Today is Friday, November 24, 2017.
|Friday, November 24, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Knicks||vs.||Hawks||7:30 (EST) Preview|
Hardaway returns to Atlanta as Hawks host Knicks
Friday, November 24 at 2:36 AM (EST)
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks hope their recent success against the New York Knicks can carry over to this rebuilding year and help them end a three-game losing streak.
Atlanta (3-15) hosts New York (10-7) on Friday at Philips Arena, the first of three meetings between the clubs this season.
The Hawks won their last three meetings with the Knicks and went 3-1 against them last season. This will be the only game between the two clubs in Atlanta, with the other two meetings scheduled for Madison Square Garden.
Atlanta is in a rebuilding mode after losing free agents Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., who signed with the Knicks and is averaging 18.4 points. Hardaway's presence has helped offset some of the scoring that was lost when Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Hawks are coming off a 116-103 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday, a decision that broke Los Angeles' nine-game losing streak. The Hawks have endured extended losing streaks this season, dropping eight straight and four straight, and they have settled into last place in the Eastern Conference.
A bright spot for Atlanta has been the development of rookie John Collins, who produced a double-double while making his first career start against the Clippers. Collins, a first-round pick from Wake Forest, has scored 35 points over the past two games and has shown increased confidence around the rim.
"John continues to be somebody that's growing, improving and playing well," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "He's busting it out there. We want him to continue to take those steps forward."
Collins held his own against veteran Clippers frontcourt stalwarts Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
"Those are both All-Stars," Budenholzer said. "He continues to take the challenge and welcome the challenge. He has to be better and we have to be better as a team, but a lot of positives for John."
The Knicks are getting good play from 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, who this season became the youngest player to score at least 400 points through 15 games. Porzingis, who averages 27.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, will provide another challenge for Collins.
Porzingis had 22 points and 12 rebounds in New York's 108-100 win over Toronto on Wednesday. He was instrumental in helping the Knicks outscore the Raptors 41-10 in the third quarter. Hardaway scored a career-high 38 points in the win, which included a 28-0 run during an eight-minute stretch.
"At halftime we had some strong words for each other," Porzingis said. "We talked about stuff we wanted to do better, and we came out in the second half looking like a different team."
It was the sixth time this season the Knicks won a game in which they trailed by double digits. New York is 10-2 when scoring 100 points.
The Knicks and Hawks typically play entertaining games. In January 2017, Atlanta won in New York on a last-second 3-pointer by Dennis Schroder, and the Hawks also beat the Knicks in Atlanta in four overtimes despite 45 points from Anthony.
|Magic||vs.||Celtics||7:30 (EST) Preview|
Magic search for answers against streak-less Celtics
Friday, November 24 at 3:07 AM (EST)
BOSTON -- On May 24, 2010, the Orlando Magic defeated the Celtics in Boston to avoid a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Magic, who visit TD Garden on Friday night, have not won in Boston since, losing Game 6 of that series to get eliminated and 13 straight regular-season games since.
They come to Boston with six consecutive losses overall, falling to 8-10 after an optimistic start. Now Orlando gets to face a Boston team that had its 16-game winning streak snapped with a 104-98 loss in Miami on Wednesday night.
"Right now, it's just like a spiral because losing is bad," Magic swingman Evan Fournier said Wednesday night after Orlando lost in Minnesota. "You wake up in the morning and you feel (sickly). Every time you watch the film session, everybody is down. It's just an awful feeling, and I can't wait to get a 'W,' man."
The Magic, who traveled to Boston on Thanksgiving, ran off a 6-2 record in their first eight games but have won just twice since.
"We've got to play mad for four quarters," Orlando coach Frank Vogel said Wednesday. "We've lost six in a row. We've got to play that way to start games and throughout the game."
Regardless of how Orlando plays, Boston has not been a friendly place for the Magic.
The Celtics will be doing something they haven't had to do since Oct. 20 -- play a game after a loss.
"It's tough, but I'm proud of this group," Boston forward Al Horford said after the Wednesday loss. "We put ourselves in position to win a game there, and we didn't make the plays down the stretch. We have to learn from that.
"It wasn't like we were necessarily dominating during the streak. But the will of this team is something that needs to be accounted for."
The Celtics overcame one 17-point deficit and two 18-point holes during the streak. They tried to crawl back Wednesday, but it just wasn't there as the record fell to a still-NBA-best 16-3.
"There's still a lot to accomplish going forward," Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said after following his 47-point effort in Dallas with an off night -- for him (23 points) in Miami. "It was a nice streak, but it was time to come to an end."
Boston coach Brad Stevens added, "We are not as good as that 16-game win streak."
The Celtics, who just came off a three-game trip and also go to Indiana on Saturday night, beat the Magic 104-88 in Orlando on Nov. 5. Jaylen Brown led six Boston players in double figures with 18 points. That was the eighth game of the 16-game streak that is now history.
Now, the Magic hope to end their own streak and give the Celtics two straight losses for the second time this season.
"Play like it's a playoff game for us -- that's the only way I see it right now," Fournier said. "We have to play extremely hard and with confidence. We've just got to find a way to get a 'W,' get this streak over and bounce back."
|Heat||vs.||Timberwolves||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Streak-busting Heat open road trip in Minnesota
Friday, November 24 at 3:20 AM (EST)
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Miami Heat arrive in chilly Minnesota to begin a four-game road trip less than 48 hours after cooling off the NBA's hottest team.
The Heat snapped the Boston Celtics' 16-game winning streak on Wednesday behind Goran Dragic's game-high 27 points and Dion Waiters' clutch 3-point shooting.
The 104-98 win gave Miami coach Erik Spoelstra a few more things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.
"I don't even care about the result right now," Spoelstra said. "It's all about behavior and habits. Guys really brought a purity to the work, a focus, a discipline the past two days."
The Heat (8-9) were anything but hot in a 25-point home loss to Indiana on Sunday, but they bounced back convincingly three days later against the league's top team.
After the Celtics slashed Miami's 14-point fourth-quarter lead to one with 3:14 remaining, Waiters hit two consecutive shots from long range to help end the Heat's eight-game losing streak to Boston.
"Those guys didn't win 16 games for nothing," Waiters said of the Celtics. "It was a battle."
The Heat are looking to turn the tables on a Minnesota team that beat them 125-122 in overtime on Oct. 30 at AmericanAirlines Arena behind point guard Jeff Teague's 23 points. Miami was without center Hassan Whiteside, who sat out the loss with a bruised left knee but will be in the lineup on Friday.
Miami has won 15 of 28 all-time meetings between the two clubs at Target Center, including the past two, and 32 of 54 overall contests.
One could hardly fault Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau if he spent his Black Friday shopping for a closeout of the fourth quarter variety. While his team managed to hang on for a 124-118 win over Orlando on Wednesday, the Magic outscored the Timberwolves 38-18 in the final quarter to close the gap to four with two seconds remaining before losing their sixth straight game.
"I was concerned because I saw they brought their starters back to start the fourth," Thibodeau said after the game. "So matching up with the starters was a concern. The way they shoot the 3, I knew that the lead wasn't safe."
Minnesota (11-7) led 106-80 after three quarters after outscoring the Magic 41-18 in the third, but the Timberwolves missed their next 14 field-goal attempts en route to being outscored by double digits in the final quarter for the second straight home game. The first instance led to a 100-97 loss to the Detroit Pistons after Minnesota entered the fourth with a nine-point lead.
For the season, opponents are outscoring Minnesota by 4.3 points in the fourth quarter overall. and the Timberwolves are 28th in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring. By contrast, Minnesota is sixth in the league in both third-quarter scoring (27.3) and field-goal percentage (47.6) while Miami is 30th (20.6 points and 38.3 percent shooting) in each category.
"We got to play like we're down 20 instead of playing like we're up 20," said Minnesota center Taj Gibson, who scored a season-high 24 points on Wednesday night. "When you try to guard the lead, things tend to happen. When you're playing like you've got nothing to lose and you're down, you keep playing and running fast, running to offense, trying to get your points, trying to just get things done. When you're trying to be safe with the lead, you never know. You're turning down shots, you're not being aggressive."
|Hornets||vs.||Cavaliers||8:00 (EST) Preview|
James roaring as Cavaliers again face Hornets
Thursday, November 23 at 2:42 PM (EST)
CLEVELAND -- As the Charlotte Hornets were preparing to play the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, Hornets coach Steve Clifford said his team would try to take away LeBron James' "garbage baskets."
"His big, big nights, which he's had against us, it's going to be the fast-break baskets, the second-chance baskets and the cuts," Clifford said prior to Cleveland's 115-107 win over the Hornets on Nov. 15. "That's how he gets from, he's averaging 28, that's how he's going to get to 38. You know, if you do a good job on those, then you hope he gets 28. You control what you can control but again, the great, great ones, you've got to take those other easy ones away."
James scored 31 that night, and on Wednesday against Brooklyn poured in 23 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. He scored 18 in a row.
Obviously, no one's been taking away James' buckets this season, garbage or otherwise.
The Hornets and the Cavaliers meet again at Friday in Cleveland. James enters as the NBA's third-leading scorer (28.6 points per game) and fourth in assists (8.3 assists per game). He's the league's top scorer with an average of 10.0 points in the fourth quarter.
"My team looks at me to be that scorer now," James said. "The last couple years, Kyrie (Irving) obviously being as great as he was in the fourth quarter, we kind of pick our games. There was games half the time that he had it going and, 'hey, go get it.' There was games half the time where I had it going and I'd go get it. But right now my teammates look at me and they're like, OK, like this is your quarter, you've done this your whole career.
"Let's try to make some things happen and it's very important that I try to come through for them."
The Cavs have won six straight and seven of their last eight. The Hornets, who are in a stretch of six games in nine days, have won three in a row, but they encountered a potential problem during their 129-124 overtime win over Washington on Wednesday.
Guard Nicolas Batum re-injured the left elbow that caused him to miss the first 12 games of the season. The Hornets called the injury a contusion, and there were no further details after the game. Like the Cavs, Charlotte was off on Thanksgiving.
Batum made his season debut against the Cavs last week and scored 16 points. Jeremy Lamb started in Batum's place for the second half Wednesday and finished with 24 points.
Hornets center Dwight Howard struggled mightily against the Cavs, scoring eight points with five rebounds in a heap of foul trouble. He's on a roll now, though, following up his 20-point, 25-rebound game Monday against Minnesota with 26 points and 13 rebounds against the Wizards.
The Hornets trailed Washington by nine points in the fourth quarter in picking up the home win. They're just 1-7 on the road this season.
"We love playing at home," Howard said. "Thank you, Charlotte. That energy in the building is what keeps us going. But now we need that same energy on the road."
|Pistons||vs.||Thunder||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Thunder in search of consistency against Pistons
Friday, November 24 at 3:30 AM (EST)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A team looking to regain its footing and a team looking to finally find some momentum meet Friday night in Oklahoma City when the Thunder host the Detroit Pistons.
In a win Wednesday over defending champion Golden State, the Thunder's big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony finally strung together a nearly complete game.
"We can't come this far tonight and then have slippage on Friday against Detroit," Anthony said after the win over the Warriors. "We've got to learn from this. We've got to build on this. And hopefully we can move forward from this and start something."
The Pistons are in the middle of a stretch of nine of 11 games on the road. Before they left for the initial three-game road swing, they were flying high, with five consecutive wins.
But the Pistons have lost three of their first four and the schedule is unforgiving over the next few weeks. Of the next 10 opponents, only Oklahoma City and Phoenix have losing records.
Tobias Harris' shooting struggles have coincided with the Pistons' problems. In the first 13 games, he shot 48 percent from the field, and even better from behind the 3-point line. But, in the past four games, Harris is hitting just 37.8 percent on field goals. His shooting from behind the arc has dipped to 33 percent recently.
"A little bit more attention (from other teams), but we haven't played as a team the last four games the way we are capable of playing in terms of picking up our defensive intensity, getting out and running more and just moving the ball more offensively," Harris told the Detroit Free Press. "It's nothing that I'm worried about. I know when shots are there I'm going to take them, let it fly, but I think our defense has to pick up more to fuel the offense."
The Pistons played those four games in six nights, but they have been off since the loss to Cleveland on Monday.
For the Thunder, Friday's game is the first of a back-to-back that wraps up in Dallas on Saturday.
Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan tinkered with his rotations in the win over the Warriors after the Thunder struggled to hold on to big early leads in losses to San Antonio and New Orleans.
He kept three starters on the floor to start the second half, going with George, Anthony and Steven Adams.
The switched helped the Thunder build off the lead they has amassed in the first quarter.
Donovan figures to continue to tinker with things as Oklahoma City looks for consistency with its made-over roster.
"We've got to play the same way," Oklahoma City's Raymond Felton said. "Hopefully this right here starts a run for us. We can't go backwards from this."
|Raptors||vs.||Pacers||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Raptors aim to recover in matchup versus Pacers
Thursday, November 23 at 1:59 PM (EST)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Until a strange third quarter Wednesday night in New York during which Toronto allowed the Knicks a 28-0 run, the Raptors joined the Indiana Pacers as two of the NBA's hottest teams entering Friday night's game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Toronto (11-6) had won four in a row until a 41-10 third-quarter meltdown in Madison Square Garden produced a 108-100 loss to New York despite 25 points from Kyle Lowry and 18 from DeMar DeRozan.
"The Knicks came out and overcame our energy -- lack of energy -- with their energy and just put us on our heels," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We couldn't make a shot -- short-arming it -- and missed a couple of layups.
"They came out and made five straight baskets, and again, you let a team like that get momentum as hard as they are playing, you put yourself in a hole."
DeRozan said it was an ugly third quarter.
"They came out aggressive in the third quarter, and we came out in a funk," DeRozan said. "We couldn't make a basket, couldn't get a stop, and they took advantage of it. It happens. It's the NBA. Some teams -- some nights -- have to go through it."
Indiana (10-8) on the other hand has won four in a row, including a 105-97 victory Monday night in Orlando during which third-year pro Victor Oladipo scored 29 points.
Since coming to Indiana from Oklahoma City in the Paul George trade, the former Indiana University standout has blossomed, averaging 22.6 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists.
"I think I've improved a little bit everywhere," Oladipo said. "My mindset, especially, I think has improved a lot. I'm getting comfortable with my teammates and comfortable with the system. I am just taking it one day at a time."
Pacers coach Nate McMillan said Oladipo has been a pleasant surprise. Oladipo was the brunt of some jokes about being the player traded for one of the NBA's best.
"Victor absorbs everything that you tell him," McMillan said."I have had more film sessions with him than I've had with any player. It's because he wants to get better. He's a guy that watches film a lot. He wants to learn and wants to improve. We've been able to see some growth in his game from some of those film sessions."
For Oladipo, being only 70 miles from where he attended college in Bloomington, Ind., makes him relaxed and comfortable. He said he grew as a man playing for then-Indiana coach Tom Crean, who was replaced by former Dayton coach Archie Miller at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
"He will always be my coach," Oladipo said of Crean. "He will always be a father figure to me and always be my coach. He will always be a man that when I look at him, he believed in me before anyone else did."
After a year in Orlando and one in Oklahoma City, Oladipo has landed where he believes he belongs.
"I'm glad to be a Pacer," Oladipo said. "I feel like I am home."
|Grizzlies||vs.||Nuggets||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Nuggets forge ahead without Millsap, face Grizzlies next
Thursday, November 23 at 6:48 PM (EST)
A road trip that began with such promise for the Denver Nuggets ended in a humbling loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
The lasting impact of Denver's 30-point loss to Houston is how they played without power forward Paul Millsap. He has been a steadying, veteran influence in the first quarter of the season, but now it appears he will miss significant time with a left wrist injury.
The original diagnosis was a sprain, but Millsap was sent back to Denver ahead of the team and damage to the ligament was discovered. He will likely have surgery and could be out for three months.
Denver will carry on without Millsap when it hosts the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
The Nuggets are determined to overcome the adversity.
"That injury is not going to define us or our season," coach Michael Malone told The Denver Post. "We're going to continue to prepare, to work, to fight and to compete. One man goes down, you have to have guys step up."
It didn't happen in Houston, which capped a quick 1-2 trip. With a day to recover, the Nuggets (10-8) have a chance to recalibrate before taking on Memphis.
Millsap probably wouldn't have made a difference in Houston, but with little margin for error in the competitive Western Conference, Denver has to adjust quickly to his absence.
Denver has plenty of frontcourt depth, but Millsap is considered a difference maker. His 15.3 points per game are second on the team, and he is also averaging 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
"I'm kind of sad, because he's a big part of our new thing with what we're trying to do," center Nikola Jokic told The Denver Post. "He's a big part of our future. He's a great player, an All-Star. We're going to miss him on the court. He's a go-to guy when we need a bucket."
Memphis (7-10) is coming off a heartbreaking setback at home to the Dallas Mavericks that extended its losing streak at six games. A banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer by Harrison Barnes completed a Dallas rally from 18 down and left the Grizzlies searching for answers.
"When we get a lead, we need to keep a lead," forward JaMychal Green told The Commercial Appeal after the loss. "That's been our downfall this season. We get a lead and we just let teams come into the game. We have to learn how to build on top of that lead. They just got what they wanted in the third quarter. We just have to get focused and lock in."
Memphis had a positive development in the recent downslide. Forward Deyonta Davis, who has moved into the rotation off the bench because of a groin injury to Brandan Wright, has played well the last two games. He had 14 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes against Dallas.
Friday's matchup won't be the biggest game on the NBA slate, but it could have significance later in the season. The Grizzlies are trying to remain a regular playoff participant and the Nuggets are trying to get back there for the first time in five years.
Both teams figure to be battling for one of the last seeds when April rolls around, so the head-to-head matchups carry meaning.
Friday's game is also a chance for Denver to hit the reset button after a strange three-game trip. Millsap was injured in the first game, a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, the same night that Malone and Jokic were ejected.
Jokic's ejection was rescinded after a league review, but Malone, who stepped on the court and made contact with official Rodney Mott, was suspended for the Sacramento game on Monday.
Denver controlled that game and won easily. Now it has to find that same magic without Millsap.
"It (was) an emotional trip. You lose one of your best players for an extended period of time, and you're going home after a real tough loss," Malone told The Denver Post. "But we're going home together. We're going home united. And we're going home with a belief that we're heading in the right direction."
|Pelicans||vs.||Suns||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Pelicans' twin towers invade Phoenix
Thursday, November 23 at 5:05 PM (EST)
PHOENIX - The New Orleans Pelicans will bring their twin double-double machine to Phoenix on Friday.
The Suns have three centers on their roster, and they might need every one.
New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins has 14 double-doubles and power forward Anthony Davis has 13 this season, and both did it again in the Pelicans' decisive 107-90 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-10 Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and 6-11 Cousins had 24 points and 15 rebounds against the Spurs, the fifth game in which the Pelicans (10-8) have had point guard Rajon Rondo on the floor after he was sidelined by an early core injury.
"We'll be scary," Cousins said about the addition of Rondo to the mix. "Now we've got to find a whole new way of playing. Not saying we're switching up our style, but just getting him accustomed to playing with us and us playing with him."
With Cousins and Davis getting good looks on the inside, the Pelicans shot 50 percent from the field for a franchise-record seven straight games before dropping to 48.1 percent against San Antonio.
On the other side, the Pelicans limited the Spurs to 39.8 percent shooting as the Spurs occasionally search for offense during the continued absence of Kawhi Leonard.
"The defense is what's going to make our offense go, and we did a great job," Davis said Wednesday.
"When we do that, we are a tough team to beat. We really don't like to run plays every time down. If we can get a stop and push it up the floor and get an easy basket in transition, then we'd much rather do that."
Davis passed Chris Paul on Wednesday to become the Pelicans' second all-time leading scorer with 7,938 points. Davis is 752 points away from New Orleans' all-time leading scorer, David West, now with Golden State.
If Davis maintains his scoring pace -- he is averaging 25.9 points a game -- he would pass West before the All-Star break.
"I'm not trying to stop there," Davis told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I want to bring championships here and do way more. For me, this is just one of many accomplishments I'm looking forward to getting."
The Suns (7-12) have played well recently and had a two-game winning streak stopped in a 113-107 overtime home loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Suns outscored the Bucks by nine in the fourth quarter but only got two points in overtime. They had a season-high 29 turnovers
Guard Devin Booker had 23 points against the Bucks and center Greg Monroe came off the bench with 22 points and 15 rebounds in 32 minutes. He had eight offensive rebounds.
Monroe, nominal starter Tyson Chandler and four-year veteran Alex Len have given the Suns a three-headed presence at center since Monroe returned from a calf injury last week. Chandler had six points and 12 rebounds in 21 minutes against the Bucks and Len did not play.
"We knew they would have a hard time stopping him," Suns interim coach Jay Triano said of Monroe.
Monroe is well aware of the challenge the Pelicans' frontline presents.
"You know you've got the two big guys, two All-Star big men coming in so you've got to slow them down first," Monroe said. "Pretty sure that's what we're going to be focusing on the hardest coming into the game Friday."
|Bulls||vs.||Warriors||10:30 (EST) Preview|
Warriors attempt to bounce back versus Bulls
Thursday, November 23 at 2:57 PM (EST)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors get an opportunity to do what they do best Friday night when they follow a loss with a game against the Chicago Bulls.
The Warriors will be coming off a 108-91 setback at Oklahoma City when they open a three-game homestand against a Bulls' team that will be attempting to avoid a winless four-game Western swing.
The loss to the Thunder was the Warriors' fifth of the season. On the first four occasions, Golden State won their next game, beating New Orleans, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia by an average of 18.5 points per game.
The trend is not unique to this season. In the Steve Kerr regime dating back to the start of the 2014-15 season, the Warriors have gone 36-7 in the game following a loss.
The Bulls handed the Warriors one of those seven defeats last March. Coming off a 112-108 loss at Washington, the Warriors were beaten 94-87 at Chicago.
The Bulls are one of only four Eastern Conference teams that have beaten the Warriors multiple times since Kerr has taken over as coach. They also had a 113-111 overtime win at Golden State in 2015.
The Warriors are coming off a 2-2 trip. They hurt themselves with turnovers in the losses at Boston and Oklahoma City, committing a total of 37 giveaways in those games.
Golden State ranks 28th in the NBA in turnover per game with 17.1.
After Wednesday's loss, Kerr accepted some of the blame for the teams' often sloppy play this season.
"I have to do a better job to get them ready to play," he said. "We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That's great. But there's certain times we have to be like, 'All right guys. Let's throw it to our team. Let's execute the play. Let's remember the play.' It's those kind of things. I think right now we're in a little bit of a rut where we have to focus."
Stephen Curry had six turnovers against the Thunder and 19 total on the trip.
The Bulls have problems of their own. They have averaged just 93.0 points in their trip-opening losses to Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah.
Chicago shot just 39.2 percent from the field and 30.1 percent on 3-pointers in the defeats. The Bulls rank last in the NBA in field-goal percentage at 41.0.
On the bright side, rookie big man Lauri Markkanen had his fourth and fifth double-doubles of the season against the Suns and Lakers, recording a season-high for points at Phoenix with 26 and a season-high for rebounds at Los Angeles with 14.
Acquired by the Bulls from Minnesota as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, Markkanen has been working on being more of a factor around the hoop after beginning his career as predominantly a perimeter shooter.
"That's definitely a personal goal for me, just to change the game, be one of those top guys," he said before Wednesday's game at Utah. "That's ultimately where I want to be at."
|Trail Blazers||127||vs.||125||Nets||Final Recap|
Nurkic scores 29 points as Trail Blazers hold off Nets
Friday, November 24 at 4:35 PM (EST)
NEW YORK -- Jusuf Nurkic produced the play of the game for the Portland Trail Blazers but when the final buzzer sounded, he was apologizing to Damian Lillard for some of the things he didn't do well.
For Lillard and the rest of the Trail Blazers, there was no need for Nurkic to be remorseful.
Not after he produced the tiebreaking three-point play with 27.6 seconds remaining by hustling under the rim Friday afternoon as Portland beat the Brooklyn Nets, 127-125.
"I learn to never quit, and there's no lost possession until the game is done," Nurkic said. "We're going to fight. I saw an opportunity to get the ball and try to make a play and it went in."
Nurkic produced his fifth double-double of the season with 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting and 15 rebounds. No play was as significant as what unfolded with regulation time winding down in a 123-123 game.
With 30.6 seconds remaining, Jurkic drove to the rim only to get blocked by DeMarre Carroll. Brooklyn's Caris LeVert grabbed the rebound on a scramble under the rim with 28.2 seconds left but lost the ball to Nurkic, who went right back up and converted a reverse layup for a 125-123 lead while being fouled by Spencer Dinwiddie.
"It was good to see that type of passion and that energy," Lillard said. "After the game, he was telling me, 'my bad, I missed the free throws, I did this, I did that.' I stopped him in the hallway (and said) 'I don't care about none of that. The most important thing is you made the biggest play of the game'
"We could have easily been up against it. He got his hand on the ball, caught it, went up strong, finished and one. That was the play of the game and that's just him making the winning play and staying with it. When you do things like that, you give yourself a chance."
Nurkic then made the foul shot for a 126-123 lead and the Blazers sweated out the rest of the game.
Their lead was cut to 126-125 when Dinwiddie cut to the rim for a hoop with 15.7 seconds remaining. It was 127-125 when CJ McCollum split a pair at the line with 11.4 seconds left.
After Brooklyn called its last timeout, Dinwiddie missed a 25-foot 3-pointer and Nurkic was fouled by Carroll with 2.3 seconds remaining. Nurkic then missed both foul shots but wisely used the foul to give with eight-tenths of a second remaining and Portland secured its 11th win when Joe Harris heaved a 3-pointer from beyond midcourt that would not have counted.
"It was a game that we had to go and get," Lillard said. I don't think it was an easy game at all. We had to fight for it down the stretch and I was happy with the things we had to do to make plays."
Lillard led the Blazers with 34 points, including a 3-pointer just before the buzzer that forged a 92-92 tie into the fourth. He missed all four of his field goals but made two free throws and blocked a shot by Jarrett Allen as Portland rallied from a 121-115 deficit in the final two-plus minutes.
McCollum added 11 of his 26 points in the fourth as Portland rebounded from missing its first 13 shots and shooting a season-worst 33.7 percent in Wednesday's 20-point loss at Philadelphia.
The Nets lost for the 10th time in 13 games by wilting down the stretch. After giving up 18 straight points to Cleveland superstar LeBron James in the fourth quarter Wednesday, the Nets missed six of their eight shots down the stretch.
"Disappointing," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "You know, games come down to the end like that and go either way. I thought they made the big plays, and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times."
The Nets never led by more than six points in the fourth. After Allen Crabbe's floater put them up 121-116 with 2:20 remaining, Brooklyn missed its next five shots, including three layups.
"None of the guys in the locker room play for moral victories, and we're playing to get wins every game," Dinwiddie said. "So it was tough to put in that effort and come up short."
Dinwiddie led eight Nets in double figures with 23 points. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 17, LeVert finished with 14 while Harris contributed 13 in a game where the Nets shot 50 percent, scored 66 points in the paint and 22 second-chance points.
NOTES: Portland F Pat Connaughton made his second career start Friday when he started in place of F Maurice Harkless. Connaughton's previous start occurred April 10 vs. San Antonio. Connaughton scored four points in 15 minutes while Harkless played 19 minutes. ... F Trevor Booker was available after missing Wednesday's game with a sprained left ankle. ... Brooklyn opted to start C Tyler Zeller at center for the second straight game. ... Portland F Al-Farouq Aminu missed his 11th straight game with an injured right ankle.
|Men's College Basketball|
|Georgia||vs.||San Diego State||7:00 (EST)|
|Western Carolina||vs.||UT Arlington||7:00 (EST)|
|Western Kentucky||vs.||SMU||7:00 (EST)|
|New Mexico||vs.||TCU||7:00 (EST)|
|Mount St. Mary's||vs.||Ohio||7:00 (EST)|
|High Point||vs.||Charlotte||7:00 (EST)|
|Florida A&M||vs.||Green Bay||7:00 (EST)|
|Saint Francis U||vs.||Louisville||7:00 (EST) Preview|
St. Francis faces long arms of Louisville
Friday, November 24 at 3:15 AM (EST)
Coming off a dominant 84-42 win over Southern Illinois on Tuesday night, the No. 19 Louisville Cardinals will host Saint Francis (Pa.) on Friday at KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals (3-0) have a nonconference slate loaded with small-school teams that are expected to contend for their conference titles. Saint Francis (2-2) fits that to a T.
Picked to win the Northeast Conference, the Red Flash is led by 6-foot-1 junior guard Isaiah Blackmon and 6-4 sophomore guard Keith Braxton.
The Cardinals are playing their best basketball of the young season, most notably on defense.
"Defense has been the staple of this program for a long time," Louisville interim coach David Padgett said. "It's great to see, and it's not surprising because our first five have been here, but they're not letting their offense affect their defense. They're continuing to defend and rebound."
Saint Francis may have trouble with Louisville's height in the post. The Cardinals boast 6-foot-10 Ray Spalding and 7-foot Anas Mahmoud in the starting lineup. Louisville leads the nation in blocked shots, swatting 9.7 per game.
Barry Hinson, the coach of Southern Illinois, said Louisville's length and shot-blocking were big factors in his team's 42-point loss Tuesday.
"I think they challenged us a lot," Hinson said. "It made us stagnant and we rushed our shots. I think you've got to give Louisville credit."
Junior forward Deng Adel leads the Cardinals with 19.0 points per game.
For Saint Francis, sophomore center Deivydas Kuzavas, a 6-foot-10 Lithuanian, is a rapidly improving force in the paint. He is averaging 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in just 18.5 minutes per game this season.
The Red Flash warmed up for Louisville by beating Franciscan 96-54 on Tuesday night.
"We were a little sloppy to start the game but I am happy with the way the team responded," coach Rob Krimmel said after the game.
"I challenged the guys at the half and our first unit came out focused to start the second half. We will turn our attention to Friday as we have an opportunity to play a top team in a great atmosphere."
SFU was 24th nationally in 3-point percentage last year (39.1), and they will figure to try to shoot quite a bit from outside against Louisville on Friday night. Louisville's foes are shooting just 26.7 percent from long range.
These teams have very little history, having played just twice since 1960. Louisville beat St. Francis 84-70 on Feb. 19, 1964, at Freedom Hall and 76-63 on Dec. 8, 1984, in the Wendy's Classic in Bowling Green, Ky.
|Gardner-Webb||vs.||Wright State||7:00 (EST)|
|UNCG||vs.||Wake Forest||7:00 (EST)|
|Virginia||vs.||Rhode Island||7:30 (EST)|
|North Carolina Central||vs.||Illinois||7:30 (EST)|
|Kent State||vs.||Valparaiso||7:30 (EST)|
|Citadel||vs.||Florida State||8:00 (EST)|
|George Washington||vs.||Kansas State||8:00 (EST)|
|Evangel||vs.||Missouri State||8:00 (EST)|
|Eastern Washington||vs.||Utah||8:00 (EST)|
|Oakland||vs.||Kansas||8:00 (EST) Preview|
No. 3 Kansas aims to follow up record 3-point shooting
Thursday, November 23 at 2:24 PM (EST)
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Whatever ceiling the Kansas basketball team can reach should be easy to track.
Just use the scoreboard as reference based on the offensive fireworks from their last performance, a 114-71 rout of Texas Southern.
No. 3 Kansas (4-0) set school records with 19 3-pointers in a game and 12 in a half. Seven scorers reached double figures while posting the second-best scoring total under Bill Self, the Jayhawks' 15th-year coach.
"Hopefully we can play better," said point guard Devonte' Graham, a senior captain who realizes the season is still young as Kansas prepares for a home game Friday against Oakland (2-2).
"There's always some stuff that we can correct. I know coach was getting on us about spacing and staying in the corners. It just makes it easier. If we space the floor, we've got guys that can drive it and guys that can shoot. But it was definitely a good offensive performance."
Naturally, Self will cite shortcomings and did following the latest blowout.
"We didn't rebound the ball defensively very well," he said. "The big guys did a terrible job of going over and trying to help. They (Texas Southern) just lobbed it up to their big guy and he just dunks it. There were some good performances and it was good to have seven guys in double figures."
Rebounding has been a concern for Kansas since the start of the season.
In part, because the Jayhawks lack frontcourt depth and rely heavily on inexperienced, but talented, 7-foot sophomore Udoka Azubuike for post production.
Reserve freshman guard Marcus Garrett leads Kansas with a 7.8 rebounding average. He has two double-doubles and has quickly asserted himself as one of the Jayhawks' top defenders.
Graham has been a player who has contributed in other ways too, while getting off to a cool start shooting, making just 34 percent of his tries. He averages 9.7 assists.
"I still didn't shoot the ball well, but you know I felt like I played a really good game, making plays and stuff like that," Graham said after going 6 of 16 against Texas Southern, with 11 assists against one turnover. "It was good to see a couple of shots fall and everyone shot the ball really well, so we looked good."
Oakland returned more than 70 percent of its scoring and rebounding production from a 25-9 squad that advanced to the NIT last season. Senior guards Kendrick Nunn and Martez Walker rank first and second among Horizon League scorers with averages of 24.0 and 21.8 points.
Jalen Hayes, a three-time All-Horizon League selection, will make his season debut after serving a four-game academic suspension. Hayes was penalized because the NCAA determined he was not making "satisfactory progress toward a degree."
The ruling was controversial since Hayes to set to graduate next month.
The 6-7 senior forward recorded nine double-doubles last season, when he averaged 15.9 points and 8.0 rebounds.
The Grizzlies, traditionally one of the nation's higher-scoring teams, are coming off a 74-50 loss at Syracuse, where Nunn played with a sprained ankle and Oakland shot 30.5 percent.
"We've got to use (the defeat) to get better. It was not a good night for Oakland basketball," said coach Greg Kampe, who is in his 34th season at Oakland. "We're going to have to play 35 times or so and we're going to have two or three of those not so good nights."
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||vs.||UTSA||8:00 (EST)|
|Fontbonne||vs.||Eastern Illinois||8:30 (EST)|
|Sacred Heart||vs.||Northwestern||8:30 (EST)|
|Northern Colorado||vs.||Youngstown State||9:00 (EST)|
|Stanford||vs.||Ohio State||9:00 (EST)|
|Northwestern State||vs.||Colorado State||9:00 (EST)|
|Pepperdine||vs.||Texas A&M||9:00 (EST) Preview|
No. 16 Texas A&M's lineup could get boost vs. Pepperdine
Thursday, November 23 at 9:08 PM (EST)
Texas A&M is ranked No. 16, but the Aggies are actually playing at a level above that with a convincing season-opening win over West Virginia and dominating performance in capturing the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this week.
The Aggies (4-0) potentially will become even better with the addition of redshirt freshman point guard J.J. Caldwell, who is expected to make his season debut Friday against visiting Pepperdine (2-3).
Caldwell has missed the first four games while serving a suspension for violating unspecified school policies.
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy has relied on Duane Wilson and TJ Sparks to run the point. They combine to average 17.3 points, but their assist-to-turnover ratio is not impressive with 27 assists and 22 turnovers.
The Aggies are averaging 16 turnovers and forcing 12 per game by opponents.
"Fortunately, we've got Wilson and Starks," Kennedy said, "but basketball-wise, (Caldwell's) going to make us better."
Caldwell, who turned 20 on Sunday, is a pass-first point guard who should be able to get frontcourt duo of Robert Williams and Tyler Davis the ball in high-percentage shooting situations. His play should also open up the perimeter for players like DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder.
"He'll make us more versatile, and he can score, too," said Davis, a 6-foot-10 center who is averaging 14 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. "He's not just a passer. He's really strong and can blow by defenders and score over the top big men.
"I've been waiting a long time to play with him. We have a chemistry that's kind of weird. We haven't known each other that long, but he sees my every move and knows what I'm doing. I love that."
Kennedy has not mentioned whether Caldwell will start against Pepperdine. Wilson, who scored a season-high 22 points Tuesday against Penn State and was named to the Legends Classic all-tournament team, has been the starter.
Pepperdine is coming off an 80-76 win over Oral Roberts on Tuesday in Malibu, Calif.
Freshman guard Colbey Ross averaged 23 points the last two games and was named to the Legends Classic Malibu sub-regional all-tournament team. He leads the Waves in scoring (14.8 points per game) and assists (5.2).
"Colbey Ross stepped up and made some big plays on both ends of the court," Pepperdine coach Mary Wilson said of Ross, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to fuel the win over Oral Roberts.
"He played like a senior. With (our) foul trouble, we had numerous guys step up. I'm proud of the guys' response to the challenge at halftime (rallying from a 15-point deficit)."
|Purdue||vs.||Arizona||9:30 (EST) Preview|
No. 2 Arizona scrambles to recover against No. 18 Purdue
Friday, November 24 at 3:46 AM (EST)
No. 2 Arizona went into the Battle 4 Atlantis as one of the favorites to win the tournament in its three days in the Bahamas.
Now, the Wildcats (3-2) will look to avoid going winless at the event after falling to SMU 66-60 Thursday night in their second game of the tournament.
Strangely enough, Arizona will still get a chance to play another ranked team in the seventh-place game Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET with No. 18 Purdue also looking to avoid going winless at the tourney.
The Wildcats took a late first-half lead Thursday night, but 20 turnovers and 20 offensive rebounds surrendered to the Mustangs took their toll as SMU (5-1) did enough to pull away in the end.
It was much of the same from the Wildcats on night two of the Battle 4 Atlantis -- lapses on defense, stretches of ineffectiveness on offense and missed free throws. The added element in Thursday night's loss, which wasn't there in the loss to North Carolina State on Wednesday, were the turnovers.
The Wildcats turned the ball over more than they have at any other point this season finishing with 20 to SMU's eight.
Arizona's bench was once again mostly a non-factor in Thursday's loss as freshman power forward Ira Lee was the only reserve to score, finishing with five points and six rebounds, plus two blocks. The rest of Arizona's reserves went 0-for-5 from the field in the loss.
The Wildcats' bench was outscored 39-6 in Wednesday's loss to N.C. State.
Allonzo Trier led Arizona with 22 points on Thursday night, to go along with five rebounds and three assists, while freshman big man Deandre Ayton collected his fifth double-double in as many games with 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Thursday night's game was one of runs, with Sean Miller's Wildcats up by 10 points during one stretch of the game. SMU's largest lead was 11 points with 14:06 left in the second half. The Mustangs didn't make a field goal over the game's last 3:44.
SMU dominated the offensive glass in the win, as well, leading to 14 second-chance points.
Arizona has struggled in the tournament with the smaller lineups of N.C. State and SMU, but Purdue has plenty of size -- as well as an older, experienced team.
"Clearly there's a lot on the line," Miller said of the Friday night matchup. "Just like our program, they have a lot of pride."
The Boilermakers dropped their game with Western Kentucky 77-73 Thursday night. Purdue lost its opening game of the tournament 78-75 to Tennessee in overtime.
"More than anything, I think it just bothers guys when their shots don't fall," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We took some good shots in the first half that didn't go down, and you can't let it bother you. You've got to be able to grind it out. ... I don't know if we strung together two stops in the first half. We gotta be a better defensive team. We gotta be a better rebounding team."
Purdue (4-2) was led by senior big man Isaac Haas in the loss Thursday night as he finished with 22 points and six rebounds. The Boilermakers had three players finish in double figures.
|St. Bonaventure||vs.||Maryland||9:30 (EST)|
|Sacramento State||vs.||Cal State Fullerton||9:30 (EST)|
|Cal Poly||vs.||Central Michigan||9:30 (EST)|
|Vanderbilt||vs.||Seton Hall||9:45 (EST) Preview|
No. 20 Seton Hall tries to regroup against Vanderbilt
Friday, November 24 at 3:31 AM (EST)
Instead of playing in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship Friday, No. 20 Seton Hall will be searching for answers.
The Pirates lost 75-74 Thursday against Rhode Island at the Barclays Center after falling behind by 11 points early, rallying back and then losing on a running jump shot by the Rams' Jarred Terrell with five seconds left.
Seton Hall (4-1) will play Vanderbilt (2-3) in the third-place game. The Commodores lost to Virginia 68-42 in the other semifinal game Thursday.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was most disappointed in his team's defense beyond the arc and lack of playmaking ability when it counted against Rhode Island.
"I was a little disappointed by our energy level," Willard said. "I don't understand why. Just one of those things. They came out and were more aggressive on the defensive end. We've got to stop looking for fouls (to be called)."
Terrell scored a career-high 32 points, making four 3-pointers. Rhode Island was 9 of 17 from 3-point range. The Rams also scored 54 points on 60 percent shooting in the first half.
Seton Hall totaled nine assists on its 30 field goals made. The Pirates had 15 turnovers.
"That's something I'm very disappointed in. That's not how we've been playing. We've been passing the ball well," Willard said. "We just put our heads down. It's everybody, not one person. We didn't get many inside-out looks.
"Myles Powell (team-high 21 points) got off to a great start and we stopped trying to find him."
It did not help that freshman point guard Jordan Walker missed his first game because of a torn hand ligament. He is expected to be out at least three weeks.
Vanderbilt is smarting from its 26-point loss to Virginia, a game in which the Commodores made only 12 field goals and shot 23.1 percent from the field, 22.2 percent from 3-point range.
Guard Matthew Fisher-Davis led the Commodores with 11 points.
"We were missing shots early, and they made some shots," Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew said. "Virginia is not a team you want to get behind on, especially early, because they are hard to come back on. We had some looks, but then they did a great job contesting."
Drew's better days are ahead at Vanderbilt. The former Valparaiso coach received two commitments recently from five-star high school players Simi Shittu (a 6-foot-9 power forward) and Darrius Garland (a point guard from nearby Brentwood, Tenn.).
For now, Vanderbilt will try keep up with Seton Hall after dismal performances by both on Thursday.
"Seton Hall is really good, really tough and plays really tough defense," Drew said. "It will be a really good challenge."
Pirates' big man Angel Delgado produced his NCAA-leading 54th career double-double against Rhode Island with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
|Prairie View A&M||vs.||UC Santa Barbara||10:00 (EST)|
|Florida||vs.||Gonzaga||11:00 (EST) Preview|
Evenly matched Gators, Zags meet in PK80
Friday, November 24 at 4:46 AM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The first ranked matchup of the Phil Knight Invitational comes between No. 7 Florida and No. 17 Gonzaga in the second round of the "Motion" bracket of the Phil Knight 80 Invitational on Friday.
The teams couldn't be more evenly match as they enter the game averaging more than 94 points per game and holding opponents to 68 points per game.
Florida (4-0) lit up Stanford on Thursday in the first round, powering to a 108-87 victory. The Gators shot 15 of 22 from beyond the arc, led by leading scorer's Egor Koulechov 5-of-5 performance from 3-point range.
"Honestly, I've been really comfortable with these guys from day one," said Koulechov, a graduate transfer from Rice. "The coaching staff and the players have done a really good job of helping me to adjust after coming from another school to make the transition easier for me. And how we play on the court, it's really unselfish and it's fun to be around that."
Koulechov finished with 26 points Thursday as Florida led from start to finish. Four other Gators notched double-figure point totals in the win.
"If you watched them tonight, they were very, very impressive," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Gators. "Obviously, the way they shot the ball tonight, the way they got out in transition was incredibly impressive."
Meanwhile, Gonzaga (4-0) cruised in its first-round game, soundly defeating Ohio State 86-59.
Johnathan Williams had a game-high 21 points for the Bulldogs, while Josh Perkins chipped in 20, including a 6-of-9 performance on 3-point attempts. Gonzaga went to a 2-3 zone in the game, limiting Ohio State down low and not allowing the Buckeyes many open shots.
"Like any zone, you're good at it if you're big and long and active -- and they're all of that," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said of Gonzaga.
Where the teams differ is in point production.
Florida has three players -- Koulechov, Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen -- averaging in double figures. As a team, the Gators shoot the 3-ball extremely well, converting over 40 percent of their attempts on the year.
"We have to take away the 3-pointer -- especially after the way they shot it tonight," Perkins said. "We've taken threes away from previous teams, and we hope to do the same tomorrow."
With Gonzaga, six players are averaging double figures, led by Perkins' 13.3 points per game. The Zags really like to spread the ball around, often taking advantage of defenses when they are stretched this across the court. Killian Tillie could give the Gators problem, as the 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 12.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Florida will have the slight advantage of getting an extra couple of hours of rest. Gonzaga's game was the last to go final on Thursday, ending around 11:40 p.m. Pacific time.
"In tournaments as great as this, you don't get a lot of time," Few said. "We've got to move on and get ready for a big one tomorrow."
The winner of the Friday game will advance to the championship of the "Motion" bracket where it will face either No. 1 Duke or Texas on Sunday.
|Texas State||vs.||Canisius||11:30 (EST)|
|Ohio State||59||vs.||86||Gonzaga||Final Recap|
Gonzaga's defense shuts down Ohio State
Friday, November 24 at 2:56 AM (EST)
Ohio State matched Gonzaga on the offensive end for the first 10 minutes on Thursday night. Then the Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure.
No. 17 Gonzaga held the Buckeyes scoreless and forced six turnovers over the final 7:48 of the first half and pulled away for an 86-59 win in the opening round of the PK80 tournament in Portland, Ore.
Both teams shot better than 60 percent from the floor during the game's first 10 minutes. The Buckeyes started the game 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs (4-0) closed the first half with an 11-0 run, as Ohio State (4-1) didn't make a field goal over the last nine minutes.
Corey Kispert, who picked up two fouls and played just three minutes in the first half, scored Gonzaga's first eight points after halftime as the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 52-33.
Keita Bates-Diop, the Buckeyes' leading scorer, got his first field goal of the game -- after scoring just two points in the first half -- a little less than two minutes into the second half to break an Ohio State scoring drought of more than 10 minutes.
Bulldogs point guard Josh Perkins made shots from all over the court, finishing with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting, all from behind the arc.
Johnathan Williams scored 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting for Gonzaga, and Killian Tillie had eight points and 11 rebounds. Both big men dealt with foul trouble.
Kispert scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Jae'Sean Tate and C.J. Jackson scored 12 points each to lead Ohio State, and Kaleb Wesson added 10 points. Bates-Diop was held to seven points but grabbed 10 rebounds.
Perkins hit back-to-back spot-up 3-pointers to cap an 11-2 run that gave Gonzaga a 21-16 lead with 13:02 to go in the first half.
Perkins made his first four 3-point attempts, some from well beyond the arc.
Perkins (15), Williams (11) and Tillie (eight) combined for 34 of Gonzaga's 44 first-half points.
The Bulldogs will play No. 7 Florida on Friday in the semifinals of the PK80's Motion Bracket, while Ohio State will face Stanford.
|San Diego State||89||vs.||52||Sacramento State||Final|
|Missouri||90||vs.||82||St. John's||Final Recap|
Missouri uses hot shooting stretch to defeat St. John's
Friday, November 24 at 2:26 PM (EST)
Missouri canned eight 3-pointers in the final 12 minutes to turn a back-and-forth game into a 90-82 victory over St. John's on Friday in an Advocare Invitational semifinal at Orlando.
Senior forward Jordan Bennett scored 19 points, graduate transfer guard Kassius Robertson posted 17 and freshman forward Jontay Porter added 16 off the bench for Missouri (5-1), which will face the winner of Friday's UCF-West Virginia semifinal in Sunday night's championship game. The Tigers finished 14 of 27 from 3-point range, far better than their 33.6 percent showing entering the game.
Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds delivered a career-high 31 points for St. John's (5-1), which will play in the third-place game Sunday. Sophomore guard Justin Simon approached a triple-double with nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Midway through the first half, Missouri turned a tight game into a 37-21 bulge. During the Tigers' 23-8 blitz over an eight-minute stretch, junior forward Kevin Puryear scored seven points early and Barnett capped it with nine points.
Missouri's spree only served to fuel Ponds, who reeled off 10 points in the final six minutes of the half to pull St. John's within 42-36 at the break. Ponds added the first basket of the second half as the Red Storm picked up where they left off.
Senior swingman Bashir Ahmed (17 points) and Simon cashed 3-pointers to pull St. John's even, then Chris Mullen's squad kept going. When Ahmed buried back-to-back 3-pointers -- one set up by Simons and the other by Ponds -- St. John's owned a 58-50 lead with 12:20 to go.
After that 24-point swing, the pendulum resumed swinging the other way. Robertson hit consecutive 3-pointers to regain a 59-58 lead for the Tigers with 10:13 left, which set a riveting stretch where the lead changed hands seven times in five minutes.
Missouri finally asserted control in the final four minutes as Porter hit two 3-pointers and Robertson added a 3-pointer and a layup to pull the Tigers up 83-75 with 1:56 to go.
Murphy helps No. 14 Minnesota roll past UMass
Friday, November 24 at 2:43 PM (EST)
Jordan Murphy's 16-point, 11-rebound double-double Friday led No. 14 Minnesota to a 69-51 blowout win over Massachusetts in the semifinals of the Barclays Center Classic at Steinberg Wellness Center in New York City.
Amir Coffey added 10 points for the Golden Gophers (6-0), which never trailed and led by as many as 26 points early in the second half. Nine players scored and eight played double-figure minutes for Minnesota as it was never threatened over the game's final 25 minutes.
Luwane Pipkins scored 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting for the Minutemen (3-2), which have just eight scholarship players. Massachusetts never found any traction against the Golden Gophers' defense, which held it to 31.8 percent shooting from the field and 5-of-23 shooting from the 3-point line.
Minnesota scored the first six points and then rattled off nine straight after the Minutemen tallied six in a row. The Golden Gophers took firm command with a 14-0 spurt over a 3:34 stretch later in the first half, opening up a 32-14 advantage when Nate Mason scored in transition off a turnover.
Any hope Massachusetts might have harbored of a big second half rally evaporated quickly. Minnesota scored the second half's first seven points, with Coffey capping that run with a layup less than three minutes into the half for a 47-21 margin.
The Golden Gophers finished the day at 42.9 percent from the field and sank 7-of-17 on 3-pointers. They outrebounded the Minutemen 37-31. Each team committed 12 turnovers.
The game was moved from Barclays Center because its NBA tenant, the Brooklyn Nets, played Portland in a noon tip.
|Arkansas State||61||vs.||72||South Florida||Final|
No. 5 Villanova beats Northern Iowa in Battle 4 title game
Friday, November 24 at 3:27 PM (EST)
Villanova guards Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges continued to be too difficult to handle for opponents in the Battle 4 Atlantis, combining for 34 points in a 64-50 win over Northern Iowa on Friday in the championship game at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Brunson and Bridges led the fifth-ranked Wildcats (6-0) in scoring in wins over Western Kentucky and Tennessee before facing the Panthers (5-2) for the title.
Bridges scored 18 points while making 8 of 14 shots from the field. He also tallied seven rebounds. Brunson had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. He had four assists and two steals.
"We've come to expect their great leadership. They put us in a position to win," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "In all three games here, we played a great second half and a lot of that has to do with them setting the tone."
Phil Booth contributed 12 points for Villanova and Eric Paschall added 10 points and five rebounds.
Northern Iowa was led by Juwan McCloud's 13 points. Bennett Koch had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Tywhon Pickford finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Villanova had a flawless game when it came to fouls and turnovers. The Wildcats committed only six fouls and committed three turnovers. Northern Iowa did not attempt a free throw.
"When the stat sheet says zero free throws attempted, it looks a little funny, but that has more to do with how effective Villanova played defensively," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. "They make the right switches at the right time and they just don't foul you.
"Neither one of our teams foul that much. They only had seven free-throw attempts until the final minute or so when we fouled them to try to get the ball back."
A 9-2 run by Villanova opened a 44-33 lead with 12:08 left, capped by a dunk by Paschall in transition after a Northern Iowa turnover.
The Panthers had 15 turnovers compared to only two for Villanova when eight minutes remained in regulation with the Wildcats leading 49-38.
The Wildcats outscored Northern Iowa 11-2 in points off turnovers. Brunson had four assists and only one turnover in 34 minutes.
"He comes to work every day, mentally prepared, physically prepared," Wright said of Brunson, who led Villanova in the tournament in scoring, averaging 20.3 points in the three games. "He just has a great perspective on life. When you take that to the basketball court, he plays the same way -- very intelligently, tough and very skilled."
A 3-pointer by Spencer Haldeman cut Villanova's lead to 51-45 with 5:33 remaining.
The Panthers failed to cut into the lead further in consecutive possessions before Booth nailed a 3-pointer with 3:56 left, increasing the lead to 54-45.
"The guys battled; we just have to play better," Jacobson said. "We had our chances with less than five minutes left and let it slip away. We were right there. I think our guys will learn from it."
The Wildcats pushed the lead to 59-45 as Northern Iowa went through a scoreless stretch of 3 minutes, 50 seconds, in which the Panthers missed four shots in successive possessions without grabbing an offensive rebound.
NOTES: Villanova junior G Jalen Brunson became the 64th player in school history to score 1,000 or more points, when the Wildcats played in Thursday's semifinal of the Battle 4 Atlantis. He now has 1,023 points. ... Northern Iowa 6-foot-4 freshman G Tywhon Pickford's 18 rebounds against North Carolina State in a semifinal game Thursday is the most by a Panther since David Gruber grabbed 18 rebounds against Montana on Nov. 22, 2002. ... Northern Iowa had an average rebounding edge of 10.8 per game in its first five games. The Panthers outrebounded Villanova 37-29 on Friday. ... Villanova played in its sixth consecutive November tournament title. The run began in the 2012 2K Legends Classic, where the Wildcats fell to Alabama. They have since captured the 2013 and 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis, 2014 Legends Classic, 2015 NIT Season Tip-off and 2016 Gildan Charleston Classic. They have won 17 straight games in these events dating to the 77-55 loss to the Crimson Tide
|East Carolina||47||vs.||61||Rutgers||Final Recap|
Freeman helps Rutgers remain unbeaten
Friday, November 24 at 3:22 PM (EST)
Deshawn Freeman posted a double-double as Rutgers remained undefeated on the year with a 61-47 win over East Carolina on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.
The senior forward scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as the Scarlet Knights improved to 6-0.
Jabari Craig and Isaac Fleming each scored 14 points to lead East Carolina. Craig was limited to 22 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Pirates began strong, leading by as many as seven points in the first 10 minutes. Rutgers took the lead on a Eugene Omoruyi dunk with 9:40 remaining, however, and never looked back, extending its advantage to 32-21 at the break.
The rout continued in the second half. Rutgers led by as many as 24 points to drop East Carolina to 2-3 on the year.
Rutgers dominated down low, out-scoring the Pirates in the paint by a 24-18 margin. The Scarlet Knights used nine different players to out-rebounded East Carolina 42-37. Shaquille Doorson added nine rebounds for Rutgers, while Dimitri Spasojevic snared 13 boards, to go along with six points, to pace the Pirates.
Neither team shot well from the floor. Steve Pikiell's squad picked up the win despite shooting just 32.3 percent from the field to East Carolina's 38.8 percent.
Rutgers is back in action on Nov. 28 when the Scarlett Knights play host to Florida State in Piscataway, N.J. The Pirates return home on Nov. 26 to Greenville and a matchup with a North Carolina A&T.
|Saint Mary's||79||vs.||84||Washington State||Final Recap|
Washington State holds off No. 21 St. Mary's
Friday, November 24 at 4:01 PM (EST)
Saint Mary's had no answer for Malachi Flynn.
The Washington State guard scored a game-high 26 points, and the Cougars held off a late Saint Mary's rally to upset the No. 21 Gaels 84-79 on Friday in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton, Calif.
Saint Mary's scored nine straight points to get within 80-77 with 48 seconds left, the Cougars made two layups in the final 18 seconds to seal the win.
The Cougars (5-0) advance to Sunday's title game against Georgia or San Diego State.
Emmett Naar led the Gaels (5-1) with 17 points and seven assists. Jordan Ford scored 15 points, All-America candidate Jock Landale added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Calvin Hermanson had 14 points.
Robert Franks scored 15 for the Cougars.
Flynn, who made 9 of 14 shots in the game, scored eight points during a 13-3 Washington State run that gave the Cougars a 59-53 lead with 11:48 to go.
Washington State increased its lead to 15 on Flynn's 3-pointer with 4:27 to go capped a 14-3 run.
Ford made a layup to cap a 10-2 Gaels run that put them on top 50-46 early in the second half.
Flynn hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to give Washington State a 42-40 lead at halftime.
Naar had 12 points in the first half for the Gaels, who shot 53 percent.
Saint Mary's led 16-10 after Cullen Neal's 3-point jumper nine minutes into the game.
The Gaels stretch their lead to six two more times in the first half, but could not shake the Cougars.
Saint Mary's will face the San Diego State-Georgia loser in Sunday's third-place game.
|Long Beach State||74||vs.||69||Oregon State||Final Recap|
Booker leads Long Beach State past Oregon State
Friday, November 24 at 4:18 PM (EST)
Deishaun Booker capped a 14-point, 12-assist game with a 3-pointer with 1:25 left Friday as Long Beach State edged Oregon State 74-69 at HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. in a consolation round game of the AdvoCare Invitational.
Booker, KJ Byers and Barry Ogalue each added a pair of free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the game for the 49ers, which improved to 3-3 and will play for fifth place in the tournament on Sunday against Marist or Nebraska.
Long Beach State trailed 49-42 with 10:26 left after a jumper by Stephen Thompson, Jr., who led all scorers with 24 points. But the 49ers went on an 11-4 run and tied the game at 53 on a jumper by Temidayo Yussuf with 6:20 remaining.
Forward Gabe Levin, who also scored 14 points, canned two foul shots with 4:43 left to give Long Beach State the lead for good at 60-58. The 49ers hit 52 percent of their field-goal tries in the second half to make the difference in a game where neither team enjoyed a double-figure lead.
Tres Tinkle turned in a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Beavers (2-3), while Ethan Thompson added 14 points. Oregon State narrowly outrebounded Long Beach State 40-37, but made just 40.6 percent of its field goals, including a miserable 3-of-24 effort from the 3-point arc.
The 49ers led by a game-high nine points in the final five minutes of the first half, but the Beavers rallied and got the game even at 29 at intermission.
|Northern Arizona||71||vs.||77||UC Irvine||Final|
Petty helps No. 25 Alabama coast past BYU
Friday, November 24 at 4:58 PM (EST)
John Petty scored 16 points as No. 25 Alabama rolled to a 71-59 victory over Brigham Young in the Barclay's Center Classic on Friday afternoon in Brooklyn.
Donta Hall added 14 points and nine rebounds as the Crimson Tide remain unbeaten on the year at 5-0. The freshman Petty also swiped a pair of steals and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
The Cougars fall to 3-2 with the loss.
Alabama used runs of seven and eight points in the first half to take a 42-31 lead heading into the break. Avery Johnson's squad led by as many as 15 points in the second half. BYU was never able to get within fewer than seven points in the second frame.
All told, four different players scored in double digits for a Crimson Tide team that shot 49.1 percent from the field. Brigham Young struggled to overcome 37.3 percent shooting.
Sophomore Dazon Ingram scored 13 points and freshman Collin Sexton contributed 10 points for Alabama.
Both teams tallied 34 rebounds, led by sophomore Yoeli Childs with 11 boards for Brigham Young.
Childs also led all scorers with 21 points. Sophomore guard TJ Haws added nine points and doled out a game-high six assists for the Cougars.
Alabama concludes the Barclay's Center Classic on Saturday against Minnesota. Brigham Young will square-off against Massachusetts earlier in the day on the same court.
|Maryland Eastern Shore||66||vs.||63||Jackson State||Final|
|Tennessee||67||vs.||58||North Carolina State||Final Recap|
Tennessee bests NC State in sloppy affair
Friday, November 24 at 5:14 PM (EST)
Tennessee forced North Carolina State into 21 turnovers and 38.2 percent shooting to earn a 67-58 victory in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game Friday afternoon at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Sophomore power forward Grant Williams piled up 14 points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals to pace the Volunteers (4-1), who never trailed. Sophomore guard Jordan Bone added 13 points and junior center Kyle Alexander racked up 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Allerik Freeman led North Carolina State (5-2) with 14 points and nine rebounds, but the senior guard converted just 4 of 18 shots from the field. Senior power forward Lennard Freeman added 11 points.
Perhaps feeling the effects of their third games in 48 hours, both teams struggled to figure out how to fit the ball through the rim in the first half.
North Carolina State committed 16 turnovers and shot just 31 percent in the opening 20 minutes, which included an 0 for 8 showing on 3-pointers.
Tennessee committed 12 turnovers and wasn't much better from the field (36 percent), but the Volunteers canned 5 of 11 3-pointers to make the difference.
Bone hit both of his tries while graduate transfer James Daniel III, junior guard Chris Darrington and sophomore guard Lamonte Turner came off the bench to convert one apiece as the Volunteers built a 30-23 lead by the break.
The Wolfpack sorted out some issues during intermission and converted on four of their first six second-half possessions. Torin Dorn canned a 3-pointer, fed Lennard Freeman for a dunk and added a layup to push N.C. State within 32-30.
That's where the Wolfpack's momentum slowed. First-year coach Kevin Keatts' crew scored just 13 points over the next 10 minutes as Tennessee pushed its lead to 54-43 with 8:17 left when Williams fed sophomore guard Jordan Bowden (10 points) for two straight 3-pointers.
|Spring Hill||67||vs.||74||New Orleans||Final|
|Oral Roberts||48||vs.||86||Penn State||Final Recap|
Penn State turns defense, routs Oral Roberts
Friday, November 24 at 5:24 PM (EST)
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State continued its hot start to the season by routing Oral Roberts 86-48 on Friday.
Four Nittany Lions finished in double figures with Nazeer Bostick and Jamari Wheeler leading the way with 14 points apiece.
Tony Carr added 13 points and Josh Reaves scored all 10 of his in the first half for Penn State (6-1).
Emmanuel Nzekwesi scored 11 points to lead the Golden Eagles (1-5) and Jontray Harris added nine.
The Nittany Lions made it tough for the Golden Eagles to get open looks at the net. Penn State forced 18 turnovers, notched 14 steals and held Oral Roberts to just 19-for-57 shooting.
Meanwhile, Penn State never trailed and the outcome was never in doubt after Carr drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to start the scoring.
It turned into a 28-9 run over the first 12 minutes and Penn State led 38-19 at halftime.
Another quick start in the second half helped Penn State coach Patrick Chambers get a look at some of his reserves. Every Nittany Lion played in the game after Penn State used a 23-9 run over the first 8:55 of the second.
The Nittany Lions ended up shooting 56.1 percent from the floor, including 9-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Penn State will see its schedule difficulty tick up with games against North Carolina State, Iowa and Wisconsin over the next 10 days.
Oral Roberts will try to snap a five-game slide on Monday against Oakland.
Nowell, Washington outlast Seattle
Friday, November 24 at 5:49 PM (EST)
Freshman guard Jaylen Nowell scored 25 points and Washington endured a flurry of Seattle 3-pointers in an 89-84 win Friday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Nowell shot 12-of-13 from the free throw line, leading a solid Huskies' performance from the charity stripe. They made 25 of 30 (83.3 percent) as a team.
Washington (3-2) got 18 points and 4-of-9 3-point shooting from junior guard Matisse Thybulle while senior guard David Crisp added 16 points and sophomore forward Sam Timmins scored nine points with eight rebounds.
Though the two teams shot an identical 28-of-58 from the floor, Seattle attempted six more 3-pointers and hit on four more, which proved essential to keeping the visitors in the game.
Redshirt sophomore guard Matej Kavas made 5-of-10 3-pointers en route to 25 points, and senior guard Jordan Hill connected on 4-of-9 deep en route to 16 points to help Seattle (2-4) keep pace.
Four of the Redhawks' first five baskets in the second half came from behind the 3-point arc.
The Redhawks beat the Huskies on the glass, 35-28.
Seven-foot-three Seattle redshirt junior center Aaron Menzies grabbed 13 boards to go along with 17 points before fouling out. Along with swingman Josh Hearlihy, who dished seven assists to go with 16 points, Seattle had four players in double figures.
Washington threatened to pull away early, taking a 21-11 lead with 11:06 to go in the first half, and the Huskies led for all but 1:38 of game time. Seattle battled back to remain within single-digits much of the way, even taking a brief, one-point lead in the second half.
The Redhawks were within a basket much of the way down the stretch.
|Texas Southern||77||vs.||84||Clemson||Final Recap|
Clemson holds off Texas Southern
Friday, November 24 at 5:32 PM (EST)
Clemson center Elijah Thomas had 26 points and 16 rebounds and guard Gabe DeVoe scored a career-high 21 points in the Tigers' 84-77 victory over road-weary Texas Southern on Friday at Clemson, S.C.
DeVoe made 8 of 9 shots from the field, including all five of his 3-point attempts. Thomas shot 10 of 11 from the field. Shelton Mitchell and Donte Graham added 10 points.
Clemson (5-1) made 61.2 percent of its shots and outrebounded Texas Southern 37-25.
Texas Southern (0-6) is in the midst of 13 straight road games to start the season. The Tigers lost previously at Gonzaga, Washington State, Ohio State, Syracuse and Kansas.
Demontrae Jefferson led Texas Southern with 22 points, 15 in the second half. Kevin Scott had 14 points and Derrick Bruce had 12 before both fouled out late in the game. Trayvon Reed finished with 10 points and nine rebounds and Donte Clark had 10 points.
Clemson went on an 11-2 run to open a 53-42 lead with 13:58 left in regulation. Thomas and DeVoe each made two baskets in that spurt.
After Clemson took a 17-point lead with 4:27 left, Jefferson answered with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions that cut the lead to 73-62 with 4:02.
Texas Southern cut the lead to 82-77 with 24 seconds left on two free throws by Jefferson. Free throws by Clemson's Scott Spencer and Clyde Trapp secured the win.
|Portland State||69||vs.||71||Butler||Final Recap|
Baldwin, Butler hold off Portland State
Friday, November 24 at 5:50 PM (EST)
Butler forced Portland State's Deontae North to take an off-balance 3-pointer in the closing seconds and held on to beat the Vikings 71-69 on Friday in the PK80 tournament in Portland, Ore.
North brought Portland State within 71-69 on a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left, and then got the ball back after an offensive foul on Butler's Kamar Baldwin, but the Bulldogs rebounded North's late miss.
The Bulldogs led by seven on Baldwin's jumper with 1:14 to go.
Tyler Wideman made 9 of 10 shots and led Butler with 18 points. Kelan Martin added 16 for the Bulldogs.
North, who came off the bench, led the Vikings with 18 points. Michael Mayhew scored 17 points and Bryce Canda added 14 points and six rebounds for Portland State.
Butler shot better than 50 percent but couldn't shake the Vikings.
Brandon Hollins made a free throw with 4:25 left to bring Portland State within 63-62.
The Bulldogs outscored the Vikings 9-4 to start the second half, but Portland State cut the Butler lead to 59-57 on a layup by Holland Woods with 8:36 left.
Butler shot much better in this first half, but the Vikings continued to hang around.
In Thursday's loss to Texas, the Bulldogs hit just 33 percent of their shots.
Butler made 15 of 26 field goals and led 38-34 at halftime on Friday.
Portland State made six 3-pointers to keep it close, despite missing 8 of 9 shots to end the first half.
Butler will play Stanford or Ohio State on Sunday. A Buckeyes' win would pit new their new coach, coach Chris Holtmann, against the Bulldogs, Holtmann's former team, something he called a "worst-case scenario" last week.
|North Carolina||87||vs.||68||Arkansas||Final Recap|
Maye Day as No. 9 North Carolina rolls past Arkansas
Friday, November 24 at 6:00 PM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Luke Maye is a star in the making.
The junior forward led No. 9 North Carolina to an 87-68 victory over Arkansas in the second round of the "Victory" bracket of the Phil Knight 80 Invitational. He finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds.
With the win, the Tar Heels (5-0) will meet the winner of Michigan State-Connecticut in Saturday's championship game.
Kenny Williams and Joel Berry II led a strong performance by the North Carolina backcourt, combining for 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Jaylen Barford scored 21 points for Arkansas (4-1). Daryl Macon, who scored 27 points in yesterday's win over Oklahoma, was held to seven points.
Trailing 53-37 early in the second half, the Razorbacks turned up the pressure and went to a full court press. This stymied North Carolina a bit, forcing the Tar Heels into three turnovers allowing Arkansas to go on an 11-2 run.
Maye ended the run with a tip-in before Williams scored a quick five points to push the lead back to double digits.
But the Razorbacks had one last run in them. A 10-0 spurt late in the second half cut the deficit to 74-68, with 3:32 to play.
North Carolina responded with its own 11-0 run in which Theo Pinson threw down a massive dunk in traffic that ignited the crowd.
North Carolina did a good job of attacking the rim when Arkansas decided to speed the game up with full court pressure. Instead of settling for contested jumpers, Berry and Pinson got to the basket at will, either getting fouled or leaving easy putbacks for Maye.
The Tar Heels finished the game 15-of-19 from the free throw line while Arkansas was limited to a 5-of-8 showing.
Arkansas came out with intensity to begin the game, harassing the Tar Heels into five turnovers in the first five minutes. A layup by Adrio Bailey gave the Hogs an 8-2 lead -- but it would be the last time they had a lead in the game.
North Carolina went on a 15-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 17-10 advantage. Maye and Berry II were instrumental during the run, combining for eight of the 15 points.
An Arkansas 3-pointer pulled the Razorbacks within 23-22 with five to play before a 13-4 run by the Tar Heels ended the half. Maye finished the first half with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
NOTES: North Carolina F Luke Maye's 28 points scored was a career high, passing his previous career-high of 26 against Northern Iowa to begin this year ... Maye's 16 rebounds were also a career-high, passing his previous mark of 10 set twice early in the season ... Razorbacks G Daryl Macon left the game early in the second half with a lower leg injury and did not return ... North Carolina's 50 percent from beyond the arc was a season-high ... Maye is the first UNC player with 100 points and 50 rebounds through five games since the 1996-97 season.
|North Texas||49||vs.||63||Georgia Tech||Final|
|St. Francis Brooklyn||76||vs.||85||Navy||Final|
|Elizabeth City State||vs.||Fayetteville State||4:00 (EST)|
|Central Connecticut State||74||vs.||73||Cleveland State||In-Progress|
No. 23 West Virginia eyes better effort against UCF
Friday, November 24 at 3:46 AM (EST)
The West Virginia players were not feeling the warmth of Thanksgiving from coach Bob Huggins after the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers barely survived against a winless Marist team Thursday in an opening-round game of the AdvoCare Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
"Our effort (stunk)," Huggins said following the Mountaineers' 84-78 win. "To play the way we play, you have to play with great effort."
Jevon Carter had 20 points and Sagaba Konate added 14 points and 10 rebounds for West Virginia (4-1). The Mountaineers shot only 35.1 percent from the field, including 21.1 percent from 3-point range, against Marist (0-4).
West Virginia will play Central Florida in a semifinal game Friday. The Knights improved to 4-0 with a 68-59 victory over Nebraska in another first-round game.
UCF coach Johnny Dawkins singled out senior A.J. Davis as a primary reason for the Thursday win. Davis made a crucial 3-pointer with 2:50 left to stem a surge by Nebraska. He finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
"I was really proud of A.J," Dawkins said. "There's a lot on his shoulders. He's like a point forward for us, so he plays multiple positions.
"He does whatever I need him to do. ... He never blinks. He just says, 'What do you need from me, Coach?' and he goes out there and does it. He's stepping up like a senior should when you need him to."
Freshman point guard Ceasar DeJesus led the Knights with 15 points Thursday. Regular point guard B.J. Taylor is out at least three more weeks with an ankle injury.
"It did a lot for our confidence," DeJesus told the Orlando Sentinel about the victory over the Cornhuskers. "We just had to stay disciplined and keep playing the game because Nebraska is a good team and they can make a run at any time."
UCF received a scare in the first half when 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall went sprawling to the floor after coming down on DeJesus during a loose-ball scrum under the Nebraska basket. Fall was in noticeable pain and holding his knee.
After exiting to the locker room briefly, he returned to the game just before halftime, and he finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Huggins is hoping UCF does not show the kind of defense Marist played against his team. The Red Foxes employed a variety of zone defenses that continually dared the Mountaineers to shoot from the outside, and Huggins' team could not muster an offensive flow.
"They did a great job, they really did," Huggins said of the Red Foxes. "They changed defenses on us, but we rely so much on making threes that we never threw the ball inside."
Also alarming to Huggins was the Mountaineers blowing a 15-point lead with 9:21 remaining by allowing Marist to go on a 17-2 run.
"I've got to figure out what we're supposed to teach them in terms of guarding the basket because to me it seems to change weekly," the coach said.
|USC Upstate||74||vs.||80||Bowling Green||In-Progress|
No. 15 Xavier meets ASU in Las Vegas title game
Friday, November 24 at 3:33 AM (EST)
Xavier will get a sturdy test Friday -- one that should help the Musketeers prepare for the challenging Big East down the road -- but coach Chris Mack isn't much worried about learning lessons at this time of the season.
"Maybe I should be looking more big picture, but I just like to win," said Mack, whose 15th-ranked team beat George Washington 83-64 on Thursday in a semifinal game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena.
The Musketeers (5-0) pulled away after leading by only six points with less than nine minutes remaining.
Xavier faces Arizona State (5-0) in the tournament's championship game on Friday. The Sun Devils outlasted Kansas State 92-90 in the other semifinal behind a career-high 28 points from wing Kodi Justice, who made 9 of 10 shots from the field, including all four from 3-point range.
Mack, whose team reached the Elite Eight last season, is looking for a more complete effort than he saw Thursday.
"We took our foot off the gas pedal for about five minutes (in the second half against George Washington), and we've got to be able to correct that and hopefully we will," Mack said. "We are certainly not consistent, but I think that happens to a lot of teams this early in the season.
"To be able to play 40-minute complete game, I don't know if you can find 10 Division I teams able to do that this early in the year. We learn a lot about ourselves in tournaments like this. We'll have a quick turnaround and play a really good team."
Mack said Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, the former Duke All-American, has the Sun Devils playing like a "up-and-comer from a big-time conference (the Pac-12)."
Arizona State forward Romello White finished with 19 points and six rebounds against Kansas State. Senior guard Shannon Evans had 14 points. The Sun Devils shot 54 percent from the floor but made only 29 of 44 from the foul line.
"We preach in our locker room we came here to win a championship," Evans said. "We might not be favored, but we'll give it our best shot. We didn't come here to lose."
Justice added: "Playing teams like Kansas State and Xavier builds your resume. Playing Xavier in the championship will pay dividends down the road."
Xavier's Trevon Bluiett, the Big East's leading scorer entering play Thursday, achieved his fifth consecutive 20-point game finishing with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting against George Washington. He added seven rebounds.
Bluiett is more upbeat than Mack about the Musketeers' development early in the season.
"Just as far as my confidence and physical ability and being out there for the team, I'd say we're off to a pretty good start," Bluiett told Cincinnati.com.
Xavier sophomore guard Quentin Goodin tied a career high with 16 points, and Musketeers senior forward Sean O'Mara added 10 points in 16 minutes despite briefly exiting the game after he turned his ankle in the first half.
Duke-Texas features two top NBA prospects
Friday, November 24 at 3:21 AM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Because the teams aren't in the same bracket, fans won't be seeing Duke take on North Carolina on Friday.
Instead, they'll settle for watching two of the top NBA prospects square off.
Freshman Marvin Bagley III will lead the Blue Devils against Mohamed Bamba and Texas in a second-round matchup at the Phil Knight 80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. The game, which features the nation's No. 1 (Bagley) and No. 4 (Bamba) recruits, is sure to have NBA scouts drooling.
Duke nearly suffered a monumental upset in the first round when it was trailing Portland State 49-45 at halftime. The Blue Devils regained composure in the second half and used their size and length to pull away for a 99-81 victory.
"The first half we obviously weren't playing like we were normally do," Bagley said.
"We weren't doing the things that we do well. We weren't going to our strengths. We kind of came out sluggish. But going into the second half it was just, 'You have to wake up.' They (the coaches) mentioned to us that these are the type of games that are going to be like that if you don't come out ready to play."
Meanwhile, Texas outlasted Butler 61-48 in an ugly offensive game. The Longhorns shot 40 percent and got 16 points from guard Andrew Jones for the win. Bamba was held to just six points, but he did have game-highs of 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Duke is willing to play fast or slow, either getting up and down the court or pounding it inside to its big men in a half-court game. Five players average double figures, with Bagley leading the way at 19.2 points and nine rebounds per game. Grayson Allen, a potential national player of the year, averages 18.4 points and shoots 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
But, without Allen in the lineup, the Blue Devils are extremely young and prone to letting up -- as was the case against Portland State.
"You know what happens sometimes too when you're in a tournament? You assume you're going to play Sunday night. Especially when you're young, you assume that," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Texas doesn't have the depth Duke does, but Bamba will be the best player the Blue Devils have faced this year. He averages 14 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. Dylan Osetkowski is a nice complement to Bamba, averaging 11.3 points and nine rebounds per game.
This game will offer contrasting styles as Duke shoots the three-ball well enough -- 37 percent -- while Texas struggles at 27.4 percent.
The winner will advance to the championship game of the "Motion" bracket on Sunday.
|Belmont Abbey||vs.||Johnson C. Smith||6:00 (EST)|
|Norfolk State||25||vs.||31||Robert Morris||In-Progress|
|Southern Miss||11||vs.||14||South Dakota||In-Progress|
|Thursday, November 23, 2017|
|Men's College Basketball|
|Purdue||73||vs.||77||Western Kentucky||Final Recap|
Western Kentucky knocks off No. 18 Purdue
Thursday, November 23 at 9:52 PM (EST)
Justin Johnson scored 17 points, and Jake Ohmer and Taveion Hollingsworth each scored 15 on Thursday night to lead Western Kentucky to a 77-73 upset of No. 18 Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis consolation bracket in Nassau, Bahamas.
Western Kentucky built an 11-point halftime lead and held on. The Hilltoppers (4-2) trailed only 3-2 and shot 53 percent from the field, including 52 percent from 3-point range, to build a 42-31 lead through 20 minutes.
Purdue (4-2) got a game-best 22 points from center Isaac Haas and 19 from point guard P.J. Thompson but could never pull even or take the lead in the second half.
It was Western Kentucky's first victory over a power conference opponent in eight years.
Purdue, which lost to Tennessee in overtime in Wednesday's opening round, had an extremely difficult time with the 6-foot-7 Johnson, who made big interior shot after big shot throughout the game, taking the ball right at the 7-2 Haas.
Ohmer and Hollingsworth hurt Purdue with their perimeter shooting.
The Boilermakers, who came to the Bahamas with an 11-game regular-season tournament winning streak, have lost two in a row and will play in the seventh-place game.
Western Kentucky will play No. 3 Arizona or unranked SMU on Friday for fifth place.
Texas puts away Butler to advance
Thursday, November 23 at 9:48 PM (EST)
Dylan Osetkowski scored 12 points and had two dunks that helped Texas put away Butler 61-48 on Thursday in the opening round of the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore.
Sophomore guard Andrew Jones had a game-high 16 points, and Mohamed Bamba helped control the boards with 12 rebounds for the Longhorns (4-0), who advanced to face No. 1 Duke in a semifinal in the tournament's Motion Bracket on Friday.
Texas never trailed, but couldn't shake Butler until late in the second half. Eric Davis Jr. hit a 3-pointer that put the Longhorns in front 33-23 with 14:43 remaining.
Butler rallied back and was within three after Kamar Baldwin hit a driving layup with 4:13 to play. Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
Osetkowski answered with baskets on Texas' next three possessions. His dunk off an assist from Kerwin Roach II pushed the Longhorns' lead back to seven.
Matt Coleman scored four points in final minute, and Roach sealed the win with a dunk that pushed the Texas lead to 11 with 52 seconds to play. Roach finished with eight points, and Coleman had nine assists in the game.
Senior forward Kelan Martin had 12 points, and sophomore guard Sean McDermott added 11 points for Butler (3-1), which drops into the consolation side of the Motion Bracket and will face Portland State on Friday.
Butler shot 32.8 percent from the floor and was outrebounded 41-31.
|Arizona State||92||vs.||90||Kansas State||Final Recap|
Justice prevails as Arizona State edges Kansas State
Thursday, November 23 at 10:10 PM (EST)
Kodi Justice poured in a career-high 28 points -- missing just one shot from the field -- as Arizona State held on for a 92-90 victory over Kansas State in a Las Vegas Invitational semifinal matchup Thursday night at Orleans Arena.
Romello White added 19 points as five players hit double figures for Arizona State (5-0), which advances to face No. 15 Xavier on Friday in the championship game.
Barry Brown Jr. paced Kansas State (4-1) with a career-high 27 points, but he missed a potential game-tying layup at the buzzer. Kamau Stokes added 23 points for the Wildcats, who meet George Washington in the third-place game.
Arizona State shredded Kansas State's man-to-man defense that entered the game leading the nation in field-goal defense (30.8 percent) and ranking third in scoring defense (50.8 points per game).
With Arizona State holding a 91-90 lead, Stokes rimmed a 3-pointer with seven seconds to go. The Sun Devils' Remy Martin split two free throws before Brown's miss at the horn.
Kansas State held a 44-42 edge at intermission as both teams showcased hot hands.
Arizona State took its first lead of the second half on Justice's 25-footer with 13:52 to go, but Stokes immediately answered with a 3-pointer as the Sun Devils regained the lead, 56-54.
Justice came down the floor and made a circus shot to re-tie the score, but Kansas State answered again with junior guard Amaad Wainright's layup.
That exchange set the tone for the rest of the game. When Justice banked a right-handed runner while getting fouled with 7:35 to go, Arizona State held a 77-69 lead. Kansas State worked its way back within one point on three occasions.
|West Virginia||84||vs.||78||Marist||Final Recap|
No. 23 WVU escapes with win vs. Marist
Thursday, November 23 at 11:17 PM (EST)
No. 23 West Virginia blew a 15-point, second-half lead and narrowly averted a major upset Thursday night, edging Marist 84-78 in the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational at HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers (4-1) with a game-high 20 points, snapping a 67-67 tie with 5:22 left by canning a 3-pointer. Sagaba Konate added a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Daxter Miles Jr. stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Guard David Knudsen paced the winless Red Foxes (0-4) with 19 points, converting 5 of 9 3-point attempts. Brian Parker chipped in 14, and Isaiah Lamb came off the bench to score 10 points.
West Virginia was a 29 1/2-point favorite entering the game against a lightly regarded opponent, and although it missed a pile of point-blank looks and 3-pointers, it still owned a comfortable 65-50 lead on Teddy Allen's tip-in with 9:21 remaining.
However, Marist made a stunning 17-2 spurt, with Knudsen hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in a 68-second span to fuel the charge. Parker sank a jumper with 5:36 left to finish the run, but the Red Foxes never could get the lead and the ball.
The Mountaineers canned only 26 of 74 shots from the field (35.1 percent), including a miserable 8 of 38 (21.1 percent) on 3-pointers, but saved themselves by hitting 14 of 16 free throws in the second half and 24 of 29 for the game.
West Virginia enjoyed a 26-11 edge in points off turnovers, forcing 24 miscues from Marist. The Red Foxes lost despite sinking 55.3 percent of their field-goal attempts.
Next up for the Mountaineers is a Friday semifinal against Central Florida.
Late run pushes Connecticut past Oregon
Friday, November 24 at 2:15 AM (EST)
After the game was tied at 60 with 3:25 to go, Connecticut finished on an 11-3 run to earn a 71-63 victory over Oregon in front of a very pro-Ducks crowd in the first round of the Phil Knight 80 Invitational on Thursday in Portland, Ore.
Neither team was able to establish any sort of rhythm as the game was played at a snail's pace due to the 53 fouls called. Oregon was whistled for a season-high 30 fouls.
The Ducks (4-1) had plenty of the chances in the end, but many sloppy mistakes, including wide-open misses by Payton Pritchard and Mikyle McIntosh, eventually did them in.
The Huskies (4-0) went 9 of 12 from the free throw line to clinch the game. Terry Larrier led the Huskies with a game-high 18 points, while Jalen Adams and Alterique Gilbert added 16 points each.
Pritchard led the Ducks with 14 points, while Paul White added 12. McIntosh had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
When Connecticut stretched its lead to nine early in the second half, the Ducks finally found some semblance of offense. Oregon went on a 14-2 run to take a 47-44 lead with 12 minutes remaining. However, UConn would battle back, tying the game at 53 with 6:58 to go.
Both teams struggled from the field as the Ducks shot 33.3 percent (19-for-57) and UConn shot 37.9 percent (22-for-58). Oregon was 5-for-24 from beyond the arc while the Huskies were 3-for-17.
As far as first halves go, it couldn't have gotten much uglier for the Ducks, who were trailing 38-31 at the break. They shot 33.3 percent (12-of-36) from the field, 35.7 percent (5-of-14) from beyond the arc, turned the ball over five times and committed 12 fouls.
The Ducks struggled to stay in front of their man on defense -- even prompting coach Dana Altman to switch to a zone midway through the half. The Ducks went scoreless over a late stretch in the half, but a big bucket by White near the buzzer gave Oregon some much needed momentum heading in the break.
UConn advances in the winner's bracket to face No. 4 Michigan State on Friday. The Ducks will face DePaul.
|Charleston||59||vs.||49||Sam Houston State||Final|
SMU gets marquee win over spiraling No. 2 Arizona
Friday, November 24 at 1:22 AM (EST)
Nearly 51 years passed since Southern Methodist last had a win over one of the top two teams in the country, but the Mustangs beat second-ranked Arizona 66-60 on Thursday night at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
It was the first time SMU defeated a second-ranked team since March 17, 1967, when the Mustangs defeated Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.
SMU prevailed despite hitting just 31.4 percent of its shots from the floor.
"Couldn't be more proud of our guys," SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. "I always say this and everybody thinks I'm lying, but I'm not when I say this: The best wins of the year are always when you can't get your shots to go in the basket and you find a way to win anyway. That's how great seasons are made."
SMU senior guard Ben Emelogu II scored a team-high 20 points.
It was the second consecutive upset defeat for the No. 2 Wildcats (3-2). Arizona fell 90-84 to North Carolina State on Wednesday.
SMU (5-1) caused 20 turnovers that resulted in 19 points. The Mustangs also had 20 offensive rebounds to Arizona's 11.
"We had 23 more shots than they did, and that's huge," Emelogu said. "We always need that, and Coach always emphasizes being an offensive rebounding team, a rebounding team period.
"We have smaller size than they do and a lot of other teams in the country. We focus on boxing out in practice and going hard to the boards. That's one of our points of emphasis on the team. We just have to keep doing it."
Arizona rallied from 11 points down with a 13-0 run to take a 53-51 lead, but the Mustangs didn't panic and bounced back to take a 64-57 lead with 1:07 left.
"They shot 31 percent for the game but our inability to get first-shot defensive rebounds and some free-throw blockouts (hurt us)," Arizona assistant coach Mark Phelps said on the team's postgame radio show. "(It was) offensive rebounding on their end and untimely turnovers on our end."
SMU's Shake Milton had 14 points and freshman Ethan Chargois added 12.
The Mustangs held a lead midway through the second half behind Chargois, who hit back-to-back layups and a free throw. Emelogu sank a 3-pointer to extend the lead. Emelogu then hit his fifth trey of the game to extend SMU's advantage to 49-38. Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit 15-footer to inch the Wildcats closer.
Allonzo Trier led Arizona with 22 points. Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 15 rebounds for his fifth consecutive double-double. The two combined for Arizona's final 20 points, but it was hardly enough.
Where does Arizona go from here with so many young players? Well, the Wildcats played better in Thursday's loss.
"(That's) in terms of the intensity, the togetherness, the communication and connectedness," Phelps said. "I think tonight we took a step forward in that category."
Arizona jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead and looked poised to recover from its loss to North Carolina State. The Wildcats hit six of their first eight shots and limited SMU to a couple of baskets with a more intense defense compared to the night before.
However, SMU steadily came back behind Emelogu's 14 first-half points. SMU went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 22-21.
The two teams exchanged leads throughout the rest of the first half as Arizona cooled down offensively, reverting to long jump shots that didn't go down. SMU could have easily taken the lead at the half, but it failed to convert on three easy baskets down the stretch. Arizona led at the half 31-30.
Ayton was limited to five first-half points because of foul trouble. He played only 13 minutes after picking up his second foul.
NOTES: Arizona F Deandre Ayton, back in his native Bahamas, has not disappointed. He has averaged 22 points in the two first games. ... Before this week, Arizona hadn't played in the consolation side of a bracket since losing in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout in 1994 ... Because of NCAA sanctions, SMU is two scholarships below the max of 13. The NCAA violations were for academic fraud and unethical conduct under then-coach Larry Brown.
Koulechov leads No. 7 Florida's rout of Stanford
Friday, November 24 at 12:31 AM (EST)
Florida guard Egor Koulechov led all scorers with 26 points in the seventh-ranked Gators' 108-87 rout of Stanford on Thursday in an opening-round Motion Bracket game of the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore.
Koulechov, a graduate transfer from Rice, made 10 of 14 shots from the field, including 5 of 5 from 3-point range.
Four other Gators scored in double figures. Jalen Hudson had 17 points while making 5 of 9 shots, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Mike Okauru had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Chris Chiozza had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Deaundrae Ballard contributed 13 points.
Florida (4-0) shot 58.5 percent from the field, 68.2 percent (15 of 22) from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Gators next play Friday against the winner of the game between Ohio State and No. 17 Gonzaga that was played late Thursday night.
Stanford (3-3) will play the loser of that game Friday in a consolation-bracket game.
The Cardinal were led by Reid Travis' 23 points. Robert Cartwright had 17 points and Michael Humphrey 10. Freshman guard Daejon Davis finished with nine points and seven assists.
Florida never trailed and led 58-39 by halftime after shooting 62.5 percent in the first half, including 72.2 percent from 3-point range (13 of 18).
Koulechov and Hudson each had 17 points in the first half and combined to shoot 11 of 16 from the field and 9 of 11 from beyond the arc. Koulechov made all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half. Hudson did not score in the second half.
Stanford managed to cut the lead to 22-17 with 13:19 left in the first half after the Cardinal trailed by 13 almost five minutes into the game.
Florida responded with a 10-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by Hudson to push the margin back to 13 points with 10:21 left in the first half. The Cardinal did not draw closer than 11 points afterward.
Stanford shot 54 percent from the floor.
|Georgia||64||vs.||57||Cal State Fullerton||Final Recap|
Georgia needs late rally to catch Fullerton
Friday, November 24 at 12:56 AM (EST)
Senior power forward Yante Maten scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes to help Georgia notch a 64-57 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the opening round of the Wooden Legacy at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.
Junior guard William Jackson II scored a career-high 16 points for the Bulldogs (4-0). Freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds collected a season-best 12 rebounds for Georgia, which boasted a 39-21 rebounding edge.
The Bulldogs advance to meet either San Diego State or Sacramento State in a Friday semifinal.
Junior guard Kyle Allman Jr. scored a career-best 34 points for the Titans (1-3). Cal State Fullerton, which shot just 35.6 percent from the field, will meet the loser of the San Diego State-Sacramento State contest in the consolation side of the bracket.
The Bulldogs never led over the first 30-plus minutes, finally moving ahead 40-39 on a tip-in by freshman forward Nicolas Claxton with 9:41 remaining. Jackson, nicknamed "Turtle," followed with a speedy driving hoop to cap a 7-0 run and give Georgia a three-point lead.
Cal State Fullerton hoisted seven straight errant field-goal attempts until Allman connected on a 3-pointer to pull the Titans within 49-48 with 2:45 left. Maten responded with a three-point play and later hit a 3-pointer to give Georgia a 55-49 advantage with 1:40 to play.
The Bulldogs' lead reached 60-50 when Maten made two free throws with 48.5 seconds remaining.
Allman had already established a career high with his 14-point output in the first half, and the Titans led 27-21 at the break.
Fullerton never trailed in the half despite being outrebounded 24-10, but the Titans forced 11 turnovers and committed just four.
Allman delivered a highlight when he received an alley-oop pass from sophomore guard Jamal Smith and slammed it home to give Fullerton an 18-12 edge with 7:19 remaining.
Titans junior guard Austen Awosika drained a last-second 3-pointer to provide the six-point margin at the break.
|Michigan State||73||vs.||51||DePaul||Final Recap|
McQuaid steps up as Michigan State downs DePaul
Friday, November 24 at 2:50 AM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- With star guard Miles Bridges sidelined due to a sprained ankle, Michigan State knew other players were going to have to step up.
Matt McQuaid, who came into the game averaging 5.3 points, scored 20 in leading the fourth-ranked Spartans to a 73-51 victory over DePaul on Thursday night in the Phil Knight Invitational's Victory Bracket.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Joshua Langford added 10 points for Michigan State (3-1). Cassius Winston was solid all-around with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"Our bigs by committee played pretty well. Jaren Jackson the best," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I told Cassius Winston he played better defensively than offensively; he did a hell of a job offensively in the second half."
Eli Cain and Max Strus led DePaul (1-3) with 12 points apiece.
"I thought we did a heck of a job on Strus," Izzo said. "It was a big thing for him to go 1-for-10."
Michigan State advances to a second-round game on Friday against Connecticut, a 71-63 winner over Oregon earlier Thursday.
With Michigan State trailing 35-33 early in the second half, the Spartans went on an 18-2 run, fueled by seven points from Langford and nine by McQuaid.
The Spartans locked down DePaul defensively in the second half, holding the Blue Demons to 20 points on 21.7 percent (5-of-23) shooting. Michigan State also shot 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc in the half.
"Our team had to play ugly and win. I mean we just knuckled down defensively," Izzo said. "To hold that team to that (shooting) percentage, that spoke volumes about what I learned from my team."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team finding much offense.
After DePaul seized the lead early, the Spartans rallied behind McQuaid's 11 first-half points.
DePaul, despite shooting 28.6 percent in the first half, stayed in the game because it continued to attack the rim. The Blue Demons went 11 of 15 from the foul line in the half to make up the difference.
The Blue Demons appeared to have momentum going into halftime as Cain sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game at 31.
For the game, DePaul shot just 25.5 percent from the floor while Michigan State finished at 47.2 percent.
NOTES: The status of Michigan State F Miles Bridges (sprained ankle) for Friday was unknown. ... Spartans G Matt McQuaid's 20 points were a career high, surpassing his old best of 15. McQuaid's six made 3-pointers were also a career high, passing his old mark of five last year. ... The Spartans posted a 39-24 rebounding edge.
UNLV trio outscores Utah
Thursday, November 23 at 2:54 AM (EST)
UNLV's trio of Jovan Mooring, Jordan Johnson and Brandon McCoy outscored Utah's entire team in an 85-58 triumph Wednesday night in the MGM Main Event championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
McCoy, a touted 7-foot-1 center, had a career-high 26 points with 17 rebounds. Johnson finished with 20 points and six assists, and Mooring added 19 points. The trio made 23 of 41 shots from the field. The Rebels (5-0) shot 50 percent from the floor overall.
Utah (4-1) made 21 of 60 field-goal attempts, including 2 of 20 from 3-point range. Donnie Tillman led the Utes with 14 points, and Tyler Rawson added 10.
UNLV ended the first half on an 8-2 run and scored the first six points of the second half to build a 49-33 lead with 17:55 remaining in regulation.
The Rebels exposed Utah's interior defense with McCoy getting a dunk and Johnson two layups to start the second half.
UNLV, which won the rebounding battle 46-30, outscored Utah 46-34 in the paint.
Utah's top two scorers -- forward David Collette (13.8 points a game) and guard Sedrick Barefield (13.0) -- were kept in check. Collette had nine points and Barefield scored only two on 1-of-8 shooting from the field (0-of-5 from 3-point range).
Collette had only two points until he made a layup with 14:25 left. Barefield did not make his first shot until 6:22 remained, cutting UNLV's lead to 71-49.
Utah started the first 10 minutes of the second half making only 4 of 17 shots, including misses on all five 3-point attempts. UNLV, which plays its home games at nearby Thomas & Mack Arena, led 65-41 at that point.
|Missouri||95||vs.||58||Long Beach State||Final Recap|
Missouri coasts to convincing win over Long Beach St.
Thursday, November 23 at 2:01 PM (EST)
The Missouri defense forced Long Beach State into multiple long scoring droughts, and the Tigers rolled past the 49ers 95-58 on Thursday in the opening round of the Advocare Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Long Beach State started 1 of 10 from the field, as Missouri raced to a 13-2 lead.
The Tigers led by 22 at halftime and never looked back.
Jordan Geist scored 16 points off the bench to lead Missouri. Jontay Porter scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Porter is the brother of Michael Porter Jr., the nation's No. 2 recruit. Michael Porter had lower back surgery on Wednesday, likely ending his college career after just two minutes on the court. Recovery time is expected to be three to four months.
Gabe Levin led Long Beach State with 12 points. The senior forward was just 1-for-6 from the field but made 10 of 10 free throws.
Porter had 10 points, four rebounds and four blocks, helping the Tigers to a 43-21 halftime lead.
Long Beach State didn't make a field goal during the final 4:44 of the first half. The 49ers were 6-for-29 from the field in the first half.
Missouri scored eight points off turnovers and outscored the 49ers 22-8 on second-chance points.
After Jordan Griffin hit Long Beach State's second bucket, a 3-pointer, the Tigers outscored the 49ers 12-4 to take a 25-9 lead with 9:11 remaining in the half.
Missouri will face the St. John's-Oregon State winner in Friday's second round, while Long Beach State will play the losing team.
No. 5 Villanova rallies past Tennessee
Thursday, November 23 at 10:29 PM (EST)
Tennessee took an analytical approach after upsetting No. 18 Purdue on Wednesday with the task of facing No. 5 Villanova on Thursday in a semifinal game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
"We told our guys that if you feel confident beating a team like Purdue, imagine how confident Villanova feels coming off an NCAA title two years ago and winning 32 games last year," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "They exude confidence. They take everybody's best shot night in and night out. Sure enough, they showed us what they're all about in the second half.
"Our guys got a chance to see what a really good team does when the chips are down."
Villanova guard Jalen Brunson scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half, spurring the Wildcats from a 12-point halftime deficit to post an 85-76 victory over Tennessee at the Imperial Ballroom Arena.
The Wildcats will play in the championship game Friday against Northern Iowa. Tennessee (3-1) will face North Carolina State in the third-place game.
After mounting the comeback and taking a 15-point lead in the second half, Villanova nearly blew it after Tennessee's Admiral Schofield made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 79-76 with 53 seconds left.
Mikal Bridges made 3 of 4 free-throw attempts on consecutive possessions to increase the lead to 82-76. Tennessee committed two of its 12 second-half turnovers afterward and the Wildcats pulled away.
"Our guys showed a lot of fight coming back," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "But what is fairly obvious is that we have a long way to go. We have yet to put together a good solid 40 minutes. That's what we need to work on the most."
Villanova was also led by 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting by Bridges, and 13 points each by Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo.
Tennessee, which was 1 of 8 from 3-point range in the second half, was led by Grant Williams' 20 points before he fouled out.
Villanova trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and faced a 46-34 halftime deficit. The Wildcats shot only 39.1 percent in the first half and were buoyed only by a 13-of-13 shooting performance from the free-throw line before halftime.
They tallied nine steals and scored 14 points off turnovers in the second half. The Wildcats finished 33 of 37 in free throws.
"How much of what happened in the second half was our ineptitude or them turning up the heat and forcing the issue?" Barnes said. "It was a little of both -- them amping it up a little bit and us not being able to handle the task."
Villanova opened the second half with an 11-0 run, cutting the lead to 46-45 with 16:11 left in regulation. Brunson and Bridges each hit a couple of baskets and Tennessee missed five shots with two turnovers in that pivotal stretch.
Villanova took control of the game and pushed its lead to 57-48 with 13:35 left, starting the second half by outscoring Tennessee 23-2.
NOTES: The win was Villanova's 16th in a row in a November event, dating to a 77-55 loss to Alabama in the 2012 2K Classic. In the years since, Villanova has captured the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis, 2014 Legends Classic, 2015 NIT Season Tipoff and 2016 Gildan Charleston Classic. ... The Volunteers have not defeated an AP top-5 ranked team since beating No. 3 Pittsburgh, 83-76 on Dec. 11, 2010. ... Villanova G Jalen Brunson's 25 points give him 1,007 points in his three seasons with the Wildcats. He has averaged 12.9 points per game over 81 career games. ... Tennessee senior G James Daniel III is the nation's active career leading scorer with 1,951 points.
|St. John's||82||vs.||77||Oregon State||Final Recap|
Ponds lifts St. John's over Oregon State
Thursday, November 23 at 4:35 PM (EST)
St. John's forced 21 Oregon State turnovers and overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to beat the Beavers 82-77 on Thursday in the first round of the Advocare Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Shamorie Ponds led St. John's with 26 points -- despite shooting 5 of 17 -- and six assists. Marcus LoVett added 18 points for the Red Storm (5-0).
Stephen Thompson Jr. led the Beavers (2-2) with 22 points, and Ethan Thompson added 19.
After falling behind 62-52 with 9 1/2 minutes to go, the Red Storm outscored the Beavers 22-5 to take a seven-point lead with 2:17 left.
Oregon State's Stephen Thompson Jr. responded with a 3-pointer, but four was as close as the Beavers could get the rest of the way.
The Red Storm made four 3-pointers during a 13-3 run capped by Ponds' shot that tied it at 65 with 5:44 to go in the game.
St. John's took a 69-67 lead 90 seconds later on a Kassoum Yakwe dunk. It was the Red Storm's first lead since late in the first half.
Oregon State took its first double-digit lead on Ethan Thompson's 3-pointer with 10:31 remaining.
The Beavers scored the final five points of the half and led 40-37 at the break.
Oregon State shot 52.2 percent from the floor in the first half, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. But the Beavers committed 12 turnovers -- St. John's had just two -- to help the Red Storm stay close.
Tres Trinkle made two free throws to give the Beavers their biggest lead of the half at 20-13 with 9:42 left.
Stephen Thompson made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the first half for Oregon State.
St. John's will play Missouri, which routed Long Beach State earlier Thursday, in Friday's semifinals. The Beavers will take on the 49ers.
|Portland||78||vs.||102||North Carolina||Final Recap|
No. 9 North Carolina rolls past Portland
Thursday, November 23 at 10:35 PM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore.-- It wasn't the best of starts for No. 9 North Carolina.
Facing an overmatched foe in Portland, the Tar Heels needed a full half to put away the Pilots as Luke Maye led North Carolina to a 102-78 victory in the first round of the Phil Knight 80 Invitational on Thursday.
"We're just happy to get a win -- we did some good things, we did some bad things," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I liked what a lot of our guys did, we had five guys in double figures ... had 39 made shots and 16 offensive rebounds."
Maye, North Carolina's leading scorer, finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Joel Berry II added 18 points and was 4 of 9 from beyond the arc.
Theo Pinson did a bit of everything for North Carolina (4-0), finishing with 11 points. He also added a game-high seven assists to go with nine rebounds. Kenny Williams added 17 points.
"It's just something I've been gifted to have my whole life," Pinson said about his offensive prowess. "I just try to be aggressive and make plays ... when I get to the basket good things happen."
Portland (2-2) was led by Franklin Porter and his team-high 19 points. Leading scorer Josh McSwiggan, who entered the game averaging 14.3 points, was held in check by the Tar Heels' length and finished with six points.
Leading 48-35 at the break, North Carolina began the second half on a 14-0 run over the first three minutes to put the game away.
"We turned it over a couple of times and (North Carolina) just hit their shots," Portland coach Terry Porter said. "A few of their guys knocked down 3s, they got some shots in the post, and they got the momentum."
North Carolina's run to begin the second half was vintage Tar Heel basketball as the team used its length to rebound and outlet, switching from defense to offense before the Pilots could react. All five starters scored during the run.
The Tar Heels dominated the game down low, outrebounding the Pilots 51-33, including a 16-9 advantage on the offensive glass. North Carolina scored 52 points in the paint, limiting Portland to 26.
"The size difference really hurt us inside," coach Porter said. "We just couldn't finish with their size and rebound the way we do."
Throughout the first half when North Carolina appeared poised to pull away, defensive breakdowns kept giving the Pilots open 3-pointers -- which they made. Portland hit seven 3-pointers in the first half to stay within striking distance but eventually the length and athleticism of the Tar Heels prevailed.
With the win, North Carolina advances to the winner's bracket and will face Arkansas on Friday. Portland plays Oklahoma in the loser's bracket.
NOTES: Five North Carolina players scored in double-figures ... The Tar Heels dished out 22 assists ... North Carolina F Luke Maye scored 20 points for the third time in the past four games ... G's Franklin Porter and Malcolm Porter are the sons of Portland coach Terry Porter ... The floors appeared to be slick as the game was stopped six times in the first half to clean up moisture.
|North Carolina State||60||vs.||64||UNI||Final Recap|
Northern Iowa rallies past North Carolina State
Thursday, November 23 at 5:41 PM (EST)
Less than 24 hours after slaying second-ranked Arizona, North Carolina State fell victim to the upset bug as Northern Iowa rallied for a 64-60 victory over the Wolfpack in a Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal on Thursday afternoon in Nassau, Bahamas.
Northern Iowa (5-1) trailed by seven points midway through the second half, but extended its winning streak to five games behind freshman guard Tywhon Pickford (18 points, 18 rebounds) and 6-foot-10 senior forward Bennett Koch (16 points). The Panthers play No. 5 Villanova (5-0) on Friday in the championship game.
North Carolina State, which got 17 points and 13 rebounds off the bench from sophomore center Omer Yurtseven, will face Tennessee (3-1) for third.
The Panthers limited the Wolfpack to 34 percent shooting from the field.
Northern Iowa and North Carolina State (5-1) battled for control of the game's tempo from the start. The Wolfpack entered the game averaging 90.2 points per game while the Panthers had held foes to 47.5 points per game during their four-game winning streak.
Northern Iowa, content to run most of the shot clock each possession, relied on nine early points from sophomore point guard Juwan McCloud to take a 19-12 lead at the 11:53 mark.
The Wolfpack heated things up with full-court pressure that forced Northern Iowa to play a little faster and kept them off the board for 5:15. Meanwhile, with senior post Lennard Freeman and his 14.6 scoring average stuck on the bench with two quick fouls, 7-footer Yurtseven entered the game and became N.C. State's go-to guy.
Yurtseven delivered seven points and seven rebounds in the first half as the Wolfpack pulled into a 32-32 tie at the break.
Baskets were just as hard to find in the second half. After Koch made a layup to make it a 40-40 tie with 15:37 to play, the Panthers scored just two points over the next six-plus minutes as North Carolina State seized a 49-42 lead.
Northern Iowa gradually got back into the game and regained the lead, 52-51, on a pair of Koch free throws with 5:40 to play. The Panthers rode Koch down the stretch as he delivered eight straight points as UNI kept pace with North Carolina State into the final 90 seconds.
That's when McCloud and Klint Carlson drove for layups that gave the Panthers a 62-58 lead with 14 seconds left. Yurtseven's putback cut the margin to two with 4.7 seconds left, but sophomore guard Isaiah Brown made two free throws with 3.1 seconds left to clinch the win.
Virginia pounds Vanderbilt to stay unbeaten
Thursday, November 23 at 6:35 PM (EST)
Virginia forced Vanderbilt to work nearly eight minutes to get its first basket and cruised to a 68-42 victory over the Commodores on Thursday during NIT Tip-Off semifinal action in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Sophomore guards Kyle Guy (18 points) and Ty Jerome (14 points) each shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range at Barclays Center to lead Virginia (5-0). Sophomore forward Mamadi Diakite added 12 points off the bench for the stingy Cavaliers, who entered the game surrendering just 54.2 points per game.
Virginia awaits the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between Rhode Island (2-1) and Seton Hall (4-0). The championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST on Friday with the third-place game at 9:45.
Senior swingman Matthew Fisher-Davis managed 11 points to pace Vanderbilt (2-3), which shot just 23.1 percent from the field and was just 4-of-18 on 3-point attempts.
The Cavaliers forced seven missed shots and three turnovers before Vanderbilt sophomore center Djery Baptiste canned a short jumper with 12:15 left in the first half to pull the Commodores within 15-3. Virginia's stout man-to-man defense didn't allow Vanderbilt to crack double digits until Fisher-Davis hit a 3-pointer with 3:32 left in the half to make it 30-11.
Virginia built its biggest advantage with 8:45 to play when senior forward Isaiah Wilkins' transition layup off a feed by senior transfer Nigel Johnson gave the Cavaliers a 64-25 lead.
Vanderbilt's previous low during Bryce Drew's tenure was 48 points on Dec. 8, 2016, in a 23-point loss at Middle Tennessee State. The Commodores hadn't scored so few points since a 76-38 whipping on March 1, 2014, at Tennessee.
|Saint Mary's||89||vs.||71||Harvard||Final Recap|
Landale-led Saint Mary's knock off Harvard
Thursday, November 23 at 6:37 PM (EST)
Jock Landale had 26 points and seven rebounds and No. 21 Saint Mary's remained unbeaten by cruising past Harvard 89-71 on Thursday in a first-round game of the Wooden Legacy at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.
The Gaels (5-0) used runs of 9-0 and 11-0 early in the first half en route to a 26-point halftime advantage.
Cullen Neal added 15 points and Jordan Ford had 12 points and nine rebounds for Saint Mary's.
Bryce Aiken finished with 22 points to lead Ivy League favorite Harvard (2-3). Chris Lewis chipped in with 18 points.
Saint Mary's, picked to win the West Coast Conference, took a 46-20 halftime lead and led by 28 before the Crimson climbed back into the game behind Aiken, who scored 20 second-half points.
The Crimson cut the deficit to 11 with under three minutes left, but Saint Mary's Emmett Naar scored four straight to clinch the game for the Gaels.
Naar just missed a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Gaels used the 11-0 burst to take a 23-7 lead with Kyle Clark and Neal doing most of the damage.
Saint Mary's pushed the lead to 20 when Landale got to the middle of the lane and his up-and-under layup gave the Gaels a 33-13 lead.
Clark's putback on the next possession gave Saint Mary's a 35-13 advantage.
The Gaels will play either Washington State or Saint Joseph's in the next round on Saturday.
|Portland State||81||vs.||99||Duke||Final Recap|
No. 1 Duke awakes to dispatch Portland State
Thursday, November 23 at 10:40 PM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- After receiving a wake-up call in the first half, the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils began the Phil Knight 80 Invitational with a 99-81 first-round victory over the upstart Portland State Vikings on Thursday.
"I thought Portland State played amazingly hard and well -- they knocked us back," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They're well-coached... we beat a really good team today."
The Blue Devils (5-0) went into the half trailing 49-45 but came out much more disciplined in the second half to slow the game down.
Potential No. 1 overall NBA pick Marvin Bagley III led Duke with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Trevon Duval added 22 points and Wendell Carter, Jr. had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
"Going into the second half, we had to wake up," Bagley III said. "We just had to come out play better, it's as simple as that -- we started to feel the energy start to change and we ran with it."
Deontae North scored 24 points for Portland State (4-1).
Eventually, Duke's switch to a 2-3 zone and size wore down Portland State in the second half. Bagley was nearly unstoppable down low as no Vikings player came close to his combination of size and length.
"In the second half, they had to react to us," Krzyzewski said. "In our '12' or zone defense, we were much more active and there wasn't the breakdown."
Bagley's ability to create room in tight spots and see over the smaller Portland State players was invaluable to slowing the game down.
Altogether, the Blue Devils dominated the Vikings in the paint, outscoring them 54-26, including a 49-37 rebounding advantage.
"Their size was really a tough deal for us," Portland State coach Barret Peery said. "Those balls that even when they missed shots around the rim, we had four or five guys around the rim and they were able to keep balls alive with their size and keep it on the glass."
The Vikings were able to stay in the game with their three-point shooting. They knocked down 12 in the game, outscoring the Blue Devils 36-12 from beyond the arc.
Portland State came out of the gate like a team with nothing to lose.
North led the charge with 20 points in the first half, hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. He picked apart the Blue Devils with a solid outside jumper combined with the skills and athleticism to score down low.
North fouled out midway through the second half. Bryce Canda added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Portland State committed 33 fouls, compared with just 16 fouls by Duke.
"It was kind of a crazy game with all the physicality," Krzyzewski said.
Grayson Allen, one of five Blue Devils in double figures, chipped in 14 points and nine assists.
Duke advances to play Texas on Friday. Portland State will face Butler.
NOTES: F Marvin Bagley III was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2017. ... Duke started four freshmen (Bagley III, G Trevon Duval, F Wendell Carter Jr. and G Gary Trent Jr.). ... Deontae North's 20 points in the first half were the most he has scored in a Portland State game since posting 25 against Cal State Bakersfield early last year. ... North was thrown out of the game for picking up two technical fouls in the second half ... Duke made 31 of 42 free throws. ... There were four technical fouls in the game. ... Five Portland State players fouled out.
|George Washington||64||vs.||83||Xavier||Final Recap|
Xavier bounces George Washington in Vegas tournament
Thursday, November 23 at 10:46 PM (EST)
Trevon Bluiett had a game-high 20 points with seven rebounds to lead 15th-ranked Xavier to an 83-64 victory over George Washington in a semifinal game of the Continental Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Xavier (5-0) will play Arizona State on Friday in the championship. George Washington (2-3) will play Kansas State in the third-place game.
The Musketeers were also led by Quentin Goodin's 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field with four assists and four steals. Sean O'Mara added 10 points.
Terry Nolan Jr. led George Washington with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Jair Bolden and Yuta Watanabe each had 16 points.
Xavier led throughout. An 11-1 run in the first half proved to be the difference with the Musketeers taking a 33-21 lead with 6:17 left before halftime.
Bluiett set the tone in the first half, scoring 12 points with three rebounds and two assists. He made 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range. Goodin added eight points, four assists and three steals by halftime.
George Washington went on an 8-0 run, fueled by a couple of layups by Nolan, to cut Xavier's lead to 62-56 with 8:51 left in regulation.
Xavier responded with an 11-2 run to pull away.
The Musketeers dominated the interior, outscoring the Colonials 54-16 in the paint. They outrebounded George Washington 38-26.
Macon carries Arkansas past Oklahoma in PK80
Thursday, November 23 at 7:45 PM (EST)
Senior guard Daryl Macon made a career-high six 3-pointers and Arkansas held on for a 92-83 victory over Oklahoma in a PK80 Invitational quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon in Portland, Ore.
In a track meet disguised as a basketball game at the Moda Center, Macon poured in 27 points. Fellow senior guards Jaylen Barford (19 points) and Anton Beard (14 points) and freshman center Daniel Gafford (13 points) also scored in double figures for the Razorbacks (4-0).
Arkansas will face No. 9 North Carolina, the defending national champion, in Friday's first victory bracket semifinal.
The Sooners, who entered the day leading the nation at 108 points per game, received 28 points from freshman point guard Trae Young. Junior guard Christian James added 13 points and senior center Khadeem Lattin provided 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Oklahoma (2-1) faces Portland (2-2) in a consolation game on Friday.
Arkansas, which averaged 93 points and nearly eight dunks in its first three games, made seven of its first eight 3-pointers to take a 43-40 lead late in the first half. Macon buried his first four attempts from long range and Barford nailed his first three.
At the other end, Young tried to match them shot for shot. When Young swished a rainbow 3-pointer from 25 feet with 5:19 left in the first half, he had 16 points and the Sooners pulled within 39-37.
On the next trip down the floor, Young drove, hung in the air underneath the hoop and found James spotting up in the corner for a go-ahead 3-pointer.
Arkansas wasn't fazed, however. Beard scored eight points in the final 4:27 of the first half to stake the Razorbacks to a 50-45 halftime lead.
Young didn't score again until he hit two free throws with 7:01 remaining. The Sooners never led in the second half, though they pulled within 80-79 when sophomore guard Jordan Shepherd made a layup with 3:22 to go.
UCF sparked by first-half run in win vs. Nebraska
Thursday, November 23 at 8:21 PM (EST)
The Central Florida Knights scored 19 straight points in the first half Thursday night and advanced to the semifinals of the Advocare Invitational with a 68-59 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers at HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Ceasar DeJesus had 15 points to lead the Golden Knights (4-0), and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall supplied 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Fall anchored a defensive effort that limited Nebraska (3-2) to 34.4 percent shooting from the field, including 6 of 21 from the 3-point line.
James Palmer Jr. scored a game-high 22 points to pace Nebraska. Glynn Watson, Jr. added 11 but made only 5 of 17 shots from the field. Isaac Copeland, who scored 30 on 14 shots Sunday in Nebraska's 92-70 win over Maryland, was held to eight points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Nebraska led 10-8 with 13:25 left in the first half when UCF started its game-shaping run. By the time Fall tipped in DeJesus' missed layup with 6:29 left, the Golden Knights owned a 27-10 advantage that would hold for the remainder of the game.
UCF took a 36-20 lead to halftime and was able to hold off several small second-half runs. A Palmer jumper with 3:37 left drew the Cornhuskers within 53-47, but they were able to get no closer.
The Golden Knights converted 51 percent of their shots from the field and owned significant advantages in bench scoring (23-5) and points in the paint (36-20).
UCF will meet Marist or No. 23 West Virginia on Friday night in a semifinal matchup.
|Rhode Island||75||vs.||74||Seton Hall||Final Recap|
Rhode Island upsets No. 20 Seton Hall
Thursday, November 23 at 8:54 PM (EST)
Jared Terrell scored a career-high 32 points and made the winning basket with five seconds to play to lead Rhode Island past No. 20 Seton Hall 75-74 on Thursday in an NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Stanford Robinson finished with 15 points for the Rams (3-1)
With the Rams down one, Terrell dribbled down the clock before driving to his right and lofting a tough, running shot that kissed off the backboard and in for the winning bucket in a tight, back-and-forth tilt.
After Terrell's shot, Seton Hall (4-1) elected not to call timeout and raced down the court in the finals seconds but couldn't get a shot off and suffered its first defeat of the season.
Terrell hit four 3-pointers and went 10 of 10 at the foul line for Rhode Island, which advanced to face Virginia in the tournament championship game on Friday.
Sophomore guard Myles Powell finished with 21 points, and senior Angel Delgado finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for Seton Hall, which will face Vanderbilt in the third-place game on Friday.
Seton Hall (4-1) erased a nine-point deficit in the second half and took a 72-71 lead on two free throws from Khadeen Carrington with five minutes to play.
The Rams (3-1) grabbed the lead in the first half on a 3-pointer from Jeff Dowtin at the 12-minute mark. Robinson scored five points in the final minute of the half, and Rhode Island went into intermission with a 54-45 lead.
|Saint Joseph's||71||vs.||75||Washington State||Final Recap|
Washington State slides past Saint Joseph's
Thursday, November 23 at 8:50 PM (EST)
Malachi Flynn drilled a 3-pointer with six seconds left Thursday as Washington State rallied for a 75-71 win over Saint Joseph's in the first round of the Wooden Tradition at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.
It was the 10th 3-pointer by the Cougars (4-0) in the second half, when they erased a 38-24 halftime deficit by hitting 66.7 percent from behind the arc. Washington State was 16 of 33 on 3-pointers for the day, with seven different players hitting at least one.
Robert Franks scored 19 points to lead the Cougars. Viont'e Daniels converted 5 of 6 3-point attempts and finished with 17 points, including the free throws that iced the game with two seconds remaining.
Washington State trailed by as many as 17 points early in the second half before reeling Saint Joseph's in from long distance.
Shavar Newkirk led all scorers with 24 points for Saint Joseph's (2-2) but committed a turnover with five seconds left on the possession it had to have to force overtime or perhaps regain the lead. James Demery added 13 points.
The Hawks connected on nearly 46 percent of their shots from the field in the first half when they built their big lead, overcoming a quick 14-6 deficit.
Saint Joseph's went on a remarkable 26-0 run during a 7:53 span, leading by 20 points after a jumper from Nick Robinson.
But the Hawks went cold after halftime, hitting only 10 of 31 shots from the floor as the Cougars wiped out their big deficit.
Washington State will play 21st-ranked St. Mary's on Friday in a semifinal.
|National Football League|
Redskins gain ground with win over Giants
Friday, November 24 at 1:17 AM (EST)
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Washington Redskins' offense on Thursday night didn't look very much like the juggernaut that piled up yardage while scoring 61 points in the previous two games.
That was OK with coach Jay Gruden.
Kirk Cousins fired a 14-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Josh Doctson with 3:31 left, and the Redskins defeated the New York Giants 20-10 at FedEx Field, snapping a two-game losing streak.
"We're not interested in stats here. We're interested in wins," Gruden said. "Thankfully, the defense played a great game and ... you could see the offense wasn't moving the ball very well for the Giants and field position was important."
The win capped a banner Thanksgiving for the Redskins (5-6), as two of the teams ahead of them in the NFC wild-card race -- the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys -- both lost.
On the decisive drive, a defensive-holding penalty wiped out a third-down sack, giving Washington another chance at the New York 48. Cousins soon hit Jamison Crowder for 17 yards to the 16-yard line, and two plays later he found Doctson in the corner of the end zone.
"We're trying to work (tight end) Niles Paul down the sideline off play-action and hope that we can get the defense to bite on the fake. They didn't bite," Cousins said. "Josh did a good job trying to sell run to the right ... he's supposed to sell that, sell that, sell that and then whip out of it and be an outlet for me late.
"He did the rest, he got separation and made a great catch and kept his feet inbounds."
Crowder, who has come on over the past four games, finished with seven catches for a season-high 141 yards and a touchdown. Washington running back Samaje Perine carried 24 times for 100 yards.
Cousins was 19 of 31 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and a pick-six.
Washington's Nick Rose added a 33-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining.
The Giants (2-9) generated three points on offense and netted 170 total yards, 39 in the second half. They picked up seven first downs, and Eli Manning was 13 of 27 for 113 yards and one interception. He was sacked four times and pressured throughout the game.
"We just never got into a great rhythm," Manning said after New York went 2 of 14 on third down. "It was just first down, second down, third down. We weren't able to get some drives and slow down that pass rush. They did a good job."
Rookie tight end Evan Engram, who had a team-leading 41 catches coming in, finished with three receptions for 18 yards but also had three drops.
"Yeah, our margin for error is small with the way things are right now," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.
With the game tied at 3 in the third quarter, Washington took over at midfield following a punt. On a blitz, Cousins found Crowder open, and the catch and run was good for 33 yards.
The Redskins went backward, and on third down Cousins avoided the rush, rolled to his right and passed 15 yards to a wide-open Crowder in the end zone with 6:32 left in the third. It was Crowder's first touchdown of the season.
"It was really a play that Kirk made," Crowder said. "Off-schedule kind of play. I had a corner route and Kirk was able to get out of the pocket and I was just kind of able to settle in the end zone between the defenders and he was able to find me."
On Washington's next possession, Cousins' left cleat got stuck in the turf as he threw, and his high pass was tipped by running back Byron Marshall. New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins reeled it in at his own 47 and raced down the sideline, cut toward the middle and scored to tie the game.
After an unappetizing first 15 minutes of scoreless Thanksgiving football, the offenses picked things up a bit in the second quarter.
On third-and-14 from his 24, Manning found Roger Lewis Jr. for a 19-yard gain. That sparked a 16-play, 60-yard drive that took more than eight minutes and ended with an Aldrick Rosas 30-yard field goal.
"We had plenty of opportunities, especially in the first half," McAdoo said. "On offense, we didn't capitalize on the opportunities."
Following a Giants punt, a 37-yard pass interference penalty on Ross Cockrell gave Washington a first down at the New York 11, but the Redskins settled for a 28-yard field goal by Rose with 13 seconds left in the half.
NOTES: Giants WR Sterling Shepard (migraines) missed his second consecutive game. Also inactive for New York were T Justin Pugh (back), LB Calvin Munson (quad), DL D.J. Fluker (toe) and LB B.J. Goodson (ankle). Giants CB Eli Apple was a healthy scratch. ... The Redskins were without LT Trent Williams (knee), TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), S Montae Nicholson (concussion), LB Martel Spaight (ankle) and C Chase Roullier (hand). Roullier was filling in for C Spencer Long, who went on injured reserve this week due to a leg injury. ... With his first-quarter sack, Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan (two sacks) became just the fifth player since the sack became an official stat in 1982 to record at least 7 1/2 sacks in each of his first seven seasons. ... Giants LB Curtis Grant (knee) left the game in the first half.
Vikings beat Lions to extend win streak to seven
Thursday, November 23 at 6:03 PM (EST)
DETROIT -- The Minnesota Vikings have not quite clinched the NFC North title. But by all appearances, their division opponents can forget about catching them.
The Vikings extended their winning streak to seven games with a 30-23 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field. Minnesota (9-2) opened up a three-game lead in the NFC North with five games remaining.
"I like this football team," coach Mike Zimmer said. "They're a bunch of fighters. They compete. When things go bad, they don't panic."
Case Keenum, who came into the season as a backup, continues to surprise with his production and poise. He threw two touchdown passes to Kyle Rudolph and ran for another while completing 21 of 30 passes for 282 yards in Thursday's game.
Keenum has completed at least 70 percent of his passes over the last three games while accounting for eight touchdowns.
"Today, he seemed like he was more settled," Zimmer said. "There are times when he gets a little excited and goes off the (chain) a little bit. Today, he seemed to be in a pretty good mindset."
Latavius Murray gained 84 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown for Minnesota. Everson Griffen, celebrating the birth of his son, led the defense with two sacks.
Minnesota led by as much as 17 points but it still came down the closing minutes.
An offsides penalty against Detroit wiped out a potential tying touchdown when a Kai Forbath field-goal try was blocked returned all the way to the end zone by the Lions with 1:14 left. The penalty clinched the win for the Vikings.
"We know how tough this team is to close out," wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "We've had some nail-biters the last few games. It feels really good to get a division win. We knew how much this game meant to the divisional race."
Matthew Stafford passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted once for Detroit (6-5), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell isn't ready to concede the division.
"Don't count us out just yet," he said. "We've got a lot of football to play and you don't know what's going to happen."
Stafford suffered a right ankle injury while throwing a 43-yard scoring pass to Marvin Jones early in the fourth quarter but didn't miss a snap. Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's a warrior. You already know that," Jones said of Stafford. "He's been through a lot in terms of what his body goes through, and time after time he gets in there, gathers himself and does what he does. You have to prop him for that and I wouldn't play with anybody else."
Murray scored 2:08 into the second half on a 2-yard run to give Minnesota a 27-10 lead. He set up the score with a 46-yard burst.
An apparent Stafford-to-Darren Fells touchdown pass was nullified upon review, as Fells didn't complete the catch. Detroit had to settle for Matt Prater's 32-yard field goal. Prater drilled a 50-yard field goal late in the quarter.
Stafford's 43-yard scoring pass to Jones made it 27-23. Forbath's 36-yard field goal with 3:42 left gave the Vikings a seven-point advantage. Stafford was intercepted on a desperation fourth-down pass by cornerback Xavier Rhodes with 2:50 left.
Minnesota led 20-10 at halftime.
The Vikings drove 80 yards on 14 plays during their first possession. They capped it off with a 1-yard pass from Keenum to Rudolph. The extra-point try was blocked.
They were back in business when Lions running back Ameer Abdullah fumbled a handoff at his 39 and defensive end Danielle Hunter recovered. Keenum scored three plays later when he faked a handoff and ran untouched into the end zone from 9 yards out.
Prater's 32-yard field goal put the Lions on the board. Rudolph got behind the defense and caught a 22-yard scoring pass from Keenum with 37 seconds remaining in the half.
Detroit got those points back in just 27 seconds with a three-play, 75-yard drive. Jones barely crossed the goal line on a 6-yard touchdown reception.
NOTES: Veteran DE Dwight Freeney, claimed by the Lions from Seattle earlier this week, was inactive. Top kick returner Jamal Agnew (knee) and RB Dwayne Washington (hip) were also among the inactives. ... Minnesota OT Mike Remmers (concussion) missed his third consecutive game. ... The teams split their first four meetings on Thanksgiving Day. ... Lions S Tavon Wilson departed early in the second half with a shoulder injury. ... Both teams play three of their next four games on the road. ... Minnesota K Kai Forbath has missed a league-high five extra-point attempts.
Rivers, Chargers gobble up Cowboys
Thursday, November 23 at 9:04 PM (EST)
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Los Angeles defense gobbled up the Dallas Cowboys and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers did the rest for a Thanksgiving victory.
Rivers passed for 434 yards and three second-half touchdowns to help the Chargers race past the Cowboys in the second half on the way to a 28-6 victory on Thursday at AT&T Stadium.
Rivers hit tight end Hunter Henry and wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Keenan Allen for scores of 3, 27 and 42 yards as the Chargers ran away from the Cowboys.
"It was a lot of fun," Rivers said. "Any time as a quarterback, you want to play well and throw it to your guys and we did that a heck of a lot today."
Dallas broke a 10-quarter drought without a touchdown early in the fourth when running back Rod Smith powered two yards for a score. Smith's touchdown capped a nine-play, 81-yard march.
But Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw incomplete on the two-point conversion attempt and the Chargers maintained a 16-6 lead.
Dallas' offensive woes continued midway through the fourth quarter when Los Angeles cornerback Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown.
"We're in a funk, or whatever you want to call it," said Prescott, who completed 20 of 27 passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. "It's not fun to be in. We just have to figure ways to get out of it. Me, individually, and this offense collectively."
Wide receiver Keenan Allen burned the Dallas defense as he caught 11 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown to lead the Chargers (5-6).
Allen made five Cowboys miss on his way to a 42-yard touchdown that gave the Chargers a 22-6 lead in the fourth quarter.
"We had a great play call," Allen said. "Phil threw a great ball and after that I just had to make them miss. I used to be a running back. I just knew the safety was coming. Once I caught the ball, I knew I had to get up the field real fast."
Dallas (5-6) dropped its second home game of the week after Philadelphia handed the Cowboys a 37-9 defeat on Sunday night. The Cowboys are 2-4 at home this season.
"Offensively, the performance wasn't up to par and certainly wasn't enough to match what they were doing on their side of the ball," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.
Los Angeles established a two-score lead when Rivers found Henry for a 3-yard touchdown. Rivers looked off his first option and turned to Henry, then threw to Henry's right, away from Cowboys safety Byron Jones.
Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed the extra point attempt, holding Los Angeles' advantage to 9-0 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
Anyone napping during the first half didn't miss much offense as neither team scored through the game's first 28 minutes.
The Chargers reached the Cowboys' 17 on its first possession, but Novak missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
Novak appeared to be injured on the Chargers sideline, prompting punter Drew Kaser to warm up by kicking into a net, which he missed on one attempt.
Los Angeles chose to go for a fourth-and-13 from the Dallas 16 early in the second quarter. Rivers completed a pass to running back Austin Ekeler, but Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis stopped Ekeler after a 12-yard gain.
"We were at the 25 and I was told (Kaser) was good from the 25," Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. "And then somebody told me he was practicing his kicks and he missed the whole damn net, so I decided to go for it."
Novak came back into the game and booted a 22-yard field goal for the game's initial score with 1:56 remaining in the second quarter.
Kaser successfully kicked an extra point after the Chargers' second touchdown in the third quarter. He went 1 of 3 on point-after-touchdown attempts.
Dallas failed to travel more than 28 yards on any of its first-half possessions, resulting in four punts. The Cowboys managed just 84 yards total offense in the first half.
NOTES: Dallas lost its last two games and managed just one touchdown with LT Tyron Smith out of the lineup. In that time, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was sacked 12 times. Smith started on Thursday and Prescott was sacked only twice. ... Chargers first-year head coach Anthony Lynn is a native Texan and played high school football at small-town powerhouse Celina, about 50 miles north of AT&T Stadium. ... The Cowboys and Chargers met for the 11th time and the first time on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas has a 6-5 edge in the series, though the Chargers have now won four of the last five. ... Despite losing RB Ezekiel Elliott to a six-game suspension two weeks ago for violating of the NFL's personal-conduct policy, Cowboys RB Darren McFadden was a healthy scratch on Thursday for the second-straight week. Dallas went into Thursday's game with two running backs (Alfred Morris and Rod Smith) and a fullback (Keith Smith) on its active roster.
|Friday, November 24, 2017|
|Western Kentucky||vs.||FIU||7:00 (EST)|
|Virginia Tech||vs.||Virginia||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Hokies look to extend mastery of Virginia
Monday, November 20 at 3:53 PM (EST)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia Tech and Virginia will square off for the 99th time Friday, playing for the Commonwealth Cup, which has been firmly in the Hokies' possession lately.
Virginia Tech, which moved back into the Associated Press poll at No. 24 this week, will be looking to make it 14 consecutive wins over the Cavaliers when the teams meet at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
"Just the brutal facts, it's been a long time," Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said about the Cavaliers' losing streak to the Hokies.
Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC) is having its best campaign since 2011, although Mendenhall's first taste of the rivalry was a sour one a year ago as the Cavaliers got walloped in Blacksburg 52-10 to close out a 2-10 season. This year, Virginia is already bowl eligible and is looking for its first win in the series since 2003.
"I have a better understanding for almost everything about or program than I did last year," Mendenhall said. "This game is for the state championship, which deserves our best preparation and intent and practice habits and work ethic."
The Hokies (8-3, 4-3) need to beat Virginia and win their bowl game to notch their second straight 10-win season. Coach Justin Fuente, in his second season with Virginia Tech, will experience the rivalry on Virginia's home turf for the first time.
"They are a much-improved and completely different football team than we played a year ago," said Fuente. "They're scoring points and throwing the ball down the field."
Virginia Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking sixth nationally in points allowed per game (14.7) and 17th in total defense (315.6 yards).
The Hokies' defense is led by junior linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who has team highs with 93 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. He was selected as one of five finalists Monday for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.
"We have a lot of history of great defensive players and linebackers, but Tremaine deserves to be recognized for his play," Fuente said. "We forget sometimes how young he is and how far he has come in a short period of time. But he certainly deserves to be mentioned among the national elite."
Virginia will challenge that Virginia Tech defense with quarterback Kurt Benkert, who needs just 101 yards to set the school record for passing yards in a season. He has completed 265 of 439 passes for 2,876 yards, with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
He threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns last week against Miami, only to the see the unbeaten Hurricanes rally for a 44-28 victory. Virginia has lost four of its previous five games but took a lot of positives from last week's game.
"We missed an opportunity against Miami, plain and simple," Benkert said. "We've got two more games ahead of us, so there's a lot more football to be played."
Despite the blowout last season in Blacksburg, Virginia had played the Hokies tough in recent years, losing the previous four games by a total of just 20 points. The Cavaliers will need to ramp up their rushing attack, which is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
Virginia Tech came up with a late goal-line stand to win 20-14 at Pitt last week, snapping a two-game losing streak. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who was 17 of 37 passing for 218 yards against the Panthers, has been inconsistent in league play.
"He continues to improve," Fuente said. "Josh has got to focus on making the average play on a consistent basis. The big plays will come."
Jackson has a top target in receiver Cam Phillips (68 catches for 918 yards and seven touchdowns), but the Hokies' rushing attack, averaging 3.8 yards per carry, hasn't been great.
Virginia's standouts on defense include linebacker Micah Kiser (115 tackles, eight for loss, five sacks) and safety Quin Blanding (104 tackles, four interceptions).
"I haven't been here for 13 years so it doesn't affect me," Kiser said about the rivalry. "I'm a Maryland guy so I didn't know much about the rivalry before I got to UVA, but it has grown on me."
Virginia Tech safety Khalil Ladler summed up the feelings pretty simply Monday.
"They don't like us and we don't like them," he said.
|Texas Tech||vs.||Texas||8:00 (EST)|
No. 12 TCU clinches berth in Big 12 title game
Friday, November 24 at 4:18 PM (EST)
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kenny Hill accounted for four touchdowns and No. 12 TCU locked up a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game by outlasting Baylor 45-22 Friday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2) set up a rematch with No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 2 at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington. The Sooners beat TCU 38-20 on Nov. 11.
The Frogs are likely out of the running for a spot in the College Football Playoffs, even if they beat Oklahoma, but a win next week would give TCU its first outright Big 12 title since joining the conference in 2012.
Hill, the senior quarterback back after missing one game with concussion-like systems, completed 26 of 36 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He added another score rushing.
The Frogs found themselves down 9-0 in the first two minutes of the game to a longtime rival in the midst of a miserable season. TCU would run off 21 unanswered points and never relinquished the lead the rest of the way.
There were some anxious moments as the Bears (1-11, 1-8) hung around, as they've done often during coach Matt Rhule's first year, before fading down the stretch.
True freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer did his best to keep Baylor close by throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 49 yards. Brewer took a hard hit late in the third quarter and was replaced by Zach Smith.
TCU rolled up 437 yards and outscored the Bears 24-3 in the second half. The Frogs' defense forced three turnovers and set a season high with eight sacks, including a school-record 5.5 sacks by Mat Boesen.
Baylor took a quick 2-0 lead with a safety in the game's first minute after forcing a fumble from Hill in the end zone. TCU avoided a defensive touchdown after the ball was recovered by an offensive lineman.
The Bears got that touchdown two plays later when Brewer and Blake Lynch connected on a 54-yard catch-and-run.
TCU had a 14-9 lead before the first quarter was up. A lost fumble by Brewer deep Baylor territory turned into a short touchdown run by Hicks. Hill then connected with Jarrison Stewart on a 7-yard scoring pass in the final minute.
The Bears fell behind 21-9, but closed out the first half with 10 straight points. Trestan Ebner took a check-down pass from Brewer 58 yards for a touchdown and Conner Martin nailed a 48-yard field as the half ended.
The Bears struggled under Rhule, who was hired to rebuild a program left in shambles by former coach Art Briles. This was Baylor's first losing record since going 4-8 in 2009 under Briles.
NOTES: The Horned Frogs have won at least 10 games in 11 of 17 seasons under Gary Patterson. The program had just four 10-win seasons before Patterson's arrival. ... TCU leads the all-time series leads 54-52-7 in the most-played rivalry for both schools. Patterson is 7-3 against Baylor. ... K Conner Martin's 23-yard field goal in the third quarter accounted for the first second-half point against TCU in six games. ... Baylor's 1-8 conference record was its worst since 1-7 in 2009 under Briles.
|Miami (FL)||14||vs.||24||Pittsburgh||Final Recap|
Pickett leads Pitt to upset victory over No. 2 Miami
Friday, November 24 at 4:16 PM (EST)
PITTSBURGH -- Despite starting the season unbeaten in 10 straight games, the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes had a habit all year of falling behind in games they were favored to win.
It finally caught up to them on Saturday as the Pittsburgh Panthers, led by true freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score, got out to quick start and held on for a 24-14 upset victory at Heinz Field on Friday.
The Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1) had trailed by two touchdowns in the third quarter against Virginia Nov. 18 before coming back for 30 unanswered points and a runaway victory. On Oct. 28 against North Carolina, they led by one at the half before pulling away for a 24-19 win.
This time, there was no comeback in the cards thanks to a strong performance from the Pitt defense. The Panthers (5-7, 3-5) batted down 10 passes, had three sacks and allowed just 2.1 yards per carry on the ground.
Miami starter Malik Rosier was mostly ineffective despite a line of 15 of 34 for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He was briefly pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs. In this third action of the year, Shirreffs fared no better, going 0-of-2 passing.
Pitt's offense got going thanks to a spark from Pickett, who made his first career start and provided offense both on the ground and through the air. Pickett went 18 of 29 for 193 yards passing, including a 4-yard touchdown on a shovel pass to Qadree Ollison to give Pitt a 10-point lead in the second half.
Pickett also chipped in on the ground, showing off his toughness by breaking tackles on the way to a 6-yard scramble for a score in the first half.
With a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, Pitt took the ball at its own 10-yard line and ran 12 plays and took 6:10 off the clock, with Pickett capping the drive with a 22-yard score on a naked bootleg on a fourth down. Pickett finished with 60 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Pitt also got a strong rushing performance on the final drive from Ollison, who finished with 63 yards on 14 carries to go along with his receiving touchdown.
Rosier got back into the game and completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Braxton Barrios to close the gap and Miami recovered an onside kick, but Pitt cornerback Avonte Maddox sacked Rosier and forced a fumble that was recovered by Dewayne Hendrix to seal the Pitt win.
NOTES: QB Kenny Pickett was the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Pitt since Pat Bostick in 2007. ... Pitt RT Jaryd Jones-Smith wore No. 75, which was retired by the Panthers in 2015 for former offensive lineman Jimbo Covert. Covert gave Jones-Smith his blessing to wear the jersey. ... The Hurricanes recovered three fumbles while losing just one to increase their NCAA-leading turnover margin to plus-18 on the season. ... Miami RB Travis Homer finished with a season-low 12 yards on seven carries.
|Northern Illinois||24||vs.||31||Central Michigan||Final|
UCF, USF play for AAC title-game berth
Tuesday, November 21 at 3:46 AM (EST)
Central Florida and South Florida have played eight times in what is billed as the "War on I-4" -- a reference to the interstate highway that links the schools' campuses in Orlando and Tampa, respectively -- but none had the impact or buildup that goes with this week's matchup.
The undefeated Knights (10-0, 7-0 American Athletic Conference) and once-beaten Bulls (9-1, 6-1 AAC) will play Friday afternoon in Orlando for a certain spot in the conference championship game against Memphis and a possible berth in a New Year's Six bowl game as the representative from the Group of Five conferences.
The Knights were No. 15 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings ahead of Memphis at No. 21 and No. 25 Boise State of the Mountain West.
USF did not make the Top 25 of the CFP rankings but was No. 22 in the media poll and No. 19 in the coaches' poll to UCF's 13/12, respectively. Unfortunately for the Bulls, the CFP rankings are the ones that matter, and a 28-24 loss to Houston on Oct. 28 knocked them out of that.
Oh, yeah. These two teams do not exactly like each other. USF resisted even agreeing to the series that would have matched up the two young programs in the 1990s.
The Bulls have dominated the series since it was initiated in 2005, winning the first four matchups and six of eight, with last year's victory adding to the rivalry's fire. The Bulls pushed across a late touchdown to expand a 10-point cushion to a 48-31 final after the Knights turned the ball over on downs in the final two minutes.
UCF coach Scott Frost, who got the Knights into a bowl game last year after inheriting a winless team, clearly remembers that, but he said revenge won't be a factor this week.
He seemed more upset by a scheduling quirk that has his team coming off a Saturday trip to Temple and going into a Friday afternoon game while the Bulls last played on Thursday night.
"It's unfortunate the conference gave us a short week and gave them a couple extra days," Frost said. "I don't agree with that at all, especially with a game of this magnitude. I hope that doesn't happen to a team again.
"That being said, we're going to do all the work we need to get ready, and I'm sure our kids will have no problem getting motivated."
Though both teams are the leaders in the conference in two key areas -- USF is No. 1 in both scoring defense (19.9 points per game) and total defense (323.5 yards) and UCF is No. 2 in both categories (20.5 points 373.6 yards), the game sets up for an offensive show led by two top quarterbacks.
UCF's McKenzie Milton is the AAC's total offense leader, running and passing for 330.1 yards a game, 292.8 through the air.
"He's having an unbelievable year," first-year USF coach Charlie Strong said. "His numbers are astounding. You look at him and he does a great job of directing the offense. He places the ball in the right place.
"The thing about him is when you try to rush him, he gets the ball out, and if you don't rush him, you better get ready because he can find the open receivers.
"Our hands are going to be full. We know the type of player he is and the type of year he is having. We're going to have to play our best."
USF's Quinton Flowers ranks in sixth in the AAC in both rushing (87.0 yards per game) and passing (209.7).
"He's a special player," Frost said. "He has been since he came on the scene a couple years ago. He's the type of guy that makes big plays all over the place. You can feel like you're controlling and stopping him and he can make a big play at any time. He's dynamic.
"We really have to attack him. We have to make sure we are closing the distance on him and not let him making any long runs. And we've got to be sound in coverage so he doesn't hit a big pass.
"It's going to be a challenge, and our guys are fired up about it."
It is, quite simply, Strong said, "the game that everyone has been waiting for."
|New Mexico||10||vs.||35||San Diego State||Final|
|Thursday, November 23, 2017|
|Ole Miss||31||vs.||28||Mississippi State||Final Recap|
Ole Miss rolls after Bulldogs lose QB
Friday, November 24 at 1:09 AM (EST)
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- In the blink of an eye, Nick Fitzgerald's life changed on Thursday night.
Mississippi State's star dual-threat quarterback cut up the field for a 3-yard run before two Ole Miss defenders tackled him to the ground. When they got up, he stayed down in pain.
Fitzgerald sustained a gruesome dislocated ankle that resulted in him being carted off the field and replaced by true freshman Keytaon Thompson. The Rebels took full advantage of the change, and they forced five turnovers that proved to be the difference in their 31-28 upset of No. 14 Mississippi State.
"I am so happy for our players and our fans," Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. "This means so much to them. It hasn't always been easy for them."
Big plays also paid off for the Ole Miss offense. Jordan Ta'amu threw for 247 yards, with 140 of those yards coming off of his two touchdown passes. A.J. Brown burned the Bulldogs for 167 yards and a touchdown on six catches, and Jordan Wilkins rushed for 110 yards and two scores on 14 carries.
"We worked hard all year," Wilkins said. "The record wasn't what we wanted it to be, but we kept fighting as a team, trying to overcome all of the adversity that we faced, and there's no better feeling than finishing off like this."
Linebacker DeMarquis Gates made a game-high 13 tackles for the Rebels, who had nine tackles for a loss and three sacks.
The Rebels (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) scored in the first 39 seconds when Ta'amu found Brown for a 58-yard pass inside Mississippi State territory and Wilkins ran for a 22-yard touchdown on the next play.
Later in the first quarter, the Bulldogs were dealt a blow that they would never recover from when Fitzgerald sustained the injury that ended his night. He gave way to Thompson, who helped Mississippi State close the deficit to 10-6 by halftime.
Turnovers would plague the Bulldogs all game. They threw two interceptions and fumbled three times, one by Thompson proving critical.
After the quarterback coughed it up inside the Ole Miss 25, Ta'amu struck with an 80-yard touchdown pass for the 17-6 lead midway through the third quarter. The Rebels added on late in the third quarter when Ta'amu hit D.K. Metcalf for the 63-yard score, and Ole Miss took a 24-6 lead into the fourth.
The Bulldogs finally got in the end zone after a Rebels turnover. Mark McLaurin intercepted a pass that eventually led to 15-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Deddrick Thomas to close the deficit to 24-13 with 9:16 remaining.
Ole Miss answered with a 46-yard burst up the middle from Wilkins for a 31-13 advantage.
Mississippi State gave itself a chance late with Kylin Hill's 30-yard run and a two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 31-21. A defensive stop gave the Bulldogs another shot, and Thompson led the team down the field and scored from 1 yard out to close it to 31-28.
The ensuing onside kick attempt failed, and Ole Miss held on for the win.
"Our guys battled," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "They continued to battle for four quarters. Things didn't go our way through much of a game, but we continued to battle, continued to fight, continued to compete for four quarters."
Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) rushed for 294 yards in the game, led by Thompson, who had 26 carries and 121 yards with a score. Hill rushed for 82 yards, and Aeris Williams gained 75 yards.
Thompson was also 13 of 27 for 195 yards with an interception and a touchdown.
"I learned a lot throughout the game," Thompson said. "I felt like I got better as the game went on. I just learned from my mistakes and learned what you can and can't do and the certain shots you take."
Ole Miss is self-imposing a postseason bowl ban due to a recent NCAA investigation, so Saturday night ended the season for the Rebels. Mississippi State will await its bowl destination in two weeks.
NOTES: Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown broke the school's single-season record for receiving yards with 1,252 yards. ... Mississippi State RB Aeris Williams eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season. .. Ole Miss RB Jordan Wilkins also went over the 1,000-yard mark with his sixth 100-yard game. ... The road team has now won the last three Egg Bowls. ... The Rebels lead the series 64-44-6.
|Edward Waters||3||vs.||37||Alabama State||Final|
|Friday, November 24, 2017|
|National Hockey League|
|Canucks||vs.||Devils||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Devils aim to rebound vs. road-warrior Canucks
Friday, November 24 at 3:13 AM (EST)
The New Jersey Devils will play host to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday at Prudential Center, each team coming off the NHL's Thanksgiving break.
The Devils (12-5-4) are playing the second game in a two-game homestand, having lost to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday 3-2 in a shootout. It's also the second time the Devils and Canucks have played this month; New Jersey defeated Vancouver 2-0 on Nov. 1.
Boston jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead against New Jersey on Wednesday before the Devils rallied, tying the game on Brian Gibbons' goal with 4:44 remaining in regulation. The Bruins went on to win in an 11-round shootout.
"We didn't play the first period the way wanted, and then it's hard to win games. But we had chances," Devils forward Nico Hischier said. "Especially me -- I have to bury a couple. If we bury those, we get out with the (win)."
It will be the third of a six-game trip for Vancouver (11-8-3), which defeated the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in a Pennsylvania back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday. The Canucks won those games by a combined 9-4, including a 5-2 win over the Penguins on Wednesday. Vancouver is 8-3-0 on the road, tied with the St. Louis Blues for the most road victories in the NHL.
Defenseman Eric Gudbranson left the game in Pittsburgh during the second period due to an upper-body injury. Vancouver said he would be re-evaluated.
Canucks forward Brock Boeser, who scored twice against the Penguins, is on a four-game goal streak and a two-game multi-goal streak, and he has scored six goals in his past four games. He leads all Canucks with 11 goals this season. The rookie has scored 15 in his first 28 NHL games, which includes four goals in nine games at the end of the 2016-17 season.
"I've learned if your confidence gets too high you won't produce, so I like to stay even-keel," Boeser said. "I have the same approach every game. I know some of the things I need to be better at and fix those and continue to improve my game."
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is expected to start Friday, which would be his ninth career game against the team that selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft.
Vancouver traded Schneider to New Jersey in 2013 for the No. 9 pick in that draft. The Canucks used that selection to take forward Bo Horvat, who is third on the Canucks with 16 points this season and leads all Vancouver forwards in average time on ice.
Schneider is 5-1-2 against Vancouver, with a .940 save-percentage and one shutout, which came earlier this month when he stopped all 37 shots in a New Jersey victory.
The Devils and Canucks both enter Friday in the top eight in their respective conference standings, a good barometer for which teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Since 2006, more than three-quarters of the teams in playoff spots on Thanksgiving went on to reach the postseason. Last season, Vancouver and New Jersey both failed to make the playoffs.
Friday is also the Devils Hockey Fights Cancer Night, part of month-long initiative created by the NHL to raise awareness for cancer and money for research. Devils forward Brian Boyle, who was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia during training camp and missed the first 10 games, will take part in the ceremonial faceoff; the puck will be dropped by Boyle's family and a youth patient from a local hospital.
|Oilers||vs.||Sabres||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Sabres skid into home game against Oilers
Thursday, November 23 at 10:21 PM (EST)
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres could use a win more than ever.
Buffalo's losing streak increased to seven games after a 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. The struggling Sabres held a team-only meeting after the game, and both players and coaches didn't hold back afterward.
The Sabres (5-13-4) will get a shot at some redemption on Friday in a home game against the Edmonton Oilers.
"I think we just have to start holding guys accountable, start being honest with ourselves and our teammates," Sabres forward Jordan Nolan said. "This team hasn't been too successful the years and it needs to change. It's going to be a long, long season and a few seasons to come if that's the way it is."
Nolan was one of the few bright spots for the Sabres in the loss to the Wild, scoring his first two goals as a Sabre.
"We need to turn the page here and start holding each other accountable, I think," Nolan said. "It's the little things. That's what I learned coming into the league. And I think we are missing that a little bit in this room. But guys are young and I think they need to be told."
Little has gone right for the Sabres in their first season under new head coach Phil Housley. Evander Kane (12 goals, nine assists) has been Buffalo's only consistent scorer, and the team is looking for more from youngsters Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
"I think they've got to make a decision internally, about playing the right way," Housley said. "Because right now we're chasing games. I really like the fight we had until the end, but when you chase games that's a losing recipe."
The Oilers (8-12-2) are having an up-and-down season and an up-and-down recent stretch of games. In their last five games, the Oilers have big wins (8-2 over Vegas, 6-2 over Detroit) and bad losses (4-1 and 8-3 defeats to St. Louis, 6-3 to Dallas).
The Oilers are coming off one of those wins, having defeated the Red Wings in Detroit on Wednesday. Six different players scored in the victory for Edmonton.
"We played the type of game that it takes to win in the league," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said, according to the team's website. "We made plays when they were there. We managed the puck and chipped it out when the plays weren't there.
"We had good shift length and good line changes, we blocked shots. We were responsible all over the rink and it took everybody. It's a good lesson for us. We want to bottle that up and use it in Buffalo on Friday."
Connor McDavid (10 goals, 18 assists) leads the Oilers in scoring with 28 points in 22 games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (eight goals, nine assists) and Leon Draisaitl (six goals, 11 assists) each have 17 points.
Cam Talbot has a save percentage of .901 in 20 games.
|Red Wings||vs.||Rangers||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Rangers strive to continue home success
Thursday, November 23 at 4:49 PM (EST)
The New York Rangers will go for their seventh straight win at home when they host the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
The Rangers (11-9-2) have won eight of 10 overall, and during their hot streak at home, they have outscored their opponents 22-11. They will play their next four games at home.
"Right now there's no doubt that there's a fair amount of confidence in our group," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "As far as understanding our opponent, what we need to do, there's different matchups we can get at home. There's no doubt that our guys feel comfortable at home."
It's not all rosy for the Rangers, who will be without captain Ryan McDonagh for at least the next two games as he recovers from an oblique injury. The Rangers thrived without their top defenseman Wednesday as they easily handled the Hurricanes 6-1 in Carolina.
McDonagh leads the Rangers in ice time and plays a big role on both the power play and penalty kill.
"Huge void when (McDonagh's) out of the lineup," said Kevin Shattenkirk to the New York Daily News. "So it's not just one guy who has to step in there and fill the role. It's gonna be everyone. He plays so many roles on this team that each guy is gonna be asked at different points in the game to carry that."
The Red Wings (10-9-3) will be playing their third game in four days and may be doing so with extra motivation after an embarrassing 6-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was upset with a number of his players after the loss, including Anthony Mantha. The 23-year-old second-year player has seen his role increase in this season. He leads the team with 10 goals, but his point-less, three-shot performance did not sit well with his coach.
"With those types of minutes comes big-time responsibility," Blashill said to the Detroit News. "Anthony Mantha has to be way better, way better. It's not OK to just be a passenger when you're given the opportunity to be an impact player. He's not alone. But certainly he's a guy who I said at the beginning of the year that for us to be great, he has to be great, and he's gone through large stretches of being great.
"(But) he hasn't been great the last two games. It's just a matter of making sure you compete every shift. Any young player has to learn how hard it is every night, especially when you go from being a complementary guy, a 14-minute guys and you want to move into the 19-20 minute range, it's a learning process for certain. The great ones learn it."
Goaltender Jimmy Howard has been very good this season, but he wasn't great against the Oilers. He allowed four goals on 19 shots, and in the Red Wings' past two games, both losses, he has given up eight goals on 56 shots (.857).
"Jimmy has been great for us," Blashill said to the Detroit News. "It certainly wasn't Jimmy's fault. We had no momentum and I hoped it would switch momentum."
Said Howard to the Detroit News: "It happens. It's going to happen during the course of the season. You just move forward and brush it aside."
|Senators||vs.||Blue Jackets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Surging Blue Jackets host sinking Senators
Friday, November 24 at 3:20 AM (EST)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are hot and the Ottawa Senators are not.
The Blue Jackets (14-7-1) bring a five-game winning streak into Friday night's matchup at Nationwide Arena. They edged the Calgary Flames 1-0 in overtime on Wednesday night.
The Senators (8-6-6) have lost four in a row, going 0-3-1. They were beaten 5-2 by the Washington Capitals on the road Wednesday night.
"I think each game that's gone by here, we've played more consistent minutes," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said, according to the team's website. "I think we've gone in the front door more, winning games, than going in the side door in some of the games we've won this year.
"We deserved to win (Wednesday) night, and we've had more situations like that, in really deserving to win the game, than some of the games we won going through the early part of the season."
Each team has struggled to score goals, but the difference is defensive-zone play and goaltending.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been in goal for each of the Blue Jackets' five wins during their current streak. He's 5-1 with a 0.78 goals-against average and a .978 save percentage.
In 18 starts this season, Bobrovsky is 13-4-1 with a 1.91 GAA and .936 save percentage. He has posted shutouts in two of the past three games, and he's tied for the most shutouts in the NHL (3).
The defense in front of him has contributed to the streak. In the win Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets limited the Flames to 22 shots, and only a few of those were tough chances for Bobrovsky.
"We stay with our plan, stay with our structure, just play our game and so good things are happening for us," Bobrovsky said.
The Blue Jackets have given up one goal or fewer in four of the five victories during the streak. But they've scored more than two goals only once in the past seven games and just 10 goals in the past five.
One goal Wednesday night against the Flames was enough. Josh Anderson's team-leading eighth of the season, in overtime, was the winner. That improved the Blue Jackets' record to 7-0-1 in games that have gone beyond regulation.
"I think we're going into games now expecting to win rather than hoping to win," Anderson said.
The Senators have experienced similar problems finding the back of the net. They've produced only five goals in the past four games, and they're just 2-4-1 in the past seven.
Senators No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson has a 7-6-3 record, 2.93 GAA and .896 save percentage. Center Matt Duchene has yet to produce a point in six games since he came to the Senators in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche.
Forward Mark Stone and defenseman Erik Karlsson have been the most productive offensive contributors for the Senators. Stone has nine points in the past eight games and Karlsson has 17 points (16 assists) since coming back from ankle surgery.
"We need to play the right way," Stone told the Ottawa Sun. "You make your own breaks. When you're playing good hockey, you seem to get those breaks. And when you're cheating and not making the right plays, that's when they get the breaks. There are a few things we need to clean up."
The Senators are in the midst of playing 10 of 11 games on the road. Friday's visit to Columbus will be their third straight game away from home.
"Every team goes through a tough stretch or a tough time, and I like our chances to get out of this," said Senators forward Derick Brassard, a former Blue Jackets player. "Since last year, that was one of our strengths. We always found a way to win those tight games and found a way to play a strong game for 60 minutes. Now we play good but fall asleep for five or six minutes and it's in the back of our net. It's a challenging time."
|Maple Leafs||vs.||Hurricanes||7:30 (EST) Preview|
Hurricanes work on Thanksgiving to prepare for Leafs
Thursday, November 23 at 11:28 PM (EST)
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes are going to have to work for their rewards.
They at least received that message when their coach called for a Thanksgiving skate on the heels of a miserable performance.
They figure to need an upgrade for Friday night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PNC Arena.
"We're going to have to bounce back," Carolina coach Bill Peters said, referring to a 6-1 home loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. "We're in a pretty good spot (with recent performances), but didn't see this coming."
Peters said a holiday workout was in order in large part because he said the team needed to skate after such a ragged outing.
The Maple Leafs probably aren't feeling that great either coming off a 2-1 shootout loss Wednesday night at Florida.
But Toronto (14-8-1) is one of the Eastern Conference's top teams, and the Hurricanes (9-7-4) have ground to make up.
"It doesn't really matter how you (lose) it," Carolina center Jordan Staal said. "We'll have to learn from it and have a big rebound game the next game."
To Peters, the situation was pretty basic.
"We're not going to win a whole bunch of games, if any, if we're not the hardest-working team," Peters said.
Last month in Toronto, the Hurricanes displayed that work ethic by racking up a season-best goals total in a 6-3 victory.
More than one-quarter of the way through the season, Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen said there's often a shift in how games shake out and that Toronto has to be ready for that.
"I think every team gets better and better defensively," Andersen said.
Toronto scored a goal with 6:02 remaining in the Florida game to forge the tie. That means it was a rather tough night for the Maple Leafs at the offensive end because they're one of only two teams in the NHL to reach the 80-goal mark for the season.
Yet the Maple Leafs, who've lost two games in a row after a six-game winning streak, have produced only two goals in the last 129 1/2 minutes.
"I thought we competed and competed at a high level," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of the Florida game. "I thought we had lots opportunities."
Babcock has numerous options when it comes to line combinations, so there could be some tinkering.
"We'll figure out what works here over time," Babcock said of line combinations.
The makeup of this season's team is different for the Maple Leafs, who should be capable of adjusting.
"You see these different combinations and you see how these things work," Toronto left winger James van Riemsdyk said. "We have a lot of depth. You have some different things you can try to try to spark things up."
Friday's matchup brings Toronto defenseman Ron Hainsey back to Raleigh, where he played 4 1/2 seasons with the Hurricanes before a trade last winter.
It also unites van Riemsdyk and younger brother Trevor van Riemsdyk, a Hurricanes defenseman.
This game is the middle game of three outings in four nights for Toronto, which returns home to face the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
|Predators||vs.||Blues||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Red-hot line carries Blues into home tilt vs. Predators
Thursday, November 23 at 2:26 PM (EST)
ST. LOUIS -- The early-season success of the St. Louis Blues can be attributed to many factors, but the decision to put Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz on the same line is tops on that list.
The line, which was put together in late October, has quickly developed into one of the best in the NHL.
The Nashville Predators hope to at least slow down that line when they visit the Blues on Friday night.
All three players rank among the top offensive players in the league. Since they first took the ice together as a line on Oct. 25, they have combined for 18 goals and 54 points in 13 games.
Nobody has been hotter than Schenn, working as the center between the two wings. He has scored seven goals and added 12 assists in a career-high eight-game point streak. Schenn and Tarasenko both had two goals and two assists in an 8-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, while Schwartz had a goal and three assists.
According to ESPN, Schenn is the first player in the NHL to accumulate 19 points in an eight-game stretch in one season since Sidney Crosby had 20 in that span in 2013. It's the most by a Blues' player in eight games since Pavol Demitra in 2000.
"We're working for one another, we kind of know where each other is right now and playing a give-and-go type of game and able to create opportunities from it," Schenn said.
Schenn and Schwartz both said it is premature for talk that is beginning to build about the trio perhaps being the best forward line in the league.
"We're only 22 games in," Schenn said. "We've got 82 and the playoffs to try to prove that. You can't be satisfied because you've had a good start to the year. You've got to keep building as a line and continue to improve.
"You want to come to the rink each day and get better and improve; don't sit back because you're having success right now. You want to keep pushing and keep your foot on the gas."
Added Schwartz, "We're having a lot of fun but I think we are doing a good job of hitting the reset button every game and getting ready. You've got to respect every team in this league, they're all good."
The game against the Predators is the first for the Blues against a Central Division opponent since Oct. 19. It will be their first of the season against the Predators, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
The Predators have been hot as well, winning eight of their last nine games, including a 3-2 shootout win at home over Montreal on Wednesday night. Their 8-2-0 record in November is the best in the league this month.
"We haven't played our best hockey yet," defenseman P.K. Subban told NHL.com. "That's the exciting thing about our team. We still have guys who are coming back into the fold who have been out for a while and trying to get their feet under them. But our leadership group has done a really good job of setting the tone and making sure that we do all the right things to be competitive every night."
Blues coach Mike Yeo knows what to expect on Friday night.
"We've got a bulls-eye right now and teams are chasing us," Yeo said. "We're not getting team's B games. We know we are going to face their best. ... It's going to be intense, fast hockey and fun to watch."
|Flames||vs.||Stars||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Stars hope to party like it's 1999 against Flames
Thursday, November 23 at 10:28 PM (EST)
DALLAS -- On Friday night, the Dallas Stars will raise Jere Lehtinen's No. 26 to the rafters at American Airlines Center, honoring the longtime fan favorite from the 1999 Stanley Cup champions who spent his entire NHL career in Dallas.
Like that '99 team, the Stars are again coached by Ken Hitchcock. And Dallas would like to honor Lehtonen by defeating the Calgary Flames, who are 6-3-1 on the road.
But the Stars (11-10-1) enter this game after their latest disappointing road showing. Dallas lost 3-0 on Wednesday at Colorado, its first time being shut out this season.
That loss to the Avalanche put the Stars 1-6-0 against the rest of the Central Division.
Dallas is now 3-8-1 on the road compared with an 8-2-0 record on home ice.
"I think there's a different body language in the team between home and away, and that's something we got to change here," Hitchcock said after the loss at Colorado. "If we're going to make the playoffs, we're going to have to be better, obviously, on the road and we're going to have to change a little bit of the thinking and the mindset."
At Pepsi Center on Wednesday, the Stars trailed 1-0 after one period and it appeared that's where the game would be at the second intermission. However, Colorado won a faceoff in the final ticks of the second and Nail Yakupov beat Ben Bishop from the high slot to make it 2-0 with one second left in the period.
It was the sort of back-breaking goal that simply can't happen, especially on the road, according to Stars captain Jamie Benn.
"Well, I think it's pretty obvious, just lost a faceoff and it ends up in the back of your net. Something that definitely can't happen, that's a tough one to give up at the end of a period going into the third," Benn said.
The Dallas players had Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but the Stars still made several personnel moves, recalling defenseman Julius Honka from AHL Texas while reassigning goaltender Mike McKenna and forward Curtis McKenzie to the AHL.
Honka was up for Tuesday's home win over Montreal but didn't play and was sent back to the AHL on Wednesday morning as McKenzie, who was a healthy scratch against Colorado, was recalled.
McKenna was recalled from the AHL on Monday to serve as Bishop's backup with Kari Lehtonen away from the team for personal reasons.
Lehtonen and his wife welcomed a son to the world earlier in the week, and the Stars' No. 2 netminder has returned to his customary role as Bishop's backup.
Calgary (12-8-1) is 7-2-1 in its past 10 games, but the Flames also enter Friday's game off a loss, 1-0 in overtime at Columbus on Wednesday.
In that game, goaltender Mike Smith, a former Star, turned away 40 of 41 shots but still took the loss when the Blue Jackets scored during the three-on-three overtime.
"To be honest, we got what we deserved," Smith said postgame. "We didn't deserve to win that game, I didn't think. I thought tonight (Wednesday) we wanted to play an easy game and they (the Blue Jackets) are too good a team to have to play that against."
Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached the Stars for two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13), saw plenty of valuable lessons to take away from that loss to the Blue Jackets.
"A lot of our stuff was self-inflicted. We need to learn from these types of games and that's how you grow, you learn from playing the good teams," Gulutzan said.
Dallas and Calgary have already played once this season, a 2-1 victory for the Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Oct. 27.
Friday's game will be the third of a four-game road trip that will also take the Flames to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Saturday to finish out both the trip and the back-to-back.
Calgary is 1-0-1 thus far on the trip and Smith has seen several positives, but the veteran netminder also knows the Flames have plenty of room for improvement if they are to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season under Gulutzan.
"We are giving up too many chances. We're creating at a high level. We need to embrace more puck protection, winning the lines, playing more north-south. We need to embrace those things if we're going to take another step in our development," Smith said.
"We took that step last season. We still seem to be stuck in that same place of giving up too much and a lot of that's self-inflicted. That's the step we need to take as a group."
|Kings||vs.||Coyotes||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Slumping Kings aim to get on track in Arizona
Friday, November 24 at 3:16 AM (EST)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The slumping Los Angeles Kings need a win in the worst way. No doubt they're hoping a matchup with the NHL's worst-record team Friday night in Arizona will prove to be a quick pathway to victory.
However, the Kings -- the Pacific Division leaders nearly all season until a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Wednesday -- perhaps should heed this warning about the Coyotes from San Jose center Logan Couture.
"I think they played well (against us)," Couture said following the Sharks' 3-1 win at Arizona on Wednesday night. "They've got some young players with some skill, and they're learning how to win."
The Coyotes (5-16-3), despite a record that's disparagingly one-sided because of their season-opening 11-game winless streak, showed that by winning at Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in succession before returning home to lose to San Jose. Arizona is 1-7-1 at Gila River Arena.
That winning streak is one reason why coach Rick Tocchet was clearly disappointed with the loss to the Sharks, a team he felt didn't outplay his Coyotes but, rather, outlasted them.
"I think we had more grade-A chances (than they did)," Tocchet said. "We had some guys who didn't have juice. We have three or four guys we count on that didn't have any juice, I could tell."
The Coyotes need to get their energy back before continuing a challenging holiday week schedule of three home games in four nights, one that concludes Saturday night against the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.
Despite the Coyotes' busy schedule, Tocchet held a practice Thursday on Thanksgiving, probably a sign he wasn't happy with the way his team played the night before.
They've got the young legs to bounce back; left wing Brendan Perlini's goal Wednesday was the 33rd this season by a Coyotes player who is 22 or younger. That's more than half of their 58 goals.
But the Coyotes experienced a setback of a different kind when goaltender Antti Raanta, coming off those three straight wins, was pulled late in the first period Wednesday with an upper-body injury. He missed 10 games earlier in the season with lower-body injuries, and was pulled from two others.
In an indication that Raanta probably won't play Friday, goaltender Marek Langhamer was recalled Thursday from Tucson (AHL) on an emergency basis. Langhamer has played in only one NHL game during his career, against Anaheim last season.
"It's next man up," said Coyotes center Derek Stepan, who has a point in four consecutive games. "In this league you need two goalies, your starter and your backup."
Backup goaltender Scott Wedgewood came in to allow a Joe Thornton goal five seconds after replacing Raanta, but otherwise held San Jose to only one other goal, by Couture on a setup by Joonas Donskoi in the second period.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is healthy but, in a turnaround for him, not winning. He's currently stuck in the first six-game losing streak of his career in which every loss was in regulation. Of course, he's not getting much help -- the Kings, who started 11-2-2 but have since lost six of seven, scored only nine goals in those six losses.
Los Angeles got 25 saves from Quick and a team-leading 10th goal from center Tyler Toffoli against Winnipeg, only to lose after twice giving up goals in the final minute of a period -- to Adam Lowry with eight seconds left in the first and to Patrik Laine with 59 seconds remaining in the second.
"We're giving up goals we don't normally give up," team captain Anze Kopitar said after the Kings lost despite a 39-27 edge in shots. "Its deflating. You go into the locker room thinking about that. You kill all the momentum you have going for you."
Kings coach John Stevens may have summed up perfectly the current situation for both his team and the Coyotes: "The bottom line is you've got to find ways to win hockey games. ... You've got to bear down to score and you've got to bear down to deny opportunities. Sometimes it's a fine line between winning and losing."
The two teams have yet to play this season. The Coyotes won three of five from Los Angeles last season, including the final three.
Pastrnak's tally sends Bruins past Penguins
Friday, November 24 at 5:14 PM (EST)
BOSTON -- David Pastrnak scored on a breakaway 5:06 into the third period, giving the Boston Bruins their fourth straight win, a 4-3 decision over the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
Pastrnak took a long pass from Riley Nash between two defenders and went in and beat Matt Murray for his 11th goal of the season.
The goal allowed the Bruins (10-7-4) to escape despite failing to hold leads of 2-0 and 3-1, and also led to Anton Khudobin's fourth straight win in goal.
Khudobin only made 17 saves (eight in the third period), but improved to 7-0-2 on the season and 12-0-2 dating back to late last season. Tuukka Rask, supplanted (apparently temporarily) as the team's No. 1 goaltender, could start Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers before the sizzling Tampa Bay Lightning comes in Wednesday.
The Penguins (11-10-3) have lost three straight and are just 4-7-2 after a 7-3-1 start.
Boston improved to 9-1-2 in its last 12 games against Pittsburgh, 6-0-1 in its last seven at home.
Down 2-0 after one period, the Penguins got a goal and an assist from a dominating Sidney Crosby in a three-goal second period that tied the game after two periods.
David Krejci (one assist), Sean Kuraly and rookie defenseman Matt Grzelcyk also scored for Boston, with rookie Jacob DeBrusk picking up two assists.
Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel also scored for the Penguins, who got 29 saves from Murray (11-7-1).
The two points gave Crosby, whose goal was originally waved off before a lengthy review overturned the call, 47 in 34 career games against the Bruins.
Grzelcyk became the seventh Bruin to score his first NHL goal this season.
NOTES: C Sidney Crosby played in his 806th game with the Penguins, tying Jaromir Jagr for second place on the team's all-time list, while RW Patric Hornqvist played in his 600th NHL game. ... Boston D Torey Krug, who missed the last three games with an upper body injury, returned after passing a test in warmups, but LW Brad Marchand (undisclosed but a "suspected concussion" according to the Boston Herald) and RW Anders Bjork (undisclosed) both missed their fifth straight. ... The Penguins were without C Evgeni Malkin (upper body) after he was injured Wednesday and RW Carter Rowney, who missed his 14th straight game with an upper body injury, even though he was removed from IR. ... The Pens host the sizzling Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday while the Bruins host the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Johnson comes back home as Avalanche visit Wild
Friday, November 24 at 12:13 AM (EST)
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- With the Avalanche visiting the Minnesota Wild for an afternoon affair on Friday, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson -- a Minnesota kid -- got to come home for the holidays, in a manner of speaking.
Although the way Johnson has played lately, the Wild probably aren't too excited to welcome him home.
The Avalanche entered the Thanksgiving break on a high note, blanking Dallas 3-0 and Johnson scored for the second time in as many games, making him a key for the Wild defense to slow down. True to Johnson's humble nature, he was quick to credit teammate Nathan MacKinnon for the set-up.
"It was a good play by Nate," Johnson said, after the assist gave MacKinnon 17 points in November, which is tied for best in the NHL. "I had a little bit more speed than he did ahead of him on the play. I was calling for it and he kicked it out. I didn't have a great angle so I just tried to put it five-hole and luckily it just snuck over the line so that felt good."
Nothing snuck over the line behind Avs goalie Jonathan Bernier, who got his first shutout of the season in the win, after playing well in his previous start versus the Red Wings.
"I felt pretty good," Bernier said. "You know, I think it just carried from Detroit and obviously it's nice to get back-to-back games in, just starting to feel pretty good. I've just been practicing hard and it paid off."
The Wild came home for Thanksgiving after a 5-4 win in Buffalo on Wednesday night and are generally playing well, garnering at least a point in six of their past seven games. The forward combo of Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund has accounted for eight of the team's past nine goals, which sounds like a good news/bad news situation for a team that is winning games, but lacking offensive diversity.
"If we didn't have them, we wouldn't have any scoring," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said after the win over the Sabres. "(Jason) Zucker scored the previous six or seven, so I'm just glad someone is scoring."
Niederreiter, who missed much of October due to injury, has bounced back nicely since returning to the lineup and admits things are just clicking for him after scoring in a career-best five consecutive games.
"I've been going to the net, trying to get greasy goals, and I'm fortunate they're going in right now," he said, after scoring twice from close range versus Buffalo. "I think that's my bread and butter, around (the crease) and for me it's important to find a way to get there, beat my D to the inside."
It is the first meeting of the season between these Central Division rivals. The Avalanche and Wild have shared a division since Minnesota entered the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. They were both in the Northwest Division previously with Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton prior to the league's division realignment in 2013.
Islanders vie for home-and-home sweep of Flyers
Thursday, November 23 at 1:34 PM (EST)
PHILADELPHIA -- After working overtime to grab a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and enjoying some turkey the following day, the New York Islanders travel 90 minutes down the New Jersey Turnpike on Friday in a bid to a home-and-home sweep of their Metropolitan Division rival.
Josh Bailey assisted on two of the Islanders' three goals in regulation, then converted a pass from captain John Tavares in overtime to provide the Isles (12-7-2) with the margin of victory Wednesday night in Brooklyn.
Through 21 games, Bailey leads the Islanders in assists (21) and points (26) and is on pace for 102 points, well above his career-high 56 total last season.
"He's turning into an upper echelon player in front of our eyes," Islanders coach Doug Weight told Newsday after Wednesday night's win.
Bailey credited Tavares for pushing him into the post-game spotlight. Tavares won an intense one-on-one battle with Flyers center Sean Couturier to find him for the game-winner just 32 seconds into overtime.
"That's all him," Bailey said of Tavares, who leads the Islanders in goals (15). "He's earned that respect, where you don't really need to go in and help him out. You just kind of sit back and wait for your opening and you know he's going to find it, just like he did."
The Flyers (8-9-5) are hoping a return to their own building will help snap them out of a six-game losing skid (0-3-3). Only the Ottawa Senators have lost more games beyond regulation this season than the Flyers, who have also dropped six of their last seven home games.
"Obviously, we want to be a good team at home," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who is tied with Couturier for second on the team with 23 points in 22 games.
"We want to be a tough team to play in our building. We're pressing a little too much right now. We want it a little too much. Just got to go out there and play hockey."
A lack of secondary scoring and an inept penalty kill has been the Flyers' downfall in recent games. Second-line right winger Wayne Simmonds has gone 14 games without a goal and third-line right winger Travis Konecny has played 12 without one. They've also allowed eight power-play goals in their last four games.
"The individual skill in this league is through the roof," Simmonds told the South Jersey Courier-Post. "Guys are going to make plays, especially when they're a man up. The best form of penalty kill is not to be in the box at all."
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has been a guilty party lately, taking two costly penalties in his past three games.
"Everybody goes through different struggles," coach Dave Hakstol said. "There's a growing role for everybody. Right now, Ghost is one of the elder statesmen on the back end there. Sometimes that has a way of putting a little more weight on your shoulders, but I just think it's a stretch that he's going to get through."
Friday's game will mark the home debut of rookie forward Danick Martel and defenseman Samuel Morin, each of whom made his season debut on Wednesday night. Martel added speed to the lineup, while the 6-foot-6 Morin provided a strong physical presence.
Jets aim to soar vs. Ducks
Thursday, November 23 at 11:18 PM (EST)
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The surging Winnipeg Jets continue a four-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon at Honda Center.
Winnipeg (13-5-3) is keeping pace with the leaders in the Central Division with a 7-2-1 record in its last 10 games, including a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
With expected contributions from Mark Scheifele (11 goals, 14 assists), Blake Wheeler (five goals, 25 points) and Patrik Laine, the Jets are tied for seventh in goals scored. But their performance at the defensive end of the ice is as much a factor for their strong start.
The Jets enter the game ranked sixth in goals allowed primarily due to the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck, who was ticketed to be the backup goaltender to Steve Mason, the free agent netminder who signed a two-year, $8.2 million contract last summer.
But the underperforming play of Mason in the Jets' first two games opened the door for Hellebuyck. In his third season in Winnipeg, he has registered a 11-2-2 record in 15 starts and is ranked in the top ten in goals against average (2.45) and save percentage (.925).
Shuttled into the backup role, Mason has responded with wins in consecutive appearances, including a 38-save performance in the Los Angeles victory.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice credits the veteran Mason for not being discouraged after the losing the starter's job, noting that the team's overall play was a contributing factor. Maurice knows that teams rarely succeed without a competent backup netminder.
"I don't think we gave him any help. He tried to play that game in our first two games of the year, but it didn't happen for him," Maurice said. "Since then, he's just been really good. We need that now with our schedule.
"This month is our toughest month of the year. We're on the road a lot, on and off the airplane. We need both of our goalies to play well."
The Jets came up big on the penalty kill after the Kings' Tyler Toffoli sliced Winnipeg's lead to one early in the third period in Wednesday's win. The unit kept the Kings off the board after penalties to Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, and Mason closed the door down the stretch.
"That was important," winger Nikolaj Ehlers said. "It was a tough game today. We know how they play and we had to be ready for that. We came out with a plan and we succeeded at it. They had a bunch of chances and we took too many penalties.
"We were able to do pretty well on the penalty kill, we got the puck out and we got the two points."
Hellebuyck is scheduled to face a Ducks team that is concluding a stretch of seven of eight home games, going 3-2-1 before Friday's match.
Anaheim (10-8-3) has played with arguably the most depleted rosters in the league through the first quarter of the season. Center Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves have not played a game and captain Ryan Getzlaf missed his 10th game of the season on Wednesday with a facial fracture that could sideline him until January.
Despite these significant injuries, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has kept the team around .500 on the strength of strong goaltending by the trio of John Gibson, Ryan Miller and Reto Berra.
The goaltending has needed to be strong because of the trickle-down effect of the injuries at the defensive end of the ice. The Ducks have surrendered a league high 36.7 shots per game and have been outshot by 6.8 attempts.
In their 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, the Ducks blew a 2-0 second-period lead and surrendered 49 shots on goal to the expansion team, the fourth consecutive game they yield at least 40 shots to the opposition.
The concern is that the goaltending cannot be expected to bail them out every night as it has done with the team's first 21 games.
"We're going to have to look at the tape," defenseman Josh Manson said. "It's been happening here a few times as of late. We've been saying we've been relying too much on our goaltending. We have to look at it to see what's going on and start playing some better defense because it's not good enough."
Winger Andrew Cogliano said the Ducks' early lead was not a true indication of their level of play.
"Something needs to be figured out," Cogliano said. "The 2-0 lead wasn't really a true tale of the game. We just got lucky. The score should've been a lot more if we didn't have Gibson in there. We shouldn't kid ourselves. We weren't even close."
Carlyle's message to his team after the loss was short and to the point -- that a lot more work needs to be done in their own zone.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us right now," Carlyle said. "We'll re-attack and reset and try to get this group ready tomorrow with some video and some work on the ice.
"We have Winnipeg on Friday afternoon and in a heavy part of our schedule. We know -- and we believe -- this team could play a lot better brand of hockey than what was played here tonight. That was my message."
Capitals hope line switch helps versus hot Lightning
Thursday, November 23 at 6:41 PM (EST)
WASHINGTON -- Earlier this week, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz was asked why he had not paired Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the same line this season.
"Don't feel like it," Trotz told reporters.
But Trotz did feel like it Wednesday night and the result was a 5-2 win for Washington at home over the Ottawa Senators. Ovechkin scored with an assist from Backstrom to give the team a 2-0 lead with five seconds left in the first period.
The Capitals (12-10-1) will look to continue the good vibes with a home game Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. First-place Tampa Bay (16-3-2) also played at home Wednesday, getting a 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Washington also got one goal and two assists from Evgeny Kuznetsov and two goals from Jakub Vrana against Ottawa.
"We needed that. It wasn't working the way we had played, so I'm sure the coaching staff felt that way, and they wanted to switch things up," Backstrom said of the line change.
The Capitals were seeking some offense after Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Devante Smith-Pelly did not score an even-strength point in six straight games before Wednesday.
Backstrom had just four assists and no goals in the previous 16 games.
"I don't think there was any doubt," Ovechkin said of the line shift success. "We understand each other, how we have to play. Obviously, we played (together) a long time. So I think it worked out perfectly."
The Lightning have the best record in the NHL and came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Chicago.
"A big bounce-back game for us," said center Brayden Point, who is tied for third on the team with 21 points and had the game-winner against Chicago.
Tampa Bay hopes to get defender Jake Dotchin (undisclosed injury) back on the ice during the upcoming road trip, according to the Tampa Tribune.
He did not practice Monday or Tuesday and did not play Wednesday.
"He's banged up," coach Jon Cooper told reporters.
Tampa Bay is led in scoring by Steven Stamkos, who has 10 goals and 26 assists for 36 points in 21 games. Nikita Kucherov is second with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists).
The regular goalie for Tampa Bay is Andrei Vasilevskiy, who improved to 15-2-1 with the win on Wednesday. The backup goalie for the Lightning is Peter Budaj, who is 1-1-1 in three games.
Ovechkin leads Washington with 14 goals, and Kuznetsov has a team-high 20 assists and 26 points.
Vrana had his first multi-goal game on Wednesday for Washington and now has two goals and six assists this season. He has two goals and one assist in the last two games and all 10 of his points this year have come at even strength.
The regular goalie for Washington is Braden Holtby, who has 12 wins. The backup goalie for the Capitals is Phillip Grubauer, who is 0-5 in eight games, with six starts.
The game in Washington will be the first of four straight road games for Tampa Bay. The Lightning play Saturday at Pittsburgh, Tuesday at Buffalo and Wednesday at Boston.
Washington is 6-1 at home this month and plays six of its next seven games in the nation's capital.
After losing several key players from last season, the Capitals hope to begin a push that will move them up in the standings. Washington is tied for fourth in the Metropolitan with Pittsburgh with 25 points.
"When they change the lines, it always is a little bit of a wake-up call that things aren't working and we've got to find something that can stick and work," Washington right winger T.J. Oshie said.
Golden Knights host Sharks in Pacific Division showdown
Friday, November 24 at 12:35 AM (EST)
LAS VEGAS -- The turkey and pumpkin pie tasted a little better than usual for the Vegas Golden Knights on Thanksgiving, and it wasn't because defenseman Nate Schmidt was the host for the team dinner after practice.
One look at the Pacific Division standings added a little flavor to the meal.
Thanks to their 4-2 comeback win at Anaheim on Wednesday night combined with Winnipeg's 2-1 victory up the freeway over Los Angeles, the expansion Golden Knights (13-6-1) leapfrogged the Kings into first place. Now Vegas will try and stay there Friday afternoon when they host the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena.
"It feels really good," Vegas forward James Neal, who scored the game-winner against the Ducks, his team-leading 11th goal of the season, said. "Our team has put a lot of work in to get to know each other, become a team. It feels really good that it's paying off."
"It's pretty awesome," added goalie Maxime Lagace, who began the season fourth on the depth chart but has won three straight. "I don't think anyone (expected) that. We're happy the way we're playing right now."
The Golden Knights, who started the season with an NHL expansion record three straight victories, also matched the league mark for the most wins through the first 20 games of an inaugural season, tying the record held by the Montreal Canadiens in 1917-18.
Vegas can garner another expansion record with a win over the Sharks. The Golden Knights, who are 8-1-0 at home, will be going for their eighth-straight win at T-Mobile Arena. If they get it, it would tie the NHL record for most consecutive home wins in an inaugural season set by the Toronto Arenas in 1917-18.
"I didn't know that we'd have a team that would be in first place at Thanksgiving but I thought we had a team that was going to be competitive and right now things are going well for us," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "We're working hard and competing hard and we're getting the right bounces. Hopefully that will continue."
Despite the historic start, Gallant knows all it will take is a couple bad games and his team could be at the other end of the Pacific standings. San Jose (11-8-1), which comes in off a 3-1 victory at Arizona on Wednesday, is tied with Anaheim for fifth place -- just four points out of first.
"The division is so tight that one bad week and you could be out of the playoffs," Gallant said.
San Jose has played well on the road, improving to 5-2 away from the Shark Tank with the win over the Coyotes. The Sharks lead the NHL in goals-against average (2.20) and goalie Martin Jones comes in on a roll, compiling 9-3-1 mark over the last 13 games. His 2.11 GAA ranks second in the NHL while his .926 save percentage ranks sixth.
The Sharks also can feel better a lot better about center Joe Thornton who snapped a five-game scoreless streak with a goal at Arizona. The 2006 Hart Trophy winner, 38, has struggled at times recovering from major left knee surgery in the offseason. He has three goals and eight assists but missed four practices over a nine-day span.
"I'm starting to feel better," Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. "I was banged up there a bit. My legs feel stronger. It's nice to get healthy again. It's nice playing healthier."
Center Logan Couture leads San Jose with 11 goals and 17 points.