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We review the highlinghts of the day with the “Roundup”!! Covering all sports: MLB, NBA, NFL, College Basketball, College Football, Hockey, Tennis, Horse Racing, NASCAR, UFC/MMA, Poker, Soccer, MLS, WNBA, Rugby and more…
We review the highlinghts of the day with the “Roundup”!! Covering all sports: MLB, NBA, NFL, College Basketball, College Football, Hockey, Tennis, Horse Racing, NASCAR, UFC/MMA, Poker, Soccer, MLS, WNBA, Rugby and more…
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with 11 Australian Open titles between them and 31 Grand Slam singles titles combined, take to the court at Melbourne Park under vastly different circumstances on Tuesday.
Federer, with five Australian and a leading 19 major titles overall, plays Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia to open night play at Rod Laver Arena. Last year, coming back after a six-month layoff to rest his injured left knee, Federer swept all before him for his first Grand Slam title since 2012.
Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record-equaling six times, is returning from a six-month layoff of his own after a right elbow injury kept him off the circuit since Wimbledon, where he lost in the quarterfinals. He plays Donald Young on Margaret Court Arena in an afternoon match.
Simona Halep, the top-seeded woman, will start her quest for a first Grand Slam title when she plays teenage wildcard entry Destanee Aiava.
Here’s a closer look at some of the featured matches Tuesday:
HIGHER EXPECTATIONS: Federer says he’s not 100 percent healthy, but didn’t look to have had any injury concerns when he and teammate Belinda Bencic won the Hopman Cup for Switzerland in Perth 10 days ago. “This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just … more of a ‘let’s see what happens’ kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan (Wawrinka) or others are going through this year,” Federer said. He has never played Bedene, a 28-year-old Slovenian who has lost five times in the first round at the Australian Open and has no ATP singles titles. Federer has 95.
HAPPY AT THE TOP: With Serena Williams off the tour following the birth of her daughter in September, the No. 1 ranking changed seven times last year, with five women assuming top spot — three for the first time. Halep had it at the end of the year, and her win at Shenzhen two weeks ago ensured she’d stay there for the Australian Open. She will have held the top ranking for 16 weeks by the time the tournament ends at Melbourne Park. “About the ranking … of course I want to stay here in the top as long as possible. But I have one more goal: to win a Grand Slam.” She’ll start her quest against Aiava, the 17-year-old Australian who had the distinction of being the first player born in this century to play in a main draw Grand Slam singles match when she lost in the first round here last year.
A SERVICE TWEAK: Djokovic has changed his service motion to help address the elbow issues he’s had to deal with in the past year. Djokovic explains: “There are three, four details that I’ve changed with my rotation, the elbow up, which is the most obvious one. I feel like I spend less energy but I’m more efficient.” Djokovic and Young first played in the first round at the U.S. Open in 2006, when the American won the first set before losing the next three. They didn’t meet again until last year on grass at Eastbourne, where Djokovic won in straight sets.
FLYING THE (MAPLE LEAF) FLAG: Canadians have back-to-back matches to start play on Show Court 2. Former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, who has been ranked as high as No. 3, stopped his season in October because of calf and wrist issues, and is now seeded 22nd. He will face Lukas Lacko. Following that is Eugenie Bouchard’s match against Oceane Dodin. Bouchard, who made it to the semifinals here and at the French Open in 2014 before losing the Wimbledon final, has had a fall from grace and is now ranked 112th from her career high of No. 5.
AND SOME OTHERS: Also in action Tuesday are: Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza (vs. wild-card entry Jessika Ponchet), No. 4 Alexander Zverev (vs. Thomas Fabbiano); 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka (vs. Richardas Berankis), 2016 champion and No. 12-seeded Angelique Kerber, who is on an a nine-match winning streak (vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam), last year’s U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys (vs. Wang Qiang); and Maria Sharapova, returning to the Australian Open for the first time since returning from a suspension following a positive test to meldonium at Melbourne Park in 2016 (vs. Tatjana Maria of Germany).
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A look at Day 1 of the Australian Open on Monday:
WEATHER: Mostly sunny, high of 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit).
ATTENDANCE: Day: 48,149; Night: 24,104; TOTAL: 72,253.
SEEDED MEN’S WINNERS: No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 6 Marin Cilic, No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 15 Jo-Willfried Tsonga, No. 17 Nick Kyrgios, No. 23 Gilles Muller, No. 24 Diego Schwartzman, No. 28 Damir Dzumhur, No. 30 Andrey Rublev, No. 31 Pablo Cuevas.
SEEDED MEN’S LOSERS: No. 8 Jack Sock, No. 11 Kevin Anderson, No. 16 John Isner, No. 18 Lucas Pouille, No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
SEEDED WOMEN’S WINNERS: No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Jelena Ostapenko. No. 12 Julia Goerges, No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova, No. 22 Daria Kasatkina, No. 23 Daria Gavrilova, No. 30 Kiki Bertens, No. 32 Anett Kontaveit.
SEEDED WOMEN’S LOSERS: No. 5 Venus Williams, No. 10 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 25 Peng Shuai, No. 31 Ekaterina Makarova.
STAT OF THE DAY: 9: Number of U.S. women who lost (out of 10) on day one, out of 16 overall in the main draw.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It was a tough day, and this is a tough sport. This isn’t an indication of anything except we have a lot of depth and we had a bad day” — Nicole Gibbs, the lone American women’s winner.
FEATURED MATCHES TUESDAY: Defending champion Roger Federer vs. Aljaz Bedene; No. 1 Simona Halep vs. Destanee Aiava; No. 3 Garbine Muguruza vs. Jessika Ponchet; No. 4 Alexander Zverev vs. Thomas Fabbiano; No. 14 Novak Djokovic vs. Donald Young; Maria Sharapova vs. Tatjana Maria.
TUESDAY FORECAST: Sunny, high of 27 C (81 F).
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As Case Keenum convened the Minnesota huddle with 10 seconds left, the situation staring down the Vikings was as simple as it was daunting.
With the go-ahead field goal by the New Orleans Saints that silenced this deafening stadium still fresh in the air, the Vikings were well beyond any moment of anxiety. All that was left for Keenum to do on that last snap was to throw the ball up like he used to do in his Texas backyards and hope for the best.
Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game’s final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
“At that point, I’m just a kid throwing a football to another big kid,” Keenum said with a smile, “and he just runs and scores.”
One more win, against the Eagles, and the Vikings will become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they’re in a win-and-go-home situation.
“It never ends that way,” Diggs said. “Usually, it’s reality. It’s life. So things go and you walk home and worry it about tomorrow.”
Instead, Drew Brees and the Saints were the ones trudging off the field in defeat.
“We’re still a bit shell-shocked after what happened there at the end,” said Brees, who steered the Saints in position for Wil Lutz’s 43-yard kick with 25 seconds remaining that punctuating a forceful rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 was left in the third quarter.
The field goal was set up by a fourth-and-10 completion by Brees to Willie Snead for 13 yards to the Minnesota 33 with 40 seconds left. Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two of his three touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 that spilled into the fourth quarter. The second score was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Marcus Williams, when an off-balance throw into traffic by Keenum served as his one costly moment of recklessness, a “bonehead play,” as he put it.
Keenum settled back in. He guided the Vikings to two more field goals by Kai Forbath, including a 53-yarder with 1:29 left that was his third of the game against his former team and gave them their lead back after a blocked punt by George Johnson had set up the Saints for a touchdown pass by Brees to Alvin Kamara.
Then came the play that put Keenum and Diggs in permanent rotation on the NFL’s all-time highlight reels.
“We knew there was still a possibility, still some hope,” Keenum said.
This wasn’t quite Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path after turning to Keenum in the second game of the season after original starter Sam Bradford was sidelined by a knee injury.
The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum dropped back from his 39 and threw high into a crowd. Diggs jumped in front of Williams, who rolled awkwardly underneath Diggs during an ill-fated attempt at making a low tackle.
Devastatingly for the Saints, nobody was behind him in the secondary, as Diggs made sure to note right before he made the break on his route during the play the Vikings, believe it or not, call “Seven Heaven.”
Diggs kept his balance as he landed, kept his feet in bounds and kept on running untouched into the end zone as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium erupted with euphoria. Keenum raced around the field, looking for anyone to hug.
“I’m shocked. I don’t know what else to say. This is the first time ever I’m out of words,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said.
Keenum, the undrafted and undersized all-time leading passer in NCAA history who was making his first career playoff start and has long looked up to Brees, was having a hard time finding the words to describe the experience. He finished with 318 yards, going 25 for 40, with Diggs catching 137 yards on six catches.
“A heck of a game, wasn’t it?” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “And the good guys won.”
Diggs was still in full uniform when he took the podium for his postgame interview, the ball from the winning catch resting safely in front of him on the lectern.
“It’s plays like this that you dream about your whole life,” he said, “and it finally happens.”
Brees saw his 13th career postseason game end in a crushing final moment, his 25-for-40 performance for 294 yards tainted a bit by two interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo , the other off a tip by Griffen that landed in Anthony Barr’s arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line midway through the third quarter.
The Vikings came roaring out of their first-round bye, forcing punts by the Saints on their first three possessions and moving 55 yards in eight plays for a touchdown run by Jerick McKinnon on their first drive. Aided by two pass interference calls on Ken Crawley for 54 yards, the Vikings reached the 1-yard line before settling for a short field goal on the next possession. They pushed the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter when Latavius Murray plowed in from the 1-yard line.
“The Vikings had a phenomenal game plan,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said.
The only other time the Saints went scoreless in the first half of a postseason game was five years ago. They fell behind 16-0 at Seattle in the divisional round and lost 23-15 to the eventual Super Bowl champions.
The first touchdown to Thomas came one play after he leveled Sendejo with a jarring blindside block, sending Sendejo to the sideline for concussion evaluation and reigniting the crowd when the flag that was initially thrown was waved off.
Saints: head home with a 1-5 record on the road in the playoffs under Payton, with a promising group of young players but some uncertainty around how much longer Brees, who will turn 39 on Monday, will stick around.
“I’m more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that,” Brees said. “That’s all I’ll divulge.”
Vikings: move on to Philadelphia for the 10th championship game appearance in franchise history, the fifth in the last 30 years. They won the first four, losing in the Super Bowl each time.
JAGS 45, STEELERS 42
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars heard the chatter, read the tweets and Instagram posts. And they got a little confused.
Why were the Pittsburgh Steelers talking about the New England Patriots? Didn’t they have to face the Jaguars first before reaching a rematch with the Super Bowl champions?
“I don’t know if they misread the schedule or didn’t play us this week, but they didn’t acknowledge us at all,” Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. “And we didn’t take that too kindly.”
Not at all. That shouldn’t be a problem going forward.
The Jaguars, yes the Jaguars, have the NFL’s full attention now. A trip to Foxborough on the horizon, too.
Dominant at the start and resilient at the finish, Jacksonville stunned the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to advance to the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history and maybe, finally, earn a bit of respect.
Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three scores . Embattled quarterback Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown as the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) beat the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field for the second time in three months.
The victory in October served notice Jacksonville was ready to put a decade of losing firmly behind. This one sent an even bigger message: overlook the Jaguars at your own peril, something Pittsburgh appeared to do in the run-up. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted at facing the Patriots twice back in December. Running back Le’Veon Bell posted on Twitter about the pair of “round 2s” the Steelers will face in coming weeks.
Turns out, one rematch is all the Steelers will get.
“We knew we had this team’s number,” Jacksonville safety Barry Church said. “All we did was feed on the fuel that everybody was providing, the media, everybody was talking about how they’re going to run through us, it’s not going to be like last (time). Blake Bortles this. Blake Bortles that. all he did was dominate their defense.”
A week removed from an ugly performance in a wild-card round win over Buffalo in which he passed for 87 yards and struggled with the easiest of throws, Bortles went 14 of 26 for a touchdown without an interception. He ran for 35 more and wasn’t sacked by a defense that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 55 during the season. Jacksonville’s 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs.
Not bad for an offense that at times simply appeared along for the ride as the NFL’s top defense carried the load.
“Blake Bortles has always been criticized,” Fournette said. “It is different now. He has guys that have his back, especially me.”
Certainly looked it as Fournette scored two first-quarter touchdowns. The Jaguars built a 21-point lead and responded whenever the Steelers rallied to get within one score.
“The guys played with confidence all day long,” Bortles said. “Obviously, what they have on their side of the ball, it’s a good team. We know they got a good offense. We knew we were going to have to be efficient, hold on to the ball for a little bit, so we did it.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score. All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.
But Pittsburgh’s vaunted “Killer Bs” couldn’t keep pace with Jacksonville, one of four NFL franchises to never make the Super Bowl.
“It’s disheartening,” Brown said. “I thought we had the right group of guys.”
The Jaguars dominated the Steelers on Oct. 8, winning by three touchdowns in a performance so overwhelming Roethlisberger only half-jokingly wondered aloud whether he still had “it’ after throwing a career-high five picks.
Roethlisberger and his teammates left little doubt they hoped for a rematch, though Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye cautioned Pittsburgh to be careful what it wished for. The Jaguars hardly appeared intimidated by the 18-degree chill or trying to earn their first road playoff win in a decade.
“I’m sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove and talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,” Bortles said. “But we get to keep playing and we get an opportunity to play in Foxborough next week for another week. Just honored to be able to do this especially with this group of guys.”
“It’s been an awesome year. Just want to keep it going.”
FOURTH AND WOE
Pittsburgh rolled up 545 yards of offense, but it’s 2 yards the Steelers didn’t get that helped send them into an offseason filled with questions.
Twice Pittsburgh had fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville territory. Twice the Steelers did something other than have the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger sneak. Pittsburgh ran wide in the first quarter and Bell was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. The Jaguars responded immediately by going 75 yards in 11 plays, the final one a 4-yard sprint by T.J. Yeldon that put them up 21-0.
The Steelers were down a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 39. Roethlisberger checked at the line of scrimmage, faked a handoff to Bell and instead threw incomplete to diving rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster .
“It’s been a while since I’ve run a quarterback sneak, I’m for it,” said Roethlisberger, who added he will return in 2018. “That’s kind of over my head when it comes to why we don’t do it. I’m not going to sit here and second guess why we didn’t quarterback sneak. I don’t know how many years it’s been since we quarterback sneaked.”
The Jaguars travel to New England, where they were beaten in the 1996 AFC title game.
The Steelers, despite tying for the league’s best record, head home.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Anthony Davis scored a season-high 48 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, leading the New Orleans Pelicans back from 19 points down late in the third quarter to a 123-118 overtime victory over the host New York Knicks on Sunday.
Jrue Holiday added 31 points, and DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals and five assists and for the Pelicans. They were down 16 after one, even further back late in the third and still down nine with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation. But they kept coming and Holiday had three baskets and a couple free throws in OT to help them finish it off.
Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 25 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight and 10th in their last 12 games. Jarrett Jack had a season-high 22 points, and Enes Kanter finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
It was a miserable way to finish a rare January home game for the Knicks, who begin a seven-game, coast-to-coast trip Monday in Brooklyn that has them away for two weeks.
Miami 97, Milwaukee 79: Goran Dragic scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Heat ran their winning streak to seven games with a win over the Bucks in Miami.
Josh Richardson scored 16 points, and Hassan Whiteside added 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat trailed 43-41 at the half, then took control with a 41-21 run in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 points for Milwaukee.
Minnesota 120, Portland 103: Jimmy Butler scored 24 points, Jeff Teague added 22 and the Timberwolves wrapped up a perfect homestand with a victory over the Trail Blazers in Minneapolis.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 11 rebounds for his NBA-leading 37th double-double of the season. The Wolves had their first 5-0 homestand since 2001, winning each game by double figures against the likes of New Orleans, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and New York.
Damian Lillard scored 21 points for Portland.
Indiana 120, Phoenix 97: Darren Collison scored 19 points to help the Pacers rout the Suns in Phoenix.
Victor Oladipo scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half for the Pacers, who were coming off a home victory over Cleveland and have won four of five after a five-game losing streak.
Rookie Josh Jackson scored a career-best 21 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Devin Booker added 15, but on 5-of-16 shooting. In an otherwise bad night for Phoenix, 17-year NBA veteran Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 rebounds to become the 40th player in league history to top 10,000 (10,003).
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Dougie Hamilton scored twice, Mike Smith made 38 saves and the Calgary Flames ran their winning streak to seven straight games with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday.
Even with leading scorer Sean Monahan out with the flu, the Flames controlled the entire game.
Matt Stajan opened the scoring at 6:01 of the first period with his first goal of the season.
Hamilton made it 2-0 later in the first period. Hamilton scored again early in the third for his first multigoal game of the season. Matthew Tkachuk added an insurance goal late and Johnny Gaudreau had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games in a row.
Smith allowed only Lee Stempniak’s goal with 4:31 remaining.
Scott Darling made 26 saves for Carolina. The Hurricanes have lost four of five.
Pittsburgh 5, N.Y. Rangers 2: Dominik Simon and Phil Kessel scored milestone goals to lead the Penguins in a win over the Rangers in Pittsburgh.
Simon got the first goal of his NHL career and Kessel scored his 20th of the season for his 700th point on back-to-back goals that put the Penguins ahead for good. Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin also scored, and Tristan Jarry made 26 saves in the Penguins’ fourth straight victory.
Michael Grabner and Brendan Smith scored for New York.
Detroit 4, Chicago 0: Petr Mrazek made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season and 12th of his career, and Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, who blanked the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Dylan Larkin and Mike Green also scored for Detroit.
Chicago had won three of four.
Vancouver 3, Minnesota 2 (OT): Brandon Sutter scored 2:50 into overtime to lift the Canucks past the Wild in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Sutter, making his return after missing 21 games with a lower-body injury, cut to the inside against Jonas Brodin and beat goalie Devan Dubnyk on the stick side.
Loui Eriksson and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Canucks. They played without Daniel Sedin after he was scratched because of back spasms. Jason Zucker and Daniel Winnik scored for Minnesota.
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HONOLULU (AP) — Patton Kizzire outlasted James Hahn in six extra holes to win the Sony Open to become the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season.
Kizzire, who won the OHL Classic in Mexico last fall, closed with a 2-under 68.
That turned out to be the easy part.
Hahn shot 62 in the final round Sunday and got into a playoff with Kizzire at 17-under 263.
They matched two pars and two birdies on the par-5 18th. They matched pars when they went to the par-3 17th. It ended on the par 3 along the Pacific Ocean when Hahn putted from right of the green to about 8 feet, and his par putt caught the lip.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Kizzire said. “I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
Hahn, who won both his PGA Tour events in playoffs at Riviera and Quail Hollow, had birdie putts from 10 feet and 6 feet on the par-5 18th hole at Waialae Country Club that would have won it. He made a 6-foot birdie another time to extend the playoff.
Kizzire had to get up-and-down from a bunker for par on the first extra hole, making a 7-footer to stay alive. It was the longest playoff on the PGA Tour since Bryce Molder won the Frys.com Open in 2012 in eight extra holes.
It nearly was the most exciting tournament of the year (it’s only the second week) that no one saw. Union workers for video and audio production at Golf Channel events walked out Sunday over a labor dispute, and the network had to scramble to provide limited coverage. They had enough cameras to at least cover the final three holes and the entire playoff, with commentary coming from headquarters in Florida.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Chris Paisley of England held off home favorite Branden Grace to win the South African Open by three shots for his first European Tour title.
Leading by one going into the final round, Paisley closed with a 6-under 66 at Glendower Golf Club to finish at 21-under 267. Paisley didn’t drop a shot in the final round.
Grace, an eight-time European Tour winner, started with a birdie and an eagle but his challenge faded after a double bogey on No. 6 and a bogey on No. 12. He finished strongly, with an eagle and two birdies in his last six holes for a 68.
It was the second straight year an Englishman won the South African Open, following Graeme Storm’s playoff victory over Rory McIlroy last year.
EUROPEAN TOUR/ASIAN TOUR
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Europe retained the EurAsia Cup after putting on a sensational showing in singles for a 14-10 victory.
Asia had a slim margin until Europe won eight of the 12 singles matches and halved another. Europe won seven of the opening eight matches, the exception being Poom Saksansin defeating Paul Casey in 18 holes.
Thomas Bjorn was the European captain. He will be captain at the Ryder Cup later this year in France.
“It was a great performance today, from every single one of them. There was a determination, and a will, and a wanting to win this,” Bjorn said. “And from there to go out and do the job the way they did shows a lot about the character of these guys and character of European golf. It shows a lot about what we are, and to watch them from the sidelines doing what they do best has been a pleasure.”
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS/LPGA TOUR
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Scott Parel beat fellow PGA Tour Champions player Scott Dunlap on the first hole of a playoff to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Diamond Resorts Invitational.
The 52-year-old Parel won the 32-player professional division with a par on the extra hole, the 203-yard 18th at Tranquilo Golf Club. Dunlap hit a fat shot short into water and made a double bogey.
In regulation, Dunlap made an 8-foot birdie putt for three points, and Parel failed to get up-and-down and made a bogey to fall into the playoff. Unable to play a practice round before the event because of the flu, Parel earned $125,000.
“Beware the injured animal,” Parel said. “I think low expectations (helped).”
Parel and Dunlap finished with 93 points in the 54-hole Modified Stableford event. Parel earned 32 points in the final round, and Dunlap had 34. John Daly was third with 88. Five-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson, playing from the same tees as the men, was seventh with 80.
Former tennis player Mardy Fish won the 52-man celebrity division for the second time in three years, finishing with 75 points. Former hockey star Jeremy Roenick was second at 61.
Dan McCarthy topped the leaderboard in the Web.com Tour’s season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic when second-round play was suspended because of darkness. McCarthy had a 6-under 66 to reach 8-under 136 at rainy Sandals Emerald Bay in the event scheduled to end Tuesday. Matt Ryan, the first-round leader after a 65, was a stroke back with 15 holes left in the second round. Rhein Gibson (68) and Mark Anderson (71) also were 7 under. … On the PGA Tour of Australasia, Matthew Millar closed with a 4-under 67 for a four-shot victory in the inaugural Rebel Sports Masters at Wainui Golf Club.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — The Big 12 can stake a claim as the nation’s best conference. It has the top RPI rating, five teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and eight teams in the top 50 of the KenPom.com rankings.
The only problem: The teams have been beating up on each other since conference play started.
Big 12 teams have bounced around the poll since the first conference games were played just after Christmas and Monday’s AP Top 25 should be no different after more teams went down this week.
No. 2 West Virginia (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) had its highest ranking since 1959 in last week’s poll and extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games by edging Baylor 57-54 on Tuesday. The Mountaineers will likely drop in Monday’s poll after losing 72-71 to No. 8 Texas Tech . The Red Raiders (15-2, 4-1) erased an 11-point second-half lead to win their first top-10 match-up at home, sending their fans rushing the court when it was over.
But Texas Tech lost to No. 9 Oklahoma 75-65 on Tuesday, creating a four-way tie atop the Big 12 with West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas.
“I’ve got a great friend who this week told me, ‘Prince today, frog tomorrow,'” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I know we’re going to be a frog again at some point — it’s the Big 12 — But I want to be a prince one more day.”
TCU reached No. 10 in the AP Top 25 after winning its first 12 games. Now that the conference season has started and the losses are piling up, the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs could find themselves out of the poll.
TCU (13-4, 1-4) lost to Texas by one in double overtime on Wednesday and by five to No. 9 Oklahoma in overtime on Saturday. The Horned Frogs’ lone Big 12 victory was over Baylor and its four losses have come by a combined 11 points.
“I expressed that to them wholeheartedly in the locker room afterward that I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody, and I think we are going to show it down the road,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
No. 12 Kansas (14-3, 4-1), the conference’s last ranked team, beat Iowa State 83-78 and held off rival Kansas State 73-72 last week.
VIRGINIA RISING: Duke was the preseason ACC favorite and North Carolina is the defending national champion, but Virginia is atop the standings and has the conference’s highest ranking.
The third-ranked Cavaliers (15-1, 4-0 ACC) lost to West Virginia on Dec. 5 but have reeled off seven straight wins since. Virginia beat Syracuse 68-61 on Tuesday and could move up to No. 2 on Monday for its highest ranking since the 2014-15 season after rolling over North Carolina State on Sunday night.
BOILERMAKERS ON THE MOVE: Purdue moved up eight spots in last week’s poll for its highest ranking since 2010 and could see another bump next week. The Boilermakers (17-2, 6-0 Big Ten) beat Michigan and Minnesota this week and are off to their best start through 19 games since 1987-88. Purdue also is off to its best Big Ten start since opening the 1989-90 season 8-0.
SPIRALING SPARTANS: Michigan State became the No. 1 team in the country two weeks ago. The new year has not been kind to the Spartans.
Michigan State (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten) dropped to No. 4 after a loss to Ohio State on Jan. 7, and will likely see another poll tumble after losing 82-72 to rival Michigan and needing overtime to beat Rutgers last week.
“I don’t feel any different about our team,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “We ran into two teams that were pretty good and one team that plays hard.”
VILLANOVA ON TOP: Villanova moved back atop the poll after Michigan State’s loss to Ohio State and should remain there next week. The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Big East) rolled over No. 10 Xavier 89-65 and beat St. John’s 78-71 this week.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jessica Shepard scored 24 points in 22 minutes Sunday as No. 2 Notre Dame bounced back from its most lopsided loss in 16 seasons, routing Boston College 89-60.
Coming off a 33-point defeat at No. 3 Louisville, the Irish ran out to a 9-0 start against the young and overmatched Eagles.
Arike Ogunbowale added 18 points for Notre Dame (16-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Freshman Danielle Patterson matched her season high with 11 points and Marina Mabrey added 10.
Milan Bolden-Morris, held scoreless for three quarters, had 17 points and Andie Anastos added 11 for Boston College (6-11, 1-3).
NO. 4 MISSISSIPPI STATE 75, ALABAMA 61
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Victoria Vivians scored 21 points, Teaira McCowan added 19 and Mississippi State beat Alabama.
Mississippi State (19-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) earned its 11th straight win by double digits and now gets a week of rest to prepare for a showdown at No. 6 Tennessee next weekend.
McCowan added 16 rebounds for her SEC-leading 14th double-double. Vivians scored in double figures for the 18th time in 19 games this season. Roshunda Johnson added 14 points.
Alabama (13-5, 3-2) was led by Hannah Cook, who scored 25 points on 8 of 10 shooting from the field, including 5 of 5 from 3-point range.
NO. 5 BAYLOR 74, OKLAHOMA 52
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Dekeiya Cohen scored 16 points to lead Baylor past Oklahoma.
Baylor rolled despite getting just nine points from leading scorer Kalani Brown. The 6-foot-7 junior, who entered averaging 21.5 points per game, played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble.
Kristy Wallace scored 15 points and Natalie Chou added 12 for the Lady Bears (15-1, 5-0 Big 12), who won their 12th straight, all by at least 22 points. It was Baylor’s fourth straight win against Oklahoma.
Baylor got off to a rough start but dominated the second half. The Lady Bears held Oklahoma to 17.9 percent shooting after the break.
Ana Llanusa scored 19 points and Vionise Pierre-Louis added 14 for Oklahoma (8-9, 3-3).
NO. 6 TENNESSEE 86, NO. 9 SOUTH CAROLINA 70
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Jaime Nared scored 19 points as Tennessee bounced back from its first loss of the season and beat South Carolina, which played without injured All-American A’ja Wilson.
The Lady Vols (16-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) lost in overtime, 79-76, at Texas A&M on Thursday night. But with the 6-foot-5 Wilson sidelined with a right ankle sprain for the Gamecocks (14-3, 3-2), Tennessee took advantage of the middle, with Nared and Mercedes Russell helping build an 18-point lead late in the third quarter.
It was South Carolina’s largest loss at home since being beaten 73-53 by Tennessee in Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick’s first SEC game on Jan. 3, 2013.
Sophomore Tyasha Harris had a career-best 28 points for the Gamecocks.
NO. 8 OREGON 74, NO. 18 ARIZONA STATE 64
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored 26 points and Ruthy Hebard added 20 to lead Oregon past Arizona State.
Maite Cazorla had 15 points and Satou Sabally scored 10 for the Ducks (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12), who won their ninth consecutive game and snapped a four-game losing streak against the Sun Devils (13-5, 4-2).
Oregon broke open a close game by starting the third quarter on a 19-2 run as Arizona State missed seven of its first eight shots and committed six turnovers in the first 8 ½ minutes of the second half.
Kianna Ibis had 22 points to lead the Sun Devils. Courtney Ekmark added 15 points and Charnea Johnson-Chapman had 12.
NO. 13 FLORIDA STATE 107, VIRGINIA TECH 62
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Shakayla Thomas scored 21 points, Ama Degbeon had a double-double and Florida State tied a school record in its rout of Virginia Tech.
Degbeon had 10 points and 13 rebounds for her third career double-double and seven players scored in double figures as the Seminoles (16-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) tied the 1990-91 team with their fifth 100-point game of the season. With the largest crowd of the season — 4,983 — on hand for alumni weekend, FSU earned its largest win ever over the Hokies (13-5, 2-3).
FSU finished the game 8 of 14 behind the arc, shot 60 percent overall and had a 48-30 rebounding advantage.
Taylor Emery scored 17 points for the Hokies, who shot 31 percent (22 of 72).
NO. 14 UCLA 93, COLORADO 55
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Japreece Dean sank five 3-pointers and got a career-high 21 points to propel UCLA over Colorado.
The Bruins (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) took control early, opening the game with a deep 3-pointer from Kelli Hayes to spark a 16-0 run for their best start in a game this season. Colorado (11-6, 2-4) was held to just nine points in the opening quarter, all coming in the final 4:14.
Jordin Canada added 10 points and dished out 11 assists for UCLA, becoming the first women’s player in Pac-12 history to record 1,800 career points and 700 assists.
Colorado, which has lost two straight, was led by Kennedy Leonard’s 12 points.
NO. 16 DUKE 55, VIRGINIA 48
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Lexie Brown, held scoreless in the first half, had nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter and Duke ended Virginia’s eight-game winning streak.
After missing all seven of her shots before halftime, Brown made all the plays down the stretch to help the Blue Devils (14-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) improve to 11-0 home and knock the Cavaliers (12-7, 5-1) out of a first-place tie.
Brown had a layup in a flurry of 3-pointers that saw Virginia close within 49-48 with 1:12 to play. She made four free throws in the final 41 seconds to help close out the win.
Aliyah Huland El had 14 points for the Cavs, who were off to their best start in league play since 2000, and Jocelyn Willoughby had 11 points and 10 boards.
GEORGIA 92, NO. 17 TEXAS A&M 84, OT
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Freshman Gabby Connally returned to her home state and scored 37 points, 15 in overtime, to lead Georgia past Texas A&M.
Connally, from San Antonio, came in averaging 8.8 points per game but against the Aggies made 10 of 17 shots, including four 3-pointers, plus 13 of 14 free throws.
Mackenzie Engram made 6 of 7 from beyond the arc and tied her career high with 23 points while Caliya Robinson added 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.
Connally made two free throws to open overtime and the Lady Bulldogs (16-2, 4-1 SEC) held on to their lead. The Aggies were within five with 1:10 left but Connolly made 5 of 6 free throws from there while Texas A&M missed its final five field-goal attempts.
Chennedy Carter led Texas A&M (14-5, 3-2) with 31 points and eclipsed the Aggies’ freshman season scoring record.
NO. 22 OREGON STATE 88, ARIZONA 48
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Kat Tudor scored 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range, and Oregon State rolled past Arizona.
Marie Gulich and Taya Corosdale added 13 points apiece for the Beavers (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference) and Mikayla Pivec had 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Gulich and McWilliams, who had six assists, both had 10 rebounds as Oregon State had a 49-22 rebounding advantage.
From the mid-point of the second quarter, Arizona (4-13, 0-6) missed nine straight shots and went 3 for 26 carrying into the fourth quarter.
NO. 24 CALIFORNIA 66, WASHINGTON STATE 60
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Kristine Anigwe had 30 points and 17 rebounds as Cal overcame Washington State.
Anigwe tied the game at 60 with a free throw with 1:40 remaining and gave the Golden Bears the lead on a jumper with 28 seconds left. Asha Thomas was fouled after a steal and added two free throws with 13 seconds left and two more with six seconds remaining.
Cal (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) picked up its third straight conference win, the program’s longest Pac-12 winning streak in the last three seasons.
Borislava Hristova scored 25 points for the Cougars (8-10, 1-5), who have lost five of their last six.
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MADRID (AP) — Few saw this coming after a turbulent start to the season for Barcelona.
The Catalan club is the one thriving at the halfway point of the Spanish league, while defending champion Real Madrid is in crisis.
Just five months ago, Barcelona was in turmoil after letting Neymar go to Paris Saint-Germain and losing twice to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.
Madrid was coming off its second straight Champions League title and appeared in good position to defend its Spanish league trophy.
But it already trails Barcelona by 19 points and is fighting just to remain in the qualification zone for the Champions League. Zinedine Zidane’s team has lost more points (22) than in its entire title-winning campaign last season (21), although it has a game in hand.
Barcelona is cruising with a nine-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid and an 11-point advantage over third-place Valencia. It is the only unbeaten team left in the top European leagues, having not lost in 29 matches since the two consecutive defeats to Madrid to start the season.
“I have the feeling that we are a very difficult team to beat,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said after Sunday’s 4-2 come-from-behind win at Real Sociedad’s Anoeta Stadium, where Barcelona hadn’t won since 2007. “The key was not to set lofty goals, go step by step and avoid getting too paranoid in the difficult moments.”
In his first season at the helm, Valverde did a great job putting Barcelona back on track despite the early doubts. A key move by the club was to bring Brazil midfielder Paulinho, who added balance to the team and ended being a perfect replacement for Neymar.
Zidane, meanwhile, was not able to get Madrid to play up to its potential in the league. It struggled a lot early in the season, including at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where it usually thrives. The team has won only once in its last five matches in all competitions.
Barcelona ended the first half of the league with 51 points, on pace to become the first team to break the 100-point mark since Madrid in 2011-12. It has the best attack with 52 goals and the second-best defense with nine goals, one more than Atletico Madrid.
Lionel Messi, who scored once against Real Sociedad, is the league’s scoring leader with 17 goals, four more than Luis Suarez, who found the net twice in Anoeta. Messi reached his 366th league goal all-time, surpassing Gerd Mueller’s Bundesliga mark of 365 and becoming the most prolific scorer among Europe’s top leagues.
Barcelona’s three draws came at Atletico, at Valencia and against Celta Vigo, which was the team’s only setback at home. It already played away games against the top five teams in the league standings, including Madrid, winning 3-0 at the Bernabeu.
“We are happy with the season we are having, after the difficult start we had,” Valverde said. “It was key to remain united. We hope to maintain this momentum and to keep improving.”
Barcelona’s next match is Wednesday at city rival Espanyol in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Barcelona is a three-time defending champion in the cup competition.
Barcelona faces Chelsea next month in the last 16 of the Champions League.
PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league.
In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit.
“It’s a joke … Honestly, the whole of Europe is laughing here,” Nantes president Waldemar Kita said after the game. “The player is on the receiving end and it’s him who gets a (red) card. There’s a problem here.”
Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee’s heels as their paths crossed.
Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos.
An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos, and looked flustered as he fumbled in his shirt pocket for the red.
“I know it’s a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves,” Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. “If we do that, it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension).”
There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run.
Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri.
He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher.
Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react.
Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani’s probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup.
PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly.
Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area.
“Sala ran in from behind and it’s a valid goal,” Ranieri said. “But that’s football. We’ll forget this game and think of the next one.”
Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG’s all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday.
Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers.
Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute.
Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. Angers moved up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot.
Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi’s penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way.
Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner.
It was Fekir’s 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally.
Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0.
Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute.
Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz.
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Manchester City’s 22-match unbeaten start to the Premier League came to an end with a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in a wild and thrilling game at Anfield on Sunday.
City finally faltered at a ground where the team has a long history of struggles — with just one league win in 37 years — and was ultimately undone by nine minutes of mayhem, when Liverpool hounded City’s defense and scored three goals.
With the score at 1-1, Roberto Firmino deftly chipped goalkeeper Ederson Moraes to regain the lead for Liverpool in the 59th minute. Sadio Mane smashed a rising shot high into the net in the 61st, and Mohamed Salah capitalized on a weak clearance from Ederson to score from 45 meters (yards) in the 68th.
All three goals featured errors by what was previously the tightest defense in the league, as City failed to handle Liverpool’s high press led by the irrepressible Firmino.
City threatened an amazing comeback after goals by substitute Bernardo Silva, in the 84th, and Ilkay Gundogan, in the first minute of stoppage time, but Liverpool held on in a nervy finale.
“This was a historical game you will talk about in 20 years because it looks like City will not lose another one this year,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “People watched this game all over the world and this is why — take your heart, throw it on the pitch and play like this.”
Before Sunday, City had won 20 games and drawn its other two this season, leading many to believe Pep Guardiola’s side could emulate Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of the 2003-04 season.
A match away to Liverpool always looked like being the toughest of City’s remaining 16 games and so it proved. City’s lead stayed at 15 points, and it could be down to 12 if United beats Stoke on Monday.
“People asked if everything was over and done before Christmas, and now it’s January and it’s not,” Guardiola said. “We have a lot of games to win to be champions.”
A triumph in 2003 was City’s only win at Anfield since 1981, and Guardiola’s team played at times as if it knew the recent history of the fixture.
Liverpool hounded and harassed City on a bitingly cold day on Merseyside, with ex-Red Raheem Sterling in particular a target of Liverpool’s players and crowd. Firmino led the press from his position as central striker and it was the Brazilian’s hard work off the ball that created Liverpool’s goal.
Firmino dispossessed Fernandinho, allowing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to take up the loose ball, run forward and send in an angled drive that flew low past goalkeeper Ederson.
Sterling was jeered relentlessly and even forced off the pitch at one point by marker Andrew Robertson. Later, he squared up to Robertson after a late clip of his heels and was then booked for a late challenge on Georginio Wijnaldum.
Sane’s equalizer came against the run of play and was avoidable, as far as Liverpool was concerned. Joe Gomez misjudged Kyle Walker’s long ball and Sane got in behind him, before jinking into the area and firing in a shot that beat Loris Karius at his near post.
Liverpool didn’t deserve to be out of the lead and stormed back in a stunning nine-minute spell around the hour mark when City’s defense fell apart.
Firmino barged aside John Stones and chipped Ederson to make it 2-1 in the 59th. Moments later, Mane curled a shot against the post but was more precise the following minute when he lashed home a left-footed piledriver from the edge of the area after Nicolas Otamendi was dispossessed.
Then Salah delivered the final punishment for City, pouncing on Ederson’s weak clearance and returning a 45-meter shot over the goalkeeper and into an empty net.
“We lost a little bit of our control,” Guardiola said. “We were involved in the environment of Anfield for many, many reasons.”
Guardiola tried to encourage his players from the sidelines as Liverpool’s whole team celebrated inside a raucous Anfield, and City almost recovered.
Silva buried a low shot after a mazy run from Gundogan, who then poked in from eight meters for 4-3. There was to be no equalizer this time, though.
“At the end of the season,” Sane said, “when we win the Premier League, nobody cares if we lost a game.”
WORLD SCORES: COURTESY OF LIVESCORE.COM
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Sunday, Jan. 14
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. EST. The Jaguars (11-6) and Steelers (13-3) meet in the postseason for just the second time, and first since Jacksonville stunned Pittsburgh 31-29 at Heinz Field in the wild-card round of the 2007 playoffs. Blake Bortles looks to lead the Jaguars to the franchise’s third AFC title game, and first since 1999. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will try to get to the conference championship for the second straight year.
New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:40 p.m. EST. The Vikings (13-3) have dominated against the Saints at home, going 13-3 including a victory in the 2000 divisional round. The game marks Vikings quarterback Case Keenum’s first career playoff start — and the first postseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium — site of next month’s Super Bowl. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will make the 13th postseason start of his career and he and his teammates have some history up against them: New Orleans is 1-6 in in the playoffs on the road, including 1-4 under coach Sean Payton.
— Tom Brady, Patriots, passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards to help New England cruise past Tennessee 35-14.
— Nick Foles, Eagles, went 23 of 30 for 246 yards in Philadelphia’s 15-10 victory over Atlanta.
— Tevin Coleman, Falcons, ran for 79 yards on just 10 carries in Atlanta’s loss at Philadelphia.
— Dion Lewis, Patriots, had 62 yards on 15 attempts and added nine catches for 79 yards in New England’s rout of Tennessee.
— Danny Amendola, Patriots, caught 11 passes for 112 yards in New England victory over Tennessee.
— Corey Davis, Titans, had two touchdown catches in Tennessee’s loss at New England.
— Julio Jones, Falcons, caught nine passes for 101 yards in a losing cause as Atlanta fell to Philadelphia.
— Jake Elliott, Eagles, atoned for missing an extra point by kicking a 53-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter and added kicks of 37 and 21 yards in the second half of Philadelphia’s win over Atlanta.
— Fletcher Cox, Eagles, had seven tackles and a sack to help lead Philadelphia past Atlanta.
— Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom, Patriots, each had two sacks in New England’s win over Tennessee.
STREAKS & STATS
New England clinched its seventh straight appearance in the AFC championship game with a 35-14 victory over Tennessee. … Philadelphia’s Nick Foles became the first quarterback since Minnesota’s Randall Cunningham (1997) to win a playoff game after starting three or fewer games during that regular season. … Including their 15-10 victory over Atlanta, the Eagles have won 16 straight games when leading after three quarters. They’re 12-0 this season in that scenario. … New England set a franchise playoff record with eight sacks against Tennessee, including two each by Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom. … The Patriots are 8-0 this season when Dion Lewis has 100 or more yards from scrimmage. Lewis ran for 62 yards and had 79 yards receiving, along with a 27-yard kickoff return against Tennessee.
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in New England’s 35-14 win over Tennessee, giving him 10 such games in his career — breaking a tie with Joe Montana for the most since the 1970 merger. At 40 years and 163 days old, Brady also became the oldest quarterback to win a playoff game. … New England’s Rob Gronkowski caught his 10th playoff touchdown in the Patriots’ 35-14 win over Tennessee, tying him with five others. Only Jerry Rice (22) and John Stallworth (12) have more.
The Philadelphia Eagles were 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seed Atlanta Falcons, the first time a No. 1 seed wasn’t favored to win its first playoff game. They needed a stop on fourth down from the 2 in the final minute to beat the Falcons 15-10 and advance to the NFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season. Right tackle Lane Johnson walked off the field wearing a dog mask while teammates barked after the win.
Tennessee had the second-fewest penalties during the regular season with 85, but was flagged 10 times for 62 yards against New England. It marked just the second time the Titans had 10 or more this season.
New England right tackle LaAdrian Waddle left the Patriots’ 35-14 victory over Tennessee with a knee injury early in the third quarter. Cornerback Jonathan Jones was helped off the field late in the fourth quarter. … Tennessee right tackle Jack Conklin walked off on his own power after injuring a knee in the first quarter, but did not return. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith was carted off in the third quarter with a right leg injury.
“Just keep on disrespecting and we’re going to keep proving people wrong.” — Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery after the Eagles topped the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 after being largely considered an underdog despite being the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
“It definitely sounds crazy. But you have to keep ignoring the noise on the outside, just keep working every time you walk into the building and just keep grinding.” — New England tight end Rob Gronkowski after the Patriots advanced to their seventh straight AFC championship game.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots have handled every bit of adversity that has been thrown at them this season — from a string of injuries to the recent off-field firestorm created by reports of purported discord within the core of the franchise.
Now, they’ll have a chance to play for yet another AFC championship.
The Patriots’ 35-14 victory over the Titans in Saturday’s divisional round was yet another reminder of the defending Super Bowl champion’s unique ability to not only compartmentalize, but play some of their best football in the face of it.
Tom Brady chuckled when he was asked after the game about his name being mentioned in a swirl of media reports last week about alleged bickering between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
“Noooo,” he responded sarcastically, when a reporter asked about Brady’s name being mentioned in a negative light.
But Brady said it “just goes with the territory.
“I just try to be consistent, show up and do the best I can do every week for the team and regardless of whether I’m the worst quarterback in the league or the best quarterback in the league or somewhere in-between,” he said.
It was Brady’s 10th career postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. It also brought out some of the best football in his teammates.
James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards — his first career 100-yard receiving game.
“All the hard work we put in is for these moments,” White said. “We have to make the most of these opportunities.”
Marcus Mariota tossed an early touchdown pass to give the Titans an early 7-0 lead. But Tennessee faltered down the stretch as the Patriots defense swarmed the third-year quarterback and sacked him a Patriots playoff-record eight times.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey revealed after the game that Mariota suffered a strained quadriceps muscle in the first quarter. But Mariota said it was no excuse.
“Everybody plays with something,” he said.
He said he walked off the field feeling “embarrassed” a week after leading his team back from 18 points down against Kansas City. But he said watching the efficiency of Brady and the Patriots was a learning experience he will take with him moving forward.
“You don’t play to come and lose in the divisional playoff. You play to win the whole thing,” Mariota said. “Obviously, this is the blueprint. New England’s been in the playoffs consistently. We can learn a lot from them.”
Brady will be making his 12th AFC championship game appearance in his 18 NFL seasons. He now has 221 career wins as a starting quarterback (regular season and playoffs), extending his NFL record. Peyton Manning is next with 200 career victories.
Gronkowski finished with six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. It was his 10th career postseason TD. He’s tied with five others for third all-time. But it’s the most for a tight end. Only two players in NFL history have more receiving touchdowns in the playoffs: Jerry Rice with 22 and John Stallworth with 12.
But Gronkowski said it’s not something that is even registering right now.
“That’s great to hear and everything, but that’s not really the main goal,” he said. “Maybe down the road you can look back and look at that stuff, but as of right now, what our main goal is just keep on grinding, get the win and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Patriots feasted on third down against the Titans’ defense, going 11 of 17 in those situations.
Titans safety Kevin Byard said they allowed Brady to control the game.
“We didn’t play well enough to give our offense a chance,” Byard said. “We were giving up too much, especially on early downs.”
He said New England’s 31 first downs stood out.
“(Brady) definitely outplayed us tonight.”
EAGLES 15, FALCONS 10
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles was steady, Jake Elliott had a big leg and the defense made one final stop.
The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFC championship game following a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. They’ll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.
Despite going 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed, the Eagles entered the game as 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seeded Falcons (11-7). They used it as motivation and now it’s onto the next one as they continue pursuit of the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
“If we believe the outsiders, we will be all messed up,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “We went out and proved we can be the real winning team.”
Matt Ryan’s final pass sailed through Julio Jones’ arms in the corner of the end zone as Jalen Mills had tight coverage on fourth down from the 2 to secure Philadelphia’s win. It was another disappointing finish for the Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead against the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.
“The reason I play this game is to win a championship,” Ryan said. “That’s why we put all of the hard work we put in. When you don’t get that result, it’s difficult.”
Foles outplayed Ryan, bouncing back from a pair of subpar games with an efficient performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.
“The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,” Foles said. “We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there’s going to be criticism. You’re aware of it because you’re human but we blocked it out.”
Here’s some things we learned following Philadelphia’s first playoff win in nine years:
OVERCOMING TURNOVERS: The Eagles committed the only two turnovers and won anyway. Jay Ajayi fumbled on the second play from scrimmage inside Falcons territory and a short punt bounced off an Eagles player setting up Atlanta’s 18-yard touchdown drive.
INCONSISTENT OFFENSE: These weren’t the Falcons who lit up the scoreboard on their way to winning the NFC championship last year. Under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons weren’t quite as sharp throughout the season and their inconsistency showed up at the wrong time. They were shut out in the second half and held to just 118 yards in the final two quarters.
“I think that’s something we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,” Ryan said. “There were too many times we were a little bit inconsistent.”
JAY TRAIN: Ajayi shook off the fumble and ran well until he inexplicably went to the bench for a long stretch. Ajayi had 50 yards rushing on eight carries through Philadelphia’s first drive of the second quarter, but didn’t get the ball again until the second half. He finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and also dropped a third down pass. He did have 44 yards receiving on three catches.
“I feel like I played poorly,” Ajayi said. “The fumble, can’t do that in a big game. I feel like I could have executed a lot better. A lot of the teammates picked up the slack. The defense played lights out.”
CALL OF THE GAME: Eagles coach Doug Pederson ran an inside counter to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that went for 21 yards to the Falcons 3 on third-and-3 on Philadelphia’s touchdown drive. It was the first time he called that play this season.
“It’s a play we’ve had in our arsenal, but never got to it,” Pederson said. “This was just an opportunity to put it in Nelson’s hands with Lane Johnson as a puller and just executed extremely well.”
JAKE’S LEG: Elliott, who joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1, bounced back after missing his fourth extra point of the season by connecting on all three of his field goals. His 53-yarder at the end of the first half was his sixth in seven tries from beyond 50. That includes a game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in Week 3.
“It was definitely tricky out there, just really gusty (wind),” Elliott said. “You don’t know what it’s really going to do out there so you just have to hit the best ball you can and take care of what you can control.”
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — TORONTO – Stephen Curry returned from a two-game absence to score 24 points, Klay Thompson had 26 and the Golden State Warriors blew nearly all of a 27-point lead before beating the Toronto Raptors 127-125 on Saturday night.
DeMar DeRozan scored 42 points for the Raptors, but the Warriors had just enough to beat Toronto for the eighth straight time.
Kevin Durant scored 25 points and Draymond Green had 14 for the Warriors, who have won 12 straight on the road. Golden State’s 19 road wins are the most in the NBA.
OG Anunoby had 17 points and Serge Ibaka 14 for the Raptors, who rallied from a 19-point deficit through three quarters to make it a one-point game in the fourth.
SAN ANTONIO – Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points in his return from a three-game absence, Davis Bertans had 18 and San Antonio never trailed in a victory over Denver.
San Antonio won its 14th straight at the AT&T Center, improving the league’s best home record to 19-2.
The Spurs’ projected starting lineup of Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Danny Green played together for only the sixth game this season and just the second time at home.
Leonard played 28 minutes after sitting out the previous three games with a strained left shoulder.
Green had 11 points in his return from a 10-game absence due to tightness in his left groin.
Nikola Jokic had 23 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which has lost 10 straight in San Antonio.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Russell Westbrook had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Oklahoma City beat Charlotte to snap a three-game losing streak.
Paul George added 17 points and Steven Adams had 14 rebounds and 11 rebounds as the Thunder avenged a loss earlier this season to the Hornets.
Oklahoma City trailed by three entering the fourth quarter, but its bench helped open a double-digit lead as Charlotte shot 5 of 21 from the field over the final 12 minutes. The Thunder attempted 97 shots as they dominated the offensive glass.
All-Star point guard Kemba Walker had several shots blocked on drives to the basket and finished 5 of 17 from the field. He still led the Hornets with 19 points, while Dwight Howard added 11 points and 17 rebounds.
CHICAGO – Zach LaVine scored 14 points in his first game in 11 months, rookie Lauri Markkanen added 19 points and Chicago beat Detroit.
Chicago made 17 3-pointers and held off several late charges by the Pistons to win for the 13th time in its last 20 games.
LaVine was making his Bulls debut after being acquired from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade. LaVine, who last season averaged 18.9 points in 47 contests, hadn’t played since he suffered a torn ACL against Detroit on Feb. 3.
Avery Bradley scored 26 points and Andre Drummond had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, which lost its sixth road game in seven tries.
WASHINGTON – John Wall scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and overtime and added 16 assists as Washington beat Brooklyn after giving back a 23-point lead.
Bradley Beal added 24 points and Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, who needed their first overtime victory of the season to avoid being swept by the Nets in the season series.
Kelly Oubre added 17 points off the bench off 5-of-6 shooting as Washington moved to 2-2 on a five-game homestand.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 22 points for Brooklyn, which forced overtime despite never holding the lead. Jarrett Allen added 16 points and DeMarre Carroll had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who have yet to win in three overtime contests this season.
LOS ANGELES – Lou Williams scored 26 points and injury-depleted Los Angeles beat Sacramento to get to .500 at the season’s halfway mark.
Willie Reed added 14 points and 13 rebounds starting in place of DeAndre Jordan, who has a sprained left ankle. Blake Griffin had 11 points and nine assists as one of eight Clippers in double figures.
Besides Jordan, they were without Austin Rivers and Danilo Gallinari. Patrick Beverley had season-ending knee surgery while C.J. Wilson is out indefinitely.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Kings in their fourth straight loss. De’Aaron Fox added 17 points and 10 assists.
DALLAS – Julius Randle’s rebound and late putback sealed an overtime victory for Los Angeles against Dallas.
With his team leading 104-101, Randle grabbed a rebound on Lonzo Ball’s missed jump shot and scored on the rebound with 18.3 seconds remaining, giving the Lakers a five-point lead they needed to extend a season-best four-game win streak.
The Lakers (15-27) trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter, but battled back for their first win against the Mavericks in 15 tries and their first win in Dallas since Feb. 24, 2013.
Randle, a Dallas native, had 23 points and 15 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points, Kyle Kuzma had 18, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 17.
Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. had 23 points as the Mavericks (15-29) had a two-game win streak snapped. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each had 17 points for Dallas.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — MONTREAL – Brad Marchand scored in the fourth round of a shootout, and the Boston Bruins beat Montreal 4-3 on Saturday night after the Canadiens lost Phillip Danault to a head injury on a frightening play in the second period.
Marchand also scored in regulation, helping the Bruins improve to 9-0-3 in their last 12 games. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci had the other goals for Boston, and Tuukka Rask made 27 saves.
Danault was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was hit in the head by a slap shot from Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. The 24-year-old center was moving and speaking to medical staff before he departed to an ovation from the Bell Centre crowd.
Danault was taken to a hospital for further exams. Officials opted to play the final 1:37 of the second after intermission.
Alex Galchenyuk, Max Pacioretty and Nicolas Deslauriers scored for Montreal, and Carey Price had 29 stops. It was Galchenyuk’s 100th career goal.
PITTSBURGH – Evgeni Malkin had two goals and two assists, and the Penguins earned their third consecutive victory.
Phil Kessel added a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, which had dropped its last three games against Detroit. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and rookie Tristan Jarry stopped 29 shots in his third straight start while Matt Murray is home in Canada tending to a personal family matter.
Justin Abdelkader scored for the Red Wings, who lost their second straight after a four-game winning streak. Jimmy Howard made 32 saves after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
NEWARK, N.J. – Sean Couturier had two goals and an assist, helping Philadelphia to its fourth straight win.
Wayne Simmonds, Travis Konecny and Michael Raffl also scored for the Flyers, who have won five of six overall. Claude Giroux had the primary assist on two power-play goals and Brian Elliott made 26 saves as Philadelphia won in New Jersey for the first time since Feb. 16. 2016.
Jesper Bratt, Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford scored for the Devils, who dropped to 0-3-3 in their last six games. Cory Schneider had 20 saves.
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Matt Dumba scored two goals in the third period, and Minnesota got its first win against Winnipeg in four tries this season.
Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund also scored, helping Minnesota win its second straight behind 32 saves from Devan Dubnyk.
The Jets were coming off a 2-1 loss at Chicago on Friday night. Mathieu Perreault scored against the Wild, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 37 shots.
Dumba’s slap shot from the faceoff circle sneaked between Hellebuyck and the post for a 3-1 lead in the third. Another shot from the point secured Dumba’s second two-goal game of the season.
LAS VEGAS – Darnell Nurse scored 55 seconds into overtime to lift Edmonton past Vegas.
Patrick Maroon and Drake Caggiula also scored for the Oilers, and Cam Talbot made 34 saves.
William Karlsson and Reilly Smith scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots.
Vegas, coming off its league-mandated bye week, was playing for the first time since Jan. 6 when they beat the New York Rangers 2-1. The Oilers, meanwhile, were playing for the second time in two nights after a 4-2 win in Arizona. Edmonton begins its bye week Sunday.
NEW YORK – Mathew Barzal had two goals and three assists, Anthony Beauvillier added two goals and an assist, and the Islanders beat the Rangers 7-2 for their ninth win in the last 10 meetings of the crosstown rivals.
Shane Prince, Thomas Hickey and Cal Clutterbuck also scored, helping the Islanders to the victory in both teams’ first game after their respective five-day byes. Jordan Eberle had four assists in the Isles’ highest scoring game of the season, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 37 shots.
Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad scored for the Rangers, who have lost three of four. Ondrej Pavelec was pulled in the second period after giving up five goals on 19 shots, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 16 saves.
DALLAS – Alexander Kerfoot scored in the first period and assisted on Nathan MacKinnon’s winner, and Colorado beat Dallas for its sixth straight win.
The Avalanche remained in last place in the tight Central Division but are only two points behind Dallas for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Blake Comeau scored with 1:40 left, and Mark Barberio added an empty-net, short-handed goal. Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves for his fifth straight win while filling in for injured goalie Semyon Varlamov.
LOS ANGELES – Ondrej Kase had two goals and an assist, John Gibson made 23 saves and Anaheim held off Los Angeles in the third period for their first victory of the season in the Freeway Faceoff rivalry.
Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal and Corey Perry added an empty-net goal as the Ducks returned from their bye week with a physical, entertaining victory over the equally rested Kings in the 135th edition of the local derby.
Nick Shore and captain Anze Kopitar scored in the third period for Los Angeles, but the Ducks hung on to win after losing both of their first two matchups with the Kings this season in extra time.
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Joonas Donskoi tied it with 15.4 seconds left in the third period and Marc-Edward Vlasic scored in overtime, lifting San Jose over Arizona.
Donskoi scored his second goal of the game with San Jose goalie Aaron Dell pulled for an extra skater after Arizona scored twice earlier in the period. Vlasic then got his fifth of the season with an assist from Joe Thornton, who had a goal and two helpers to tie Hall of Famer Adam Oates for 17th on the career scoring list (1,420 points).
Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture also scored for San Jose, and Dell stopped 13 of 15 shots after replacing Martin Jones in net.
Arizona got goals from Derek Stepan, Alex Goligoski, Christian Fischer, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Josh Archibald.
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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 20 points, Brandone Francis had a career-high 17 and No. 8 Texas Tech won the first Top 10 matchup on its home court, beating second-ranked West Virginia 72-71 on Saturday.
Evans hit a lean-in jumper to give the Red Raiders (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) a four-point lead in the final minute and send the first sellout crowd of the season into a frenzy. The Mountaineers had their nation-leading 15-game winning streak stopped.
Jevon Carter scored 28 points — one off his career high — for West Virginia (15-2, 4-1). Esa Ahmad added 18 in his season debut following an NCAA academic suspension.
MICHIGAN 82, No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE 72
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Moritz Wagner scored a career-high 27 points for Michigan.
The Wolverines (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) have won eight of nine games overall and two straight against their rivals.
The Spartans (16-3, 4-2) have lost two of three games with an overtime win over Rutgers in between the setbacks.
Michigan State’s Miles Bridges had 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
No. 1 VILLANOVA 78, ST. JOHN’S 71
NEW YORK (AP) — Donte DiVincenzo hit six 3-pointers and scored 25 points to help Villanova silence a rowdy crowd and hold off upset-minded St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
Shamorie Ponds came close to leading the Red Storm (10-8, 0-6 Big East) to their first win over a No. 1 team in 33 years. Ponds scored a career-high 37 points in front of 17,123 fans.
The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1) were flawless from the free-throw line over the final minute to avoid the startling upset. Mikal Bridges had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Villanova. The Wildcats went 13-for-30 on 3-point range.
No. 5 PURDUE 81, MINNESOTA 47
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 25 points in 29 minutes on 9-for-14 shooting for Purdue in its 13th consecutive victory.
Isaac Haas pitched in 14 points and five rebounds for Purdue (17-2, 6-0), which produced its best Big Ten start since going 8-0 to begin conference play in the 1989-90 season.
Jordan Murphy had 10 points and four rebounds for the Gophers (13-6, 2-4), who have lost all three games since center Reggie Lynch was suspended and small forward Amir Coffey was sidelined by a shoulder injury. This was the second-largest margin of defeat at home in program history, behind only a 90-51 loss to No. 1 UCLA on Dec. 20, 1968.
No. 5 WICHITA STATE 72, TULSA 69
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Landry Shamet and backcourt mate Conner Frankamp each scored 16 points and Wichita State held off Tulsa.
Shamet made the first of two free throws with 8 seconds left for a three-point edge. After Shamet missed his second shot, the Shockers fouled Sterling Taplin. He missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4.9 seconds left, Junior Etou rebounded and passed back to Taplin, whose 3-point try rimmed out.
Taplin scored 26 points. Markis McDuffie added 10 points and nine rebounds for Wichita State (15-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference). Henderson had 14 points for Tulsa (10-8, 3-3).
No. 7 DUKE 89, WAKE FOREST 71
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Marvin Bagley III had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Duke, which was without Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski due to a virus.
With longtime assistant Jeff Capel in charge, the short-handed and illness-ravaged Blue Devils (15-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their second straight and moved their conference record over .500 for the first time this season.
Bryant Crawford scored 21 points and Keyshawn Woods had 15 to lead Wake Forest (8-9, 1-4), which hasn’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 21 years.
No. 9 OKLAHOMA 102, No. 16 TCU 97, OT
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young scored 29 of his 43 points after halftime for Oklahoma, which won in overtime.
Young, the freshman who leads the nation in scoring and assists, also had 11 rebounds and seven assists. Brady Manek added 22 points for the Sooners (14-2, 4-1 Big 12), who made a school-record 19 3-pointers.
Jaylen Fisher had a career-high 22 points and Vlad Brodziansky added 21 for TCU (13-4, 1-4), which lost its second overtime game of the week.
No. 10 XAVIER 92, No. 25 CREIGHTON 70
CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Bluiett emerged from his shooting slump with 24 pointsa and Kaiser Gates responded to getting dropped from the starting lineup by scoring 16, as Xavier recovered from back-to-back road losses.
The Musketeers (16-3, 4-2 Big East) shook up their starting lineup and got back in form after losses to Providence and No. 1 Villanova. They pulled ahead by 27 points midway through the second half.
The Bluejays (14-3, 4-2) gave up a season high in points and took their most lopsided loss.
No. 11 Arizona State 77, Oregon State 75
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Shannon Evans scored seven of his 22 points in a late 10-0 run for Arizona State.
Cody Justice added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Sun Devils (14-3, 2-3 Pac-12), who were coming off an upset home loss to Oregon on Thursday night.
Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 21 for the Beavers (10-7, 2-3), including five 3s (in 10 attempts).
Arizona State prevailed despite an off night from point guard Tra Holder. The Pac-12’s leading scorer at 20.9 points per game made 1 of 9 shots for four points.
Tres Tinkle scored 18 for Oregon State but missed a 3-pointer that would have won the game at the buzzer.
No. 12 KANSAS 73, KANSAS STATE 72
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Devonte Graham had 23 points, and Malik Newman hit the go-ahead foul shots with 15 seconds left for Kansas.
Udoka Azubuike added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Jayhawks (14-3, 4-1 Big 12), who beat their Interstate 70 rival for the sixth straight time and 12th in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.
Dean Wade had 22 points to lead Kansas State (12-5, 2-3).
No. 13 SETON HALL 74, GEORGETOWN 61
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell each scored 19 points to lead Seton Hall.
The Pirates (15-3, 4-1 Big East), who remained undefeated at home (11-0), received 11 points and 13 rebounds from Angel Delgado.
The Hoyas (12-5, 2-4) were led by Marcus Derrickson, who scored 18 points while Jahvon Blair and Jessie Govan scored 11 points each.
No. 14 CINCINNATI 78, SOUTH FLORIDA 55
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jarron Cumberland scored 18 points and Cincinnati shrugged off a slow start.
Jacob Evans III had 16 points and Kyle Washington added 14 to help the Bearcats (15-2, 4-0) remain unbeaten in American Athletic Conference play. The victory was the eighth straight for Cincinnati, which shot 70 percent while outscoring the Bulls 43-22 in the second half.
USF (7-11, 0-5) has lost six in a row, remaining winless in the AAC, where it has been beaten by an average of nearly 25 points per game. Payton Banks led the Bulls with 22 points.
No. 15 GONZAGA 75, SAN FRANCISCO 65
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Johnathan Williams scored 17 points and Josh Perkins added 16 to lead Gonzaga to 18th straight road victory in the West Coast Conference.
The Bulldogs (16-3, 6-0) got a rare test in conference play after winning their first five games by at least 29 points. But they were up to the task with help from two key blocked shots late by Rei Hachimura.
Souley Boum scored 22 points and Frankie Ferrari added 18 for the Dons (10-9, 2-4). San Francisco has lost 14 straight games against ranked opponents since beating Gonzaga at home 66-65 on Feb. 12, 2012.
No. 17 ARIZONA 90, OREGON 83
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 25 points and Deandre Ayton added 24 for Arizona.
Arizona (14-4, 4-1 Pac-12) scored eight straight points to go up 84-77 with 72 seconds left. The Wildcats shot 53 percent from the field.
Elijah Brown scored 25 points and MiKyle McIntosh had 20 for the Ducks (12-6, 2-3).
No. 19 CLEMSON 72, No. 18 MIAMI 63
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Donte Grantham had 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Mark Donnal had 12 points, including two critical second-half 3s, for Clemson.
The Tigers (15-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) continued their best start in nine seasons and bounced back from their first ACC defeat that snapped a 10-game win streak at North Carolina State on Thursday night.
Clemson made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Anthony Lawrence II and Lonnie Walker IV had 16 points each for Miami (13-3, 2-2).
No. 20 NORTH CAROLINA 69, NOTRE DAME 68
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Joel Berry II hit two free throws with 7.1 seconds left as North Carolina earned its first Atlantic Coast Conference road victory of the season.
Berry finished with 15 points while Luke Maye had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (14-4, 3-2). Sophomore point guard T.J. Gibbs got a game-high 19 points and six assists for the Irish (13-5, 3-2).
Gibbs dribbled downcourt and got off an errant shot but got a rebound which spun out at the buzzer.
No. 21 KENTUCKY 74, VANDERBILT 67
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Knox scored five straight points to put Kentucky ahead to stay.
With the score tied at 59, Knox hit a jumper with 3:48 left and hit the free throw that put Kentucky ahead for good. He added a layup on the next possession for the Wildcats (14-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference). Wenyon Gabriel added a tip-in, and Hamadou Diallo knocked down a 3-pointer for a 10-2 run clinching the victory.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Kentucky with 22 points. Knox finished with 17.
Jeff Roberson led Vanderbilt (6-11, 1-4) with 20 points.
No. 22 AUBURN 76, MISSISSIPPI STATE 68
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Bryce Brown scored 23 points and Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray both added 14 for Auburn.
Auburn (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) won its 14th straight game despite trailing by 13 points early in the second half. It’s the program’s longest winning streak since the 1999-2000 season, when the Tigers also won 14 in a row.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 14 points for Mississippi State (13-4, 1-3).
No. 23 FLORIDA STATE 101, SYRACUSE 90, 2OT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Briain Angola scored 24 points, including five in the second overtime, and Christ Koumadje added a career-high 23 for Florida State.
Tied at 82 at the end of the first overtime, the Seminoles scored the first six points of the second extra session to take control. Two free throws by Tyus Battle cut FSU’s lead to 88-84 but it scored nine of the next 11 points to put it out of reach.
Phil Cofer added 16 points for Florida State (13-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which played without leading scorer and rebounder Terance Mann, who missed the game due to a concussion.
Battle, who had five points at halftime, led the Orange (12-6, 1-4) with 37 points,
No. 24 TENNESSEE 75, TEXAS A&M 62
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bowden scored 15 points as Tennessee handed Texas A&M its fifth consecutive loss.
Kyle Alexander had 14 points, Admiral Schofield scored 12 and Jordan Bone added 10 as Tennessee (12-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won its third straight in Volunteers coach Rick Barnes’ 1,000th career game. Barnes improved his head coaching record to 647-353.
After being ranked fifth in the nation at the start of SEC play, Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5) hasn’t won since.
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HOUSTON (AP) — Azura Stevens had 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to lead four players in double-figures scoring, and top-ranked UConn used a strong defensive effort to rout Houston 95-35 on Saturday.
Katie Lou Samuelson and Kia Nurse each scored 17 points and Crystal Dangerfield chipped in 11 for the Huskies (15-0, 5-0 American), which forced Houston (14-5, 3-2) into 28 turnovers. The Cougars shot a season-low 20 percent.
UConn, which has won 145 straight over unranked opponents, outscored Houston 23-4 in the first quarter en route to a 45-13 halftime lead.
Jasmyne Harris led Houston with 15 points.
No. 7 TEXAS 79, KANSAS 62
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ariel Atkins scored 22 points, including 10 in the pivotal third quarter, as No. 7 Texas overcame a challenge by unranked Kansas to win 79-62 on Saturday.
Atkins, a senior guard, also grabbed nine rebounds and had a career-best six steals, enabling Texas to maneuver from two points down at halftime to 14 ahead in the third quarter.
Lashann Higgs added 17 points for Texas (14-2, 5-1 Big 12). Sophomore Sug Sutton, making her third start at Texas, scored a career-best 14.
Junior Christalah Lyons led Kansas (11-6, 2-4) with 20 points.
No. 10 OHIO STATE 77, INDIANA 62
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Stephanie Mavunga had 20 points and 18 rebounds to lead Ohio State to a victory over Indiana.
Mavunga, the 2013 Indiana Miss Basketball from Brownsburg, Ind., sank 6 of 12 shots and 8 of 11 free throws. Linnae Harper chipped in with 19 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 15 points for the Buckeyes (16-2, 5-0 Big Ten).
They won their ninth consecutive game and are the only unbeaten team in the conference. Ohio State has won 12 in a row against the Hoosiers, including an 85-70 home win on Dec. 31.
Jaelynn Penn scored 20 points to lead the Hoosiers (8-11, 1-5).
TCU 76, No. 15 WEST VIRGINA 74
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Amy Okonkwo scored 16 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in overtime, and TCU defeated its second straight ranked team, taking down West Virginia.
Okonkwo, who made a layup with 3.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and Jordan Moore had double-doubles for the Horned Frogs (12-5, 3-3 Big 12), who beat No. 7 Texas on Wednesday. Okonkwo had 12 rebounds, Moore had 17 points and 11 boards and Toree Thompson had 14 points. It is the first time since November of 2004 TCU has beaten ranked teams back-to-back.
West Virginia (15-3, 3-3) led virtually the whole game, and was up 18 early in the second half. TCU crept back and then a 10-0 run pulled the Frogs into a tie at 64-all with less than a minute to go in regulation.
Naomi Davenport and Ray had 17 points each for the Mountaineers, Teana Muldrow had 16 and Kristina King had 12 with 10 rebounds.
PURDUE 76, No. 18 IOWA 70
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Andreona Keys scored 22 of her career-high 34 points in the second half and Purdue knocked off its second straight ranked opponent, beating Iowa.
Dominique Oden added 16 points and Karissa McLaughlin 15, 12 in the second half, for the Boilermakers (12-7, 3-2 Big Ten), who beat No. 21 Rutgers on Thursday.
Oden, McLaughlin and Keys combined for all 25 Purdue points in the third quarter on 10-of-15 shooting, 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and the Boilermakers took a 57-49 lead into the fourth.
Then Megan Gustafson rallied Iowa (15-3, 3-2). She finished with a career-high 37 points plus 14 rebounds for her nation-leading 17th double-double of the season.
KANSAS STATE 80, No. 20 OKLAHOMA STATE 64
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kaylee Page had a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 20 points, Shaelyn Martin and Kayla Goth had double-doubles and Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State.
Peyton Williams had 18 points for the Wildcats (11-6, 3-3 Big 12), who played a ranked team for the fifth time in six games, winning two of them. Martin had her first double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Goth had 11 points and 10 assists.
Kansas State came out firing, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers and 10 of 15 overall to lead 25-15 after one quarter. After an even second quarter, the Wildcats had a season-high 31 points in the third quarter, highlighted by four 3s from Page, to double the lead.
Kaylee Jensen had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma State (12-4, 3-2) and Mandy Coleman had 10 points and 13 boards. OSU won the first meeting at home 76-68.
No. 21 RUTGERS 80, MINNESOTA 70, OT
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Tyler Scaife scored 25 points, Stasha Carey added 23 and the pair combined for all 12 Rutgers points in overtime to lift the Scarlet Knights to a win over Minnesota.
Carlie Wagner, who had five 3-pointers, and Destiny Pitts, who hit a 3 from the left corner with 14.8 seconds left in regulation for the extra sessions, both had 22 points for the Golden Gophers.
Carey had the first four points before Wagner scored midway through overtime. Scaife had back-to-back critical jumpers before the game was wrapped up at the foul line as Minnesota was 1 of 11 in the extra session.
It was a good bounce back for the Scarlet Knights (17-3, 5-1 Big Ten), who returned to the Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2015 regular season and promptly lost at Purdue, scoring just 10 points in the first half and 33 for the game.
No. 23 MICHIGAN 69, NEBRASKA 64, OT
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Katelynn Flaherty scored 24 points to help Michigan beat Nebraska.
Flaherty was 8 of 16 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and hit all four of her free throws for Michigan (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten).
Hannah Whitish led Nebraska (12-6, 3-2) with 16 points
No. 25 GREEN BAY 69, CLEVELAND STATE 43
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jessica Lindstrom scored 16 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and had four assists to help Green Bay beat Cleveland State.
Karly Murphy had 10 points and Jen Wellnitz added six with a career-high nine assists for Green Bay (14-2, 4-1 Horizon League). The Phoenix have won three in a row and 10 of their last 11.
Allie LeClaire’s jumper sparked an 11-2 opening run for Green Bay before Frankie Wurtz and Lindstrom back-to-back 3s to make it 17-3 at the end of the first quarter. LeClaire scored five points during a 13-0 run that pushed the lead to 26 points with three minutes left in the first half and Cleveland State trailed by at least 19 the rest of the way.
Jade Ely led the Vikings (11-6, 3-3) with 17 points and Khayla Livingston scored 11.
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HONOLULU (AP) — Tom Hoge was too caught up watching college basketball in his hotel room to be bothered with a push alert — a false alarm, as it turned out — that a ballistic missile was headed toward Hawaii.
He showed a steady hand on the golf course, too, even as the leaderboard at the Sony Open became increasingly crowded.
Hoge finished off a 6-under 64 by holing a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th, and then hitting a 40-yard bunker shot to within 3 feet for a birdie on the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club for a one-shot lead.
Hoge was at 16-under 194, one shot ahead of Brian Harman (68) and Patton Kizzire, who recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 64. Another shot behind was Kyle Stanley (65).
Seven players were separated by four shots, a big difference from a year ago when Justin Thomas led by seven going into the final round of his wire-to-wire victory.
Hoge has never led going to the final round on the PGA Tour in his 75 previous starts. He has never won.
“A new position,” Hoge said. “It’s a good one, obviously. I’ve been close to the lead a few times in the fall, so a little bit to draw on there. Haven’t quite pulled it off yet. Just getting a little more belief in myself and hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for me.”
It should be a day where everyone can breathe a little easier compared with how Saturday began.
Hawaii was buzzing — literally — when the push alert came through on mobile phones across the island shortly after 8 a.m. alerting of a missile. It said to seek shelter and that it was not a drill.
There was panic across the island. J.J. Spaun tweeted that he was in the basement of his hotel. John Peterson tweeted that he was in a bathtub with his family covered by mattresses.
“I was watching the TCU basketball game at the time, so I was a little frustrated with that,” he said of his alma mater ultimately losing to Oklahoma. “The missile was kind of off my radar on that one. I don’t even know what you do for a missile. So I wasn’t really freaking out or anything. Some other people were around us. If it’s going to be your last day, it’s going to be your last day, right?
“To be here in Hawaii and see the beach and everything, I guess it would be a good spot to go.”
Hoge once shared the 36-hole lead with Tiger Woods at the Wyndham Championship, the last tournament Woods played before two back surgeries in the fall of 2015. This time he starts out the final round as the leader.
With so many players right in the mix, no one is sure what to expect in the final round.
“There’s a lot of birdies out there,” Kizzire said. “You just have to make the most.”
Thomas had a wild start — bogey on No. 1, holing out from 175 yards for eagle on No. 2, another bogey on No. 3. He settled down for a 66 and was six shots back, with other eight players ahead of him.
“You can go shoot 8 or 9 under in a heartbeat out here,” Thomas said. “It’s hard if you’re five back and you’re in 15th or 20th as opposed to five back and you’re in sixth or seventh. We’ll just wait and see.”
Hoge figured out how to handle Waialae on another warm, sunny and missile-free day. He was bogey-free, picking up birdies with good tee shots on some of the shorter holes, knocking in the long putt on the 17th and finishing with a birdie.
Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point, and Harman was never too far from the mix. It was a steady performance, just not as low as the players chasing him, and he failed to hit his bunker shot close on the 18th, two-putting from 25 feet for par.
Even so, he’ll be in the last group in Hawaii for the second straight week, and Kapalua winner Dustin Johnson already is on his way to Abu Dhabi.
Jordan Spieth never got much going again and headed to the putting green after his round for more work. He only made four birdies in his bogey-free round of 66, but that left him nine shots behind.
For most players, the talk of the day was the push alert that turned out to be a mistake.
“It was pretty scary at the hotel when they came over the loud speaker and said, ‘Everyone take shelter, this isn’t a drill,'” Spieth said.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Europe retained the EurAsia Cup after putting on a sensational showing on the final day to tame Asia 14 to 10, courtesy of eight wins in the 12 singles matches on Sunday.
Asia had led by a slim margin coming into the individual play, but they were soundly beaten by the Europeans, who are using the match play tournament as a dress rehearsal for the Ryder Cup later this year.
“It was a great performance today, from every single one of them. There was a determination, and a will, and a wanting to win this,” Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said.
“And from there to go out and do the job the way they did shows a lot about the character of these guys and character of European golf. It shows a lot about what we are, and to watch them from the sidelines doing what they do best has been a pleasure.”
Alex Noren got the ball rolling with a 4 and 2 win over Nicholas Fung, before Rafa Cabrera-Bello gave Europe the lead when he beat Gavin Green 4 and 3.
Tommy Fleetwood was next to put a point on the board with a 2 and 1 win over S.S.P Chawrasia.
Poom Saksansin gave Asia their solitary point of the day when he overcame Paul Casey by 1 up.
But Henrik Stenson, the highest ranked golfer in the field at No. 9, resumed Europe’s dominance with a 2 and 1 triumph over Hideto Tanihara.
Bernd Wiesberger then triumphed over Phachara Khongwatmai 2 and 1 in a high quality duel of golf that featured 10 birdies and two eagles between them.
Alexander Levy put Europe within striking distance of the title with a 3 and 1 victory over Kiradech Aphibarnrat, before Thomas Pieters confirmed the title with a 1 up win over An Byeong-hun.
“Yeah, it’s always nice to get the winning point. Got off to a good start. Then played pretty poorly during the middle, then made a couple of very good birdies,” Pieters said after his winning point.
Tyrrell Hatton added another point for the Europeans with a 2 and 1 win over Anirban Lahiri, before Asia came back to secure some pride in the final score.
Kang Sung-hoon halved his match with Matthew Fitzpatrick, before Li Haotong and Yuta Ikeda gave Asia two more points with victories over Paul Dunne and Ross Fisher, respectively.
Asia captain Arjun Atwal commended the Europeans on their superior putting skills, which he said made the difference.
“We didn’t make enough putts, my players were hitting the edges. It seemed like Europe, every time I watched them, either they were chipping in or making a lot of birdies and it’s hard to beat them like that,” Atwal said. “But I’m proud of my players, every single one of them.”
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Chris Paisley leads by a shot from home favorite Branden Grace going into the final round of the South African Open.
Paisley remained calm in a 2-under 70 in the third round on Saturday to move to 15 under overall and took the outright lead after sharing it with Adrien Saddier overnight.
England’s Paisley is in position for his maiden European Tour title but will face a challenge from the in-form Grace on the last day.
Grace won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in November, and surged into contention at the South African Open with a third-round 66, with seven birdies and just one bogey to go to 14 under.
“I’m sure the crowd is going to be on his side,” Paisley said. “I’m just really excited about it.”
Three players are tied for third on 12 under and three shots off the lead. They are Saddier, Chase Koepka and Jacques Blaauw.
Koepka, the younger brother of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, put together a 68 on Saturday and is in his first season on the European Tour and also searching for a first victory.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was tied for fourth after the second round at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg but his search for a first win since 2009 took a hit with a 1-over 73 Saturday. Goosen is now tied for 20th.
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TULSA, Okla. — Christopher Bell won the Chili Bowl for the second consecutive year, taking command after Kyle Larson’s engine appeared to fail as the two raced for the lead.
Larson and Bell had the most dominant cars in the 55-lap feature at the Tulsa Expo Center and seemed only to be racing each other Saturday night. As Bell tried to pass Larson with 12 laps remaining, Larson’s car started spewing gray smoke and he pulled off the racing surface.
Bell only had to hold off Rico Abreu to make it two consecutive Golden Driller trophies.
Spencer Bayston finished third.
Bell is one of NASCAR’s upcoming stars and used his Chili Bowl victory last season to launch a career year. His Chili Bowl victory in 2017 was the first in a season in which he won five races and the championship in NASCAR’s Truck Series. He also won a race in the Xfinity Series, and earned a promotion to Joe Gibbs Racing for a full-time ride in NASCAR this year.
UYUNI, Bolivia (AP) — Carlos Sainz took advantage of teammate Stephane Peterhansel’s crash to win a second successive stage of the Dakar Rally and take the overall lead on Saturday.
Peterhansel, the defending champion, began the seventh stage in southern Bolivia with a 27-minute lead on second-placed Sainz.
After a rest day on Friday, Peterhansel left La Paz in a hurry, and was fastest until 129 kilometers into the speedy 425-kilometer dirt route to Uyuni, when he crashed. By the time the French rally great repaired the left rear wheel, suspension, and radiator in his Peugeot, he was 1 hour, 45 minutes behind Sainz, who was nearly at the finish.
Sainz beat home Giniel de Villiers, the 2009 champion who has finished top five in the last seven races, by 12 minutes, and two-time champion Nasser Al-Attiyah by 14 minutes.
Overall, Sainz led Al-Attiyah by 1 hour, 12 minutes, and Peterhansel by 1 hour, 21 minutes.
But at the halfway point of the world’s toughest rally, Sainz won’t be feeling confident. The 2010 champ from Spain has failed to finish the last five Dakars because of crashes or mechanical problems. He was leading two years ago.
In the motorbike category, Joan Barreda dominated, flying on his Honda through every checkpoint. But in winning his third stage of the race by almost three minutes, the Spaniard believed he broke a knee.
“I started the stage all guns blazing and everything was going well, but around kilometer 300 I went off-track and had a nasty fall,” Barreda said. “I think I broke my knee, and from then the pain made me slow down. It’s looking really bad. I’m sure it’s broken, my knee is out of whack, and I can’t even put my foot on the floor.”
Adrian van Beveren, second home, regained the overall lead by three minutes over former leader Kevin Benavides, who was third on the stage. Barreda was five minutes off the pace.
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LONDON (AP) — Misfiring Chelsea missed the chance to climb into second place in the English Premier League by drawing 0-0 at home to 10-man Leicester on Saturday.
It was a third straight goalless draw involving Chelsea in all competitions — and a fourth in the team’s last seven matches.
Leicester dominated at Stamford Bridge until Leicester left back Ben Chilwell was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in the 68th minute for a lunge at Victor Moses.
Chelsea applied pressure after that but rarely threatened Kasper Schmeichel, who easily clawed away a free kick from Marcos Alonso in injury time.
Chelsea stayed in third place, behind second-place Manchester United on goal difference and 15 points off leader Manchester City.
Its other goalless draws in the past seven days came against Norwich in the FA Cup and Arsenal in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal.
Gary Cahill came off in the 33rd minute for Chelsea with an apparent hamstring injury.
PARIS (AP) — Monaco drew at Montpellier 0-0 on Saturday and further relinquished its grip on the French title it won so convincingly last season.
If league leader Paris Saint-Germain wins at fifth-place Nantes on Sunday it will move 11 points clear of Monaco with 20 of 38 matches played.
Monaco scored more than 150 goals in all competitions last season, finishing eight points ahead of PSG in Ligue 1, plus reached the Champions League semifinals.
But Monaco sold four key players in the offseason and was toothless against the best defense in France, especially without rested top scorer Radamel Falcao.
Eighth-place Montpellier has conceded only 13 goals in 20 league games — two less than PSG — and it showed as Monaco failed to muster clear chances.
Monaco will drop to third if Lyon beats Angers at home on Saturday.
Next up for Monaco, meanwhile, is a French Riviera derby at home to Nice on Tuesday.
Nice is in sixth place after scraping a 1-0 home win against Amiens, with midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou scoring with a deflected effort midway through the second half.
THAUVIN MAKES HIS MARK
Winger Florian Thauvin joined PSG’s Neymar as the best passer in the league and added a goal as fourth-place Marseille won at Rennes 3-0.
He almost got an incredible fourth goal for Marseille in injury time, hitting the crossbar with a delightful floating chip from near the halfway line.
Thauvin has nine assists, in addition to nine league goals, and is staking a strong claim for a place in France’s squad for the World Cup in Russia. More scintillating performances like this and it will be easy for coach Didier Deschamps to make up his mind.
After shrugging off missing a first-half penalty, Thauvin set up striker Valere Germain for a close-range finish in the 35th minute.
Midfielder Morgan Sanson made it 2-0 with a fine curling strike from the edge of the penalty area just before halftime, after swapping passes with Germain.
The irrepressible Thauvin finished off Rennes in the 82nd, drifting to the back post to meet Luiz Gustavo’s dipping cross and sending a looping header over goalkeeper Tomas Koubek.
“We won in style,” Thauvin said. “I hope we can keep going like this.”
Koubek and Marseille counterpart Steve Mandanda did well in the first half, with Koubek clawing away Thauvin’s penalty with both hands in the 27th minute.
Under-pressure Bordeaux coach Jocelyn Gourvennec’s decision to hand striker Gaetan Laborde his first start of the season paid off.
Laborde previously made only five substitute appearances this campaign, but he struck in the 15th minute as Bordeaux won 1-0 at Troyes.
The win moved Gourvennec’s side up to 13th place, while Troyes is 16th.
Lille climbed into 14th spot with a 1-0 win at Caen. Striker Nicolas Pepe scored his fifth of the season and both sides had a player sent off either side of halftime.
Also, striker Nolan Roux scored an 89th-minute equalizer as last-place Metz drew at mid-table Dijon 1-1.
Angers and Toulouse can both move out of the relegation zone on Sunday, providing they win away from home.
Angers, which is in 19th place, has a tall order given that it is at Lyon.
Meanwhile, 18th-place Toulouse is at 17th-place Saint-Etienne with only one point separating them.
MADRID (AP) — Another poor result, another round of jeers for Real Madrid.
Madrid’s struggles in the Spanish league continued when it lost to Villarreal 1-0 on Saturday, infuriating fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Pablo Fornals netted Villarreal’s winner in the 87th minute, prompting loud boos by the home crowd who three days ago saw their team draw with second-division club Numancia 2-2 in the Copa del Rey.
“There is no explanation for this,” coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We did everything we could, we had plenty of chances, but the ball just didn’t go in. It’s a difficult moment for us. It’s tough for the players, they gave their best. We didn’t deserve this result.”
But Madrid has gone four matches without a win.
“We have endured negative results recently, but we know that we can change this situation by winning again,” Zidane said. “We have to start winning, and winning convincingly, then things will change.”
The defending champion was 16 points behind league leader Barcelona at the competition’s halfway point. The Catalan club can increase the gap when it plays at Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Madrid, which has a game in hand, is only fourth in the standings, behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
“In our position we have to look to qualify for the Champions League next year,” midfielder Toni Kroos said. “This has to be our goal for the rest of the season, because 16 points is far away.”
Zidane’s team has already lost more points (22) than in its entire title-winning campaign last season (21).
Villarreal moved to fifth place with the victory, its first ever at the Bernabeu.
“We knew we could make history,” Villarreal coach Javier Calleja said. “We played a very smart match.”
The host had most of the chances under steady rain. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also jeered, hit the crossbar from a free kick, and he nearly scored from close range just before halftime but for a brilliant save by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.
Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside early in the first half.
Fornals’ goal came after a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas following a counterattack. Fornals picked up the loose ball just outside the area and chipped it over the goalkeeper for the stunning winner.
It was Madrid’s third home loss this season. It has won only half of its games at the Bernabeu.
ATLETICO STAYS CLOSE
Second-place Atletico Madrid overcame Diego Costa’s absence to beat Eibar 1-0 and move within six points of leader Barcelona.
Kevin Gameiro, Costa’s substitute, scored in the first half and Jan Oblak played solidly in goal for the rest of the match to secure Atletico its fourth straight win in all competitions.
“We played the type of match we needed,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
Costa was suspended because of a red card for celebrating too close to the fans in the previous game.
Third-place Valencia took advantage of an embarrassing blunder by goalkeeper Ruben to defeat Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 and remain two points behind Atletico.
Ruben wasn’t able to stop a weak first-half shot by Goncalo Guedes, letting the ball roll underneath him.
Ruben couldn’t do much to stop Valencia’s second goal, however, as Rodrigo’s shot from outside the area deflected off a defender.
The host’s lone goal came with a just few minutes left.
It was the third win in a row for Valencia in all competitions. It is eight points behind Barcelona and eight in front of fourth-place Madrid.
Kenyan forward Michael Olunga scored a hat trick to lead promoted Girona to a 6-0 trouncing of last-place Las Palmas.
Las Palmas could have left the bottom of the standings with a draw but it never challenged at Montilivi Stadium, seeing its winless streak reach seven matches in all competitions.
Las Palmas has only 11 points from 19 matches.
Christian Stuani opened the scoring for Girona from a penalty kick midway through the first half, and the other five came in a 22-minute span in the second period.
BERLIN (AP) — Naby Keita scored in what could have been his last game for Leipzig as the home side defeated Schalke 3-1 to move to second in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Substitute Timo Werner scored one and set up another in the second half to cancel Naldo’s equalizer as Leipzig moved a point above Schalke, and 13 behind leader Bayern Munich.
Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann saved a penalty from Jean-Kevin Augustin but there was little he could do to stop Keita’s effort from distance after it took a decisive deflection from defender Naldo about five minutes before the break.
Keita is due to leave Leipzig for Liverpool at the end of the season, but media reports suggest the English club is interested in bringing forward the transfer.
Speaking before the game, however, Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick said there had been no contact from Liverpool about changing the existing agreement, reported to worth some 70 million euros ($85 million).
“There are no inquiries or offers for any player who is on the pitch on or the bench for us today from any club,” said Rangnick, who added that an increased offer would make no difference.
Keita was booked in the second half, his fifth yellow card of the season ensuring he’ll be suspended for the following game. He might have got another for a foul on Max Meyer before Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl decided to take him off with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Naldo equalized early in the second half when he was left unmarked to head in a free kick, but Werner put the home side back in front after coming on with half an hour remaining, then set up Bruma to seal the win.
GOMEZ’S DECISIVE RETURN
Mario Gomez celebrated his return to Stuttgart with a hand in the side’s late goal to beat visiting Hertha Berlin 1-0.
The Germany striker was being held by Hertha defender Niklas Stark and appealed for a penalty when they both fell over, only for the ball to come off Stark and loop over his own goalkeeper. Referee Felix Brych allowed the goal to stand.
Gomez was playing his first competitive game for Stuttgart since rejoining the side in a winter transfer from Wolfsburg. The 32-year-old Gomez’s career began with Stuttgart youth sides before he helped the senior side win the Bundesliga in 2007.
Stuttgart climbed away from the relegation zone and was just four points behind Hertha in mid-table.
“We didn’t play the stars out of the sky but it was an important win for us,” said Stuttgart coach Hannes Wolf, who acknowledged Hertha was the better side.
Hertha had 10 efforts on goal compared to the home side’s seven.
HANNOVER’S HAT TRICK HERO
Niclas Fuellkrug scored a hat trick as Hannover came from two goals down at home to beat Mainz 3-2 and move two points above Hertha.
Augsburg defeated Hamburger SV 1-0 to leave the visitor stuck in the relegation zone.
Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen were held to 1-1 draws at home by Freiburg and Hoffenheim, respectively.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — The Pittsburgh Steelers helped legitimize the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. But after going 10-1 since falling to the eventual AFC South champions in a surprising 30-9 rout in Week 5, the Steelers’ potential return to the AFC Championship Game depends on the team carrying the lessons it implemented from that humbling defeat.
And while many expect the road to Super Bowl LII to feature a rematch of Pittsburgh and the New England Patriots, Jacksonville is anything but a speed bump.
Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions and the Steelers gave up 231 rushing yards in what served as the Jaguars’ emergence as a legitimate postseason threat. While Jacksonville rode the same lockdown, turnover-generating defense and rugged run game back to the divisional round, Pittsburgh was served the reality check it needed. Roethlisberger in particular finished the season on an upswing, posting a 102.7 quarterback rating in the 11 games since that point.
But even with wide receiver Antonio Brown expected to make a timely return, it could be the running attack that swings the second meeting.
Running back Le’Veon Bell still managed 25 touches in the first meeting, but just 15 of those were runs. Though the Jaguars steadily improved their rushing defense over the year, the unit still finished 21st with 116.3 yards allowed per game. In its six losses, Jacksonville gave up an average of 153.3 yards on the ground. Using him frequently would help Pittsburgh negate a powerful pass rush led by defensive player of the year candidate Calais Campbell, as well as limit its turnover liability against Pro Bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
That could add up to a heavy workload for Bell, who last season set the NFL record for rushing yardage in a player’s first two playoff games with 337.
Much of Jacksonville’s burden for stopping Bell could fall to linebackers Telvin Smith and Myles Jack. The two will not only be critical in preventing him from reaching the second level and breaking long runs but also containing him in the passing game. Bell had 10 catches in the first contest but managed just 46 yards.
Here are three more matchups that will define the divisional round of the playoffs:
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas vs. Minnesota Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes
Whether this matchup truly manifests remains unclear. While putting arguably the league’s pre-eminent lockdown cornerback on the Saints’ foremost threat in the passing game would seem like a natural assignment, Rhodes was tasked with covering Thomas on just a handful of plays in the Vikings’ Week 1 win. But much has changed for both teams since that point, and Thomas has emerged as an even more dangerous target in a Pro Bowl season.
Rhodes has an established pattern of erasing opponents’ top receivers, having held the likes of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and A.J. Green to modest outputs in 2017. While Drew Brees completed passes to eight different receivers last week, having Thomas taken largely out of the equation would leave him with few reliable options against the second-ranked pass defense (192.4 points per game). New Orleans would also face a bleak outlook on third down, as it ranks a pedestrian 19th in conversion percentage (37.6) and is up against the league’s best unit in that facet (25.2% allowed).
With the running game integral to the Saints’ success, Thomas has to establish himself on Sunday in order to prevent Minnesota from consistently loading up the box. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were held to just 68 combined yards from scrimmage in a wild-card win over the Carolina Panthers thanks in part to an athletic linebacking corps that prevented the Pro Bowl duo from turning the corner and finding open-field space. The Vikings could follow that formula with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks while also disrupting plays up front through nose tackle Linval Joseph.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Jay Ajayi vs. Atlanta Falcons’ front seven
Ajayi has already found success against the Falcons this year, albeit not with the Eagles. Yet even with a stronger offensive line and supporting cast, duplicating or improving upon that production in the divisional round could be difficult.
While still playing for the Dolphins in a Week 6 meeting with the Falcons, Ajayi ran 26 times for 130 yards, the most Atlanta gave up to any one running back this season. And though he has averaged 5.8 yards per carry while in Philadelphia, the third-year running back has not had more than 15 carries in any game with the team. That should change Saturday, with the Eagles likely doing all they can to limit backup quarterback Nick Foles’ role.
But Atlanta’s rush defense steadily improved since its last meeting with Ajayi, as no other rusher cracked 100 yards during the regular season. The Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley netted 101 rushing yards in last week’s wild-card game but still was largely kept in check. Breakout linebacker Deion Jones and the rest of the defense should be able to focus on Ajayi, with the defense likely challenging Foles to prove he can beat it on the outside.
Tennessee Titans DT Jurrell Casey vs. New England Patriots’ offensive line
Whether motivated, distracted or unaffected by an ESPN report detailing his alleged discord with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady yet again faces another favorable outlook in the divisional round. The Titans’ hopes for pulling off the upset likely depend on generating pressure, the same key that opponents have been looking to for years.
Brady’s vulnerability to the rush has spiked this year, as he was sacked 35 times and on 5.7% of his dropbacks. After the 40-year-old’s number dipped from Week 13 to Week 16 (1,013 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions), Tennessee will try to keep him off beat by forcing him into turnovers and third-and-long situations. Though Brady has a famously quick trigger, the short passing game could be limited by the statuses of running backs Rex Burkhead, James White and Mike Gillislee, all of whom are listed as questionable.
Tennessee didn’t have any one player who finished with more than 7 1/2 sacks, but the defense as a whole ranked tied for fifth with 43. Its best bet for disrupting New England’s attack might be Casey, a slippery yet powerful rusher who fits the model of the kind of interior rusher that has given Brady trouble at times. The Titans will need that push, as the secondary struggled at times last week against the Kansas City Chiefs and looks ill-equipped to handle deep throws to Rob Gronkowski and now-healthy wide receiver Chris Hogan.
A quick glance at items of interest as the NFL’s divisional playoffs commence…
Marcus Mariota. After sparking his team to an amazing comeback at Kansas City, what can the Titans quarterback do for an encore? Just beat Tom Brady. And that prospect probably is even tougher than usual, as Brady just might have a point to prove amid the reports that the Patriots’ signature icons — including Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft — are poised to implode from within. Mariota, the third-year pro, took his NFL street cred to a new level after winning his playoff debut. It undoubtedly put to rest any concerns that Mariota had significantly regressed during an injury-riddled Year 3 — and beyond that he may have saved coach Mike Mularkey’s job. It will take another Herculean effort to win at Foxborough and Mariota will need the help of Derrick Henry powering a running game that might be the best defense against TB12. And maybe Mariota can draw some juice by playing loose in a game that nobody expects he can win.
Nick Foles. Eagles coach Doug Pederson admitted that his team went into a bit of shock after playmaking quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while in the midst of a potential MVP season. A month later, the effects linger with Foles pressed to silence the doubters, including oddsmakers who installed the Eagles as the first No. 1 seed since the merger to open the playoffs as an underdog. To topple Atlanta, the supporting cast needs to keep the pressure off Foles. That means controlling the flow with the deep stable of running backs (Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement) and with a defense needing to keep Philadelphia from engaging in a shootout against an offense directed by Matt Ryan. Still, to win, at some point the quarterback is going to need to make a clutch throw.
Antonio Brown vs. Jalen Ramsey. The Steelers’ wizard of a receiver is set for his much-anticipated return, nearly a month since suffering a partially torn calf. Ramsey, Jacksonville’s rising star cornerback, figures to log extensive snaps in coverage and like everyone else at Heinz Field will be eager to see if Brown has come back with the same pop that allowed him to miss two game and still lead the NFL for the season with 1,533 receiving yards. One potential snag: He was ill on Friday.
Senio Kelemete. With Andrus Peat finished with a fractured fibula, Kelemete steps in at left guard for the Saints. But this isn’t exactly a replacement coming in cold. The fifth-year veteran — versatile enough to back up at guard, center and tackle — played 61% of the snaps and started eight games this season. He, too, deserves some of the credit for clearing the holes that allowed Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to rush for a combined 1,852 yards.
Jaguars at Steelers. Can they do it again? No way the Jaguars will sneak up on Pittsburgh this time around, after the Week 5 drubbing best remembered for Ben Roethlisberger’s five interceptions. In Week 5, Roethlisberger threw 55 passes while Le’Veon Bell logged just 15 carries. To pull off another upset, the Jaguars defense will need to keep Bell in check. In Pittsburgh’s two playoff wins last year, Bell rushed 59 times for 337 yards. The Jags D might also be pressed to put points on the scoreboard to support the Blake Bortles-deficient offense. Can you believe that Jacksonville ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring? Well, that can happen with a defense that scored seven of the team’s 47 touchdowns — including two pick-sixes against Roethlisberger.
During his first nine starts this season, Case Keenum was sacked just five times. In six of those contests, the Vikings’ improved offensive line pitched shutouts in the sack department. But that hasn’t been the case lately. Keenum, facing off against Drew Brees on Sunday, has been sacked at least twice in each of the past six games, and 17 times in total during that span.
Over the past 18 seasons, the Patriots have ranked higher in the NFL for fewest points allowed than for fewest yards allowed in every campaign except two (2007, 2015). But this season presented the biggest gap yet between those categories, as New England ranked 29th for yards (366 per game) and fifth for scoring (18.5 points per game). More striking: After allowing 32 points per game during a 2-2 start, New England (13-3) allowed 14 points per outing in the 12 games since.
Second-year star Michael Thomas not only became the first player in Saints history to post a 100-catch season (104, 1,245 yards), he also set an NFL record for most receptions (196) over a player’s first two seasons.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — INDIANAPOLIS – Lance Stephenson had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Darren Collison scored 22 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied from a 22-point, first-half deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95 on Friday night.
The Pacers have won three of four and improved to 3-0 against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs.
LeBron James did everything he could to prevent the Cavs from losing a third straight game. He finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, while Kevin Love had 21 points and 10 rebounds.
But James had two chances in the final two seconds to win it and missed both opportunities – after Victor Oladipo gave Indiana the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the game.
First, the four-time MVP stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds to go, a play that was confirmed on replay review. Then, after Collison made a free throw to give the Pacers a 97-95 lead, James’ desperation 3 bounced high off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
MILWAUKEE – Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Draymond Green added 21 and Golden State used a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to beat Milwaukee.
With sharpshooting star Stephen Curry still sidelined by a right ankle injury, the Warriors clamped down on defense and did most of their damage on the other end in the lane.
Durant’s mid-range jumper gave Golden State a 96-90 lead before the All-Star forward hit an open 3 with 2:15 left to cap the run with a three-possession lead. The Warriors were just 3 of 13 from 3-point range until Durant and Green hit back-to-back 3s in the final 3 minutes to seal their 11th straight road win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 points to lead the Bucks. They were outscored 28-12 in the fourth after hitting just 5 of 20 from the field.
MINNEAPOLIS – Karl-Anthony Towns fell one assist shy of his second career triple-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Minnesota’s victory over New York.
Taj Gibson added 17 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for Minnesota. The Timberwolves shot 56.7 percent (38 of 67) over the final three quarters to come from behind and win their fourth game in a row and 11th of 14 overall.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 17 points for New York. Porzingis was 3 of 5 from 3-point territory but 3 of 14 from inside the arc. Enes Kanter had his 18th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the Knicks lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
PHOENIX – Chris Paul scored 25 points to lead six Houston players in the double figures and the Rockets, still without injured James Harden, rolled past Phoenix.
Houston, in its sixth straight game with Harden sidelined by a hamstring injury, led by 18 in the second quarter, 22 at the end of the third and 27 in the fourth in its sixth consecutive victory over Phoenix.
Clint Capela scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Rockets, who dominated the boards 53-38. Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza added 18 points apiece and Eric Gordon 14.
Devin Booker scored 27 and T.J. Warren 21 for the Suns, who were coming off a home win over Oklahoma City four days earlier.
WASHINGTON – Bradley Beal and John Wall each scored 30 points and Washington snapped a two-game losing streak.
Ian Mahinmi finished with a season-high 17 points in the defense-optional game. Washington shot 56.8 percent from the field and scored a season-high 74 points in the paint.
Orlando has lost seven in a row, 16 of 17 and 27 of its last 31. That stretch included a 130-103 rout by Washington on Dec. 23.
Elfrid Payton scored 27 points and Jonathon Simmons had 23 as all five Orlando starters reached double figures. Bismack Biyombo finished 8 of 9 from the field for a career-high 21 points. The Magic hit 51.3 percent of their attempts from the floor after a 6-for-22 fourth quarter.
NEW ORLEANS – Anthony Davis scored 36 points in his return from a right ankle sprain, and New Orleans beat Portland.
Davis did not appear at all bothered by the injury that kept him out of Wednesday night’s narrow loss in Memphis, scoring on everything from explosive dribble drives to soaring dunks.
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 19 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 25 points for New Orleans, which hit the halfway point of the regular season one game above .500 and in the Western Conference playoff picture, but still in need of more consistency and less sloppiness.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each scored 23 points for Portland, which attempted 42 3-pointers and missed 30 of them.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 to lead Charlotte over Utah for its fourth victory in six games.
Marvin Williams scored 15 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 12 for Charlotte, which won despite an off night for Dwight Howard, who scored just two first-half points. Howard finished with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. He also went 4 for 10 from the foul line.
Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb added 11 points apiece for Charlotte.
Donovan Mitchell scored 35 points for Utah, which has lost 14 of 19. Rodney Hood added 15 and Royce O’Neale 11 for Utah, which had been 10-3 when holding opponents to 100 points or fewer.
ATLANTA – Spencer Dinwiddie had 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, Jahlil Okafor added 17 points in a reserve role and Brooklyn beat Atlanta.
Dinwiddie made the go-ahead basket with 11 seconds left as the Nets snapped a three-game losing streak to move past an embarrassing 34-point home loss to Detroit two nights earlier.
Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder finished with a career-high 34 points, but after causing matchup problems all night with his ball-handling, he missed his last two layup attempts and committed a game-ending turnover with 5 seconds remaining.
Kent Bazemore had 16 points for the NBA-worst Hawks, who have lost five of six.
DENVER – Will Barton scored 17 points, Trey Lyles had 16 and Denver overcame a slow start to beat Memphis, snapping a season-high, three-game losing streak.
Nikola Jokic added 14 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which played without guard Gary Harris, who was excused for personal reasons. It was the first game Harris has missed this season. Barton started in his place.
Marc Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis. Tyreke Evans and James Ennis III added 12 points each.
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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Mikael Backlund had an empty-net goal and a pair of assists, helping lift the Calgary Flames to their sixth straight victory with a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan also scored for the Flames, and David Rittich stopped 41 shots in his first start in seven games.
Evgenii Dadanov scored both goals for the Panthers, breaking a 19-game goal drought. James Reimer made 25 saves in his 16th consecutive start, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Panthers from their fourth loss in five games.
CAPITALS 4, HURRICANES 3
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jay Beagle scored with 1.3 seconds remaining and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brett Connolly notched the tying goal with 3:08 left, and Alex Ovechkin added his NHL-leading 28th goal and two assists for first-place Washington.
Lars Eller scored on the power play and Philipp Grubauer stopped 36 shots to help the Capitals earn their second come-from-behind victory in Raleigh in 10 nights. Washington won 5-4 in overtime on Jan. 2 on two late goals by Ovechkin.
The Hurricanes got power-play goals from Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho — with each player assisting on the other’s goal — and an even-strength goal from Jeff Skinner.
CANUCKS 5, BLUE JACKETS 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Sven Baertschi sparked a four-goal second period for Vancouver, Jacob Markstrom had 27 saves and the Canucks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Seth Jones put Columbus up 1-0 during a strong first period, but Vancouver powered ahead in the second. Baertschi, Erik Gudbranson, Brandon Gaunce and Alexander Edler scored, and Jake Virtanen added an empty-net goal with 9 seconds left in the third to help the Canucks snap a five-game skid.
Thomas Vanek and Henrik Sedin each had two assists for Vancouver, which won for just the third time since Dec. 7.
Sergei Bobrovsky let in four of the Canucks’ 12 shots in the second period. He finished with 24 saves. Matt Calvert also scored for Columbus.
BLACKHAWKS 2, JETS 1
CHICAGO (AP) — Rookie center David Kampf scored his first NHL goal and added an assist on his 23rd birthday, Jeff Glass blocked 31 shots and the Chicago Blackhawks held off the Winnipeg Jets.
Jan Rutta also scored for the Blackhawks, who ended the Jets’ three-game winning streak and handed Winnipeg its first regulation loss in seven games (6-0-1).
The 32-year-old Glass lost a bid for his first career shutout when Patrik Laine scored with 3:41 left in the third period. Winnipeg, the high-scoring Central Division leaders, came on with a late flurry, but Glass was sharp in his fifth NHL game to improve to 3-1-1.
Chicago’s No. 1 goalie, Corey Crawford missed his ninth game with an upper-body injury. No timetable is set for his return.
Anthony Duclair, acquired from Arizona on Wednesday as part of a four-player trade, had an assist in his Blackhawks debut.
OILERS 4, COYOTES 2
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Darnell Nurse scored twice on rising slap shots from the left circle and the Edmonton Oilers overcame an early two-goal deficit to beat the Arizona Coyotes.
Nurse broke a tie at 3:57 of the third period, beating goalie Antti Raanta above the glove from about the same spot where the 6-foot-4 defenseman started the comeback in the first.
Patrick Maroon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored, Connor McDavid had two assists and Al Montoya stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief of Cam Talbot to help Edmonton end a three-game losing streak and win for the second time in nine games.
Brad Richardson and Josh Archibald scored in a 1:14 span early in the first for Arizona. The NHL-worst Coyotes were coming off their bye week.
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HONOLULU (AP) — Different islands, vastly different golf courses, same good play from Brian Harman.
One week after Harman shared the 36-hole lead at Kapalua, he ran off three straight birdies and closed with a 15-foot eagle putt for a 7-under 63 and a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Sony Open.
Harman was at 13-under 127, and no one could catch him on Friday afternoon.
Chris Kirk, who shared the 18-hole lead with Harman, opened by pitching in from 25 yards for eagle on No. 10. He ended his day by driving into the canal on the easy par-5 ninth and making bogey for a 67.
Kirk was three behind along with Zach Johnson (67), John Peterson (64), Tom Hoge (65) and PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch.
Except for the tropical warmth, the two golf courses on the Hawaii swing are nothing alike. The Plantation Course at Kapalua was built on the side of the mountain on the west tip of Maui and features fairways that can stretch nearly 90 yards wide and big slopes in the greens.
Waialae is at sea level — waist-high hedges along the 16th and 17th holes and behind the 11th green are all that separate grass from the beach — with smaller, flatter greens and fairways framed by trees.
“The biggest elevation change here is from the walk down from the hotel,” Harman said. “I’ve always kind of felt like as long as there’s fairways and greens and holes to putt it, then I’m going to be fine.”
The Georgia native is playing just as well on Oahu as he did on Maui.
He surged ahead in the morning with two quick birdies on the back nine, made the turn in 32 and ran off three straight birdies early on the front nine. After making his only bogey from a bunker on the par-3 seventh, Harman hit 7-iron from 172 yards to 15 feet on No. 9 for a closing eagle.
It’s all just golf to him.
“I’m making putts, but I’m also putting myself in position to make those putts,” he said. “I’m getting a bunch of looks. I’m not making everything I’m looking at, but I’m hitting a lot of good putts and made a few. I’m just going to show up tomorrow and try to hit the first tee shot best you can and go from there.”
On another glorious day of sunshine and good scoring conditions, Johnson had a nine-hole stretch of eight pars and a bogey until a strong finish. He birdied the par-3 seventh and closed with an eagle to salvage a 67.
Defending champion Justin Thomas was closer to the cut line than the lead until he made a trio of 8-foot putts — two for birdies, one for eagle — to close out a 67. He was seven shots behind.
Jordan Spieth made the longest putt of his PGA Tour career — just over 90 feet on No. 5 — but didn’t give himself many good looks. Spieth birdied the last hole for a 68 and was 10 shots behind.
“I didn’t think I had enough club,” Spieth said of his long putt. “I considered hitting a lob wedge because I had something like 30 yards to the hole into the breeze.”
The putt looked good all the way, though it had some pace. There was some debate among his two playing partners, Xander Schauffele and Daniel Berger, along with caddie Michael Greller on what would have happened had the ball not slammed into the back of the cup.
“Xander said it was 4 or 5 feet by. Michael said 6,” Spieth said. “Berger said off the green.”
Schauffele birdied his last four holes and was among those at 8-under 132, five shots behind.
The cut was at 2-under 138.
Harman still looks back to a key tournament last year. He played the Zurich Classic, a two-man team event, with Johnson Wagner and used Wagner’s Titleist golf ball during the alternate-shot portion. Harman put one in his bag the following week at the Wells Fargo Championship and won.
The change wasn’t so much about distance as the way he was able to control the trajectory of the ball, especially in the wind.
“The wind doesn’t seem to take it as much,” he said. “That’s just a personal thing for me. I feel like I did when I was a kid again. I felt like I was a better ball-striker when I was a kid. … I’m starting to get some of those feelings back.”
Harman played in the final group last week and tied for third, though no one was about to catch Dustin Johnson.
Peterson is playing on a medical extension because of hand surgery, and he has eight tournaments to make $375,165 (or earn 274 FedEx Cup points) to keep a full card the rest of the year. He doesn’t sound overly worried, which is not to suggest he’s overconfident.
He has a 3-month-old son, one reason he decided to take the entire fall off before resuming his bid to keep his card.
“If my attitude is good, I’m going to play good,” he said. “I’ve never been in a better spot lifestyle-wise than I am right now, so that probably has a lot to do with it. I’ve got eight events to make $350,000. If I do, great. If I don’t, who cares? I’m just out here free-wheeling.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asia staged a late comeback to maintain its slim lead over defending champion Europe, 6 ½ to 5 ½, on the second day of the EurAsia Cup on Saturday.
“We came out of the session at 3-3 which wasn’t what we were looking for, but we live to fight another day,” Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said. “We have got to go out and put some blue on the board and try to win the singles.”
Europe took the lead at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club after winning its first three foursomes on Saturday, but Asia pulled level before Li Haotong and Nicholas Fung beat Europe’s Ross Fisher and Bernd Wiesberger 3 and 1 for the lead.
“No one was four or five down after six holes. When you’re one or two down in matchplay, you can easily flip that, and they did,” Asia captain Arjun Atwal said. “If you asked me if I’m surprised or shocked, I’m not. My guys are all champions.”
After trailing 3 ½ to 2 ½ on Friday’s fourballs, Europe drew level through the forceful pairing of Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson.
The pair upstaged India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri courtesy of seven birdies, including a five-foot birdie putt from Fleetwood which sealed the win on the 16th hole.
Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton then gave Europe the lead with a 2-and-1 victory over Kiradech Aphibarnrat and An Byeong-hun, before Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters doubled the advantage by beating Poom Saksansin and Kang Sung-hoon 3 and 2. At this stage, it looked like Europe was ready to pull away.
But Gavin Green, who clinched the Asian Tour Order of Merit last month, and Yuta Ikeda started the comeback, beginning with a 1-hole victory over Rafa Cabrera Bello and Alexander Levy.
The pair, who had beaten Pieters and Fitzpatrick on Friday, gained the upper hand on the 17th when the Europeans bogeyed.
Buoyed by that win, Phachara Khongwatmai and Hideto Tanihara combined to beat Paul Dunne and Alex Noren 2 and 1 to draw the teams level after going two up at the 12th hole, and maintaining par for the point.
Li and Fung regained Asia’s lead by brushing aside Fisher and Wiesberger 3 and 1.
There are 12 singles matches on Sunday.
Asia is seeking its first win in the third EurAsia Cup.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Chris Paisley and Adrien Saddier opened up a big lead after two rounds of the South African Open on Friday as they moved to 13 under par and four shots clear of their nearest challengers.
England’s Paisley hit a 7-under 65 to move up from second overnight. France’s Saddier had the round of the day at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg, a blistering, course record-equaling 63 with an eagle, seven birdies and no bogeys.
Both Paisley and Saddier are seeking a maiden European Tour title.
Home player Jacques Kruyswijk is alone in second on 9 under, with a group of four players another shot behind him on 8 under and in a tie for fourth.
That group contains overnight leaders Branden Grace and Chase Koepka, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, and Retief Goosen, the two-time U.S. Open champion who hasn’t won a professional tournament since 2009.
The 48-year-old Goosen began this week with a promising 69 and then carded six birdies and an eagle for his 5-under 67 in the second round. It could have been even better if not for a bogey on No. 13 and a double bogey on the last.
Ernie Els, a five-time winner of the South African Open, made the cut after a 70 moved him to 3 under. Defending champion Graeme Storm missed the cut by a shot, though, thanks mainly to his opening-round 75.
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu had 22 points and 11 rebounds as No. 8 Oregon pulled away in the second half to a 62-44 victory over Arizona on Friday night.
Ruthy Hebard added 14 points for the Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12), who won their eighth consecutive game. Ionescu’s double-double was her eighth of the season.
Sam Thomas had 14 points to lead the Wildcats (4-12, 0-5). Kat Wright added 12 points and Jalea Bennett had 10.
No. 14 UCLA 81, UTAH 74
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Michaela Onyenwere and Jordin Canada scored 20 points each to lead UCLA.
Clinging to a 67-66 lead in the fourth quarter, UCLA (12-4, 3-2 Pac-12) got a layup from Canada to spark a 5-0 spurt and hung on from the free-throw line over the final 4 minutes to seal it. The Bruins shot just 36 percent from the field but controlled the glass 46-36, including a 20-7 edge in offensive rebounds.
Onyenwere also had 11 rebounds to get her first career double-double and Canada dished out eight assists.
Megan Huff led Utah (12-4, 3-2) with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 22 OREGON STATE 57, No. 18 ARIZONA STATE 54
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Marie Gulich scored the last three points and Mikayla Pivec got a hand on a potential game-tying shot as Oregon State snapped Arizona State’s six-game winning streak.
Gulich scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting for Oregon State (12-4, 3-2). Her left-handed drive on three defenders with 40 seconds left in the game gave the Beavers a 56-54 lead. She made one of two free throws with 17 seconds to go.
Robbi Ryan had 19 points to lead the Sun Devils (13-4, 4-1).
No. 24 CALIFORNIA 69, WASHINGTON 60
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Kristine Anigwe had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Penina Davidson added 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting with nine boards to help California hold off Washington.
Anigwe and Davidson combined to make 20 of 28 shots from the floor (71 percent), but the rest of the Golden Bears shot just 23.5 percent (8 of 34). Asha Thomas added 14 points and eight assists, while Mikayla Cowling scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting, but added 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Amber Melgoza led the Huskies (6-10, 0-5) with 15 points and six assists, but she made just five of 18 shots from the floor as Washington connected on 21 of 61 attempts (34 percent). Hannah Johnson and Mai-Loni Henson each scored 13, with Johnson adding 11 rebounds. The Huskies are still looking for their first Pac-12 win under new coach Jody Wynn.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers have gone from looking like one of college basketball’s biggest messes to one of the season’s best surprises.
The 22nd-ranked Tigers (15-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) are ranked for the first time in nearly 15 years and riding a 13-game winning streak that includes back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams. Only No. 2 West Virginia (15 games) has a longer active winning streak.
It’s a remarkable surge for a program that a few months ago was refunding dozens of season tickets, rocked by a scandal that cost coach Bruce Pearl his top assistant and, to this point, two of his best players. The buzz has changed from Pearl’s job security to a potential NCAA Tournament run.
“You notice it coming in and out of church or walking in and out of a store,” Pearl said. “People are excited and they’re taking definitely taking notice. You do notice it on campus too, walking around campus. Winning does that. I don’t notice a lot of difference in my team and in my locker room, interestingly. They’re pretty much the same. But, yeah, the community, it has a different feel to it. There’s joy.”
There was little cause for joy entering the season. Associate head coach Chuck Person was fired while facing fraud, conspiracy and bribery charges in a wide-ranging FBI investigation for allegedly trying to steer Auburn players toward a financial advisor once they turn pro.
Forward Danjel Purifoy and center Austin Wiley, two of the team’s top three players, have been held out all season amid an internal review into the program. The NCAA said Thursday that Wiley won’t be eligible again until next season for violations self-reported by Auburn.
Two staffers have also been placed on indefinite leave.
The remaining Tigers have done quite well.
Mustapha Heron, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper have led a surge into the best record in the SEC going into Saturday’s game at Mississippi State.
The Tigers expect to fill at least two buses taking students to the game.
They’ve opened SEC play with double-digit wins over both No. 24 Tennessee and Arkansas , which was also ranked at the time. Auburn overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Mississippi Tuesday night in front of the season’s first sellout crowd at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers are off to their best start since opening the 1999-2000 season 16-1.
Even at full-strength, this start would have exceeded most expectations for a team picked to finish ninth in the SEC. Now, the Tigers are hoping for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2003. They hadn’t cracked the Top 25 since Jan. 20, 2003 before this week.
Auburn has only one senior and the team’s 12 underclassmen matches Kentucky for most in the nation.
Heron has followed up a strong freshman season by averaging 15.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. Brown’s 15.6-point average is more than double his scoring from last season. Harper is scoring 12.6 points a game and ranks third in the SEC in assists.
Desean Murray, a transfer from Presbyterian College is also scoring in double digits (11.2 ppg) while Anfernee McLemore is the SEC’s top shot blocker.
Pearl has more depth than ever at Auburn even without Wiley and Purifoy. Nine players are averaging 12-plus minutes.
But he says his roster remains undersized and has little margin for error.
“The point is, if we don’t play well, we’re going to lose,” Pearl said. “We didn’t play well (against Ole Miss), and we were fortunate to win. So let’s recognize it, be grateful for it and realize that’s not going to happen very often. To go down to Mississippi State, we’re going to have to have to play great to have a chance to win.
“We’ve played a lot of great basketball. We’re capable of it. I don’t mind putting that pressure on. I want to put that pressure on them, because that’s the reality of it.”
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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are two former sprint car stars who are on the outside looking in right now at the Super Bowl of Midget Racing.
Neither NASCAR driver scored a top-three finish in Friday night’s qualifier, where the podium drivers earn automatic berths into the main event — the Chili Bowl A Main at the Tulsa Expo Center.
Justin Grant won the Friday night heat, while Spencer Bayston and Andrew Felker finished second and third. The trio claimed the final three slots of the 24 automatic berths into the main event that have been up for grabs all week. Grant won his Friday night heat a year ago and started from the pole in the A Main, but finished third.
Kahne finished fifth and Stenhouse was 11th. They will be among the 300-plus drivers who race all day Saturday, advancing though heats to determine who will complete the A Main lineup.
Already locked in are Kyle Larson (Tuesday night winner), Rico Abreu (Wednesday night winner), Christopher Bell (Thursday night winner) and Grant. Also advancing by earning podium finishes were Brad Sweet, Tyler Courtney, Tyler Thomas, Kevin Thomas Jr., Shane Golobic, Chase Johnson and Bayston and Felker.
Feature racing begins early Saturday morning with the “O” feature and continues through the alphabet the rest of the day. Drivers try to advance all the way to the A Main through those heats.
There will be a pole to determine the starting order of the top 12 starters in the A feature finale, which will take place before the opening ceremonies and the Parade of States. The A feature is expected to run before midnight, with Bell and Larson on the front row, followed by Abreu and Grant in the second row.
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday, putting a small dent in the overall lead of his Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel of France.
Sainz finished the 313-kilometer (194-mile) stage between Arequipa, Peru, and the Bolivian capital of La Paz in 2 hours, 57 minutes, 36 seconds – finishing 4 minutes, 6 seconds ahead of second-place Peterhansel.
The overall lead of defending champion Peterhansel is now 27:10, with Sainz in second place and Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke in third, 1.20:41 off the pace, at the wheel of his Toyota.
In the motorbike race, Honda rider Kevin Benavides of Argentina has the overall lead after finishing second, 30 seconds behind stage winner Frenchman Antoine Meo, riding a KTM.
Benavides is now 1:57 ahead of fifth-stage leader Adrien van Beveren. The French Yamaha rider lost time with a fifth-place finish in La Paz.
The Dakar Rally will have a rest day on Friday, before resuming with stage 7 on Saturday from La Paz to Uyuni, Bolivia.
BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga resumed Friday after the winter break with Bayern Munich going 14 points clear after a 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen.
Goals from Javi Martinez and Franck Ribery in either half, and a brilliant free kick from James Rodriguez in injury time kept the defending champions on course for a record-extending sixth consecutive title.
It was Leverkusen’s first defeat at home this season, and ended a 12-game unbeaten run.
“We weren’t brave enough in the first half. We were better in the second, but then suddenly it was 2-0,” Leverkusen midfielder Sven Bender said.
Leverkusen went close early on when Dominik Kohr headed just wide, and Leon Bailey wasted a good chance on a counterattack. But Martinez pounced to open the scoring for Bayern off the rebound after Sven Bender had blocked Arturo Vidal’s header from a corner.
Bailey hit the crossbar early in the second half after turning Niklas Suele one way and then another, before Thomas Mueller went close at the other end.
Ribery let fly with a shot inside the near post to make it 2-0 just before the hour mark.
Bayern seemed to be in control but Kevin Volland pulled one back for Leverkusen with a deflected shot and suddenly the home side was pressing for more with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Volland had a good opportunity to equalize but his first touch let him down and Jerome Boateng was able to clear, while Lucas Alario also went close for Leverkusen.
Coach Jupp Heynckes sent on winter signing Sandro Wagner for his second Bayern debut – he made four Bundesliga appearances for the senior side in the 2007-08 season – but James stole the limelight with his perfect free kick into the top left corner.
“My team played very well tactically over long stretches today, especially in defense,” Heynckes said after facing one of his former sides. “Leverkusen was set up to attack and all our forwards had to work in defense.”
Second-place Schalke is away to Leipzig on Saturday.
MADRID (AP) — Malaga’s struggles in the Spanish league continued with a 1-0 loss at Getafe on Friday, extending the team’s losing streak to four matches.
Malaga could drop to last place in the 20-team standings if Las Palmas earns at least a point at Girona on Saturday.
Malaga has only 11 points from 19 matches. It hasn’t scored in four matches, losing the last three by 1-0.
“There are a lot of things we need to improve,” Malaga forward Alberto Bueno said. “We need to win matches to regain our confidence. When we start scoring again it will be easier.”
Juan Cala netted Getafe’s winner with a 73rd-minute header, helping his team to reach eighth place with 26 points.
Barcelona leads the league with 48 points, nine more than second-place Valencia.
Defending champion Real Madrid is fourth, 16 points off the lead with a game in hand.
PARIS (AP) — Veteran forward Jimmy Briand had a hand in both goals as Guingamp moved up to sixth place in the French league with a 2-0 win at Strasbourg on Friday.
The win moved the Brittany-based side two points ahead of Nice and four behind Nantes, as Ligue 1 resumed following its annual winter break.
Forward Yannis Salibur opened the scoring for the visitors in the eighth minute and midfielder Nicolas Benezet doubled the lead with just 16 minutes played.
The 32-year-old Briand, who made five appearances for France from 2008-12, made the difference on both goals.
For the first, he expertly took down a high pass and directed a cushioned pass toward the penalty spot. The Strasbourg defense failed to react quickly enough, and Salibur profited from the confusion to delicately clip the ball over advancing goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja.
Then, cutting in from the left, Briand picked out Benezet’s run with a well-weighted pass. Benezet took one touch to move the ball into his path before finishing confidently from just inside the penalty area.
“We controlled the game well,” Briand said. “We’re climbing up the table and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Briand is up against his former club Lyon, which visits on Wednesday. He played four seasons with Lyon before joining Guingamp three years ago.
Strasbourg, meanwhile, is in 11th place ahead of this weekend’s matches.
On Saturday, defending champion Monaco is at Montpellier — which is in eighth spot and has the best defense in Ligue 1 — while league leader Paris Saint-Germain is at Nantes on Sunday.
PSG is nine points ahead of Monaco.
Also on Sunday, third-place Lyon hosts Angers.
WORLD SCORES: COURTESY OF LIVESCORE.COM
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — What America saw last weekend from the Atlanta Falcons was similar to what the team showed for 2½ quarters of last year’s Super Bowl.
Can they keep it up as they head on the road again Saturday to Philadelphia?
The Falcons have that balanced offense — if Matt Ryan is efficient — to challenge any opponents. Where they made their mark against the Rams was on defense.
“We don’t have a (complicated) defense, but we are very detailed,” says defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, a former NFL player who got the job last February. “And the detail of expectations of understanding that they have to make our defense come to life, and they’re doing an awesome job at it.”
Philadelphia’s defense has been up and down recently, and it has dealt with a bunch of injuries. Depth has been a plus for Jim Schwartz’s unit.
The edge here belongs to Atlanta at quarterback — if Ryan is efficient — with backup Nick Foles running the offense for the Eagles. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Foles fly. Or struggle.
The Falcons are 2-point favorites over the top-seeded Eagles, a highly unusual occurrence. But one that, with Carson Wentz on the sideline, makes enough sense.
Tennessee (plus 13) at New England, Saturday
The Patriots are rested. They’re supposedly ticked off. They’re pretty healthy.
And they are miles better than the Titans.
Still, let’s give Tennessee tremendous credit for how it rallied in Kansas City. The Titans showed resolve and an ability to come up with big plays on offense that few expected.
“You’ve got every team fighting to play for the next week,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty says. “Nobody’s going to go out there — and I don’t care if you’re down, if you’re up — like no one is going to quit. So, that’s something I think we always talk about, and obviously you could see it in that game against Kansas City.”
But this one is in New England. Yes, it’s gotten tiresome to travel (and travel, and travel) to Foxborough for playoff games. There’ll be another one up there next weekend.
BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 30-10
Jacksonville (plus 7½) at Pittsburgh, Sunday
One thing about the Steelers: They tend to play much closer games than they should. Based on talent alone, they probably are the NFL’s most skilled squad.
Here comes Jacksonville, following an offensive stinker in beating outmanned Buffalo. Logic says this should be a rout.
Forget logic and remember that Ben Roethlisberger was so victimized in a 30-9 Week 5 loss to the Jaguars that he had one of the worst games of his career.
There’s also the Antonio Brown factor: How healthy is the unanimous All-Pro receiver, who was injured in Week 15?
Jacksonville has a staunch defense with a terrific pass rush, too. Its secondary is among the league’s best.
OK, enough of that. We can’t make a case for Blake Bortles winning in Pittsburgh.
New Orleans (plus 4) at Minnesota, Sunday
What figures to be the best game of the divisional round, a redux of the Vikings’ 29-19 home victory in the season opener.
Both sides are balanced and have enough experience to handle the pressure. While the Saints have the Hall of Fame-level skills of Drew Brees at quarterback, Minnesota’s Case Keenum has been among the most pleasant surprises in the league.
Look for this one to come down to which defense asserts itself. Coach Mike Zimmer has built quite the unit in the Twin Cities.
“Well, you want to have pass rushers, you want to have guys that can cover,” he says. “Without giving away all my secrets, I like a certain body type with guys. You can kind of look at most of them and tell what we’re trying to get. Athleticism, guys who can think quickly on their feet, safeties that have versatility, corners who can cover.”
Sounds like a winner.
Last week: Against spread (2-2). Straight up (1-3)
Season Totals: Against spread (119-122-10). Straight up: (163-95)
Best Bet: 9-9 against spread, 10-8 straight up.
Upset special: 10-8 against spread, 9-9 straight up
TITANS (10-7) at PATRIOTS (13-3)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
OPENING LINE — Patriots by 13
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Titans 8-7-1, Patriots 11-5
SERIES RECORD — Patriots lead 24-16-1.
LAST MEETING — Patriots beat Titans 33-16, Dec. 20, 2015
LAST WEEK — Titans beat Chiefs 22-21; Patriots had bye
AP PRO32 RANKING — Titans No. 11, Patriots No. 1
TITANS OFFENSE – OVERALL (23), RUSH (15), PASS (23)
TITANS DEFENSE – OVERALL (13), RUSH (4), PASS (25)
PATRIOTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (27), PASS (1)
PATRIOTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (6), RUSH (10), PASS (7)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES —Patriots have won six straight against Titans. … This will be third playoff game between franchises who split first two postseason games. … Titans trying to reach AFC championship game for first time since January 2003. … Titans coming off first playoff win since January 2004. … Titans’ rally from 18-point halftime deficit against Chiefs is largest comeback on road in Super Bowl era and tied for second-largest playoff comeback by road team in NFL history. … Counting postseason, Tennessee is 7-1 in games decided by three or fewer points over past two seasons, tied with Pittsburgh for NFL’s best record in such games since start of 2016. … Titans had four sacks vs. Chiefs. … Titans ranked fifth in NFL in regular season in sacks. … Tennessee ranked fourth in NFL and first in AFC in run defense, allowing 88.8 yards per game. … Titans held NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt to 42 yards on 11 carries in wild-card game. … Titans tied for eighth in NFL allowing 5.02 yards per play this season. … QB Marcus Mariota has five of his nine winning drives this season, last coming in wild-card win over Chiefs. … RB Derrick Henry set franchise postseason record with 191 yards from scrimmage vs. Chiefs. Henry ran for career-high 156 yards. Titans ran for franchise-record 202 yards. … Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey is 0-5 against Patriots and 0-6 against Bill Belichick as head coach. … Titans S Kevin Byard tied for NFL lead with eight interceptions in regular season. Byard led league with 10 takeaways. … Titans second in NFL for fewest penalties during regular season with 85. … Patriots are seeking berth in seventh consecutive conference championship game, which would extend their current record NFL streak. … This marks eighth straight year Patriots are hosting divisional round game, adding to their NFL record. … QB Tom Brady is 11-2 in 13 divisional-round games since 2002. He has completed 316 of 509 passes for 3,700 yards passing and 28 TDs in those games. … New England has 41 players with postseason experience, most of 2017 playoff teams. Fourteen Patriots players have played at least 10 playoff games. That’s more such players than 11 other playoff teams combined (13). … TE Rob Gronkowski has nine TD catches in playoffs, most by tight end in NFL history. … Patriots’ defense allowing 18.5 points per game, ranked eighth in NFL. … Belichick has 9-7 career record against Tennessee. … Brady has 6-1 career record against Titans, throwing for 13 TDs and one interception.
NEW ORLEANS (12-5) at MINNESOTA (13-3)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. EST, Fox
OPENING LINE — Vikings by 4
RECORD VS. SPREAD —New Orleans 8-8, Minnesota 11-4-1
SERIES RECORD — Vikings lead 21-11
LAST MEETING — Vikings beat Saints 29-19, Sept. 11, 2017
LAST WEEK — Saints beat Panthers 31-26; Vikings had first-round bye
AP PRO32 RANKING —Saints No. 6, Vikings No. 2
SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (2), RUSH (5), PASS (5)
SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (16), PASS (15)
VIKINGS OFFENSE — OVERALL (11), RUSH (7), PASS (11)
VIKINGS DEFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (2), PASS (2)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Vikings have won two of three postseason matchups with Saints, 1987 wild-card game in New Orleans and 2000 divisional-round game in Minnesota. Saints won 2009 NFC championship game at home. … Vikings are 13-3 at home in history against Saints, including the one playoff victory. … Saints are 7-4 in six appearances in playoffs under coach Sean Payton. They’re 1-4 on road, excluding neutral-site win in Super Bowl 44. … Saints QB Drew Brees passed for 376 yards against Panthers, his second-highest total of season. … Saints rookie Alvin Kamara, who had second-most receptions (81) in league by RB in regular season, had only one catch against Panthers. … Saints FB Zach Line, who spent four seasons with Vikings, had TD run last week. … Saints, who ranked third in NFL in regular season with 20 interceptions and tied for ninth in league with 25 total takeaways, did not force turnover vs. Panthers. … Saints’ defense ranked eighth in NFL in sacks per pass attempt in regular season and sacked Panthers’ Cam Newton four times last week, including one by team leader Cameron Jordan. … Jordan had only sack for Saints in season-opening loss at Minnesota, when Sam Bradford was Vikings QB and passed for 346 yards and three TDs without turnover on 27 of 32 completions for career-high 143.0 rating. …. Vikings allowed 27 sacks in regular season, seventh fewest in league. … Jordan, who had career-high 13 sacks in regular season, is son of former Vikings TE Steve Jordan, who was six-time Pro Bowl pick and caught TD pass in 1987 win in playoffs against Saints. … Vikings’ record against spread in regular season was best in NFL. … Vikings had first-round bye for fourth time under current playoff format. They reached NFC championship game each of three previous instances. … Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is 0-1 in playoffs. … Payton and Zimmer were assistants on Cowboys staff together between 2003-05, with Payton running offense and Zimmer running defense. … This is Vikings QB Case Keenum’s first career start in playoffs and first playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016 and is site of next month’s Super Bowl. … Vikings WR Stefon Diggs had TD catch in each of last three games. He had two TDs and 93 yards in opener against Saints. … RB Latavius Murray had 745 yards and eight TDs in last 10 games of regular season. He had TD run last season in playoffs for Raiders against Texans. … Vikings FS Harrison Smith tied career high with five interceptions and was one of two players in league with 70 or more tackles, five or more interceptions and one or more sacks. … Vikings allowed only 20 runs of 10-plus yards in regular season, fewest in NFL since 49ers in 1995.
ATLANTA (11-6) vs. PHILADELPHIA (13-3)
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC
OPENING LINE — Falcons by 2 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Atlanta 8-9, Philadelphia 10-5-1
SERIES RECORD — Eagles lead 18-14-1
LAST MEETING — Eagles beat Falcons 24-15, Nov. 13, 2016
LAST WEEK — Falcons beat Rams 26-13 in wild-card game; Eagles had bye
AP PRO32 RANKING — Falcons No. 9, Eagles No. 5
FALCONS OFFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (13), PASS (8).
FALCONS DEFENSE — OVERALL (9), RUSH (9), PASS (12).
EAGLES OFFENSE — OVERALL (7), RUSH (3), PASS (13).
EAGLES DEFENSE — OVERALL (4), RUSH (17), PASS (1).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Eagles are 2-1 vs. Falcons in playoffs, including 27-10 win in 2004 NFC championship game. … Falcons were NFL’s highest-scoring team last year, but their fewest points came in loss at Philly. … Falcons were 5-1 vs. common opponents while Eagles were 4-2. … Falcons averaged 22.1 points per game and allowed 19.7. … Atlanta averaged 364.8 yards per game and allowed 318.4. … Falcons QB Matt Ryan completed 64.6 percent of passes for 4,095 yards, 20 TDs, 12 picks and 91.4 passer rating. …Ryan has passer rating of at least 100 in five straight postseason games, tied for second-longest streak in league history. Only Joe Montana had longer streak with eight. … RB Devonta Freeman had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. … WR Julio Jones caught 88 passes for 1,444 yards and three TDs. … DE Adrian Clayborn had 9 1/2 sacks. … LB Deion Jones had three picks. … K Matt Bryant made 34 of 39 field goals (87.2 percent) and all 35 extra-point tries. … Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson makes playoff debut as head coach. … Eagles tied franchise record with 13 wins. … Eagles finished with second-most points (463) in team history. … Eagles tied for first in NFL in point differential (plus 162), led league in rush defense (79.2 yards per game) and ranked first in NFC in turnover differential (plus 11). … Philadelphia averaged 28.6 points per game and allowed 18.4. … Eagles averaged 365.8 yards per game and allowed 306.5. … QB Nick Foles was 2-1 filling in for Carson Wentz. Foles completed 56.4 percent of passes for 537 yards, five TDs, two picks and 79.5 passer rating. … RB LeGarrette Blount had 766 yards rushing and two TDs. … RB Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with Dolphins and Eagles. … TE Zach Ertz had 74 catches for 824 yards and eight TDs. … WR Alshon Jeffery had 57 catches for 789 yards and nine TDs. … DE Brandon Graham had 9 1/2 sacks. … CB Patrick Robinson had four picks. … K Jake Elliott made 26 of 31 field goals (83.8 percent) and 39 of 42 extra points.
JACKSONVILLE (11-6) at PITTSBURGH (13-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
OPENING LINE — Steelers by 6
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Jaguars 9-8, Steelers 7-9
SERIES RECORD — Jaguars lead 13-11
LAST MEETING — Jaguars beat Steelers 30-9, Oct. 8, 2017
LAST WEEK — Jaguars beat Bills 10-3; Steelers had bye
AP PRO32 RANKING — Jaguars No. 10, Steelers No. 2
JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (6), RUSH (1), PASS (17)
JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)
STEELERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (20), PASS (3)
STEELERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (10), PASS (5)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Second postseason meeting between teams. Jacksonville stunned Pittsburgh 31-29 at Heinz Field in wild-card round of 2007 playoffs. … Steelers seeking second straight AFC title game appearance. Jaguars have reached AFC title game twice (1996, 1999). … Jaguars are 6-6 all-time in postseason. Steelers are 35-25. … Jacksonville dominated regular-season visit to Pittsburgh, picking off five Ben Roethlisberger passes, including pair of second-half pickp6s that turned 9-7 deficit into 20-9 lead. Five interceptions were franchise-record for single game. … Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette ran for season-high 181 yards and two scores vs. Steelers in October. … Jaguars shut down Buffalo in 10-3 victory last week, limiting Bills to 263 yards. … Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles one of only three QBs in NFL history to run for more yards (88) than he passed (87) for in playoff victory, joining Michael Vick (2005) and Otto Graham (1950). … Jaguars have only won multiple playoff games in same postseason once (1996). … Forecast is temperature expected to be in teens. Jaguars are 1-8 all-time when temperature is 32 degrees or lower at kickoff. … Jacksonville dropped last three road games of regular season. … Steelers are 9-1 all-time after getting first-round bye. Only loss came in 1993 divisional round against Buffalo. … Pittsburgh led NFL with franchise-record 56 sacks. Jaguars finished second with 55. … Steelers are 8-4 in playoff games at Heinz Field, winning five of last six. … Pittsburgh playing in 61st playoff game, tied with Dallas for most in NFL history. … Steelers are 16-9 in divisional round, including 12-2 mark at home. … Steelers WR Antonio Brown expects to play. All-Pro missed final two games with left calf injury. … Brown only player in NFL history with five straight seasons with 100-plus receptions. … Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell averaged 109 yards rushing in three playoff games last season. … Roethlisberger is 13-7 in the playoffs. Win would tie him with Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw for most by QB in playoffs in team history. … Roethlisberger tied with Dan Marino for fifth-most playoff completions in NFL history (385). … Pittsburgh K Chris Boswell has made all 15 field goals in playoffs. … Steelers DE Cam Heyward’s 12 sacks most by Pittsburgh defensive lineman since Keith Willis had 12 in 1986.
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