise State a 30-27 lead and the Broncos led the entire second half. Ahead by four with 2:26 left, they outscored UC Irvine 9-6 the rest of the way, making seven free throws.
Boise State, which came in averaging 27 3-point attempts per game, made 11 of 28 against the Anteaters.
|Mount St. Mary's||74||vs.||79||Elon||Final Recap|
Elon rallies to beat Mount St. Mary's 79-74
Thursday, November 26 at 4:41 PM (EST)
ELON, N.C. (AP) Tyler Seibring's 3-pointer gave Elon the lead with 45 seconds to go and the Phoenix beat Mount St. Mary's 79-74 on Thursday.
Seibring's shot put the Phoenix up 72-71 and started a 10-3 game-ending run for Elon (3-2). Mount St. Mary's (0-5) had erased a 10-point Elon lead in the second half and built a seven-point advantage with 7:27 to go.
A pair of free throws by Elon's Luke Eddy tied the game at 69. BK Ashe's dunk gave the Mountaineers back the lead until Seibring's 3-pointer just over a minute later.
Eddy finished with 17 points, nine from the free-throw line, with Steven Santa Ana scoring 13 points, 10 in the first half when the Phoenix took a 38-29 lead. Dainan Swoope added 11 points and Brian Dawkins 10.
Ashe scored a career-high 25 points for Mount St. Mary's. Junior Robinson added 19 and Taylor Danaher 15.
|West Virginia||67||vs.||59||Richmond||Final Recap|
Williams leads West Virginia past Richmond 67-59
By W.G. RAMIREZ - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 8:47 PM (EST)
LAS VEGAS (AP) West Virginia couldn't seem to shake Richmond Thursday at the Las Vegas Invitational, and desperately needed a turning point to seize momentum.
Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins was certain after the game of the only intangible that mattered.
''The turning point was every time we threw it to Devin Williams,'' Huggins said. ''He was just great, scoring for us. And when we missed, he was rebounding. He was terrific.''
Williams tied his career high by scoring 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead West Virginia to a 67-59 victory over Richmond, as the Mountaineers won their fifth straight to open the season.
Jevon Carter added 13 points for the Mountaineers (5-0), who shot 21 of 48 (43.8 percent) from the field, but never trailed.
Williams had his way against the Spiders' frontcourt, hitting 9 of 11 from the field, while sinking 5 of 8 from the free throw line.
''I don't know what we would have done if we couldn't have thrown inside to him,'' Huggins said.
Ahead by two with 12:59 left in the game, the Mountaineers seized momentum by scoring six points, in 48 seconds, culminated by two slam dunks by Jonathan Holton.
After a rebound and put-back slam dunk by Williams, he was called for a technical foul when arguing with the ref for a foul.
ShawnDre' Jones hit one of two free throws and Marshall Wood followed with a lay-in to close the gap to 52-50. Esa Ahmad hit both ends of a one-and-one from the free throw line to give the Mountaineers a 54-50 edge with 5:58 left.
The Spiders twice more got as close as two, the final time with 2:49 left, but couldn't overcome poor shooting and West Virginia's stringent defensive effort that forced Richmond to commit 14 turnovers. And when the Spiders were able to slip through West Virginia's suffocating full-court press, their shots were not falling.
Terry Allen had 20 points and six rebounds while Jones added 15 for the Spiders (3-2), who shot just 18 of 46 (39 percent) from the field and 21 of 35 from the free throw line.
The Mountaineers bolted out to a 12-point lead behind Williams' dominating effort, as he scored eight of their first 18 points. The Spiders wouldn't got away, however, as they responded with a 9-0 run of their own to cut the gap to 18-15.
West Virginia kept Richmond at arm's length for the rest of the first half, extending its lead to as much as eight on two occasions before heading into the locker room with a 35-31 lead.
''My challenge this year is to be the best leader I can, and just lead by example and show people I've put the work in to lead this team the best way I can,'' Williams said.
West Virginia: Williams, in his third year with the Mountaineers is averaging 19.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He has opened the season with five consecutive double-doubles. The Mountaineers have now won 121 of their last 149 games against unranked teams.
Richmond: The Spiders were off to their best offensive start under coach Chris Mooney, and third-best offensive start in program history, averaging 90.8 points per game. After scoring 31 points under their average, the Spiders dropped to 10-4 in early-season neutral court games under coach Mooney, spanning the last 10 seasons.
West Virginia plays the winner of California/San Diego State on Friday
Richmond plays the loser of California/San Diego State on Friday
|Appalachian State||73||vs.||62||Liberty||Final Recap|
Appalachian State rallies to beat Liberty 73-62
Thursday, November 26 at 5:41 PM (EST)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Frank Eaves scored 18 points and made 10 of 13 free throws, Ronshad Shabazz added 17 points, and Appalachian State rallied to beat Liberty 73-62 on Thursday in the opening round of the Challenge in Music City.
Trailing by one at halftime, Shabazz hit a jumper to put Appalachian State ahead 41-40, and the Mountaineers led by 11 with 4:50 left after Shabazz scored five straight points. Eaves hit two free throws for a 12-point lead with 33 seconds left and the Mountaineers held on.
Chris Burgess scored 12 points and Jacob Lawson 10 for Appalachian State (2-3), which made 29 of 36 free throws (81 percent) and outrebounded the Flames 34-23.
There were four ties and three lead changes before A.C Reid put Liberty on top 34-33 at halftime with a 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Anthony Fields and Lovell Cabbil each scored 15 for Liberty (3-2), with Cabbil hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers.
|Arkansas||73||vs.||83||Georgia Tech||Final Recap|
Georgia Tech beats Arkansas 83-73
By LARRY FLEISHER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 5:17 PM (EST)
NEW YORK (AP) By Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory's lofty standards, Charles Mitchell could have collected 20 rebounds.
But the rebounds Mitchell was able to pull down were more than good enough.
The senior forward finished with a double-double, getting 18 points and 18 rebounds and Georgia Tech dominated the glass in an 83-73 victory over Arkansas Thursday afternoon in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-off.
Mitchell's big effort helped the Yellow Jackets to a 50-26 advantage and his seven offensive rebounds contributed to 26 second-chance points. Georgia Tech (4-1) will face Villanova or Stanford in Friday's championship game while Arkansas will face Villanova or Stanford in the consolation game.
''Chuck has always been a great offensive rebounder because he just goes,'' Gregory said. ''He's got a hunger and a pretty good feel. He has not been a great defensive rebounder because it's a different dynamic.''
Mitchell grabbed 11 defensive boards while posting his 17th career double-double and 12th since transferring from Maryland, but there were two other rebounds Gregory though he should have gotten.
''He should have had 20 rebounds,'' Gregory said. ''He should have got those two other defensive rebounds. He's bought in to me really having high standards.
Mitchell, who lost more than 20 pounds during the offseason, came within two of his career high in points and came within one of his career best for rebounds set last season against North Carolina State.
''Just energy plays,'' Mitchell said. ''I'm just trying to give my team second-chance possessions.''
Mitchell had nine rebounds at halftime when Georgia Tech held a three-point lead. He had five more during the final 10 1/2 minutes after Arkansas was within 55-54.
''I don't know if that's ever happened where a guy got 18 and 18 but give them credit,'' Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson said. ''They took advantage of us. I thought our lack of physicality was very evident.''
While Mitchell controlled things inside, Adam Smith and Marcus Hunt-George thrived on the perimeter. The backcourt duo led the Yellow Jackets with 19 points each and combined on all eight of Georgia Tech's 3-pointers.
Dusty Hannahs scored 17 points for the Razorbacks (2-2), who led only briefly late in the first half. Anthlon Bell added 14 and Moses Kingsley contributed 13 before fouling out.
Georgia Tech: The starting lineup includes only one player who began his college career at the school. Charles Mitchell is a transfer from Maryland, Josh Heath previously played at South Carolina, Jacobs played high school basketball with former Yellow Jacket Derrick Favors before attending Alabama and Smith is a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech. ... Mitchell has scored a double-double in every game this season. ... Mitchell's career high in points came on November 13, when he scored 21 against Cornell.
Arkansas: This is the Razorbacks second trip to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off. In 1990, Arkansas had a 10-point victory over eventual national champion Duke before losing to Arizona in the championship game. ... Forward Trey Thompson rolled his ankle late in the first half going for a rebound. He was helped off the court by a member of the training staff and guard Anthlon Bell before going to the locker room. After the game, coach Mike Anderson was unsure of how serious the injury was. ... Arkansas had its starting frontcourt outrebounded by a 25-12 margin.
NETS IN THE CROWD
Three members of the Brooklyn Nets sat courtside. Former Yellow Jackets Thaddeus Young and Jarrett Jack attended the game and former Razorback Joe Johnson also was in the crowd. Young spent one season at the school in 2006-07 before becoming a Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick. Jack played three seasons for Georgia Tech before becoming a Denver Nuggets first-round pick in 2005. Johnson spent two seasons with Arkansas before entering the NBA as a Boston Celtic first-round pick in 2001.
Georgia Tech: Stanford or Villanova on Friday.
Arkansas: Stanford or Villanova on Friday.
|Wichita State||69||vs.||72||USC||Final Recap|
Boatwright scores 22, USC beats No. 20 Wichita State
By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 6:08 PM (EST)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Freshman Bennie Boatwright has helped USC to its best start in 15 years.
Boatwright had a career-high 22 points and Southern Cal beat No. 20 Wichita State 72-69 in a first-round game Thursday at the AdvoCare Invitational.
''We feel like that we have a very young, talented team, but need some more experience,'' USC coach Andy Enfield said. ''We're certainly not a great team yet, we have a lot of things to work on, but this is a big win for us. It means a lot.''
Wichita State (2-2) played without senior guard Fred VanVleet, who missed his second consecutive game with ankle and hamstring injuries. He twisted his ankle in the season opener Nov. 13 against Charleston Southern and then was limited by hamstring soreness four days later in a game with Tulsa.
USC (5-0) also got 15 points from Jordan McLaughlin. It's the Trojans best start since winning their first eight games in the 2000-01 season.
Ron Baker had 25 points and Markis McDuffie added 14 for Wichita State.
''We're banged up,'' Baker said. ''We've got to capitalize on our runs. Everybody played as hard as they could. A couple things didn't go our way. We turned it over in some tough positions. Gave up offense rebounds at the wrong time. Just didn't hit our open looks when it came down to it.''
After the Trojans had their lead cut to one, Boatwright's 3 from the corner gave USC a 64-60 advantage with 4 1-2 minutes left.
Boatwright hit another 3-pointer, and then had a steal before Katin Reinhardt made a 3 to extend the USC advantage to 70-62 late.
''Bennie had it rolling today,'' Enfield said.
Baker hit a three with 3 seconds left during a late surge that pulled the Shockers with 71-69. After Julian Jacobs hit of one of two free throws, Wichita State's Zach Brown had a potential game-tying shot from near mid-court hit off the rim.
McDuffie and Baker combined for all the points during a 12-0 run that put Wichita State up 49-43 7 minutes into the second half. Both hit a long-range jumper during the stretch.
''We're going to have to do the little things,'' Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. ''We've got make sure when a guy is shooting as good as Bennie Boatwright, you've got to stand on his toes and make him do something different.''
USC responded and went up 61-54 with 7 minutes left on 3-pointers by Boatwright and Elijah Stewart.
McLaughlin had 11 points as USC took a 30-29 lead at halftime.
''We're all in as a team,'' Boatwright said.
Wichita State had its only first-half lead when McDuffie hit a 3 to make it 29-28 with 1:42 to go.
USC: The last time before Thursday the Trojans beat a Top-25 team was Feb. 27, 2013, an 89-78 victory over than No. 11 Arizona.
Wichita State: Freshman guard Landry Shamet has a foot injury and is also out of the lineup. He averaged 8.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in three games.
After missing the final eight games last season due to shoulder injuries that required surgery, the sophomore guard has scored in double-figure in all five games this season.
Wichita State had its run of winning four consecutive first-round tourney games end. The Shockers stretch of reaching tourney finals end at three straight.
USC: Will play No. 23 Xavier, which beat Alabama 64-45 Thursday, in a Friday semifinal.
Wichita State: Plays Alabama Friday in the consolation round.
|Boston College||68||vs.||99||Michigan State||Final Recap|
No. 3 Michigan State routs Boston College 99-68
By BETH HARRIS - AP Sports Writer
Friday, November 27 at 2:47 AM (EST)
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) Denzel Valentine took his game to another level, scoring, rebounding and dishing off. His teammates followed his lead, making third-ranked Michigan State too much to handle.
Valentine had a triple-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Spartans beat Boston College 99-68 Thursday in an opening-round game at the DirectTV Wooden Legacy to give coach Tom Izzo his 500th career victory.
''It's Thanksgiving, when you're supposed to give thanks,'' Izzo said. ''I'm thankful for the guys I got, the guys I have and all the people who have helped me have this special win.''
Valentine helped the Spartans expand their 13-point halftime lead to 27 midway through the second half and they eventually led by 34. His second triple-double of the season was the first in the event's nine-year history.
Valentine's six 3-pointers were one off his career high, and his points total was a career best.
Tum Tum Nairn added 13 points and eight assists for the Spartans, who shot 63 percent and dominated the boards 38-20. They hit 69 percent from the field in the second half.
''We were clicking on all cylinders,'' forward Matt Costello said.
After the final buzzer, Izzo's players gathered around him at midcourt, holding up ''Izzo 500'' signs and posing for photos.
Eli Carter, a graduate transfer from Florida, led the Eagles with 22 points - one off his career high at BC.
The Spartans (5-0) next play Boise State (3-2) on Friday. The Broncos beat UC Irvine 71-64 in the day's first game at cozy Titan Gym on the campus of Cal State Fullerton.
Boston College (3-1) will play Irvine (4-1) on Friday.
After hitting consecutive 3-pointers, Valentine backpedaled up the court smiling at Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green sitting courtside. Valentine converted a one-handed jam off a turnover and dashed over to high-five Green, clearly delighted by his alma mater's theatrics.
Green stopped over in Fullerton on his way to Phoenix for the Warriors' next game.
''Draymond being here is really special to me. I look up to a guy like him,'' Valentine said. ''When he's in the gym I have to play well. I was really focused. My teammates wanted to play well. It was a special day.''
Valentine scored 14 points in Michigan State's 25-11 run to open the second half. The Spartans made four straight 3-pointers in the spurt, with Valentine hitting three in a row and passing to Bryn Forbes for the other.
The Eagles tried rallying from the perimeter, getting three straight 3s while closing to 80-59. It didn't help. Valentine sparked a 10-0 burst with a basket and an assist that pushed Michigan State's lead to 88-59.
''If there's a better team in the country, I haven't seen them play,'' Eagles coach Jim Christian said. ''They have no bad possessions. They're very unselfish. They make the extra play.''
The Spartans led 46-33 at halftime, getting 13 straight points from Valentine in a 23-13 run to close the half. He had eight points as the Spartans rattled off 10 in a row to launch the spurt that produced their largest lead of 15.
Michigan State shot 62 percent in the game's opening minutes and built a 19-10 lead before Valentine even made his first basket. The Eagles answered with a 10-4 run to close to 23-20 before Valentine's offensive outburst gave the Spartans a cushion.
Boston College: The Eagles were trying for their first 4-0 start since 2007. ... Assistant coach Stan Heath, in his first season with the Eagles, spent five years in the same job under Izzo before leaving after the 2001 season.
Michigan State: Green played for the Spartans from 2008-12. ... Michigan State evened the all-time series 3-3. ... Valentine joined Green as one of only four Spartans to record a triple-double. Green had three in his career. ... Of Valentine's 11 rebounds, 10 were on the defensive glass.
Izzo became the 91st coach to record 500 career victories with at least 10 seasons in Division I. Davidson coach Bob McKillop stands at 499 wins with his next game on Saturday.
''Mike Krzyzewski is not sitting home shaking, but in some ways I got it better than anybody because it's the players I got,'' Izzo said, referring to the Duke coach whose 1,023 victories are the most in Division I history.
The moderator at the postgame news conference mistakenly introduced Valentine as Denzel Washington, the Oscar-winning actor.
''Don't cause me more problems than I already have,'' Izzo deadpanned. ''He thinks he's Denzel Washington.''
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Valentine follows in the footsteps of his father, Carlton, who played basketball at Michigan State from 1985-88.
''Some people say they were born with a Spartan basketball in their crib,'' Izzo said. ''He was conceived with one in his bed.''
Michigan State's 99 points were the most by a team in the Wooden Legacy, bettering the old mark of 92 by Cal State Fullerton in an overtime win against Charlotte in 2008. The Spartans' winning margin of 31 points was the largest, edging the old mark of 30 by Arizona State against UTEP also in 2008.
Boston College plays UC Irvine on Friday.
Michigan State plays Boise State on Friday.
Syracuse rallies in 2nd half, beats No. 18 UConn 79-76
By KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 7:30 PM (EST)
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) When Syracuse and Connecticut get together on the court, good basketball often follows.
The former Big East Conference rivals provided another gem at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney each had 17 points and the Orange held off the 18th-ranked Huskies 79-76 on Thursday to earn a spot in the championship game.
''For me it was my first time playing against UConn,'' Gbinije said. ''It was nice to see the rivalry and just nice to come up with a win in this type of competitive environment.''
Tyler Lydon added 16 points off the bench. Gbinije also had seven assists in a game that featured seven ties and five lead changes.
''Tyler Lydon's done an unbelievable job. In the middle of the defense, and offensively he sees plays that nobody sees,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''He's had two monstrous games down here.''
The teams traded the lead at the start of the second half, with neither able to get much separation.
That changed around the 13-minute mark when the Orange (5-0) tightened their zone on defense and started an 18-8 spurt that gave Syracuse a 65-55 lead with 7:45 remaining. The Orange then fought off several runs by the Huskies (4-1) to preserve the win.
Daniel Hamilton led UConn with 18 points. Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis each added 12.
''The second half they really just took it to us offensively,'' Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said. ''We were in a drought in the first half and the second half and really allowed them to take over the game, and in transition they really hurt us with the 3's.''
UConn's Amida Brimah was forced to the bench during Syracuse's big run, picking up his fourth foul.
But the Huskies kept picking away at the lead and closed to 73-71 on a 3-pointer by Purvis. The Orange strung together some free throws to push the lead back to seven. UConn rallied again and trimmed that lead to 79-76 with 36.8 seconds left.
Syracuse was forced into a wild shot with the shot clock winding down. But it found the ball in a scramble for the rebound and was able to run out the final seconds.
UConn raced out to a 10-point lead, but Syracuse fought back to tie it at halftime.
Both teams shot well in the half and shared the ball while doing it. Syracuse had five assists on its 10 baskets, and the Huskies had seven on their 11 made field goals.
UConn: The Huskies struggled from the free-throw line, connecting on just 14 of 21 attempts. ... They outscored Syracuse's bench 19-16.
Syracuse: Scored 17 points off 13 Connecticut turnovers. ... Five Orange players reached double figures.
There were a few instances late in the game when Syracuse got into trouble offensively and turned the ball over. Boeheim said part of the issue was a rule change that prevents coaches from calling timeouts from the bench. ''The rule of coaches not calling timeouts is not a good rule,'' he said. ''I think that is an imperfect rule. (The players) are playing, I should be able to call timeouts in those situations. ... That should be a coaching decision. I think that's the one rule change I think is really a bad change.''
While they play in different conferences now, both Ollie and Boeheim said they would be interested in adding the other to the schedule for a future a nonconference series. Boeheim said ''there's a reasonable likelihood that we would play them in a few years someday soon.'' Ollie expressed a similar desire to make it happen. ''I think both universities would like to continue that rivalry. ... We'll look at the schedule and look at the teams we already have contracts for and we'll figure it out,'' he said.
The Huskies play Gonzaga in the third-place game on Friday.
Syracuse plays No. 25 Texas A&M in the championship game.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
|Western Michigan||71||vs.||79||Stephen F. Austin||Final Recap|
Stephen F. Austin 79, W. Michigan 71
Friday, November 27 at 12:42 AM (EST)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Clide Geffrard scored 21 points with nine rebounds - both career highs - to lead Stephen F. Austin to a 79-71 win over Western Michigan on Thursday night in the opening round of the Challenge in the Music City.
Thomas Walkup had 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Demetrious Floyd and TJ Holyfield scored 10 apiece for the Lumberjacks (2-2), who face Tulane on Friday.
Down by 11 at halftime, the Broncos steadily gained, using a 10-2 rally to close within 57-55 on a jumper by Thomas Wilder. But the Lumberjacks pulled away on seven straight points and led by 10 with 34 seconds left.
Geffrard scored seven straight points for a 15-9 lead and the Lumberjacks led 39-28 at halftime, shooting 6 of 11 from long distance and 9 of 9 free throws.
Thomas led the Broncos (2-3) with 23 points and Tucker Haymond scored 19 with four 3-pointers.
Brunson scores 18 points, No. 8 Villanova beats Stanford
By LARRY FLEISHER - Associated Press
Friday, November 27 at 2:46 AM (EST)
NEW YORK (AP) Villanova struggled to score and rebound on Thursday night.
The Wildcats' defense was good enough to still get a win.
No. 8 Villanova compensated for offensive and rebounding struggles by forcing 23 turnovers in a 59-45 victory over Stanford in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tipoff.
''We played pretty good defense but couldn't rebound with them,'' Villanova coach Jay Wright said. ''It was one of those nights we couldn't make shots but hung in there defensively. Their rebounding was almost a difference maker but thank God it wasn't.''
The Wildcats (5-0) advanced to face Georgia Tech in the championship game Friday.
Villanova won despite shooting 30.6 percent and getting outrebounded by a 55-35 margin against an opponent starting three players 6-foot-8 or taller. The Wildcats started one player taller than 6-6 but compensated for the size differential by holding Stanford to 26 percent from the floor.
''I didn't think it would be this ugly on the boards but if we could have made a couple of shots it might not have been as ugly,'' Wright said. ''But I was proud the guys really grinded defensively.''
Freshman Jalen Brunson was one of few Wildcats not to struggle offensively and scored a career-high 18 points. Josh Hart added 10 points but was 4-for-13 shooting and combined with Ryan Arcidiacono to shoot 6 of 24, including 1 of 15 from 3-point range.
''I was doing what I always do,'' Brunson said. ''I try to play aggressive all the time. I saw they were backing off me a little bit so there is time for me to shoot and time for me to make other plays.''
Leading scorer Marcus Allen had 12 points but was 3 for 12 for Stanford (2-3). Dorian Pickens added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Stanford lost its third straight by double digits and will face Arkansas in the consolation game. The Cardinal missed their first 15 shots of the game and their first eight attempts of the second half while falling behind by 16.
Stanford was within seven on a basket by Reid Travis with 6:34 remaining, but Villanova scored the next six points and finished the game with a 13-6 run.
''They're a very good defensive team, they're active and they made a lot of plays,'' Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. ''The thing we did most was we turned the ball over 23 times, so that was disappointing.''
Villanova: Seven of Villanova's school-record 33 wins came in New York last season. The Wildcats won twice in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center, beat St. John's and Illinois during the regular season at Madison Square Garden and won three games there for the Big East Tournament championship. ... Guards Arcidiacono and Hart combined to miss their first 11 3-point attempts. Arcidiacono came into the game shooting 44 percent from 3-point range while Hart entered at 45 percent. ... Darryl Reynolds tied a career high with 19 minutes, getting most of those in the second half after Daniel Ochefu picked up his fourth foul.
Stanford: Thursday was Stanford's 13th game in New York since 2011-12. Last year, the Cardinal appeared in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, beating UNLV and losing to eventual national champion Duke. ... Stanford faced Villanova for the second time. The other meeting was a 96-70 Cardinal loss on Dec. 23, 1970. ... Stanford missed 12 layups and tip-ins during the first half. ... Allen hit his head on the court trying to deflect the ball on a layup by Hart. Dawkins said Allen was a little dizzy but didn't think the junior would miss any time.
Villanova: Georgia Tech in the championship game on Friday.
Stanford: Arkansas in the consolation game on Friday.
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||73||vs.||69||Furman||Final Recap|
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi beats Furman 73-69
Thursday, November 26 at 7:09 PM (EST)
ELON, N.C. (AP) Brandon Pye scored 19 points with five 3-pointers and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi beat Furman 73-69 Thursday in the Battle 4 Atlantis regional tournament.
The Islanders (3-2) will face Mount St. Mary's on Friday and the Paladins (2-3) will take on Elon.
Rashawn Thomas scored 12 points, Bryce Douvier 11 and Jelani Currie 10 for the Islanders, who used a 13-4 run to take control of a seesaw first half and lead 29-27 at halftime.
The Paladins led briefly in the second half, then trailed 67-66 with 59 seconds left after Matt Rafferty's layup. Douvier was fouled by Devin Sibley and sank both free throws for a 69-66 lead and the Islanders held on.
Stephen Croone led Furman with 22 points, including 11 of 12 free throws, Rafferty finished with 16 and 10 rebounds, and Sibley scored 12.
|Middle Tennessee||75||vs.||72||Alaska-Anchorage||Final Recap|
Middle Tennessee edges D-II Alaska-Anchorage 75-72
Friday, November 27 at 12:20 AM (EST)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) Perrin Buford scored 18 on 7-of-14 shooting and Giddy Potts added 16 points, including a pair of free throws with three seconds left, to help Middle Tennessee escape with a 75-72 win over Division II Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday night.
Joshua Phillips scored six in a row for Middle Tennessee (2-1) to extend its lead to 15 with seven minutes left.
Sekou Wiggs scored 11 points and Diante Mitchell added six during a 19-2 Anchorage run that put the Seawolves up for the first time since the opening minutes, 66-64, with 2:18 to play.
Quavius Copeland hit 4 of 6 free throws and Reggie Upshaw made a layup as Middle Tennessee scored six-straight point to make it 70-66 with 22 second remaining.
The Blue Raiders made 5 of 6 free throws from there to seal it.
Wiggs led Anchorage with 33 points.
Providence beats Evansville 74-64 in Wooden
Friday, November 27 at 1:13 AM (EST)
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) On a night when his marquee player got off to a sluggish start, Providence coach Ed Cooley was able to get some yeoman efforts from others to get past Evansville in an opening-round game at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy.
Ben Bentil scored a career-high 24 points and Dunn had 18 after a sluggish start, helping the Friars run their record to 5-0 with a 74-64 victory on Thursday night.
''We had to tell Kris to slow down a little bit early in the game because he was trying to do too much,'' Cooley said. ''But Kris is going to see so much attention this year. Everywhere he goes, there's three on the ball everywhere he moves.
''So the more shots everybody else is able to make - which we're comfortable with them taking - the better we'll get, because you can't continue to guard Kris with your whole team.''
Four players scored in double figures for the Friars, including Junior Lomomba with 13.
''If I had a game ball today, I'd go with Junior,'' Cooley said. ''He did all the little things that don't show up on the stat sheet.''
Evansville (3-1) was led by D.J. Balentine with 18 points, and Egidiju Mockevicius with 13 points and nine rebounds.
''We shot the ball really well,'' Balentine said. ''But we had a lot of turnovers that allowed them to get a lot of easy points at the free throw line and in transition.''
Providence led 40-32 at halftime, despite missing 10 of its first 13 shots and getting outscored 16-2 in the paint through the first 12 minutes. Bentil led the way for the Friars with 17 points, offsetting Balentine's 13 points and Evansville's 63.6 percent shooting (14 for 22).
''We came out in zone, just to see what it would look like, and it was a bad move by us because it put us back on our heels early,'' Cooley said. ''They came out with a little bit more sense of urgency than we did and scored 10 straight points.''
Ryan Fazekas hit a 3-pointer with 6:53 left in the half to give Providence a 24-22 lead, its first since Bentil's game-opening 3.
Dunn increased the margin to 34-26 on a 16-footer that capped a 16-4 run with 3 1/2 minutes left before intermission, then converted his steal of Adam Wing in the backcourt into a fastbreak dunk and a 3-point play to put the Friars up 40-29 - their biggest lead of the half.
''Our main focus was Dunn,'' Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. ''He not only scores the basketball, he's a great passer. He makes those guys better with his vision and his ability to get the ball to people when they are open.''
Dunn and Lomomba keyed an 11-0 run that opened the second half and increased the Friars' margin to 51-32 with 15:24 remaining. Dunn hit a pair of outside jumpers during that stretch, while Evansville came out of halftime 0 for 10 from the field.
Evansville sliced a 17-point deficit to 69-59 with 2:47 to play, after Balentine made a jumper, a 3-point play and dunk during a 58-second span. But that was as close as the Purple Aces got.
Evansville: Balentine, the leading active scorer among Division I players, is trying to join Larry Bird (Indiana St.) and Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati) as the only players to lead the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring in three consecutive seasons.
Providence: This was Bentil's second collegiate game with at least 20 points. He had 21 against Seton Hall last March 4. ... The only other time the Friars faced Evansville in men's basketball was on Dec. 11, 1975, a 98-71 victory at Providence.
Evansville: Faves Arizona of Santa Clara in the second round of the Wooden Legacy.
Providence: Faces Arizona or Santa Clara on Friday in the second round of the Wooden Legacy.
Newton, Stetson pull away for 83-70 win over Bethune-Cookman
Thursday, November 26 at 11:22 PM (EST)
LAS VEGAS (AP) Derick Newton had 22 points and 11 rebounds - both career highs - and Brian Pegg added 16 and 10 to help Stetson pull away for an 83-70 win over Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Newton made 8 of 13 field goals, including two 3-pointers, while Pegg hit 7 of 10 shots. Divine Myles added 14 points and a career-high 11 assists for Stetson (2-3).
The Hatters will play East Carolina while Bethune-Cookman (2-3) will take on Sam Houston State on Friday.
Grant Lozoya hit a 3-pointer to put Stetson up 51-37 with just fewer than 16 minutes to play but Bethune-Cookman scored 17 of the next 26 to pull within six, 60-54, with nine minutes left.
Newton hit two free throws and Myles made a 3 to push Stetson's lead back to double figures and the Wildcats didn't threaten again.
Jordan Potts led Bethune-Cookman with 23 points.
|Notre Dame||68||vs.||70||Monmouth||Final Recap|
Robinson leads Monmouth to 70-68 upset of No. 17 Notre Dame
By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press
Friday, November 27 at 2:49 AM (EST)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Monmouth's 900th win was a special one.
Justin Robinson scored 22 points, including two free throws with 3.6 seconds left, and Monmouth upset No. 17 Notre Dame 70-68 in the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday night.
''I'm very excited that our kids believed in each other, that they felt like they belonged on the court,'' Monmouth coach King Rice said. ''When you believe in each other, anything can happen.''
''And the good thing is, we can still play better,'' he added.
Robinson was fouled driving to the basket and calmly sank the decisive shots. Demetrius Jackson's midcourt jumper at the buzzer was well off the mark.
''I have to get to the rim and finish, or I've got to draw a foul,'' Robinson said. ''I don't care about the points I get. I care about winning. If my team needs me to score to win, that's what I do.''
Micah Seaborn added 15 points for Monmouth (3-1), which also won at UCLA this season.
''They're a good team than can win their league,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ''We lost to a good team.''
Jackson had 20 points for Notre Dame (3-1).
Robinson hit two free throws before the Fighting Irish tied it at 68 on Jackson's three-point play with 32 seconds to go. Jackson had five points during an 8-0 run that cut Notre Dame's deficit to 62-59 with 4 minutes left.
Collin Stewart's long jumper lifted Monmouth to a 51-47 lead 8 minutes into the second half. The Hawks extended it to 62-51 on a fast-break basket by Seaborn.
''I think our second-half start hurt us,'' Brey said. ''They get really confident. Their transition is so effective.''
After being held to three first-half points, Robinson had six during the first 4 minutes of the second period to help Monmouth pull to 39-37. His three-point play gave the Hawks a 44-43 advantage with 14 minutes left.
V.J. Beachem had 11 points and Steve Vasturia chipped in with 10 as Notre Dame went up 37-29 at halftime.
Beachem finished with 14.
Monmouth held a 17-14 lead 8 minutes into the game before Jackson scored his first five points, including a 3 just before the shot clock expired. Vasturia added a 3 to put Notre Dame up 22-17.
Jackson had nine first-half points, including a slam dunk during the final minute.
Notre Dame's Zach Auguste was held to two points during the opening 20 minutes and ended up with 12.
Je'lon Hornbeak and Seaborn both scored seven points in the opening half for Monmouth.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Monmouth had 19 points off the bench, to none for Notre Dame. The Hawks also scored all 12 fast-break points in the game.
Monmouth: The Hawks entered averaging and allowing 85.3 points a game. ... Monmouth defeated UCLA 84-81 in overtime. ... The Hawks' loss was 101-90 to USC, which beat No. 20 Wichita State 72-69 on Thursday in another first-round game.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are 49-8 against the MAAC.
Monmouth: Advances to the semifinals Friday night and will face the Iowa-Dayton winner.
Notre Dame: Will play the loser of Iowa-Dayton in the consolation round Friday night.
Mercer gets past Tulane in 71-61 win
Thursday, November 26 at 10:43 PM (EST)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Phillip Leonard scored 14 points to lead Mercer to a 71-61 win over Tulane at The Challenge in Music City on Thursday night.
Ethan Stair added 12 points and Jestin Lewis had 11, while Desmond Ringer and Stephon Jelks pumped in 10 apiece for the Bears (4-1).
Mercer shot 52 percent from the field on 48 attempts and controlled the boards 38-23. Jelks also had 10 rebounds.
Trailing by a point midway through the first half, Mercer took control with a 19-2 run that included a 3-pointer from Jelks and stretched across both sides of the break to make it 35-19 with 17:51 left to play. The Bears hung on to the lead the rest of the way.
Tulane (2-3) was led by Louis Dabney's 16 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Dylan Osetkowski added 13 points and Cameron Reynolds had 11 for the Green Wave.
Texas holds onto early lead, beats Washington 82-70
By KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 10:15 PM (EST)
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Texas is still far away from where it wants to be this season.
But the Longhorns made a lot of progress in their second game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Eric Davis Jr. had 15 points, Cameron Ridley added 13 points and 11 rebounds and Texas fended off a barrage of late rallies to beat Washington 82-70 Thursday in the consolation round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Javan Felix finished with 13 points. The win avenges Texas' six-point loss to Washington in the Longhorns' season-opener.
''We wanted to come out and have a better showing for ourselves,'' Felix said. ''We really pride ourselves on defense and yesterday we didn't really do a good job of that. Tonight we wanted to show ourselves that we were capable of coming out and getting stop after stop, and capitalizing on rebounding and getting the ball out.
''That's what we tried to do in the first half.''
The Huskies (3-2) chipped away the Longhorns' 10-point halftime lead for most of the second half, cutting the deficit to as few as three points.
But each time the Longhorns had a response, either knocking down a rally-deflating 3-pointer or getting a timely stop on defense.
Andrew Andrews led Washington with 20 points. Marquese Chriss added 15.
Texas shot 59 percent from the free throw line in its opening-round loss to Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Longhorns were 30 of 42 (71 percent) on Thursday, and far more accurate down the stretch.
''The stat sheet says we shot 71 percent, but it felt like we missed a lot,'' Smart said. ''But the guys did a good job down the stretch hitting some free throws and putting us in good position. Hopefully we can be in that position late in games, where if we can play solid defense, take care of the ball and make our free throws we'll be in good position to win.''
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said he thinks Texas played much differently from the breakneck pace it showed in their first meeting.
''They looked at their personnel and maybe really tried to play a little more smash mouth,'' Romar said. ''Their big guys play more together now. They still push the ball like crazy, but they don't seem to be pressing as much. They're playing what seems to me a little more percentage basketball.''
Texas led by as many as 15 in the first half.
The Longhorns turned nine Huskies turnovers into 11 points in the first half, and also got a lift from their reserves, who contributed 22 points.
Washington kept it close by knocking down five 3-pointers.
Washington: Bench was outscored 37-13. ...Finished 10 for 24 from the 3-point line.
Texas: Outscored the Huskies 32-26 in the paint. ...Had 18 second-chance points and 16 fast break points.
SECOND TIME AROUND: Smart said having played Washington in the Shanghai neutral site opener really helped with preparation on the short turnaround. ''I think there was a lot more familiarity. The last game was our first game. A lot of guys were maybe a little bit nervous. We were over in China and we were kind of out of our element. We didn't quite play like ourselves. Tonight was more like that and I thought our guys did a better job of really executing all-around.''
TAKING STOCK: Romar said that the two losses aside, he is pleased with the progress his team has made this week in the Bahamas. ''I love our team,'' Romar said. ''I really like our team. We knew it was going to be coming. We knew we were going to play against a really good Texas team in China. We knew we were going to come here and play against a really loaded field in the Bahamas. I think it has served as a great measure to see where we are.''
Washington plays the loser of Michigan and Charlotte for seventh place on Friday.
Texas plays the winner in the fifth-place game on Friday.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
|Drexel||66||vs.||85||UNC Asheville||Final Recap|
UNC Asheville overtakes Drexel for 85-66 win
Friday, November 27 at 2:53 AM (EST)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) Sam Hughes scored 18 points to help UNC Asheville overtake Drexel for an 85-66 win in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday night.
Ahmad Thomas and Dwayne Sutton added 14 points apiece, while David Robertson had 13 for UNC Asheville (2-3), which shot 47 percent from the floor and controlled the boards 35-29.
Trailing 38-34 at the break, Asheville opened the second half with a 14-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Robertson to retake the lead for good. A pair of free throws from Robertson with 9:56 left made it 60-50 and the margin never tightened below double digits again.
Drexel (0-4) shot 54 percent over the first 20 minutes but then went cold after the intermission, hitting just 8 of 27 from the field in the second half.
Terrell Allen led Drexel with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting and Sammy Mojica added 16 points.
|Santa Clara||73||vs.||75||Arizona||Final Recap|
No. 11 Arizona escapes with 75-73 OT win over Santa Clara
By BETH HARRIS - AP Sports Writer
Friday, November 27 at 11:14 AM (EST)
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) It's the same fight song and the same packed stands at home games. It's just not the same tough-minded defensive team that college basketball has come to expect from Arizona.
Despite a senior-dominated lineup, the 11th-ranked Wildcats struggled to escape with a 75-73 overtime victory against winless Santa Clara on Thursday night in the opening round of the DirecTV Wooden Legacy.
Gabe York, who was 1-of-12 shooting in regulation, scored seven of his 11 points in the extra session for Arizona (5-0). Ryan Anderson led the Wildcats with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Mark Tollefsen added 13 points before fouling out in overtime, and Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points and eight rebounds.
None of them could stop Jared Brownridge, who scored a career-high 44 points for the Broncos (0-6), hitting seven 3-pointers and making all 15 of his free throws. He surpassed James Harden's tournament record of 40 points set with Arizona State against UTEP in 2008.
''He put 44 on us and it wasn't like we weren't trying,'' Arizona coach Sean Miller said. ''It's not just 44, it's 44 out of 73. That's a lot of points in the college game, especially that ratio.''
The Wildcats are away from home for the first time after winning their first four games at McKale Center.
''We have such a long way to go on defense it's not even close,'' Miller said.
Brownridge's seventh 3 tied the game at 73 with 32 seconds left after the Broncos committed two straight turnovers.
''We have a lot of young guys who don't really know how the whole season goes,'' Brownridge said. ''We did a great job of just going out there and fighting.''
York got fouled and missed the first free throw, but made the second to put the Wildcats ahead 74-73. The Broncos inbounded on the baseline, but K.J. Feagin stepped out of bounds running up the sideline with a second left.
''Some of those late turnovers, you've got to put guys in a position to win and guys need to learn how to execute those things,'' Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said.
Anderson got fouled and made the first for a 75-73 lead before intentionally missing the second. The Broncos inbounded again on the baseline, but Brownridge's desperation 3-pointer from halfcourt missed at the buzzer.
''Santa Clara did a great job of playing us physical, playing us strong,'' Anderson said. ''They made it really difficult on me and our team.''
Jarvis Pugh missed two free throws that could have won the game in regulation for Santa Clara. York's potential winning 3-pointer missed at the buzzer for Arizona, sending it to overtime tied 65-all.
''They missed a couple free throws and they should have beat us based on that,'' Miller said.
The Wildcats blew a 17-point, first-half lead, getting held to one field goal over the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first.
''I subbed a number of guys,'' Miller said. ''From that substitution on, I don't know that we really regained any command of the game. We got a heavy dose of a lot of lessons.''
The score was even at 54 before Arizona made five free throws and Tollefsen hit two baskets in a 9-3 spurt. Santa Clara came right back and tied it 63-all on six straight points, capped by Brownridge's 3-pointer.
Anderson scored and got fouled, but missed the free throw. Brownridge got fouled and made both for another tie at 65. Anderson missed a jumper with 6 seconds to go.
Brownridge sparked the Broncos, scoring eight points in a 13-4 spurt that tied the game at 54. Their defense was big, too. Feagin stole the ball from Allonzo Trier and scored on a fast-break layup, and Matt Hubbard blocked a shot by Anderson.
Brownridge scored five of Santa Clara's first seven points in the second half to pull the Broncos into a 34-all tie. Arizona responded with a 16-7 run to lead 50-41.
Santa Clara ran off 12 consecutive points, including eight by Brownridge, to cut Arizona's lead to 32-27 late in the first half. The Wildcats struggled with turnovers the Broncos converted into transition baskets. Kadeem Allen's bucket left Arizona ahead 34-27 at the break.
Santa Clara: The Broncos are in the midst of playing five straight road games. ... Santa Clara made 17 of 22 free throws.
Arizona: The Wildcats had a season-high 17 turnovers. ... York's streak of scoring in double figures was extended to five games. ... Ten Wildcats are from California and seven grew up within 60 miles of Anaheim, where the event ends Sunday.
Miller said Tarczewski has been bothered by injuries to both ankles this season, and the 7-foot senior reinjured one of them in the game. ''I don't know the severity, but certainly that's not good,'' the coach said.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS
Brownridge's 15 free throws tied the tournament record and his seven 3s also were a single-game mark. His 19 3-point attempts set a tourney record as did his 29 field goal attempts.
Brownridge, a junior who missed the first 21 practices with a pelvic injury, made 15 of his team's 17 free throws and had seven of its 10 3-pointers.
Santa Clara plays Evansville on Friday on Day 2 of the Wooden Legacy.
Arizona plays Providence on Friday at the Wooden Legacy.
|California||58||vs.||72||San Diego State||Final Recap|
Spencer, Shepard lead San Diego St past No. 14 Cal 72-58
By W.G. RAMIREZ - Associated Press
Friday, November 27 at 11:10 AM (EST)
LAS VEGAS (AP) All that Winston Shepard could do was smile.
With 2:42 left in Thursday night's semifinal at the Las Vegas Invitational, the 6-foot-8 forward backpedaled after banking an 18-foot jumper high off the glass to give San Diego State a 10-point lead over No. 14 California, and his ear-to-ear grin seemed fitting.
The shot was part of a 32-7 run that helped the Aztecs erase a 15-point deficit in the second half en route to a 72-58 victory over the previously unbeaten Bears.
Shepard scored all 15 of his points during the second-half rally, and Skylar Spencer added 15 for San Diego State.
''I felt it, and sometimes you know when the ball leaves your hands the ball is going in, and I just felt it at that moment. Everything felt right,'' Shepard said. ''I don't know what it is about the first half. I'm just a second-half player. In the second half I saw the way the game was going, and I knew my teammates needed me to step up.''
Shepard scored nine straight points during a 14-0 run for the Aztecs (4-2) that cut Cal's lead to 45-44 early in the second half.
A long 3-pointer by Jordan Mathews ended a Bears drought that lasted nearly 5 minutes.
''I think we started settling on the offensive side of the ball, shooting some quick shots and really settling on the perimeter instead of pounding the ball inside,'' coach Cuonzo Martin said.
California (4-1) then slipped into a 2-for-10 slump from the floor and the Aztecs took the lead. Spencer threw down a pair of one-handed, monster dunks, and Shepard followed with an alley-oop layup to push San Diego State ahead 50-48 with 9:29 left.
''The thing I'm most proud about was I had no turnovers,'' Shepard said. ''As much as I had the ball in my hands, I had no turnovers. And I thought I did a good job of spreading the wealth. I did a good job of getting my teammates involved, finding my guys and not being selfish.''
Five Cal turnovers during a 6-minute stretch late in the game helped the Aztecs extend their lead to 58-50 with less than 5 minutes left.
The 15-point, second-half deficit is the second-largest the Aztecs have overcome in a victory since 1996-97.
''We went through a stage where we tried to do things too fast,'' San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. ''So we told them to slow down. We didn't make any adjustments at halftime to speak of. We told them not to get frustrated and we just told them to be patient and pace themselves.''
The Aztecs closed the first half 1 of 19 from the field and trailed 36-28 at the break. San Diego State shot 28.1 percent (9 of 32) in the period and hit one field goal over the final 10:15 while connecting on six of eight free throws.
The second half didn't start any better for the Aztecs. They missed three of their first four shots while Cal opened on a 9-2 run for a 45-30 lead.
San Diego State ended up shooting 23 of 59 (39 percent). It marked the fifth consecutive game the Bears held their opponent to 40 percent or worse from the floor.
''We played hard, made some plays and got a little lucky,'' Fisher said. ''We banked a free throw in, we banked a jump shot in and sometimes you need a little good fortune to go your way.''
Going into the game, Cal had outscored its opponents by an average of 85.2 to 64.2
Ivan Rabb scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Bears.
''Defensively we had a breakdown of some stuff, things we've talked about and didn't execute in the second half,'' Martin said.
California: The Bears went into the game outrebounding opponents by an average margin of 14.9 but were outrebounded 44-36. ... Cal hadn't allowed an opponent to score more than 67 points in its first four games.
San Diego State: The Aztecs extended their winning streak against nonconference teams from California to 43 games. ... San Diego State is 7-6 against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2013-14 season. ... The Aztecs are on a 15-7 run against Pac-12 schools.
San Diego State plays West Virginia on Friday night.
California plays Richmond on Friday night.
Cooke scores 22, Dayton tops Iowa 82-77
By MARK DIDTLER - Associated Press
Friday, November 27 at 12:59 AM (EST)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Charles Cooke came up big for Dayton even with late-game foul problems.
Cooke scored 22 points to lead Dayton past Iowa 82-77 in the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday night.
Cooke connected on two free throws to give Dayton a 78-77 lead with 50 seconds left. Scoochie Smith's layup extended the lead to 80-77 with 11 seconds to go.
"I think we have a really good resolve around us," Dayton coach Archie Miller said. "You take this win and try to build on it."
Cooke secured the win by hitting two more free throw with four seconds remaining. He played the final few minutes of the game with four fouls.
"I really wasn't thinking anything negative," Cooke said. "Just stay after the plays."
Dayton (4-0) also got 16 points from both Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis.
Jarrod Uthoff had 18 points for Iowa (3-1)
Iowa used a 16-2 run to take a 75-71 lead with 3 minutes to play. Mike Gesell's long-range jumper ended the surge.
"Our offense didn't move smoothly at all first half," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "The start of the second half, it got away from us a little bit. A couple goofy plays. But the last 14 minutes I thought execution offensively was tremendous. We had great looks at the basket."
Davis ended a 7-0 run with a slam during the first minute of the second half that put Dayton ahead 52-39.
"Coach told us it was going to be a game of runs," Cooke said. "We weren't surprised by it at all. We just stuck in there like we always do."
The Flyers regained a double-digit advantage later when baskets by Cooke and Pollard made it 69-59 with 8 minutes to play.
Uthoff hit a 3-pointer that got Iowa within 65-59 midway through the second half.
Davis had 10 points as Dayton grabbed a 45-39 halftime lead.
Uthoff scored 15 first-half points for the Hawkeyes.
Dayton: Miller is 8-2 against Power 5 conference teams in tourney games.
Iowa: McCaffery needs one win to reach 100 with the Hawkeyes. He has 350 wins overall in his career.
The evening session crowd of 4,871 for Notre Dame-Monmouth and Iowa-Dayton set an attendance record for the 10-year old invitational. The previous mark was 4,658 on November 28, 2008 for Gonzaga-Maryland and Michigan State-Oklahoma State.
Dayton made 21 of 27 free throws, while Iowa went 11 for17. The Flyers were called for 21 fouls, compared to the Hawkeyes' 22.
Dayton: Plays in a Friday night semifinal against Monmouth, who earlier Thursday upset No. 17 Notre Dame 70-68.
Iowa: Will face Notre Dame Friday night in the consolation round.
Big 1st half lifts Michigan to 102-47 rout of Charlotte
By KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
Friday, November 27 at 12:42 AM (EST)
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Michigan coach John Beilein thought his team took some poor shots at crucial times during its loss to Connecticut in the opening-round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The Wolverines responded by not missing much of anything in their matchup with Charlotte.
Michigan set three tournament records in its 102-47 rout of the 49ers Thursday in the consolation bracket. Moritz Wagner had career-high 19 points. Caris LeVert added 13 points as four Wolverine players reached double figures.
The Wolverines notched new benchmarks for points by one team and for margin of victory.
The 61 percent that Michigan shot from the field was also a new standard for the tournament.
''I'm proud of our team, the way we responded after last night's disappointment,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. ''For us to bounce back and play the way we did today was a good sign and good step in the right direction.''
The Wolverines (3-2) led by 22 points at halftime and played their reserves for much of the second half after their lead ballooned above 40. Michigan scored at will throughout, knocking down 12 3-pointers.
It was a breakout game for Wagner, a freshman from Berlin, Germany. He had just four points on the season entering the night. He connected on eight of his nine field goal attempts.
''Sometimes I wake up and think it's a dream,'' Wagner said. ''Germany is a different world. Being here that was kind of a dream for me to play NCAA basketball. And now I see myself on the court, and can actually contribute to the team.''
The Wolverines dictated the pace in the first half, quickly going in front by double digits.
Michigan's defense was equally impressive, holding Charlotte without a second-chance point. It also converted Charlotte's seven first-half turnovers into 13 points.
Andrien White led Charlotte (1-4) with nine points.
49ers coach Mark Price said there was little to salvage from his team's performance.
''Not much to say about, other than that was a disaster,'' Price said. ''Michigan just laid the wood to us real good.''
Michigan: Had 53 bench points. ...Scored 20 points off 10 turnovers for the game.
Charlotte: Was outrebounded 44-27. ...Connected on just 15 of 58 field goals.
REHAB TIME: Michigan's Spike Albrecht, who continues to work his way back from double offseason hip surgery, played 10 minutes in the second half after emptying his bench. Though Beilein had said previously that the plan was to rehab him and bring him along slowly, he played him out of necessity in an effort not to burn the redshirt years of some of his freshmen.
LESS LEVERT: One thing Beilein especially liked about Thursday's effort is that it didn't totally revolve around LeVert as the primary scorer. ''We can't stand around and watch Caris the whole game,'' he said. ''We want Caris to be very, very aggressive. But we don't also want the ball to stick either...I think everybody loves watching Caris do what he does. At the same time we're a better team when he's running a play and being a player.''
MOVING ON: Charlotte senior forward Bernard Sullivan said the only way to move past what he called an ''embarrassing'' effort on Thursday is for the team to turn the page as quickly as possible. ''It's one that's gonna sting for a little while,'' he said. ''But we gotta try to put this one behind us because we've got a game tomorrow. The best we can do is to learn from it and let it build a fire in us not to lie down, but to stand up.''
Michigan plays Texas in the fifth-place game on Friday.
Charlotte plays Washington in the seventh-place game Friday.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
|National Football League|
Stafford throws 5 TD passes, Lions beat Eagles 45-14
By LARRY LAGE - AP Sports Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 5:51 PM (EST)
DETROIT (AP) Matthew Stafford dropped back and perfectly lofted the ball where only Calvin Johnson could catch it.
Johnson leaped to come down with the 25-yard pass in the end zone for the first of a career-high matching three touchdown receptions, Stafford tied a personal best with five scoring passes, and the surging Detroit Lions kept the Philadelphia Eagles reeling with a 45-14 rout Thursday.
''When we're on point like that, it's hard to stop,'' Johnson said.
The Lions (4-7) have won three straight since firing their team president and general manager, and three in a row in their annual Thanksgiving game.
Detroit ran for 108 yards, tied a season high with six sacks and Matt Prater made a 48-yard field goal.
''That's as complete a victory as we've had since we've been here,'' said Jim Caldwell, who won 11 games last season in his first year as Detroit's coach.
The Eagles (4-7) have lost three straight. They have allowed at least 45 points in two straight games in one season for the first time, according to STATS, and have lost by at least 28 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1971.
''We all take accountability,'' coach Chip Kelly said. ''I'm a coach, not a player, so it starts with me. I'm not pointing fingers at anybody, and I don't think anybody points fingers at anybody.''
Stafford threw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover by halftime for the second time in his career, according to STATS, to help the Lions lead 24-7. He finished 27 of 38 for 337 yards and threw five TDs for the fourth time in his career.
''Our quarterback is comfortable in this offense,'' Caldwell said. ''And when that happens, it gives you opportunities for your playmakers to do things.''
Johnson had eight catches for 93 yards and three TDs, matching his career high set in 2010.
After not throwing to Johnson much early in the game, Stafford started connecting with the star receiver. The Eagles couldn't do much about it, especially when starting cornerback Nolan Carroll left in the second quarter with a broken right ankle and was replaced by rookie Eric Rowe.
''At the end of the first quarter, I realized we hadn't gotten 81 the ball yet, so we dialed up some plays for him,'' Stafford said. ''We started getting aggressive, and that opened up a couple routes for him.''
The quarterback seems to be clicking with plays called by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who replaced the fired Joe Lombardi a month ago.
''I love that he's so aggressive,'' Stafford said. ''That rubs off on the players because it is fun when he's giving you chances to make big plays.''
Taking advantage of Johnson in one-on-one coverage, Stafford threw 4- and 3-yard TD passes to Johnson in the third quarter.
''We're attacking the defense, and not playing defense on offense,'' Johnson said.
Stafford started the scoring barrage with an 8-yard pass to Theo Riddick, who made a sharp move to the inside to get away from linebacker Mychal Kendricks late in the opening quarter. Stafford threw a go-ahead, 2-yard TD midway through the second quarter to Golden Tate, who lined up as a fullback and went to the flat where he caught the ball and stopped, letting safety Walter Thurmond run past him.
Mark Sanchez started in place of Sam Bradford, who was inactive with a shoulder injury. Sanchez completed 19 of 27 passes for 199 yards and two TDs. He connected with Brent Celek early in the second quarter on a 2-yard pass to help Philadelphia pull into a 7-all tie and with Jordan Matthews for a relatively meaningless, 24-yard TD late in the game.
Sanchez was able to connect with receivers when he had time, but that didn't happen very often.
Detroit's Ezekiel Ansah had a career-high 3 1/2 sacks, one of which forced a fumble by Sanchez that the defensive end recovered.
''That guy's got a serious grip - rigor mortis or something,'' Sanchez said.
NOTES: Eagles WR Josh Huff was evaluated for a concussion during the game. ... Lions S Glove Quin left the game with an injured left ankle, which he was protecting with a walking boot. ... The game was stopped briefly in the fourth quarter when people ran onto the field with a banner promoting animal liberation.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage
Panthers still perfect, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss
By SCHUYLER DIXON - AP Sports Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 10:52 PM (EST)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Cam Newton sprinted to a corner of the $1.2 billion showplace of the Dallas Cowboys, pointing a camera at celebrating Carolina fans while gesturing to them with a wide smile.
A few minutes later, a somber Tony Romo talked to reporters with his left arm in a sling for the second time this season because of a collarbone injury.
The Panthers are 11-0 after a 33-14 victory in their Thanksgiving debut, and the Cowboys could be facing another long stretch without Romo in what has become a lost season for the defending NFC East champions.
Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman returned two of Romo's three interceptions for touchdowns, and Newton ran for the Panthers' only offensive score as they pushed their NFL-best winning streak to 15 regular-season games Thursday.
''Well, we got a lot of help from our defense,'' Newton said. ''Defense went out there and brought their A-game and made our job a lot easier.''
Romo's first collarbone injury sidelined him for all seven games of a losing streak that severely damaged the chances for another playoff trip by the Cowboys (3-8), who have now lost eight of nine.
The 35-year-old with a surgically repaired back said he would have to wait for more test results Friday before knowing if he broke the collarbone again. He was injured in Week 2 at Philadelphia and said the injury had a similar feel this time.
Coach Jason Garrett wouldn't rule out Romo returning this season, and said he would play if he was cleared even with the Cowboys unlikely to have a realistic shot to defend their division title.
Kuechly intercepted two straight passes by Romo, returning the first 32 yards for a touchdown. Coleman picked off Romo's second pass of the game and took it back 36 yards for the score to send the Panthers on their way to becoming the 16th NFL team to win the first 11 games.
''We started fast on defense,'' Kuechly said. ''Kurt had that big pick and really set the tone.''
Before getting hurt, Romo didn't look anything like the only quarterback to beat multiple teams with records of 9-0 or better.
He ended up losing for the first time in four starts this season. He had previously beaten Indianapolis at 9-0 in his fourth career start in 2006 and New Orleans at 13-0 three years later.
Newton did his part as well, getting Carolina's only offensive touchdown on a 4-yard run for a 30-6 lead moments before Romo's injury. He had 183 yards passing with several key third-down conversions and another 45 yards rushing.
On the second play of Dallas' possession after Newton's score, Romo was hit by a blitzing Thomas Davis and went down on his left shoulder, just as he did almost 10 weeks ago in Philadelphia.
Romo went on injured reserve with a designation to return after the first injury, and the Cowboys couldn't win without him. They were already well on their way to a loss this time a week after Romo ended the seven-game skid in his return last week at Miami.
He was 11 of 21 with 106 yards and a 27.2 passer rating.
''I'm just very disappointed in not giving our team a chance to win today,'' Romo said. ''They depend on me to go out there and perform at a certain level, and when I let them down, let our team down, our coaches, our fan base, everybody. That's what I did today, and I have to live with that.''
Carolina led 13-3 when Kuechly and the NFL's leading defense for takeaways put the Panthers firmly in control.
The league's top tackler since joining the NFL in 2012, Kuechly dropped into coverage and easily stepped in front of a pass intended for Terrance Williams before churning up the left sideline and pushing Romo away as he crossed the goal line.
On the next play, Kuechly made a nifty over-the-head catch on a ball thrown to Jason Witten. The linebacker looked a little winded on the return, eventually settling for a 17-yarder that led to the third of Graham Gano's four field goals to put the Panthers up 23-3 at halftime.
''In my eyes, he will always be Captain America because he makes every play,'' Newton said. ''He shows up. He prepares extremely well. That's what people really don't see about this whole team.''
It was the fourth time Romo has thrown multiple pick-6s in a game, and the first since a 34-18 home loss in 2012 against a Chicago defense that was among the league's best in forcing turnovers. Romo actually won his first of those, against Buffalo in 2007.
No such chance this time, because Newton kept the Carolina offense moving when Romo wasn't throwing interceptions.
Newton had three 24-yard completions on third down, and led the Panthers into the end zone after Dallas' Byron Jones was penalized for leaping on top of his linemen when Gano made a 48-yard field goal.
NOTES: Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy had a quiet game against his former team, finishing without any tackles and missing most of the second half with an injury Garrett wouldn't specify. He missed the last 15 games last year with Carolina because of his domestic violence case. Hardy signed with the Cowboys as a free agent and served a four-game suspension to start this season. ... Panther WR Jerricho Cotchery had five catches for a game-high 73 yards, and four of them converted third downs.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler
Cutler, Bears hold off Packers 17-13 at rainy Lambeau
By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
Friday, November 27 at 2:03 AM (EST)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Drenched from a soaking rain, Jay Cutler finally walked out of Lambeau Field with a win.
The defense helped make Thursday night a Thanksgiving to remember for the Chicago Bears.
Cutler threw for 200 yards and a score and the Bears held off the Green Bay Packers on fourth-and-goal from the 8 with 22 seconds left for a 17-13 victory.
''It was just really a good team effort defensively,'' coach John Fox said.
Aaron Rodgers' throw to the end zone deflected off receiver Davante Adams' hands in the cold rain. James Jones couldn't hang on to a potential touchdown catch on third down.
Cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Rodgers' pass with 3:19 left at the Bears 45 on the previous drive.
In his first year in Chicago, Fox has instilled confidence in his team that they can hang tough in close games.
''We've been in a lot of games in the fourth quarter, we've won some and we've lost some,'' Cutler said. ''But the thing of it is we've always been there, we've always had a shot.''
Rodgers took a shot to the back of his left arm near the elbow in the third quarter from linebacker Lamarr Houston while the quarterback recovered a high snap. He said he lost feeling for a while in his left hand, gradually regaining full feeling in three fingers by the end of the game.
''It's my left hand, I'll be all right,'' said Rodgers, who was 22 of 43 for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Cutler was a little better, somewhat of a surprise given how poorly he has played at Lambeau in his career with the Bears.
In his four previous games at Lambeau, all losses, Cutler had thrown 12 interceptions. But with Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Cutler avoided throwing an interception.
Green Bay had won six of its previous seven at Lambeau in the series. And Thursday night seemed to set up perfectly for the Packers faithful on an emotional night with the team honoring former quarterback Brett Favre at halftime. His name and No. 4 joined the franchise's five other retired numbers on the north facade inside the stadium.
The Bears played spoilers.
''Looking at guys in that locker room that had been here for a minute and maybe not had great success here - Jay included. It was fun to watch,'' Fox said.
Chicago (5-6) has won three of its last four. The Packers (7-4) lost a second straight home game.
''Difficult loss this evening, you need to win your home games,'' coach Mike McCarthy said.
The Packers caught a break after Cutler mishandled a shotgun snap on third-and-11 to set up a punt.
But McCarthy's offense couldn't capitalize, moving quickly up the field on their final two drives only to come up short.
Robbie Gould's 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for Chicago was the only scoring for either team in the second half in a game played dreary conditions.
It put ball security at a premium.
Eddie Lacy fumbled deep in Bears territory in the second quarter after getting hit from behind. Cutler cashed in on Chicago's next drive by finding Zach Miller for a 3-yard touchdown pass that tied it at 7 with 6:03 left in the half.
Adams dropped another pass in the open on third-and-long in the first quarter that could have led to a big gain.
''We didn't get it done tonight and really I think one of the biggest factors was handling the football,'' McCarthy said. ''We had opportunities to catch the football, protect the football. ... They did a better job than we did.''
Lacy ran for 105 yards on 17 carries, and also scored on a 25-yard catch-and-run.
For the Bears, Jeremy Langford had 48 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Matt Forte returned after missing three games with a knee injury and ran for 44 yards on 15 carries.
The Bears also got Alshon Jeffery back, who had seven catches for 90 yards. He has missed five games this season with groin and shoulder ailments.
The defense made the biggest statement.
''A huge win for this team,'' safety Chris Prosinski said. ''This isn't an easy place to win so this is definitely one we're going to take into the next five weeks.''
NOTES: Bears LB Shea McClellin finished with a game-high 10 tackles. ... Rookie CB Damarious Randall (knee) and RT Bryan Bulaga (ankle) left the game for the Packers. ... WR Randall Cobb finished with six catches for 74 yards.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
|Friday, November 27, 2015|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Tuesday, November 24 at 10:51 PM (EST)
While Houston enters its biggest game of the season with a hobbled quarterback, Navy's signal-caller might be feeling as good as ever going into possibly the most important contest in program history.
The West division title in the American Athletic Conference is on the line Friday when Keenan Reynolds and the 16th-ranked Midshipmen visit the No. 21 Cougars, who may not have a completely healthy Greg Ward Jr. under center.
The winner will take the West and gain home-field advantage in the conference title game against Temple or South Florida on Dec. 5, and likely earn a New Year's bowl game.
Navy (9-1, 7-0) will try to match a program record for wins and start 10-1 for the first time since 1905. The Midshipmen also won 10 in 2004 and 2009 as an independent.
They come in with building confidence after three straight blowout victories, setting up one of the most meaningful games in program history during its inaugural season in the AAC - and Reynolds is a big reason why.
The senior quarterback is the focus of a triple-threat offense which averages 38.2 points. Navy's all-time leading rusher has joined the Heisman Trophy conversation by piling up 1,009 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground - both ranked No. 1 among quarterbacks in the country. Reynolds is already the NCAA record holder with 82 rushing touchdowns and is one behind former Wisconsin back Montee Ball for the total TDs mark.
Navy has averaged an even better 48.0 points over the last three weeks in wins over Memphis, SMU and Tulsa.
The Midshipmen came close twice and then topped 500 total yards against the Golden Hurricane, with most of the production coming on the ground. Reynolds has 256 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the last three while adding three passing TDs.
Navy's ground attack has scored 17 touchdowns in that same span to improve its nation-leading total to 43.
The team's defense, though, is not to be overlooked after allowing 17.2 points per game since a 41-24 loss at then-No. 15 Notre Dame on Oct. 10. The Midshipmen forced four fumbles and recovered two during a 44-21 win at Tulsa on Saturday while holding the Golden Hurricane to 78 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
"I thought our defense played great," coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We held a very high-powered offensive team down."
Navy draws another against the Cougars (10-1, 6-1), who averages 41.1 points, though they're coming off a disappointing loss in which their big playmaker barely participated.
Ward rolled his ankle during a 35-34 win over Memphis on Nov. 14, and the junior quarterback played just a handful of snaps during Saturday's 20-17 loss at UConn.
Ward, who has 810 rushing yards to go with 29 total touchdowns, replaced an injured Kyle Postma during Houston's final drive but threw an interception with 55 seconds left.
"This one hurts," coach Tom Herman said. "It hurts really bad, because of where we were in the season and how much these kids have invested."
Without Ward, Houston failed to score 20 points for the first time and finished with a season-low 318 yards.
"It's a real hard pill to swallow," linebacker Steven Taylor said. "But we have other things to focus on."
The Cougars can reach their goals by improving on their 6-0 home record and earning their seventh straight victory at TDECU Stadium.
However, they may also be without leading rusher Kenneth Farrow. The senior running back is questionable after leaving in the third quarter against UConn with a foot injury. Farrow has 949 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
The good news is that an MRI revealed no structural damage to Postma's injured knee.
W. Michigan-Toledo Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Tuesday, November 24 at 11:27 PM (EST)
Toledo has a chance to cap the regular season with its best record in 15 years and play for the Mid-American Conference championship.
The No. 24 Rockets' attempt to get back to the title game for the first time since 2004 hinges on a sixth straight victory over Western Michigan on Friday afternoon at the Glass Bowl.
Toledo (9-1, 6-1) is looking to conclude a season 10-1 for the first time since 2000. Unlike that season, the mark would be good enough to win the West and set up a meeting with Bowling Green in the conference championship next Friday in Detroit.
The Rockets regained their chance at the crown after Northern Illinois fell 26-21 to Ohio on Tuesday, leaving the Huskies with two MAC losses.
"It's been an unbelievable run. One of the best teams in Toledo history," coach Matt Campbell said. "Obviously that'll be defined by how they finish. I think that's why these kids and myself know that and really understand how critical finishing what you started is all about.
"You're trying to define your legacy."
Kareem Hunt is working on changing his. The junior has gained 406 yards on 5.5 per carry with six touchdowns over the last three games after he was suspended for the season's first two games for violating team rules before being hampered by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two more.
He ran for 16 touchdowns last season and led the MAC with 1,631 rushing yards.
"I just think he's getting healthy," Campbell said. "Him getting healthy goes a long way. I think we all know what kind of football player Kareem is. Kareem would be the first one to hopefully tell you a lot of his results go to those tight ends and our offensive line and the way those guys play as well. But, obviously, Kareem is a special football player. Grateful to have him on our team."
Hunt faces a Western Michigan defense that has surrendered an average of 185.3 rushing yards and 21 TDs. That unit has allowed 525 total yards and five scores over the last two games.
Hunt ran for a career-high 153 yards and two scores in Toledo's 44-28 road win over the Falcons on Nov. 17. The Rockets scored on their first six possessions and held Bowling Green's high-octane offense to a season-low 368 yards.
"Closest to a complete game as we've played, obviously in terms of execution," Campbell said. "We've talked so much to get our nine position groups to play at an elite level. We're a lot closer today than we were at the start of the season. We gotta continue to work to get there and it wasn't perfect. But, I thought from an attitude and effort investment stand point, our kids have certainly gotten better each week."
Toledo's Phillip Ely is looking for a bounce-back effort after he completed 16 of 24 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week. The senior has tossed six of his 10 picks over the last four games.
"I'm going into this game as my last game and that's gotta be my focus," Ely said, alluding to the possibility of getting another year of eligibility due to a reported injury while he was red-shirted with Alabama in 2011.
Toledo has won five straight meetings with the Broncos (6-5, 5-2), including a 20-19 overtime victory last year after Western Michigan missed an extra point.
The Broncos are on the verge of their first three-game slide since concluding a 1-11 season in 2013. They gave up 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to fall 27-19 to Northern Illinois on Nov. 18.
"I think last year we got mad and angry about things," coach P.J Fleck said. "That comes from your mind and can go in one ear and out the other. Then there is disappointment and sadness. At the end of the day, those kids were devastated. It was a way different locker room that I've been a part of since I've been here. They truly expected to go in there and win the football game."
Zach Terrell came close to doing that to Toledo last season, connecting with Darius Phillips on a 20-yard touchdown before the failed conversion. He finished 30 for 37 with a career-high 370 yards. The junior is coming off last week's 331-yard effort, throwing two scoring passes and one interception while completing 21 of 37 attempts.
Terrell linked up with Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis 16 times for 249 combined yards and two touchdowns last week. Both receivers have topped 1,000 yards and have combined for 21 of the Broncos' 26 TDs through the air.
By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 12:03 PM (EST)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Artie Rowell knows about instability at the top.
Spend five years at Pittsburgh and it comes with the territory. So the senior center understands what Miami is going through after Al Golden was fired last month and replaced on an interim basis by Larry Scott, who is 3-1 since taking over heading into Friday's regular-season finale against the Panthers.
''They are kind of wounded but they are playing with something to prove,'' Rowell said. ''No way they're throwing the towel in.''
It certainly doesn't look like it. Miami (7-4, 4-3 ACC) still has a shot at a nine-win season. While nowhere near the school's perpetual sky-high expectations, it would match the team's best victory total since joining the ACC in 2004.
Plus, a win over the Panthers could get Miami into perhaps the Pinstripe Bowl. There's a large contingent of Hurricane alumni in the greater New York area and Miami has been eyeing a game in that part of the country for years.
Pitt (8-3, 6-1 ACC) has already assured itself of second in the ACC Coastal Division - heady territory for a program picked to finish sixth in the preseason - and appears to be getting better. The Panthers blew out Duke in the second half two weeks ago and put up 42 points in the first half against Louisville last Saturday.
The Panthers have emerged from the usual Coastal chaos thanks in part to Pat Narduzzi's energy and a senior class that provided a steadying presence when he became the third full-time head coach since 2011.
''They're my guys because they embraced me when I came and walked through this room ... as a head football coach,'' Narduzzi said. ''I look back and they bought in to what we're doing.''
Rowell was redshirted by Todd Graham in 2011 and mentored and brought along by Paul Chryst from 2012-14 before becoming the unquestioned leader of a line that has more than held its own while helping freshman Qadree Ollison to go over 1,000 yards. Rowell will leave Pitt on more solid ground than he found it, especially with Narduzzi running things.
''Coach is trying to build something here,'' Rowell said. ''I can't see why they can't continue to get better every single year.''
SO LONG?: Pitt junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd will have plenty to think about this offseason, as the school's all-time leader in catches and yards receiving considers whether to return for his senior year or - far more likely - enter the NFL draft. ''I'm never going to recruit a guy to stay,'' Narduzzi said.
KAAYA WATCH: Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya should pass Bernie Kosar, Ryan Clement, Craig Erickson and Vinny Testaverde and become No. 5 on the school's all-time passing list this week. Kaaya has 5,956 career yards, currently ninth in Miami history but only 103 from passing Testaverde for that fifth spot. He threw for 296 yards against Pitt last season.
HOTEL HOLIDAY: The Hurricanes were planning to spend Thanksgiving together in their hotel, celebrating the holiday as a team. ''The University of Miami has another opportunity the day after Thanksgiving to put our brand on national TV and go out and represent our community, our school and our university,'' Scott said. ''What an awesome opportunity for our kids.''
PRICE IS RIGHT: Pitt defensive end Ejuan Price leads the ACC with 11 1/2 sacks, five of them coming in last week's win over Louisville. Heady territory for a fifth-year senior who at 6-feet, 250 pounds doesn't exactly cast an imposing shadow.
RULE OF 28: When Miami allows more than 28 points on the road, that's usually very bad for the Hurricanes. Miami is 1-9 in its last 10 road games when giving up more than 28 points - but the lone win in that span was the 41-31 victory in Pittsburgh two seasons ago.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
|Boise State||vs.||San Jose State||12:30 (EST)|
|Washington State||vs.||Washington||12:30 (EST) Preview|
Washington St.-Washington Preview
- STATS Senior Editor
Tuesday, November 24 at 5:37 PM (EST)
(AP) - Peyton Bender was somewhat of an unknown in high school when he traveled from sunny South Florida to chilly Eastern Washington to throw the football for Mike Leach.
Now Bender may get the chance at his first college start Friday when No. 20 Washington State (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) faces rival Washington (5-6, 3-5) in the Apple Cup.
Bender has been forced into action the last two games because starting quarterback Luke Falk was taken off the field. Falk was checked for a concussion against UCLA on Nov. 14 and cleared to return, but he was carried off on a backboard last Saturday in the third quarter against Colorado.
Leach has vehemently declined to provide an update on Falk's status, but indications are he suffered a concussion against the Buffaloes. The decision on who starts against the Huskies will come ''27 seconds'' before kickoff, Leach said Monday.
Considering how Falk was treated and removed from the stadium after his head slammed onto the cold turf, it's likely Bender will get the nod against the Huskies.
''We play the best when we are going up-tempo, and we want to play fast,'' Leach said. ''We have been pushing for a better tempo in practice and I thought Bender did a good job of that. Peyton is a real heads-up player with a flashy arm and a quick release. The ball really explodes off his hand and is still accurate.''
While Falk has produced one of the best seasons by a quarterback in Pac-12 history, there isn't that much of a drop off to Bender, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There are a few areas where Bender's skills are superior to Falk's, including arm strength and the speed of his release. Falk's advantage is having more time and experience in Leach's Air Raid offense and running it this season with efficient precision.
And therein lies the rub with Bender. He doesn't have close to the same amount of experience as Falk and while his arm strength allows him to fit throws into tight spaces, he's also likely to make a few dangerous attempts. Two weeks ago against UCLA, Bender threw just five passes, but one was a perfect fade route to Dom Williams for a touchdown.
Last week against Colorado in more extensive action, Bender was 13 of 22 for 133 yards, one touchdown, one interception and another throw that should have been picked off.
Against UCLA ''my nerves were going a little bit but I thought that was a great experience for me,'' Bender said. ''I think it benefited me (against Colorado). I kind of knew what to expect and went in there and tried to run the offense the way it's supposed to be run.''
The Cougars have confidence in the freshman if he ends up starting against the Huskies.
''Peyton can really control a huddle. He is very composed and never seems too frantic,'' Williams said. ''I have seen him grow a lot throughout this season. He plays like we are at practice and that helps the offense stay composed.''
Washington State will try to avoid a third straight loss in the series and sixth in seven meetings by damaging Washington's hopes of making it to a fifth straight bowl game. Even without a sixth victory, however, the Huskies might have the chance to play in the postseason.
The NCAA football oversight committee will complete a plan next week for matching sub-.500 teams with bowls if there are not enough bowl-eligible squads to fill 40 games. Seventy-one teams are bowl-eligible and another 18 could get there over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Coach Chris Petersen cut off a query Monday about whether Washington would accept a bowl bid with a losing record.
''Don't ask me the question because I don't even know,'' he said. ''We're playing this game and let us play this game.''
Washington has gone to a bowl game with a .500 record once in school history. That was in 2010, when the Huskies ended an eight-year postseason drought by beating Washington State in the Apple Cup to get to 6-6, then knocked off Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
The Huskies can make the talk about a sub-.500 postseason moot if they can get to 6-6.
Washington put itself in position to do so with last Saturday's 52-7 rout of Oregon State, the second time in a month the Huskies beat a conference opponent by more than 40 points. Washington defeated Arizona at home 49-3 on Oct. 31.
Freshman Jake Browning went 18 of 20 and threw four touchdowns, finishing with a passer rating of 244.6. That was the 10th-best rating of any quarterback in the country this season.
''We're pleased really with our kids' mindset coming into that game,'' Petersen said. ''We talked about starting fast, we talked about coming out with great energy and trying to set a tone and I think in all phases we did.''
Falk passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns against Washington on Nov. 29, but threw two interceptions and was sacked four times in the Huskies' 31-13 road victory.
|Oregon State||vs.||Oregon||1:00 (EST) Preview|
Oregon St.-Oregon Preview
Tuesday, November 24 at 3:19 PM (EST)
(AP) - Oregon can't dwell on what might have been this season, had quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. been healthy from the start.
The No. 18 Ducks (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) need to prepare for the regular-season finale, the annual Civil War against Oregon State on Friday, and then await word on where they'll go in the postseason. An eighth straight 10-win season is still within reach.
Oregon has won five in a row, but its three losses - to Michigan St., Utah and surging Washington State - thwarted a second straight Pac-12 North title. The Ducks took care of their end Saturday with a 48-28 victory over then-No. 22 USC, but Stanford won the Big Game against California to clinch the Pac-12 championship game berth and a shot at the Rose Bowl.
''We are where we are,'' receiver Bralon Addison said.
Adams passed for 407 yards and six touchdowns, the most ever thrown against USC by an opposing quarterback. The senior transfer also shares the Oregon record for touchdowns thrown in a game.
As a result, the Ducks jumped five spots in the Top 25.
Oregon's winning streak coincides with Adams' return from a finger injury on his throwing hand. He was hurt in the season opener against his former team, Eastern Washington, and he struggled - even donning gloves for the first time against the Spartans - before the Ducks shut him down.
''I honestly think that if Vernon's healthy all season, and our defense is healthy all season, I think we might be talking about a big-time playoff run right now,'' Addison said. ''But we can't worry about that.''
In the five games since he's been back, Adams has thrown for 300 or more yards and four or more TDs in three games.
Adams was a record-breaking quarterback over three seasons for the Eagles before transferring to Oregon for his final season of eligibility. There were high hopes that he'd pick up right where Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota left off.
Now healthy and able to show his abilities in the Pac-12, Adams is winning praise.
''Tremendous football player,'' USC interim coach Clay Helton said. ''We knew we would have to get him on the ground and we just didn't get him on the ground enough. Credit to him, I have a lot of respect for the young man.''
Meanwhile, the Beavers aren't so discouraged about the season that they can't get up for the 19th Civil War game.
It's been a disappointing year for Oregon State (2-9, 0-8) to say the least, as it's lost eight in a row. The latest defeat was 52-7 at home against Washington last Saturday.
First-year coach Gary Andersen had already moved his team on to rivalry week minutes after the loss.
''Rivalry games are very, very, very important. That's what I told them when we left the locker room - they've got an opportunity to play in a rivalry game that's right up there as one of the best in the country, if not the best in the country,'' he said. ''The fact of the matter is you'll remember that forever.''
It was expected that the Beavers would struggle this season following the departure of coach Mike Riley and prolific quarterback Sean Mannion. Andersen installed a new spread offense and new defense.
The Beavers also grappled with a group of inexperienced quarterbacks. Dynamic freshman Seth Collins was the starter at the beginning of the season, but he didn't play in the last four games because of a knee injury.
Collins, known for his speed and athleticism, has thrown for 891 yards and six touchdowns in seven games, but also has four interceptions.
Nick Mitchell, who entered the season as the third-stringer behind fellow redshirt freshman Marcus McMaryion, initially started in Collins' place.
But Mitchell missed his first seven passes against the Huskies and was replaced by McMaryion, who threw for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Last week, Andersen said Collins was done for the season, but he was at practice Monday - playing at wide receiver.
''If we have an opportunity to use him and we think it's the best thing for the offense, then we absolutely will,'' Andersen said following practice.
After the loss to Washington, Andersen said it was possible that Mitchell and McMaryion would both play against Oregon, but he did not reveal a starter.
Collins' possible return aside, the ultimate outcome against the surging Ducks seems predictable.
However, running back Storm Barrs-Woods, who has played in a couple of Civil Wars, said he sees no motivation issues in what will be Oregon State's final game of the season.
''That game in itself is such a rivalry, it's such a big game, that I'm not worried about anyone on our team. The atmosphere of that game alone, you can't be flat,'' Barrs-Woods said.
''If anything, I'm gonna tell them not to get too over-pumped. Just calm down. Play football. Be positive. This is one of the greatest rivalries, and it's a blessing to be a part of it.''
Oregon has won the last seven matchups.
|Eastern Michigan||7||vs.||0||Central Michigan||In-Progress|
|Missouri||vs.||Arkansas||1:30 (EST) Preview|
By KURT VOIGT - AP Sports Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 2:17 AM (EST)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Brandon Allen and the rest of Arkansas' fifth-year seniors have experienced nearly every high and low imaginable, from an 11-win season in 2011 to the bottom of the Southeastern Conference following Bobby Petrino's firing.
The Razorbacks (6-5, 4-3 SEC) quarterback and his emotionally tested teammates hope to put a positive finishing touch on their home careers when they cap the regular season against Missouri on Friday.
''A lot of really good seniors that we're giving tribute to have been through an unusual odyssey coming here at Arkansas several years ago ... and the transition that's happened here,'' Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. ''They've come a long way and (I) sure would like to send them out on a winning note and propel us into our bowl game as well.''
The Tigers (5-6, 1-6) enter Friday with bowl thoughts of their own, though in order to gain eligibility - and extend the career of coach Gary Pinkel - they must win and overcome a surging Arkansas offense that's second in the SEC with an average of 470.2 yards per game.
Pinkel announced two weeks ago that he is resigning at the end of the season, following a diagnosis of lymphoma in May.
Missouri was coming off consecutive SEC East Division titles but has dealt with plenty of turmoil this season. Players chose to go on strike earlier this month because of racial tensions on campus, a move that preceded Pinkel's announcement of his pending exit by just a few days.
Pinkel kept the Tigers together during the declaration of solidarity, but he was less than enthusiastic this week when asked about the possibility of Missouri's players wanting to win for him, saying, ''Honestly, I kind of wish I was out of (the spotlight).''
''Obviously, you worry about the focus of your football team and being able to play their best,'' Pinkel said. ''My job is to do everything I can to get them to do that.''
Some things to watch as Arkansas tries to win for the fifth time in six games and Missouri plays it final regular season game under Pinkel:
ALLEN'S ASCENT: Allen has been Arkansas' starter in each of Bielema's three seasons with the Razorbacks, and he's saved the best performances of his career for the end. The senior, who began his career with Petrino before a year under interim coach John L. Smith and then Bielema, threw a school-record seven touchdown passes in a 51-50 loss to Mississippi State last week. For the season, he's fifth in the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown 29 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
PINKEL'S RUN: Pinkel has won 191 games in his 25 seasons at Toledo and Missouri, and he became the Tigers all-time winningest coach (102 wins) in 2013 when Missouri won the Cotton Bowl. Pinkel is tied for 19th in all-time college coaching wins with Kansas State's Bill Snyder, and he could tie former Ohio State coach John Cooper at 192 wins with a victory on Friday.
OFFENSIVE SURGE: Arkansas' 50 points in last week's loss to Mississippi State marked the fourth time in the last five games that the Razorbacks have scored at least 50 points. The 251 points Arkansas has scored over that five-game span is more than the school did in Bielema's entire first season in 2013 (248).
DEFENSIVE TIGERS: Despite having an offense that's next-to-last in the SEC in scoring (14.5 points per game), Missouri has stayed close in games this season with a defense that's 10th in the country - allowing only 301.3 yards per game. Linebacker Kentrell Brothers leads the SEC with 140 tackles.
COLLINS' YARDAGE: Arkansas running back Alex Collins is just the third player in SEC history to have three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to begin his career. The junior would move into second place on the school's all-time leading rushing list, behind only former great Darren McFadden, with 183 yards on the ground on Friday.
|Troy||vs.||Georgia State||2:00 (EST)|
|Iowa||vs.||Nebraska||2:30 (EST) Preview|
By LUKE MEREDITH - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, November 24 at 7:33 PM (EST)
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - From the moment Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the league tried to make Iowa its biggest rival.
The conference didn't need to try so hard.
The Hawkeyes and Huskers have found plenty of reasons to dislike each other and the week leading up to Friday's game in Lincoln hasn't been any different.
''Some of the things that are coming out of their camp toward us aren't necessarily the nicest things, and we're just going to go out there and do our job,'' Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said.
VandeBerg didn't specify what he heard. But his comments are indicative of just how heated the series between these border-state rivals has become in recent years.
This year's game is a bit of a swap as the Huskers (5-6, 3-4 Big Ten) attempt to spoil No. 3 Iowa's (11-0, 7-0) playoff hopes after years dominating an on-and-off series.
''The chore has been for us to get involved,'' said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose team jumped from fifth to fourth in this week's playoff rankings. ''Our job is to be able to play with those guys, to go out and compete with them. They recruit well, they've had great teams in the past.''
In 2011, the Big Ten stuck Nebraska in the same division with Iowa and scheduled their annual matchup on Black Friday to ensure that the game would get as much exposure as possible. The schools got in on the fun, naming the matchup the ''Heroes Game'' and dedicating a trophy for the winner before a snap was ever taken.
But most of the rivalry's growth in recent years has been purely organic.
The Hawkeyes, in the midst of a long losing streak, played inspired football in front of a sold out Kinnick Stadium but still lost 13-7 in 2012 in miserably cold weather that added some mystique to the event.
It could be argued that Iowa-Nebraska became a real rivalry two years ago. The visiting Hawkeyes hammered Nebraska 38-17, prompting then-coach Bo Pelini to famously quip ''If they want to fire me, go ahead!'' in his post-game press conference.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst kept Pelini for another year. But it was Eichorst who brought the rivalry to another level last year.
The Huskers rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Iowa 37-34 in overtime, giving Nebraska its ninth win in what seemed like a reprieve for Pelini. It wasn't, as Pelini was fired soon after the game.
Asked why beating the Hawkeyes couldn't save Pelini, Eichorst said that ''in the final analysis...I had to evaluate where Iowa was.''
That loss resonated deeply with Ferentz, who made major changes to his program in the offseason. What ensued was one of the unlikeliest unbeaten runs by any school in years, leaving Iowa one win shy of its first 12-0 regular season.
''They'll definitely remember that from last year and take that into this week,'' Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp said. ''Whenever you have a tough loss like that, especially to end your season ... that's something you take to the offseason and you prepare like crazy and just remember, `Hey, that happened. We don't want that to happen again.'''
Nebraska coach Mike Riley, the newest face in this rivalry, has had a tough first season in Lincoln. But a win over the Hawkeyes would send the Huskers to a bowl game, take some heat off Riley and give the program momentum heading into 2016. Oh, it would probably ruin Iowa's national title hopes.
''You have to have some inherent pride in being a competitor,'' Riley said. ''You've got to love that as a coach and as a player, to be able to take advantage of an opportunity to beat a well-respected team.''
AP College Football site: http://www.collegefootball.ap.org
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|Baylor||vs.||TCU||6:30 (EST) Preview|
Tuesday, November 24 at 7:09 PM (EST)
(AP) - While needing some help and probably about to use its third starting quarterback, No. 7 Baylor still has a chance to win its third consecutive Big 12 title.
A victory over previously undefeated Oklahoma State kept the Bears (9-1, 6-1) in the Big 12 race, and depending on the outcome of other games around the nation, maybe still in position for a playoff spot.
''We do like the fact that it's late in the season, and we're still in the hunts - with an s,'' coach Art Briles said Monday. ''We know it's hard for everybody to look at you and you to deliver week after week after week. ... Of course, we haven't done anything yet and haven't finished. But at least up to this point, we're still standing pretty solid.''
The Bears first have to win Friday night at No. 15 TCU (9-2, 6-2), when sophomore Chris Johnson likely gets his first career start for banged-up Baylor after throwing two touchdowns in relief of injured freshman starter Jarrett Stidham in a 45-35 win at Oklahoma State last Saturday.
Since a tiebreaker will be used and no more co-champions are declared in the Big 12, Baylor could become the champ again by winning its last two games - against TCU, then Dec. 5 at home against Texas - and if No. 9 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) wins Saturday night at home over No. 5 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1), the team that gave Baylor its only loss less than two weeks ago.
''After that OU game, we felt a lot of people were writing us off as a team and a contender,'' senior linebacker and leading tackler Grant Campbell said. ''We wanted to prove people wrong this past week taking down an undefeated team in Stillwater. Our goals have not changed.''
Stidham was already dealing with a sore back before the Oklahoma State game. He banged his throwing (right) hand early, then right before halftime had his leg rolled up on in what was initially described as an ankle injury.
Briles said Monday that it was more an issue of the bone in his lower leg and termed Stidham as ''very questionable.'' The coach also said he was uncertain about Big 12 rushing leader Shock Linwood because of a knee and ankle issue.
Stidham has started Baylor's three games since junior Seth Russell, then the top-rated FBS passer, got hurt Oct. 24 and had season-ending neck surgery.
Johnson, who had been working as a receiver since before the season, was then moved back to quarterback to prepare as Stidham's backup. Johnson was 5 of 10 for 138 yards and the two TDs against Oklahoma State, even though his practice reps before that had been with the second-teamers and not the regular starters.
Briles said the Bears were starting the week preparing for Johnson to start Friday, and that they had options for backups.
''It's an opportunity to get more in-sync with those guys,'' Johnson said. ''It's a little different having to just jump in there in the middle of a game with those guys without having practiced with them much. Getting some time with them will help out a lot."
After Stidham was an early enrollee in January, went through spring drills and earned the backup role, Johnson was moved to receiver late in preseason practice. Johnson completed his only four passes for 45 yards last season, and has three catches for 37 yards this year.
''He's extremely confident. He has great ability out there,'' said left tackle Spencer Drango, named a finalist for the Outland Trophy on Tuesday. ''It feels like we've had the same quarterback (each week) since we started.''
TCU won't repeat as Big 12 champion, its dual-threat quarterback is still hopping around on a sore ankle and the starting senior center and star receiver are out.
Still, all is not lost for the Horned Frogs.
TCU almost pulled off a comeback at Oklahoma last week without Trevone Boykin, Joey Hunt and Josh Doctson. All are seniors the Frogs are going to be without after this season.
''I think our kids found out that ... when we're done and Trevone graduates, we were able to move the football against a really good football team,'' coach Gary Patterson said. ''Some of the guys we expect to be our future guys that make plays, stepped up.''
Boykin is still questionable after returning to practice this week. Once considered by some to be the Heisman Trophy front-runner, and still the national leader with 402 total yards per game, Boykin hasn't played since turning his right ankle awkwardly in the first half Nov. 14 against Kansas.
''He's a special cat. He'll be the guy who makes that call,'' Patterson said.
Boykin was named Tuesday as one of the three finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the nation's top quarterback. Doctson is among three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the top receiver.
Sophomore center Austin Schlottman made his first career start in the 30-29 loss at Oklahoma in place of injured four-year starter Hunt, and sophomore tackle Matt Pryor has started the last three games because of injuries.
Emanuel Porter, a sophomore receiver who missed five games, had a 14-yard TD catch in the final minute before TCU missed a 2-point conversion attempt. Freshman returner Kavonte Turpin had an 86-yard scoring catch earlier in the fourth quarter.
''It just gives you hope that next year, they know what this feels like,'' said junior defensive end Josh Carraway, who has a team-high seven sacks. ''They know what it feels like to play in a big game.''
Doctson set TCU's single-season records with 79 catches, and led the nation with 1,337 yards and 14 touchdowns before being ruled out of the last two regular-season games. He injured his left wrist Nov. 7, tried to play briefly in the Kansas game and then was ruled out.
There have been 16 players who have made their first career starts for the TCU defense.
''A lot of our stuff happened on defense. It happened early, so we've grown up and we've gotten better playing together, but they handled it so well,'' Patterson said. ''Defensively we've been able to do it without a bunch of people. Offensively, they went into a little shock at the Kansas game.''
|Thursday, November 26, 2015|
|Texas Tech||48||vs.||45||Texas||Final Recap|
Washington leads Texas Tech in wild win over Texas 48-45
By JIM VERTUNO - AP Sports Writer
Friday, November 27 at 12:51 AM (EST)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Once again the Texas Tech Red Raiders were piling up points only to watch their defense wilt as an opponent matched them touchdown for touchdown.
This time, the Red Raiders finally got the fourth-quarter plays they needed - on both sides of the ball - to put away a wild 48-45 win over Texas on Thursday night, their first road win in the rivalry since 1997.
DeAndre Washington ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns and Texas Tech overcame a breakout performance from Longhorns freshman tailback Chris Warren III. Washington has 1,455 yards this season in an offense that also has a 4,000-yard passer in quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
''He's been phenomenal. On our offense, which is predominantly pass first, we've found ways to get him the ball. He's just a man on a mission,'' Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Washington had to do everything he could to match Warren, who set a Texas freshman record with 276 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns as Texas rallied from 10 points down in the third quarter to take the lead. Texas Tech then got fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Justin Stockton and Jakeem Grant.
Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) rolled up 665 total yards. The teams combined for nine touchdowns in the second half.
Mahomes passed for 372 yards and a touchdown for Texas Tech, which hadn't beaten Texas since 2008. Mahomes set up Stockton's go-ahead touchdown with a 40-yard pass to Grant to the Texas 1.
Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who came on for injured started Jerrod Heard in the second quarter, ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
The loss sent Texas (4-7, 3-5) to its second consecutive losing season under second-year coach Charlie Strong.
''You're looking at a young group. I think they will bounce back and learn and will only make them stronger,'' Strong said. ''I was proud of how hard our players kept fighting, that's what you want to see.''
Even with Mahomes and Washington moving the ball, Texas Tech's defense couldn't do anything to stop Warren, who scored on runs of 91, 23, 21 and 8 yards. The 91-yarder in the second quarter was the fourth longest in Texas school history.
Warren kept pounding and slicing through one of the worst rush defenses in the country to keep Texas in the game. His last touchdown gave Texas a final chance, but Texas Tech recovered an onside kick with two minutes left and picked up a key first down on a run by Mahomes before running out the clock.
Warren had only 18 carries on the season coming in and got the start because of injuries to D'Onta Foreman and Johnathan Gray.
''I told Chris Warren `I guarantee you will have a breakout game,'' Strong said. ''We knew what we had with him. Just a big strong physical runner.''
The Longhorns got another blow when Heard left the game because of concerns about a possible concussion. He took several hard hits early and finally left after a sack when he was tackled around the legs and his head appeared to bounce off the ground.
Strong said after the game Heard was still being evaluated. Texas plays at Baylor next week to end the regular season.
With Warren and Swoopes pounding away at the Red Raider's defense, Mahomes' big pass to Grant to set up Stockton's touchdown that gave the Red Raiders the room they needed late.
Then the defense finally made the kind of key stop that had been missing so many times this season.
Leading 41-38, the Red Raiders forced an incomplete pass on fourth down. With the ball at the Texas 40, Grant crouched low to Mahomes just behind the offensive line and was barely visible to Texas defenders when he took the handoff.
A quick move bounced Grant to the outside on his open scamper to the end zone. Grant said the play was called ''Hook'em'' and was just put in this week. Grant finished with 147 total yards.
''I just knew if I put it in Jakeem's hands ... if he got some space he was gonna score,'' Mahomes said.
|South Florida||44||vs.||3||UCF||Final Recap|
South Florida awaits fate after routing Central Florida
By BILL FAY - Associated Press
Thursday, November 26 at 11:57 PM (EST)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) South Florida had a simple goal Thanksgiving Day: Win and wait.
The Bulls won, routing Central Florida 44-3 Thursday for their seventh win in eight games and now they will wait to see if they can sneak into the American Athletic Conference championship game.
USF (8-4, 6-2) needs UConn to beat Temple Saturday night to qualify for the first conference title game in school history. The six conference wins this season are a school record.
''To be able to play in the championship game would be so gratifying,'' USF coach Willie Taggart said. ''It would be another first for our program and it's been our goal since Day One.''
UCF (0-12, 0-8) finished the season winless for the second time in 11 years.
The Knights scored on their first possession, a 28-yard field goal by Matthew Wright, but didn't threaten again. UCF, ranked last in the FBS in offense this season, had just 203 total yards and was 2 of 12 on third-down conversions.
''The difference in the ballgame was third down,'' UCF interim coach Danny Barrett said. ''We convert 2 of 12; they convert 11 of 16. We had plenty of opportunities from an offensive standpoint to stay on the field and we couldn't do that. Give USF credit. They're a very good football team.''
Quinton Flowers had a hand in all five Bulls' touchdowns. Flowers completed 14 of 21 passes for 176 yards and had 87 yards rushing on 18 carries. He had scoring passes of 26 and 1 yard to Sean Price and a 4-yarder to Chris Barr. Flowers scored on runs of 3 and 5 yards.
''Quinton Flowers is a stud,'' Taggart said. ''He was ice cold out there today, making plays whenever we needed them. He inspires the rest of our football team. Guys get excited when they watch him play and they all want to play like he does.''
Marlon Mack picked up 102 yards on 18 carries for USF, his fourth straight game over 100 yards. Emilio Nadelman kicked field goals of 41, 43 and 44 yards.
The Bulls offense ran and passed as it pleased for most of the game. Flowers had two scoring passes and a 3-yard TD run in the first half when USF ran off 24 straight points to take a 24-3 lead.
The Bulls final possession of the first half started at their own 28 with 35 seconds left and they needed just three plays to get a 44-yard field goal from Nadelman.
D'Ernest Johnson ran 18 yards on the first play, Flowers hit Johnson with a screen pass good for 14 on the second play and Flowers scrambled for 14 yards to set up Nadelman's field goal attempt as time expired.
USF scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half to push the lead to 41-3 and then went on cruise control. Flowers scored from five yards out to finish off 75-yard drive, then hit Price for a 26-yard scoring play to finish off a 67-yard drive.
The sophomore quarterback sat out the fourth quarter.
UCF's Justin Holman hit just 10 of 26 passes for 116 yards with two interceptions. Tre'Quan Smith had seven catches for 102 yards.
''On film they showed they struggled with pressure so that was our motto,'' said USF linebacker Auggie Sanchez, who had eight tackles. ''We're not a defense that lays back and drops people in coverage. We get after you.''
|Friday, November 27, 2015|
|National Hockey League|
By TOM CASTRO - STATS Senior Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 1:05 PM (EST)
The New York Rangers have a gaudy record, but that was hardly on their minds after an alarming loss their last time out.
Avoiding another one Friday means ending the four-game winning streak of the Boston Bruins, who have dominated their series in recent years.
Despite its fast start, New York (16-4-2) stumbles into TD Garden looking to bounce back from a 5-1 rout to Montreal on Wednesday that snapped a nine-game home win streak. The Rangers again have championship aspirations but looked outclassed by the Canadiens, perhaps their biggest obstacle to getting out of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Montreal scored three times in the third period to put the game out of reach and won despite the departure of star goaltender Carey Price to injury after the second.
"We didn't obviously answer the bell for the challenge we had tonight," coach Alain Vigneault told the team's official website. "We are going to have a good practice (Thursday) and get ready for Boston."
Counterpart Henrik Lundqvist allowed five goals for the first time in 45 starts and was pulled with 10 minutes left in the game.
"I'm extremely disappointed to give up five goals," said Lundqvist, who managed to remain the NHL leader in goals-against average at 1.94 by one-hundredth of a point over Washington's Braden Holtby. "I've been feeling good lately, so hopefully this was just a little bump in the road. I felt good for two periods, but then that third goal was a big letdown. For some reason I lost attention to detail there a little bit."
The Rangers, who came in having won 11 of 12, have dropped nine of 11 to the Canadiens. They've had similar problems against the Bruins (12-8-1), who are 5-1-0 in the last six meetings and 7-1-2 in 10 - lopsided results that could also spell trouble for the Rangers in the East playoffs.
Frank Vatrano scored his second goal of the game in overtime to give streaking Boston a 3-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday. Vatrano deflected rookie defenseman Colin Miller's shot past Petr Mrazek for his third NHL goal.
''It feels great. Really a big win for us,'' Vatrano said.
Miller scored his second career goal with 1:44 left to tie the game.
''The first two periods it was really frustrating watching our team play,'' coach Claude Julien said. ''Our young guys came through tonight and we found a way to win, but we've got to be better.''
The Red Wings held a 34-22 shot advantage, including 11-4 in the second period.
Jonas Gustavsson gave Tuukka Rask a day off with 32 saves, and Rask is expected to be back in net Friday. He's posted a 1.95 goals-against average in 15 career starts against the Rangers.
New York's Rick Nash scored Wednesday to give him five goals in three games after recording two in his first 17. He's scored a goal in his last two matchups with the Bruins.
Boston's Loui Eriksson had an assist against Detroit to give him four goals and three assists in the past six games. He's off to a strong start with nine goals and 10 assists, putting him well ahead of his pace of last season, when he finished with 22 goals and 25 assists.
Eriksson has recorded six points in a five-game streak against New York. Teammate Patrice Bergeron has three goals and an assist in his last five matchups.
The Bruins have outscored opponents 4-0 in the first period during their win streak and are second in the league in goal differential in the opening 20 minutes at plus-9 - one behind the Rangers.
|Blackhawks||vs.||Ducks||2:00 (EST) Preview|
By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 2:41 PM (EST)
Patrick Kane's best run of his career has him sitting atop the league in points while helping provide the Chicago Blackhawks with a formidable second line that also features two newcomers.
The problem is that the other three combinations are having trouble producing, leading to a surprising change in the top six.
After a strong effort, coach Joel Quenneville could choose to go with his new lineup again as the Blackhawks continue their road trip Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Kane has 10 goals and 18 assists during a career-best 17-game point streak after assisting on goals by defensemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith in Wednesday's 5-2 win over San Jose.
His 34 points have come mostly while playing with rookie standout Artemi Panarin and center Artem Anisimov, who was acquired from Columbus in the Brandon Saad trade. Panarin also had two assists against the Sharks, but Anisimov had his five-game point streak snapped.
''If it ends, it ends,'' Kane said. ''I just want to play my game and make sure I'm doing the right things out there for the team. If it continues, it continues. I'm not too worried about it right now.''
Quenneville has been fretting about why the Blackhawks (12-8-2) haven't been able to get much scoring from elsewhere. He decided to break up Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa from the top line Wednesday, sending Hossa to the third line with Marcus Kruger and Marko Dano.
Toews played with Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt, and they each earned an assist on Toews' goal in the first period. Chicago improved to 2-1-1 on a six-game trip that ends Saturday against Los Angeles.
"Maybe on the road it was our best complete game," Quenneville said. "I thought we had a really good game in Vancouver (on Saturday) with nothing to show for it. I thought (Wednesday) we got rewarded. Good back-to-back efforts as far as playing the right way and doing a lot of good things."
Toews scored in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 win over the Ducks on Oct. 26 in the first meeting since Chicago won Game 7 of last season's Western Conference finals in Anaheim.
The Ducks (8-11-4) are going to need vast improvement to reach that level this season. They haven't won back-to-back games since a four-game run Nov. 1-7, going 3-4-2 since after losing 4-2 at Arizona on Wednesday.
''We can play really good on certain occasions and the next night we don't play nearly as well,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''We had pockets and there were times we looked like we were brain dead.''
Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen scored in the third period as Anaheim's rally fell short. It trailed by two goals early the previous night against Calgary before coming back to win 5-3 and end a three-game home losing streak.
''It's frustrating,'' said Ryan Getzlaf, who had a franchise record-tying five assists against the Flames and another Wednesday. ''We're trying to build off a pretty good game and should have come in with some excitement, but we came out flat.''
John Gibson has started back-to-back games in net with Frederik Andersen out with an illness. It's unclear if Andersen, who made 23 saves in the first meeting and started each game against the Blackhawks in the postseason, will be able to go in this one.
Corey Crawford stopped 39 shots against the Ducks last month. Quenneville hasn't announced if Crawford or Scott Darling will be in net.
|Jets||vs.||Wild||3:00 (EST) Preview|
Thursday, November 26 at 3:35 PM (EST)
The Minnesota Wild survived an eight-game stretch without star winger Zach Parise and are hoping it won't reach nine.
Parise may return Friday when the Wild look to hand the Winnipeg Jets a seventh straight road loss.
Minnesota (11-6-3) has gone 4-3-1 since losing Parise on Nov. 5 to a knee injury. Parise, who had seven goals at the time of the injury and led the club with 33 a season ago, has been skating since Nov. 16 even though he was originally supposed to miss at least four weeks.
"I don't know yet, we'll see how it responds," Parise told the league's official website. "But I felt good and I felt comfortable doing everything."
Coach Mike Yeo will approach this contest with two plans.
"We have a plan if he plays and we have a plan if he doesn't play," he said. "We don't know which one we're going with yet."
If Parise can't play, Jordan Schroeder will be in the lineup after a one-game absence due to illness. Yeo indicated that Justin Fontaine will miss his 11th straight game with a knee injury, though the forward could return Saturday against Dallas.
"We think that when we're healthy, we have a pretty deep group up front with a number of guys who are capable of contributing offensively," Yeo said.
The Wild won their first three games without Parise before a 1-3-1 stretch capped by Wednesday's 3-2 home defeat to Vancouver.
Minnesota has the league's second-worst penalty kill at 74.0 percent after letting its last seven opponents go 7 for 22. Winnipeg (10-11-2), though, will be hard-pressed to take advantage with the fourth-worst power play at 15.3 percent, including 3 for 40 this month.
The Jets may be more concerned with staying out of the penalty box, averaging a league-high 14:00 of penalty minutes while committing an NHL-high 129 infractions.
Winnipeg opened a three-game trip with a 5-3 defeat to Washington Wednesday, falling to 0-5-1 in its last six road games with five straight regulation defeats. Its last longer road slide was an 0-6-2 stretch Dec. 16, 2009-Jan. 5, 2010.
The Jets have conceded the first goal in every game of this road skid.
"We're chasing games and for too many minutes of the game chasing that game, and when you're doing that, you're looking for offense that's hard to generate," coach Paul Maurice said. "We gotta get some guys scoring in a big chunk that aren't, right?"
Bryan Little has a team-high nine goals but none in four straight games, though he has five points in this season's two meetings with the Wild as the clubs have split. Blake Wheeler has four points in those games, and the Minnesota native is tied for ninth in the league with 23 points.
The Jets, conceding 3.2 goals per game for the league's second-worst mark, could give Connor Hellebuyck his NHL debut with this game beginning a back-to-back set. Hellebuyck was called up from the AHL this week following the news Ondrej Pavelec is out through December with a knee sprain.
New No. 1 goalie Michael Hutchinson is 0-4-1 with a 4.72 goals-against average in five road starts this month.
Devan Dubnyk is tied for third in the league with 18 starts for the Wild, who are also opening a back-to-back set.
Minnesota is 5-2-2 against Central Division foes while Winnipeg is 2-6-0, including 0-4-0 on the road.
|Predators||vs.||Flyers||3:30 (EST) Preview|
By JUSTIN EINHORN - STATS Senior Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 1:56 PM (EST)
Though they didn't get down on themselves about it, the Nashville Predators certainly are glad their scoring drought is finally over.
Offensive woes remain an ongoing problem for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Having made sure they avoided going winless - and scoreless - on a five-game road swing, the Predators might not need much offense in the finale Friday in Philadelphia to take care of the NHL's lowest-scoring team.
Nashville's franchise-record stretch without a goal was halted at 227 minutes, 39 seconds, on Mike Fisher's first-period goal in a 3-2 win at Buffalo on Wednesday.
"Knew it was going to come, just a matter of time," Fisher told the NHL's official website. "... We were due for bounces and we got a few."
The Predators (12-6-3) had been shut out by Columbus, Minnesota and the New York Rangers in the first three games of the trip despite outshooting those opponents 93-64.
"We weren't going to get shut out the rest of the year," coach Peter Laviolette said. ''That would be impossible, right? ... At some point we're going to score a goal. I think there's just a lot of confidence in our guys that they're going to score. They do the right things, they put the puck at the net. It's going to go in."
Craig Smith and Cody Hodgson also scored for Nashville, though Fisher's goal may have been the most important because the six-time 20-goal scorer had gone eight straight games without a point and has just five all season.
Philadelphia (7-10-5) has plenty of forwards off to bad starts. Wayne Simmonds is in a five-game point drought and has just three goals after recording 57 over the past two seasons. Jakub Voracek remains stuck on one goal after topping 20 in each of the previous three seasons.
The result has been the Flyers scoring a league-low 1.73 goals per game. They've surpassed three goals once in 22 games.
"We have to look at everything," coach Dave Hakstol said when asked if changes must be made to generate more offense. "(We) try to do that every day. So we have to look at everything."
Hakstol's club had a season-low 18 shots in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Islanders. Two days earlier, the Flyers had 36 in a 3-2 win over Carolina.
"We're just inconsistent," captain Claude Giroux said. "It's the same story every game. We need to find a way to be consistent the whole game. I'm not too sure what to say."
Philadelphia has lost four of five while scoring six goals, with four coming on the power play. Nashville's penalty kill is in the middle of the pack at 80.3 percent, but the club has been short-handed the ninth-fewest times in the league at 66.
Pekka Rinne was rested Wednesday after losing the first three games of the Predators' trip without any goal support, though he wasn't sharp with an .841 save percentage. He's 3-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average in his last four starts against the Flyers.
Steve Mason has lost 11 of 13 starts this season, including four straight despite a .929 save percentage. He's 1-4-1 with a 2.94 GAA in his last six against Nashville.
These clubs split two meetings last season in Laviolette's first games against the Flyers since they fired him three games into 2013-14. He led Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup final in 2010.
|Lightning||vs.||Capitals||5:00 (EST) Preview|
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 1:43 PM (EST)
Ben Bishop is in his best form as he readies for an opponent he's had little success against.
Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning look to reverse their recent struggles against the Washington Capitals on Friday in a matchup of teams riding three-game winning streaks.
Tampa Bay (11-9-3) has yielded three goals over its last four games and Bishop two in winning the past three. After recording his first shutout with 30 saves Saturday against Anaheim, he made 37 in a 2-1 shootout victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday.
''Bish has been bailing us out when we needed him,'' coach Jon Cooper said. "We've been playing team defense pretty well, but he made some big-time saves. And for us to start stringing a couple wins together, we needed it. You're getting 2-1 against the Rangers (on Nov. 19) and 2-1 against L.A., but fortunately at least we're scoring two, because it seemed like not too long ago we weren't getting any."
The defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning rank 22nd with 2.35 goals per game and have been shut out in their last two road stops. They've scored one goal in Bishop's previous three away starts, all losses.
Tyler Johnson did give Tampa Bay's slumping offense a boost Wednesday, returning from a three-game absence caused by an upper-body injury to produce the team's regulation goal.
Washington (15-5-1) has had fewer problems scoring of late, generating 13 goals during its unbeaten run. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov has one in all three victories after scoring the game-winner late in the second period in Wednesday's 5-3 decision over Winnipeg.
Alex Ovechkin has three goals in four games and Justin Williams four in his last seven after managing two over his first 14. Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists against Winnipeg to extend his team-leading point total to 24, six of which have come during the win streak.
"I think for his age he's really matured as a player," center Nicklas Backstrom told the Capitals' official website of the 23-year-old Kuznetsov. "He's really responsible all over the ice. He's got his great skill too. He can do it all, and that's great for us. He's been playing great lately."
Washington has scored four or more goals in each win during a 7-1-1 stretch against the Lightning, with Ovechkin amassing nine goals and five assists. Backstrom compiled three goals and three assists as the Capitals won two of last season's three meetings.
Bishop has often bared the brunt of that barrage, owning a 3.96 goals-against average while going 1-4-1 in seven career matchups.
Counterpart Braden Holtby enters on a roll of his own, having recorded a 1.80 GAA over five consecutive wins that includes a 33-save shutout of Edmonton on Monday. He's been even better at home, registering a 1.65 GAA and .941 save percentage in winning six straight there.
The Lightning have lost six of seven in Washington and are 3-12-4 in their last 19 regular-season games at Verizon Center.
|Canadiens||vs.||Devils||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 10:48 AM (EST)
The Montreal Canadiens are back to their winning ways and Carey Price is again dealing with a nagging lower-body injury.
Though it's uncertain how much time their star goaltender could miss, Price won't be in net when the visiting Canadiens try for a fourth straight victory Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils.
Playing his third game since missing nine in a row, Price left after two periods when he re-aggravated that injury in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. His right leg appeared to bend awkwardly at one point in the second.
"He tweaked it again," coach Michel Therrien said. "That's why we don't want to take any chance. It's still early in the season, so it's important for us when he plays, he's got to make sure he is healthy.''
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, who ranks third in the league with a .934 save percentage and sixth with a 2.06 goals-against average, was not expected to start this contest. He also could sit Saturday's rematch at home.
Rookie backup Mike Condon stopped all 11 shots Wednesday.
"It's next guy up," captain Max Pacioretty told the NHL's official website. "You never want to see that happen, especially with Carey, our best player, but (Condon) did a great job in relief."
Condon, who started each game while Montreal (17-4-2) went 5-2-2 without Price, posted a 1.57 GAA while winning six of his first seven starts this season but is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 GAA as a starter since.
"Have a short memory, focus on the things that matter," Condon said. "It doesn't matter about the game you played before, it just matters about being in the moment. Whether it's a bad goal or a nice save, you've got to move on to the next one because there's a lot of games to be played."
With the most points in the NHL, the Canadiens should feel confident no matter who is on the ice. Montreal has totaled 14 goals while beating the Rangers and New York Islanders twice in the last three games.
Pacioretty's scored four times in the last five contests and has five goals with six assists in the last 11. He had a goal and two assists while Montreal went 2-0-1 against New Jersey last season.
The Devils (11-9-1) have scored seven goals and averaged 22.5 shots while losing three of four. New Jersey recorded all but four of its 28 shots after the first period Wednesday but managed only Adam Henrique's team-leading 10th goal in a 2-1 loss to Columbus.
New Jersey's run of a power-play goal in five straight games ended. Montreal has killed 14 of 15 penalties during a 3-0-1 road stretch.
"We've got to bring our best game," said Henrique, who failed to record a point in those three meetings with Montreal last season.
Teammate Patrik Elias didn't have a point but logged almost 15 minutes of ice time Wednesday in his return from missing the first 20 games with a knee injury.
"He looked good, quick, and I thought he was really smart the way he managed his shifts," coach John Hynes said of the 39-year-old Elias. "He had a good work ethic."
|Flames||vs.||Coyotes||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By JON PALMIERI - STATS Editor
Thursday, November 26 at 9:35 PM (EST)
The Calgary Flames are near the bottom of the NHL's overall standings, and they'll likely stay there unless they find a way to improve their play away from home.
With coach Bob Hartley potentially shuffling his lines, the Flames seek just their second road win this month Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
Only Edmonton (15) entered Thanksgiving with fewer points than Calgary (8-13-1), and a 3-8-1 road record is among the biggest reasons why the Flames have struggled to recapture last season's success.
After home wins over New Jersey and Chicago, Calgary was poised for its first three-game streak of the season with a 3-2 lead entering the third period Tuesday at Anaheim. Instead, the Flames surrendered three unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 loss, their 21st straight in Anaheim.
"We've been like that on the road for quite a bit," said Michael Frolik, who scored twice. "We can't finish up the whole 60 minutes. We had a good start tonight, but we just need to find a way to win those kinds of games."
Tuesday marked Calgary's seventh consecutive game with three goals or fewer, and it has totaled only 14 while losing five of six on the road.
Hartley switched up his lines at Thursday's practice and said they could be used against Arizona (11-9-1). His top line featured Sean Monahan centering leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau and David Jones.
"Don't be surprised if you see those same lines tomorrow morning at morning skate," Hartley told the team's official website. "We're trying to create a balance. We could always go back to the lines that we had because I felt that we had pretty good chemistry but at the same time we want to get more offense."
Hartley did confirm that Karri Ramo will make his 12th consecutive start in net. Ramo is 2-6-0 with a 3.41 goals-against average on the road this season, but is 4-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA in four career starts against the Coyotes. He stopped 26 shots in a 3-0 victory at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2014, in his only appearance there.
The Coyotes kicked off a busy stretch of three home games in four days with Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Ducks. Antoine Vermette scored his first goal of the season in the second period and added an empty-netter to help Arizona win its third in four home games.
"When you're younger, maybe you're more sensitive to those stretches, but you know if you keep putting in the work, eventually it's going to come," Vermette said.
Anthony Duclair extended his point streak to five games with his eighth goal, tying fellow rookie Max Domi for the team lead. Domi ranks second among all first-year players with 18 points.
"I'm feeling great and getting confidence from all the guys helping me out," Duclair said. "I'm happy with my game all around. I think I'm getting better that way."
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett needs one win for the 500th of his career, but his team lost all five meetings with the Flames last season.
Mike Smith was in net for four of those defeats, posting a 3.81 GAA.
Arizona captain Shane Doan sat out Wednesday due to a lower-body injury and is day to day.
|Hurricanes||vs.||Sabres||7:00 (EST) Preview|
By JEFF MEZYDLO - STATS Senior Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 9:59 AM (EST)
The lack of offensive production that's contributed to a string of close defeats is starting to wear on the Buffalo Sabres.
They'll try to avoid extending their season-high slide to seven games Friday night against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Ranked 28th in the NHL with 2.05 goals per game, Buffalo (8-12-2) has scored seven times during its 0-4-2 stretch. One of those defeats came in overtime, another in a shootout and the last two by one goal in regulation.
"This is getting pretty frustrating now, I think it's like a broken record," forward Marcus Foligno told the Sabres' official website. "We're losing games by a goal and ... I think we're outplaying teams in some of these games."
The Sabres felt that was the case in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Nashville. Buffalo outshot the Predators 25-11 in the first two periods but trailed 3-0 before Evander Kane scored late in the second.
Buffalo hasn't notched a power-play goal in four games and is 1 for 18 in the last six. However, coach Dan Bylsma is trying to find positives amid this dark stretch.
The Sabres recorded 32 shots after failing to reach 30 in six of the previous eight games. They also killed all three penalties Wednesday.
''There's a lot in the game that's good,'' Bylsma said. ''There's nothing good about getting down 3-0 and not winning the hockey game, but some pretty good stuff from our lines.''
Rookie Jack Eichel snapped a six-game goal drought with his seventh to match Ryan O'Reilly for the team lead. Eichel, though, has recorded two of his 11 points in the last seven contests.
"Hopefully I can build some momentum," the 19-year-old said.
While Buffalo forward Zemgus Girgensons returned from missing four games with an upper-body injury, teammate Tyler Ennis could sit a second straight contest also with an upper-body issue.
Ennis doesn't have a point in his last three games, but has four goals and two assists in his last seven against Carolina.
The Hurricanes (8-10-4) have won two of three while earning at least one point in four straight games and six of the last seven. Jordan Staal recorded a goal after the puck bounced off two skates and Jeff Skinner had one on a skate deflection as Carolina rode that good fortune to a 4-1 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.
"Put your head down, go to work and earn those luck chances," Cam Ward, who made 30 saves for his second straight victory, told the NHL's official website. "They're starting to bounce our way, and hopefully we can continue that."
Though the Hurricanes have been competitive during their 2-1-4 stretch, the only time they've posted back-to-back wins came on a three-game run Oct 27-30. Coach Bill Peters hopes his team's latest triumph can light a spark to ignite a needed winning streak.
''You have to hate to lose," Peters said. "Every game is a dogfight. Losing is a disease, and winning is an unquenchable thirst you have to have.''
Carolina's Justin Faulk has three goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak.
Ward's dropped three straight at Buffalo and has a 3.27 goals-against average in his last four there.
|Penguins||vs.||Blue Jackets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Penguins-Blue Jackets Preview
Thursday, November 26 at 6:17 PM (EST)
An angry Sidney Crosby refuted the idea that there is a rift between him and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.
An angry John Tortorella called the Columbus Blue Jackets' latest victory lucky.
The Blue Jackets managed to shut down Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the last time these teams met and have taken four of the last five matchups heading into this one Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Crosby has been enduring a difficult season, though he scored twice in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win over St. Louis to increase his goal total to five. The captain also fired back at a report that he was feuding with the legendary Lemieux.
''I honestly don't even know what to say to that,'' he said. ''If people are going to make stuff up, it's totally out of my control. I feel stupid even commenting on it. That's ridiculous.''
Crosby scored twice in a regular-season game for the first time since Feb. 12 after not doing so for 46 games.
He appears to be breaking out of an early season slump. The two-time NHL MVP went pointless in eight of his first nine games but now has a three-game streak and 10 points in his last 12.
''I don't know if it's a coincidence that something like that comes up when you're struggling and the points aren't coming,'' Crosby said. ''In my experience, that's usually the case.''
Columbus (9-14-0) won 2-1 at New Jersey on Wednesday, but Tortorella wasn't pleased as his team was outshot 28-25 by the team with the NHL's lowest average shots.
"I'm not going to talk about individuals, it was a team effort of sloppiness," Tortorella said. "We're lucky we won."
The coach was happier when the Blue Jackets won at Pittsburgh (13-8-0) by the same score Nov. 13, saying that "I thought we had good sticks, I thought we won a lot of battles, checked well."
Brandon Saad and Scott Hartnell had second-period goals, and neither Crosby nor Malkin registered a point that night.
Malkin had totaled 14 points with at least one in his first 10 regular-season games against Columbus. Crosby entered that contest with 20 points in 14 regular-season contests versus the Blue Jackets.
That duo could be more lethal this time. Malkin scored the winning goal Wednesday after he assisted on Crosby's second goal, giving the Russian seven points in his last four games.
"Obviously they're special players," right wing Phil Kessel said. "If you watch them out there, they do special things and tonight they both had good games so it helps us win."
Pittsburgh will get its first look at Brandon Dubinsky since he memorably fought Crosby in a game last season. Dubinsky was scratched from the first meeting due to an upper-body injury.
"We have to find a way to string some together," Dubinsky said. "It's not going to be an easy task, but I think this group can do it.''
Columbus averages 13:21 of penalty minutes for the league's second-highest mark, is last in the league in winning face-offs at 46.9 percent and is fourth-worst with 4.7 takeaways per game.
"A number of things is maddening about our club right now," Tortorella said.
The Blue Jackets, 0 for 13 on the power play in its last five games, are the only team that hasn't played an overtime game.
|Canucks||vs.||Stars||7:30 (EST) Preview|
Thursday, November 26 at 4:23 PM (EST)
Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff is thankful that he has two capable goaltenders now that Kari Lehtonen is hurt.
The Stars will likely start Antti Niemi on Friday night when they host a Vancouver Canucks club that has dropped eight straight in this series.
Lehtonen entered in relief of Niemi in Tuesday's 7-4 defeat to Ottawa that ended the Stars' five-game win streak. He suffered an upper-body injury that night and was placed on injured reserve Thursday. It's unclear how long Lehtonen will be sidelined.
Dallas (17-5-0) is starting a back-to-back set with a trip to Minnesota on Saturday, and the club called up goaltender Jack Campbell from the AHL on Thursday. Campbell was a first-round pick in 2010 but made his only NHL appearance in October 2013.
"Every team gets challenged with injuries and here is our first challenge," Ruff told the Stars' official website. "We've got to rise to the occasion. Everybody's opportunity usually comes at somebody's expense, and now it is a bigger opportunity for somebody."
Niemi has started 12 games and Lehtonen 10. Niemi made 29 saves the last time these teams met as Dallas won 4-3 on Jamie Benn's overtime goal Oct. 29.
That extended the Canucks' misery in the series to eight straight meetings (0-6-2). Dallas has outscored Vancouver 33-13 in that streak.
Benn is the NHL's top goal scorer with 16 and is enjoying a six-game point streak during which he has six goals - all at home - and five assists. The winger has scored twice in consecutive games, and he's totaled seven goals in his last nine meetings with Vancouver along with six assists.
His 32 points rank second in the NHL, and teammate Tyler Seguin is third with 31 while also riding a six-game point streak. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin is fourth with 25.
Dallas is averaging 3.55 goals for the league's second-best mark. The Stars are only tied for 13th with 2.59 allowed per game after conceding a season high Tuesday.
Ruff's Western Conference-leading club has yet to lose two straight and has won all four games against Pacific Division foes.
"We've been doing so well, and we've been able to answer every loss with playing a strong game afterward, that I have all the confidence that we just reset and go at it," he said.
Defenseman Jason Demers, who scored in the last meeting with Vancouver, will return from a one-game absence with a lower-body injury.
Vancouver (9-8-6) has received 47 points from the Sedins. The brothers and Jannik Hansen had 13 of the Canucks' 21 goals in a seven-game stretch before Wednesday's 3-2 victory at Minnesota in which Radim Vrbata scored twice.
Vrbata has scored three goals in two games after a nine-game drought and has six goals this season after recording 31 last season.
"It was frustrating," he said. "I don't know if one game will change it, but hopefully this is the start of something good now."
The Canucks figure to go with Ryan Miller, tied for the league lead with 19 starts. Miller is 0-4-2 with a 4.25 goals-against average in his last six against Dallas.
Vancouver ended an 0-3-1 road slide Wednesday. The club was planning to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas at the Cowboys-Panthers NFL game.
"It might be good for us to get out and forget about hockey a little bit and then be ready for the game in Dallas," coach Willie Desjardins said.
|Islanders||vs.||Panthers||7:30 (EST) Preview|
By JORDAN GARRETSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 11:40 AM (EST)
The New York Islanders have played mostly lackluster hockey for nearly a month, but they showed a new edge in their last victory.
The Florida Panthers are just looking for a strong finish to what has been a disastrous homestand.
New York will try to build more momentum Friday night when it visits the Panthers.
The Islanders are 5-6-2 over their last 13 games, scoring twice on 35 power plays in the past 11 while giving up 10 power-play goals on 32 chances in the same span. New York is also 2 for 26 on the power play in road games this season.
The Islanders looked better in a 3-1 victory against visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday, however, outshooting the Flyers 36-18 for their second-best differential this season.
"It was one of our better games defensively," coach Jack Capuano said. "We didn't give them too much."
New York (11-8-3) also matched Philadelphia's physicality, racking up 20 penalty minutes. Matt Martin squared off with Wayne Simmonds while Nick Leddy took on Claude Giroux, and those two fights were one fewer than the Islanders had participated in all season.
"We needed a good, hard, physical game like that," said Casey Cizikas, who scored his third goal. "Those games are fun. When they get testy like that, when they get physical like that, that's what makes the game of hockey so much fun. I think we thrived off of that."
Kyle Okposo scored his fifth, giving him two goals to go along with eight assists in his last nine games. He'll be trying to extend a personal seven-game point streak in this series.
Florida (8-9-4) has lost three in a row after falling 3-1 to Los Angeles on Monday, the third time it has been held to one goal on this five-game homestand.
The Panthers outshot the Kings 34-32 but gave up an 18-4 advantage in the first period. They've been outshot 468-371 over the first 40 minutes compared to a 226-192 advantage in the final period.
"The first 20 (minutes) was real bad, and that cost us the game," coach Gerard Gallant said.
Roberto Luongo made 21 saves in relief of Al Montoya, who left in the first period after taking a shot to the shoulder and head. The Panthers didn't provide an update on Montoya's status.
"I think something got him in the back of the head or neck," Gallant said. "He was pretty sore."
Luongo owns a 3.08 goals-against average in his last five starts against the Islanders, while Jaroslav Halak is 9-2-0 with a 1.89 GAA against the Panthers.
Jaromir Jagr leads Florida with eight goals but has scored once in his last six games. He has one goal in his past 11 against the Islanders.
New York captain John Tavares has seven goals and six assists in 10 career games in Sunrise.
The Panthers have won four of the last six meetings with the teams combining for 38 goals.
|Oilers||vs.||Red Wings||7:30 (EST) Preview|
Oilers-Red Wings Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON - STATS Writer
Thursday, November 26 at 3:59 PM (EST)
Although they had a decisive advantage in shots, the Detroit Red Wings couldn't come away with a win in the opener of their longest homestand of the season.
The Red Wings could come away with a better result Friday night against an opponent they've dominated at Joe Louis Arena recently, though the Edmonton Oilers won the teams' first meeting of 2015-16.
Detroit (11-8-3) outshot Boston 34-22 on Wednesday and had an 11-4 edge while scoring twice in the second period. The Red Wings, though, couldn't hold a late lead and lost 3-2 in overtime after giving up the tying goal with 1:44 left in regulation.
"I thought we played great, so that's something to build off of. Obviously, we've got to find ways to hold onto that lead and find ways to win in overtime," forward Darren Helm said. "I think we keep moving, build off the positives that we did today and come back for next game."
Detroit continues a six-game homestand by trying for a 10th consecutive win over Edmonton at Joe Louis. The Red Wings have won 25 of 31 against the Oilers at home, with only two of Detroit's six losses coming in regulation.
Detroit's nine-game home win streak is its longest active one against any opponent and represents Edmonton's longest current such skid versus any team.
The Oilers (7-14-1) ended an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 3-1 victory Oct. 21. They won't have the player that scored the winning goal Friday, as star rookie Connor McDavid is out with a fractured collarbone.
Edmonton also lost Nail Yakupov for at least two weeks when he sprained his ankle getting tangled up with a linesman in Wednesday's 4-1 road loss to Carolina. Yakupov had two assists against Detroit last month.
The Oilers are 1-4-1 in their last six and have lost four straight on the road.
"That's a really, really disappointing performance by our hockey club," coach Todd McLellan said. "I still believe in our group, but we weren't engaged physically. We were outworked. It's the determination factor that I'm looking for and I didn't think we were a very determined team."
Pavel Datsyuk, who missed the first meeting with Edmonton while recovering from ankle surgery, has four goals and six assists in his last seven against the Oilers. Datsyuk scored his 300th career goal Wednesday and second in as many games.
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has 15 points in his past 11 matchups with Edmonton, though he's scored one goal.
Cam Talbot will start in net for the Oilers in their first of back-to-back games. He stopped 28 shots Oct. 21 but has given up 13 goals in his last three outings.
Defenseman Justin Schultz is not expected to return from a back injury until Saturday in Pittsburgh, the fourth of a season-high five-game road trip for the Oilers.
The Red Wings started Petr Mrazek in the latest matchup with Edmonton but are expected to go with Jimmy Howard in this one. Howard has won his last 12 starts against the Oilers with a 1.48 goals-against average.