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CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: Big 12 schools continue beating up on one another

(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

CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: Big 12 dominates what we are watching this weekend in college basketball

(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP)    —   With conference play in full swing midway through the month of January, two showdowns in the Big 12 Conference and one in the Big East highlight that games we are watching this weekend in college basketball.

A breakdown of the top five matchups:

No. 2 West Virginia at No. 8 Texas Tech

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Big 12 is shaping up as the deepest conference in the country. If the Mountaineers can separate themselves further from the tough field with a road win, the next couple of months in Morgantown could be very interesting indeed. The Red Raiders sustained their first league loss at Oklahoma after an eye-opening victory at Kansas but are still among the conference’s pleasant surprises.

No. 16 TCU at No. 9 Oklahoma

Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Speaking of pleasant surprises. …  Everybody in Norman knew about Trae Young’s stellar high school career, but he rapidly played himself into the national player of the year conversation. He’ll look to keep it going against the Horned Frogs, who’ve run into some tough luck since being one of the last teams to taste defeat this season. TCU has now dropped three of its four conference games by a total of six points, including Wednesday night’s double-overtime setback at Texas when a last-second layup somehow rimmed out.

No. 22 Creighton at No. 10 Xavier

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Fox

No team in the country is happier than the Musketeers to be coming home. That’s especially true of Xavier’s leading scorer Trevon Bluiett, who struggled mightily in losses at Providence and Villanova. The Blue Jays come into Cincinnati on a four-game winning streak.

Michigan at No. 4 Michigan State

Saturday, noon ET, Fox

Since a brief elevation to No. 1, the Spartans have been crunched by Ohio State then needed a late rally to escape Rutgers in overtime. The Wolverines get another opportunity for a resume builder after coming up just short against Purdue earlier in the week.

No. 19 Miami (Fla.) at No. 17 Clemson

Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU

The Tigers are also glad to be home after a quick turnaround from their late Thursday contest at N.C. State. The Hurricanes, in action for the first time since Sunday’s home win against Florida State, should be better rested but still face a tough challenge on the road.



GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Rauno Nurger scored 14 points and fifth-ranked Wichita State shook off a slow start to roll past East Carolina 95-60 on Thursday night.

Shaquille Morris added 12 points for the Shockers (14-2), who improved to 4-0 in their first season in the American Athletic Conference.

Wichita State trailed 14-9 early after a 3-for-12 shooting start, but the Shockers quickly settled in to take complete control. Wichita State went ahead for good on a 15-0 run, part of a 36-9 avalanche to close the first half and drain the fight out of a once-feisty Minges Coliseum crowd.

B.J. Tyson scored 16 points for the Pirates (7-9, 1-4).


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Payton Pritchard scored 18 points and hit two free throws with 13.8 seconds left for Oregon.

Oregon (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) used a late spurt to go up eight points and hit four free throws in the final 32 seconds to earn its biggest win of the season.

The Ducks dominated the paint, outscoring Arizona State 38-16 inside and scoring 15 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Elijah Brown had 18 points and hit two free throws with 32 seconds left for Oregon.

Kodi Justice had 21 points and Shannon Evans II added 19 for Arizona State (13-3, 1-3).


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Silas Melson scored a career-high 23 points, making seven 3-pointers, for Gonzaga.

Rui Hachimura added 20 points for Gonzaga (15-3, 5-0 West Coast Conference).

Marcus Shaver Jr. scored 16 points for Portland (6-12, 0-5), which has dropped five games in a row.

Melson hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range and the Zags finished with 13 3s in the game.


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and Arizona pulled away from a sluggish, close game in the final 7 1/2 minutes.

Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Rawle Alkins scored 11 points, nine in the second half, for the Wildcats (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12), coming off a loss Saturday at Colorado.

Tres Tinkle scored 18 points and Stephen Thompson Jr. had 14 for the Beavers (10-6, 2-2), who have won just once in Tucson in the last 35 years (2010).


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Omer Yurtseven scored a career-high 29 points, and North Carolina State held on to beat Clemson after Gabe DeVoe missed the third of three free throws with 0.2 seconds left that would have forced overtime.

Allerik Freeman finished with 14 points for the short-handed Wolfpack (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who blew nearly all of a 12-point lead with less than 90 seconds remaining but held on to claim their second home win over a Top 25 opponent in six nights after knocking off then-No. 2 Duke on Saturday night.

Marcquise Reed scored 17 points, Donte Grantham added 16 and Mark Donnal finished with a season-high 13 for Clemson (14-2, 3-1), which had its 10-game winning streak end.

Sam Hunt fouled DeVoe as he flung up a 3-pointer from the corner. DeVoe hit the first two free throws, and after N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts called a timeout, the Clemson guard bounced his last attempt off the left iron.



CFB: Scott Frost wins Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of Year Award

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HOUSTON (AP) — Scott Frost has one final award to share with the University of Central Florida.

The former UCF coach and new Nebraska boss received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award on Wednesday night.

“It’s an honor. Obviously, he’s one of the greats,” Frost said about Bryant. “This is a team award. I’m just happy to represent the players and coaches that had such a phenomenal year.”

Frost is first since former Boise State coach Chris Petersen in 2009 with a non-Power 5 program.

This completes the awards season for Frost. In the past few weeks, Frost also claimed the Home Depot Coach of the Year, American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year awards.

UCF rolled past Memphis 62-55 in the American Athletic Conference Championship game, and beat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to finish 13-0. UCF finished ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll of the season, receiving four first place votes.

“If this year taught me anything it’s that with the current structure I don’t think a Group of 5 team has a chance,” Frost said. “(The CFB Playoff Committee) kept us at a comfortable distance from the Top 5 and Top 10 for a long time, even when we were undefeated. Continued move two and three loss teams ahead of us. It’s obvious to me that they don’t have that intention to have that debate. Hopefully that will change.”

When asked about the current state of the College Football Playoff, Frost said he believes it should be expanded to eight teams. This would include the five conference champions and then three at-large bids.

Steve Spurrier was honored with the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award.

“It’s very nice,” Spurrier said. “I was telling somebody I’m the only coach here that Bear Bryant recruited me out of high school. I visited Alabama way back in 1962. Alabama was playing Miami that day. … It was only 3-3 at halftime and Alabama won 36-3. They clobbered them in the second half.”

Spurrier finished his career as the winningest coach at Florida (122-27-1) and South Carolina (86-49).

“He was really good to all the coaches all over the country,” Spurrier said about Bryant. “A really fun guy to be around.”


College football’s lengthy postseason began with Troy defeating North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl and ended with Alabama edging past Georgia in Monday night’s national championship game.

Despite not entering the game until the third quarter, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lands at quarterback on the USA TODAY Sports all-bowl team for 2017-18. He’s joined by a number of players from the matchup between Alabama and Georgia, along with postseason standouts representing teams from each Football Bowl Subdivision conference.


QB: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

He led the Tide to 20 points in the second half to force overtime and then threw a game-winning touchdown pass from 41 yards out to lift Alabama to its fifth national championship in nine seasons.

RB: Sony Michel, Georgia

Michel torched Oklahoma with 222 yards of total offense and four scores in Georgia’s Rose Bowl win, and added 98 rushing yards in the loss to Alabama.

RB: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

The Aztecs’ senior star posted the bowl season’s best single-game rushing performance with 221 yards and four scores on 15.8 yards per carry in a 42-35 loss to Army.

WR: Gregory Phillips, Purdue

After entering the postseason with 30 catches on the year and two receiving touchdowns for his career, the senior paced the nation with 14 receptions and doubled his career total with a pair of scores in the Boilermakers’ Foster Farms Bowl win against Arizona.

WR: Cedrick Wilson, Boise State

Boise’s latest win against Oregon, a 38-28 decision in the Las Vegas Bowl, was keyed by Wilson’s 10 receptions for 221 yards and a score.

TE: Tommy Sweeney, Boston College

Sweeney’s 137 receiving yards on seven grabs was highlighted by a career-long 48-yard catch, though his performance wasn’t enough to fend off a loss to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl.

OL: Ryan Bates, Penn State

Penn State’s offensive line was so dominant against Washington’s gifted front seven that any one of the starting five could draw accolades, but Bates gets the nod for bouncing back from a late-season injury and excelling at right tackle.

OL: David Forney, Navy

Forney and his compatriots on Navy’s offensive line bulldozed poor and pitiful Virginia to the tune of 452 rushing yards in a 49-7 Military Bowl win.

OL: Bradley Bozeman, Alabama

The man in the middle of Alabama’s offensive front was a stabilizing force as the Tide’s offense first struggled and then turned the reins over to Tagovailoa. (For good measure, Bozeman proposed to his fiancé after the win against Georgia.)

OL: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

One of the dominant players in college football and an elite NFL talent, Nelson provided one last series of highlights in Notre Dame’s win against LSU.

OL: Jake Brown, Central Florida

The sophomore earned the highest grade of any UCF offensive lineman after the Knights’ front more than held its own in the Peach Bowl matchup against Auburn’s defense.


DL: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

First he had an interception against Clemson, then he grabbed a receiving touchdown against the Tigers, and then he pushed around linemen and collapsed pockets in helping Alabama’s defense stand tall in the second half against Georgia.

DL: Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia

The Bulldogs’ standout end accounted for a combined nine tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks across games against Oklahoma and the Crimson Tide.

DL: Carl Granderson, Wyoming

Granderson’s five tackles and a sack would’ve been good enough on their own, but his 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the highlight of Wyoming’s 37-14 win against Central Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl.

DL: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

With 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, Hubbard was the leader of a pass rush that accounted for eight sacks and owned the line of scrimmage in the Buckeyes’ impressive Cotton Bowl manhandling of Southern California.

LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Vander Esch gets the nod by a hair ahead of Alabama’s Rashaan Evans and Georgia’s Roquan Smith by filling the box score against Oregon – with 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble – in his final college game.

LB: Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame

Coney was here, there and everywhere in the Irish’s narrow win against LSU, making 17 total stops to lead all defenders this postseason.

LB: Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida

Griffin showed why he’s one of the premier players in college football – if somewhat overlooked during award season – by making 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Auburn.

DB: Amani Hooker, Iowa

Among Hooker’s team-best 12 tackles against Boston College were two that kept the Eagles out of the end zone and proved the difference in a 27-20 win.

DB: Chris Lammons, South Carolina

Lammons led the Gamecocks with three passes defended as part of a secondary that held Michigan to 21 completions in 45 attempts for 203 yards.

DB: Mark McLaurin, Mississippi State

McLaurin was named the MVP of the TaxSlayer Bowl after intercepting Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson three times, the most by any player during bowl play.

DB: Damon Webb, Ohio State

Webb made a splash against Southern California with a handful of game-changing plays, including a recovered fumble and a 23-yard interception returned for a touchdown.


K: Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Blankenship made five of his six field-goal attempts during Georgia’s two postseason games, with a make of 50-plus yards against both Oklahoma and Alabama.

P: Michael Dickson, Texas

To control the game from the punter spot, as he did in the Longhorns’ bowl win against Missouri, was a fitting way for Dickson’s college career to come to an end.

RET: Jason Huntley, New Mexico State

Huntley’s 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter helped New Mexico State top Utah State in the Arizona Bowl in the program’s first postseason appearance in 57 years.

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: TCU women upset No. 7 Texas 79-77 on Kianna Ray’s late FTs

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Ae’Rianna Harris scored 13 points and Purdue held Rutgers to 10 points in the first half en route to a 47-33 win on Wednesday night that ended the No. 21 Scarlet Knights’ 11-game winning streak.

Andreona Keys added 10 points for the Boilermakers (11-7, 2-2 Big Ten Conference), who spoiled Rutgers’ first appearance in the Top 25 since March of 2015.

The Scarlet Knights made the first and last basket of the first period and missed 10 to trail 10-4 after one quarter. Their shooting in the second quarter was 3 for 12 and the Boilermakers scored the last seven to lead 25-10. Rutgers’ shooting was 5 of 24 (21 percent), including 0 for 9 from 3-point range.

The highlight of the night for Rutgers (16-3, 4-1) was their last basket of the first half, scored by Tyler Scaife at the 4:36 mark that pushed the fifth-year senior into the exclusive 2,000-point club.

The Scarlet Knights made five field goals in each of the last two quarters. Ciani Cryor made a long shot that made it 41-33 with 1:01 to play but Purdue scored the last six points of the game. Rutgers’ second-half totals were 1 of 11 from distance, 10 of 32 overall (31 percent) for final 1 of 20 behind the arc and 15 of 56 overall (27 percent).

Both teams had 20 turnovers and Purdue shot just 24 percent in the second half and 33 percent (16 of 48) overall.



LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Naomi Davenport hit four 3-pointers and finished with 22 points and Teana Muldrow had 19 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals to help the No. 15 West Virginia women defeat Kansas 74-54 on Wednesday night.

Katrina Pardee added 15 points and senior Chania Ray had 12 points and a season-high tying 10 assists for West Virginia (15-2, 3-2 Big 12). The Mountaineers have won five in a row against Kansas (11-5, 2-3).

Davenport hit two 3s, while Muldrow and Pardee scored five points apiece, during a 16-1 run that gave West Virginia a 52-33 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. Kylee Kopatich sandwiched a 3-point play and a layup around two free throws by Tyler Johnson as the Jayhawks scored the first seven fourth-quarter points to trim their deficit to 55-44. Muldrow had nine points from there as the Mountaineers pulled away.

Kopatich had 17 points and Austin Richardson scored 10 on 4-of-16 shooting for Kansas. The Jayhawks shot just 35 percent (19 of 54) from the field, including 3 of 12 from 3-point range.

West Virginia scored 24 points off 17 Kansas turnovers.


TCU 79, No.7  TEXAS 77

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU guard Kianna Ray stood at the free throw line with 6 seconds left and a chance to beat her hometown team.

Ray made both free throws, giving the Horned Frogs a huge upset, 79-77 over No. 7 Texas on Wednesday night for their first win over a Top 10 team in more than eight years.

“I really wasn’t,” said Ray, the sophomore from Austin, when asked what she was thinking then. “We shoot those every day. … Just take deep breaths and shoot it like I do every time.”

Ray was fouled by Ariel Atkins on a drive to the basket. That came after Atkins tied the game, and the second time in the final 38 seconds the two traded baskets. Atkins had made a short runner in the lane before Ray’s open 3-pointer put Frogs up 77-75.

TCU (11-5, 2-3 Big 12) had lost its last 13 games against ranked teams, and hadn’t beaten a Top 10 team since a 56-54 home victory over No. 10 Texas A&M on Dec. 12, 2009.

“It’s just a fun win. It’s a fun win, and I don’t really know how you can define a signature victory in the moment,” fourth-year TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “I think you have to see what happens after it. So we’re just going to love on it right now and go to work.”

Atkins had 25 points to lead Texas (13-2, 4-1), which had won six in a row since its only loss at Tennessee a month earlier. Lashann Higgs had 18 points, though her desperation 3 at the buzzer was way off the mark, and Audrey-Ann Cardon-Goudreaux had 11.

“I’m not shocked at all, actually,” Higgs said. “We didn’t come to play. We didn’t play defense like we know how to play.”

The Longhorns had a 10-point lead late in the first quarter, and then trailed by 12 before halftime. They led 69-64 with 4 1/2 minutes left after consecutive jumpers by Atkins.

“They played with more urgency and a lot more passion to win,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “We played in spurts. … Really good in some spurts and disinterested in some spurts.”


Durr’s offense helps spark record start for No. 3 Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr credits her Louisville women’s basketball teammates for creating opportunities that have allowed the junior guard to score from all over the court.

Durr is putting up career-best offensive numbers while making sure other Cardinals are involved. Their unselfish philosophy is one reason they’re unbeaten and enjoying the best start in school history — and have an eye on winning the national championship.

Louisville’s chances begin with Durr, who’s showing growth on the defensive end as well.

“I don’t want to be one-dimensional, just a pure scorer,” Durr said. “I want to be a player who passes the ball well, who can rebound the ball well and can guard. I’m trying to become a player who can do more than one thing.”

The Douglasville, Georgia, native is succeeding in many areas for Louisville (18-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which seeks its third Final Four appearance under coach Jeff Walz and first since 2013. Durr began the week tied for 31st nationally in scoring at 20.2 points per game, an average jump-started by her school-record 47-point performance in the Cardinals’ 95-90 overtime win at then-No. 5 Ohio State on Nov. 12.

Durr shot 9 of 15 from long range against the Buckeyes and offered a hint that this season could be different for her and Louisville. The first team all-ACC selection has remained accurate from behind the arc and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point shooting at nearly 48 percent, with her 56 baskets on 118 attempts tying for 10th.

“I really worked on my shot,” said Durr, who is currently 13th in career scoring at Louisville with 1,378 points. “My teammates are doing a really great job of finding me on the court and the staff is doing a great job of putting together a great game plan to give my teammates a chance to find me on the court.”

Durr’s 47-percent shooting is more than five points better than last season and her solid defensive numbers have held steady. Her approach to defense is what pleases Walz most.

“She has taken pride in that, but defensively is where I’ve been impressed,” the coach said of Durr, who averaged a team-best 12.7 points playing under him last summer on the U.S. Under-23 squad. She also participated in the National Team camp with teammate and senior forward Myisha Hines-Allen.

Walz added, “She is rebounding the ball better. All of the things that you might not look at first on the stat sheet, she’s really focusing on.”

Good as Durr has been, the Cardinals’ depth and selflessness means she doesn’t have to do everything.

Hines-Allen, a two-time All-ACC selection, is having another strong season at 13.2 points per game. Louisville’s three other starters — forwards Sam Fuerhing and Jazmine Jones and junior point guard Arica Carter — average from 6.5 to 8.9 points per contest. Freshman reserve guard Dana Evans has a team-high 71 assists.

The Cardinals’ rotation can go 10 deep, flexibility they’ll need in Thursday night’s ACC showdown against No. 2 Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0). The Irish’s lone loss came against top-ranked UConn, which Louisville visits on Feb. 12.

Louisville has lost its last 11 to the Irish and is 4-14 lifetime against them. As Walz tries to focus on big-picture goals for his team, he acknowledges this meeting’s importance towards the Cardinals’ hopes of winning its first ACC title.

Then again, wins against Top 25 opponents this season — Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon and Duke — have Louisville believing it can beat powerhouse programs and establish itself as a title contender.

Durr sets the tone for the Cardinals.

She has combined for 30 first-quarter points the past two contests, demonstrating the green light Walz has given her.

“Sometimes he has to tell me to stop shooting,” Durr said, laughing. “But it’s a good thing when he has to tell a player to stop because that means you’re being very aggressive.”

Louisville is hoping all those good things happening for Durr — and the Cardinals — continue.

AP Top 25 Heat Check: Final rankings of’ 17, looking at ’18

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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama is the national champ again and the Crimson Tide won the championship with a bunch of freshmen coming off the bunch.

The Tide will keep rolling in 2018 after finishing the 2017 season by beating Georgia to win the College Football Playoff national title . Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press college football poll, becoming the first team since Southern California in 2004 to be preseason No. 1 and national champ in the same season. And that’s probably where Alabama will start next season, too.

The last Heat Check for the 2017 season looks at how they teams in the final poll are set up for ’18 and where they might start in the preseason rankings. There are plenty of players still deciding if they will be back for another season or jump to the NFL. Players likely to leave are noted with -x.

No. 1 Alabama (13-1)

Back: QB Jalen Hurts; OT Jonah Williams; DE Raekwon Davis.

Gone: WR Calvin Ridley-x; S Minkah Fitzpatrick-x; LB Rashaan Evans.

Alabama brings back a two-year starting quarterback that has played in two national title games and the backup (Tua Tagovailoa) might be better. The secondary will need a major rebuild.

First test of 2018: vs. Louisville in Orlando, Florida, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Probably preseason No. 1 again.

No. 2 Georgia (13-2)

Back: QB Jake Fromm; RB De’Andre Swift; OT Andrew Thomas.

Gone: RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel; OLB Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy.

The Bulldogs are likely to lose a bunch of juniors, like LB Roquan Smith, to the NFL, and could use a year to retrench before Kirby Smart’s excellent recruiting classes develop.

First test of 2018: at South Carolina, week two.

Heat check for 2018: Could be closer to No. 10 than No. 1 depending on early departures.

No. 3 Oklahoma (12-2)

Back: LB Caleb Kelly; RB Rodney Anderson; OT Bobby Evans.

Gone: QB Baker Mayfield; OT Orlando Brown; TE Mark Andrews.

The Sooners’ seasons will likely swing on how well Kyler Murray does as Mayfield’s replacement, though the backfield should be loaded.

First test of 2018: vs FAU, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Back half of the top 10 because of QB uncertainty.

No. 4 Clemson (12-2)

Back: QB Kelly Bryant; RB Travis Etienne; DT Dexter Lawrence.

Gone: DT Christian Wilkins-x; DE Clelin Ferrell-x; DE Austin Bryant-x.

Three-fourths of that monster defensive line could jump to the NFL early, but 2017 showed Clemson is built to withstand high-level losses.

First test of 2018: at Texas A&M, week two.

Heat check for 2018: In contention for preseason No. 1

No. 5 Ohio State (12-2)

Back: DE Nick Bosa; RB J.K. Dobbins; DT Robert Landers.

Gone: QB J.T. Barrett; DE Sam Hubbard; CB Denzel Ward.

The Buckeyes will replace a lot on defense, but the 2017 recruiting class was loaded, and they should be fine at QB with Dwayne Haskins.

First test of 2018: vs. TCU, week three.

Heat check for 2018: Preseason top five, easily.

No. 6 UCF (13-0)

Back: QB McKenzie Milton; RB Adrian Killins; WR Otis Anderson.

Gone: OLB Shaquem Grffin; DE Jamiyus Pittman; LB Chequan Burkett.

Pressure will be on new coach Josh Heupel, who will have the entire offense back.

First test of 2018: at North Carolina, week three.

Heat check for 2018: If Scott Frost was back, the Knights would be preseason top 10. Now? Probably around 15.

No. 7 Wisconsin (13-1)

Back: RB Jonathan Taylor; QB Alex Hornibrook; LB T.J. Edwards.

Gone: TE Troy Fumagalli; CB Nick Nelson; OLB Garrett Dooley.

The Badgers bring back almost an entire offense.

First test of 2018: at Iowa, week four.

Heat check for 2018: Top five. Certainly not much lower than that.

No. 8 Penn State (11-2)

Back: QB Trace McSorley; WR Juwan Johnson; DE Shareef Miller.

Gone: RB Saquon Barkley; TE Mike Gesicki; S Marcus Allen.

The Nittany Lions have been recruiting well under James Franklin, and that will be tested in 2018 because they lose bunch of big-time upperclassmen.

First test of 2018: vs. Appalachian State, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Top 20 team, but maybe fourth best in the Big Ten East.

No. 9 TCU (11-3)

Back: WR KaVontae Turpin; DE Ben Banogu; LB Ty Summers.

Gone: LB Travin Howard; DE Matt Boesen; QB Kenny Hill.

Under coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs tend to do their best work when expectations are low. Might be tough next season.

First test of 2018: vs. Ohio State at Arlington, Texas, week three.

Heat check for 2018: Around No. 15 to start.

No. 10 Auburn (10-4)

Back: QB Jarrett Stidham; DT Dontavious Russell; DE Marlon Davidson.

Gone: RB Kerryon Johnson; OLB Jeff Holland; CB Carlton Davis.

The Tigers will be retooling around Stidham, but have some promising offensive linemen.

First test of 2018: vs. Washington in Atlanta, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Middle of the Top 25 to start.

No. 11 Notre Dame (10-3)

Back: NG Jerry Tillery; CB Julian Love; QB Brandon Wimbush.

Gone: OT Mike McGlinchey; G Quenton Nelson; WR Equanimeous St. Brown.

The offensive line made the Irish go and it needs a major rebuild.

First test of 2018: vs. Michigan, week one.

Heat check: for 2018: Around No. 20.

No. 12 Southern California (11-3)

Back: RB Stephen Carr; WR Tyler Vaughns; LB Jordan Iosefa.

Gone: QB Sam Darnold; DE Uchenna Nwosu; RB Ronald Jones II.

Matt Finks is next quarterback in line, but the big question is can the offensive line take a big step forward?

First test of 2018: at Stanford, week two.

Heat check for 2018: Top 15.

No. 13 Miami (10-3)

Back: WR Ahmmon Richards; LB Shaquille Quarterman; DE Joseph Jackson.

Gone: DE Chad Tomas; WR Braxton Berrios; TE Christopher Herndon IV.

The Hurricanes head into 2018 with a three-game losing streak, but the arrow is pointing up after an ahead-of-schedule season. QB Malik Rosier likely faces a battle for the starting job.

First test of 2018: vs. LSU at Arlington, Texas, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Just outside top five.

No. 14 Oklahoma State (10-3)

Back: RB Justice Hill; WR Jalen McCleskey; LB Calvin Bundage.

Gone: QB Mason Rudolph; WR James Washington; WR Marcell Ateman.

The Cowboys need a quarterback.

First test of 2018: vs. Boise State, week three.

Heat check for 2018: At best, the Cowboys squeeze into the Top 25.

No. 15 Michigan State (10-3)

Back: QB Brian Lewerke; RB L.J. Scott; LB Joe Bachie.

Gone: C Brian Allen; LB Chris Frey; DE Demetrius Cooper.

The Spartans could return more players who contributed heavily this season than any in the country.

First test of 2018: at Arizona State, week two.

Heat check for 2018: Could sneak into the top 10.

No. 16 Washington (10-3)

Back: QB Jake Browning; DT Greg Gaines; S Taylor Rapp.

Gone: DT Vita Vea; WR Dante Pettis; LB Keishawn Bierria.

The Huskies will get some key players back from injury (OT Trey Adams, WR Chico McClatcher) and Chris Petersen seems to have the Huskies primed to contend yearly.

First test of 2018: vs. Auburn at Atlanta, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Pac-12 favorite and the conference’s only preseason top-10 team.

No. 17 Northwestern (10-3)

Back: LB Paddy Fisher; QB Clayton Thorson; RB Jeremy Larkin.

Gone: RB Justin Jackson; S Godwin Igwebuike; DT Tyler Lancaster.

Thorson coming back healthy from a bowl game knee injury is key to season.

First test of 2018: at Purdue, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Strong finish could put Wildcats into the bottom of the Top 25.

No. 18 LSU (9-4)

Back: LB Devin White; CB Adraez Williams; DT Rashard Lawrence.

Gone: RB Derrius Guice; WR D.J. Chark; DL Christian LaCouture.

Where does LSU coach Ed Orgeron go now for an offensive coordinator with Matt Canada leaving?

First test of 2018: vs. Miami at Arlington, Texas, week one.

Heat check for 2018: LSU always has top-20 talent so it will be a top-20 team.

No. 19 Mississippi State (9-4)

Back: DT Jeffrey Simmons; QB Nick Fitzgerald; DE Montez Sweat.

Gone: OT Martina Rankin; LB Dezmond Harris.

Dan Mullen left new coach Joe Moorhead the makings of a really good team.

First test of 2018: at Kansas State, week two.

Heat check for 2018: Buzzy team for next season, could slip into top 10 if Fitzgerald is in good health.

No. 20 Stanford (9-5)

Back: QB K.J. Costello; TD Kaden Smith; OG Nate Herbig.

Gone: DT Harrison Phillips; LB Peter Kalambayi; OG David Bright.

Does Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love return? How about DBs Justin Reid and CB Quenton Meeks?

First test of 2018: vs. San Diego State, week one.

Heat check for 2018: With Love 18-20. Without, 21-23.

No. 21 South Florida (10-2)

Back: WR Tyre McCants; CB Mazzi Wilkins; LB Nico Sawtelle.

Gone: QB Quinton Flowers; DT Deadrin Senat; RB D’Ernest Johnson.

The Bulls lose a ton of talented leaders, including the best player in program history in Flowers.

First test of 2018: vs. Georgia Tech, week two.

Heat check for 2018: Unranked.

No. 22 Boise State (11-3)

Back: QB Brett Rypien; RB Alexander Mattison; S Kekoa Nawahine.

Gone: LB Leighton Vander Esch; WR Cedrick Wilson; TE Jake Roh.

The Broncos bring back most of a good defense and maybe the best quarterback in the Mountain West.

First test of 2018: at Troy, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Should start no worse than 20th.

No. 23 North Carolina State (9-4)

Back: QB Ryan Finley; WR Kelvin Harmon; RB Nyheim Hines.

Gone: DE Bradley Chubb; TE Jaylen Samuels; DT Justin Jones.

The Wolfpack missed a chance to have a really special season in 2017. Most of the offense returns, but a talented defensive line is gone.

First test of 2018: vs. West Virginia.

No. 24 Virginia Tech (9-4)

Back: QB Josh Jackson; DT Ricky Walker; DT Tim Settle.

Gone: CB Greg Stroman; WR Cam Phillips; LB Tremaine Edmunds-x.

Year three under coach Justin Fuente will be the first for Hokies with an experienced QB. Expectations should be high.

First test of 2018: at Florida State, week one.

Heat check for 2018: Top 15.

No. 25 Memphis (10-3)

Back: RB Tony Pollard; RB Darrell Henderson; NT O’Bryan Goodson.

Gone: QB Riley Ferguson; WR Anthony Miller; LB Genard Avery.

Replacing two of the best players in school history will be difficult.

First test of 2018: TBD (AAC schedule not released yet).

Heat check for 2018: Likely to start unranked.


More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: No. 2 West Virginia escapes with 57-54 win over Baylor

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jevon Carter sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57.5 seconds left and No. 2 West Virginia escaped with a 57-54 victory over Baylor on Tuesday night.

West Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) struggled to make shots the entire game but extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15, the Mountaineers’ best since winning 22 straight in 1988-89.

Lamont West and Daxter Miles Jr. led West Virginia with 12 points apiece.

Baylor’s Manu Lecomte scored 13 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.

West Virginia, which had little inside success on offense against the taller Bears (11-5, 1-3), shot 31.1 percent (19 of 61) from the floor and was held to its lowest point total of the season.

But the Mountaineers never trailed in the second half of a close game with few scoring runs. Baylor made one field goal over the final eight minutes.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy scored 22 points, De’Andre Hunter added 15 and Virginia beat Syracuse.

Guy made five 3-pointers for Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). The Cavaliers attempted a season-high 27 3s and made nine. Devon Hall added 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Virginia.

Frank Howard scored 18 points to lead the Orange (12-5, 1-3). Oshae Brissett added 16 points and Paschal Chukwu scored nine points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but the Orange shot under 40 percent against the nation’s top scoring defense and managed just three assists on 23 baskets.


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Isaac Haas made a tiebreaking free throw with four seconds remaining and Purdue remained unbeaten in the Big Ten by edging Michigan.

The Boilermakers (16-2, 5-0 Big Ten) have won 12 in a row, while the Wolverines (14-4, 3-2) had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Purdue is 5-0 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90.

In the final seconds, Michigan rushed the ball up the court and Charles Matthews took a desperation shot just after crossing midcourt that hit the rim but missed.


NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half to help Oklahoma top Texas Tech.

Young, a freshman point guard who leads the nation in scoring and assists, shot just 1 of 12 in the first half. He went 6 for 11 in the second to help the Sooners bounce back from a loss to No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.

Young also had nine assists and four steals for Oklahoma (13-2, 3-1 Big 12), which won its 11th straight at home. Christian James had 15 points and Khadeem Lattin added 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.

Oklahoma shot 56 percent in the second half. Texas Tech entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 59 points per game.

Keenan Evans scored 19 points for Texas Tech (14-2, 3-1).


LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Malik Newman scored a career-high 27 points, Svi Mykhailiuk added 23 and Kansas staved off an upset bid by Iowa State, pulling away in the closing minutes.

Devonte Graham added 11 points for the Jayhawks (13-3, 3-1 Big 12), most of those coming in crunch time, when he shook off a 1-for-11 start from the field to knock down three big jumpers.

Lindell Wigginton had 27 points and Donovan Jackson scored 20 for the Cyclones (9-6, 0-4), whose four straight losses — including back-to-back overtime defeats — have come on the heels of nine straight wins.

Cameron Lard added 15 points and 10 rebounds, though he also committed seven of the Cyclones’ 17 turnovers. Nick Weiler-Babb contributed 13 points, 10 boards and eight assists.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Andrew Rowsey scored 31 points and Marquette used a 16-0 run in the second half to pull away from Seton Hall.

Sam Hauser added 14 points for the Golden Eagles (12-5, 3-2 Big East). He shot 4 of 9 from 3-point range, including a 3 with 5:25 left for a 73-55 lead.

Energized Marquette outhustled Seton Hall (14-3, 3-1) and held its own in the paint against the Pirates’ dominant center, Angel Delgado (12 points, 10 rebounds). The Golden Eagles set a quick tempo to beat the Pirates on both ends of the floor.

Seton Hall stumbled after reaching its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 poll since Jan. 2, 2001.


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Luke Maye had career highs of 32 points and 18 rebounds, and North Carolina’s small lineup got off to a fast start in an easy win against Boston College.

Cameron Johnson added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (13-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who avoided their first three-game losing streak since January 2014. UNC coach Roy Williams juggled his starting lineup to move in Johnson over freshman forward Garrison Brooks — and that wing-heavy unit responded by getting out in transition and on the attack in their active opening minutes.

Maye became the first North Carolina player with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds at home since Antawn Jamison in 1997-98, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Ky Bowman scored 21 points to lead Boston College (11-6, 2-3), which has lost 11 straight against the Tar Heels.

No. 21 KENTUCKY 74, TEXAS A&M 73

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — PJ Washington made a steal that led to Kevin Knox’s go-ahead layup with 2:28 left, then added four points down the stretch to help Kentucky rally past Texas A&M.

Trailing 59-53 with 8:43 remaining, the Wildcats clawed back to tie the game three times before Washington stole a high pass and fed Knox for a 69-67 lead. Washington added a layup between two free throws for a 73-69 edge.

The Aggies weren’t done, taking advantage of missed Kentucky free throws to get within a point with four seconds left on Robert Williams’ tip-in. Two misses by Washington at the line set up a final chance for Texas A&M, but a long pass sailed out of bounds as time expired.

Hamidou Diallo had 18 points as Kentucky (13-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from last weekend’s loss at No. 24 Tennessee.

Tyler Davis scored 21 for the Aggies (11-5, 0-4), who lost their second consecutive one-point game.


AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Desean Murray had 16 points and eight rebounds to help Auburn erase a 10-point halftime deficit and beat Mississippi.

Auburn (15-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) won its 13th straight game and opened 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2002-03. The Tigers had lost 10 straight against Ole Miss.

Mustapha Heron added 15 points for Auburn, which played its first home game as a ranked team since 2000. Afernee McLemore had 13 points and nine rebounds.

Breein Tyree led the Rebels (9-7, 2-2) with 24 points.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grant Williams scored a career-best 37 points as Tennessee rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Vanderbilt.

The sophomore forward avoided foul trouble, and Vanderbilt couldn’t handle the 6-foot-7, 241-pound Williams around the basket. Admiral Schofield tied his career high with 22 points as Tennessee (11-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) won its second straight.

Jordan Bowden scored all 12 of his points in the second half for the Volunteers.

Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 21 points. Jeff Roberson added 19 and Riley LaChance had 16 for the Commodores (6-10, 1-3).


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Foster scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half, and Martin Krampelj had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his third straight double-double in Creighton’s victory over Butler.

The Bluejays (14-3, 4-1 Big East) won for the ninth time in 10 games and improved to 11-0 at home. The Bulldogs (12-6, 2-3) lost their third straight since upsetting then-No. 1 Villanova on Dec. 30.

Foster was coming off a season-low nine points on 3-of-14 shooting at Georgetown on Saturday. He took on the role of playmaker in the second half, when he had six of his season-high eight assists, including a couple big ones after Butler pulled within six points late.

Butler star Kelan Martin struggled with Khyri Thomas guarding him. After averaging 25.8 points in the Bulldogs’ first four Big East games, Martin was held to two in the first half and 10 for the game. He did have 11 rebounds.


More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Alabama is No. 1 in final AP poll for 11th time; UCF 6th

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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press college football poll after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the national championship game. Unbeaten Central Florida finished sixth.

The Crimson Tide received 57 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel after its 26-23 overtime win on Monday night. UCF received the other four and finished with the best ranking in the history of the program. The Knights are the first bowl-eligible team to finish the season undefeated and not win a national title since TCU in 2010. Ohio State was 12-0 in 2012, but banned from the postseason by the NCAA.

Georgia finished second, its best ranking since 2007, and Oklahoma was third, followed by Clemson and Ohio State.

The AP national championship is the 11th for the Crimson Tide, three more than any other school, and fifth under coach Nick Saban since 2009. Saban joins the late Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant as the only coaches with five AP titles.

Alabama is the first preseason No. 1 to finish No. 1 since Southern California in 2004 and the 11th overall. For the fourth time, two teams from the same conference finished Nos. 1 and 2. The last three times it has happened involved Southeastern Conference teams at the top (2007, 2011 and now 2017).

Washington State, which lost to Michigan State 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl, was the only team ranked in the final regular-season poll to fall out of the Top 25 after the bowl season. North Carolina State moved in after beating Arizona State 52-31 in the Sun Bowl and finished No. 23.



Big Ten – 5

SEC — 5

ACC — 4

Big 12 — 3

AAC — 3

Pac-12 — 3

Mountain West — 1

Independent — 1


Congratulations to 2017 national champion Alabama. While the Crimson Tide celebrates, it’s on to 2018 for the rest of college football. Here are some of the numerous story lines to follow next season:


This is as much a story of the offseason as the season, but no doubt the ramifications will be felt all the way through 2018.

Three playoff teams, including the two that played for the national title, will have returning starting quarterbacks. None of those players are locks to start next season.

Jalen Hurts has led Alabama to two straight championship games in his first two college seasons, but it was Tua Tagovailoa who came off the bench Monday night to beat Georgia for the national championship.

Jake Fromm led Georgia to the national title game as a freshman, but five-star recruit Justin Fields will be practicing with the Bulldogs this spring. And where does that leave Jacob Eason, the former five-star who was relegated to backup-up behind Fromm?

At Clemson, Kelly Bryant will have to fend off both sophomore Hunter Johnson and five-star incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence. Miami’s Malik Rosier is also likely to face a challenge from N’Kosi Perry, who will be a redshirt freshman and Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush will have to reclaim his job after Ian Book led the Fighting Irish to a bowl victory.

Elsewhere, Ohio State will likely turn the team over to Dwayne Haskins. Can incoming freshman Tate Martell be a factor. Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray is the heir apparent to Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma.



The offseason’s most interesting coach needs to start having a bigger impact during the season. Part of Michigan’s problem in 2017 was the expectations were a bit out of whack, but that doesn’t let Harbaugh off the hook. The Wolverines’ offense was bad and if you’re a great coach who supposedly has a skill for developing quarterbacks — and Harbaugh is being paid as such — you need to do better than 109thh in the country in yards per pass attempt.

No excuses next season. Harbaugh will have three of his own recruiting class. The defense should be loaded again. The Wolverines could have Shea Patterson at quarterback if the Ole Miss transfer gets eligible, but even if they don’t either Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey should provide at least competency.

Harbaugh needs to start winning big things: rivalry games, division titles, conference championships, playoff spots.



Baker Mayfield is gone. So is Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley and Rashaad Penny. That’s four of the top five Heisman Trophy vote-getters.

Also, flashy quarterbacks such as San Darnold and Josh Rosen, who were trendy picks going in this past season, are on their way to the NFL.

So who is the favorite going into 2018? Runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford would be good pick, though the junior could go pro. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who ran for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman, could easily surpass that in 2018. Still, it’s become a quarterbacks’ award, with 15 of the last 18 going to QBs.

The top quarterbacks? Keep an eye out for some of those newcomers and possible first-year starters. Of the established players, Penn State’s Trace McSorley steps out of Barkley’s shadow and Oregon’s Justin Herbert could be the guy with the NFL draft buzz.



It has been 40 years since a coach with a national championship on his resume left one college job for another. Texas A&M paid $75 million dollars for Jimbo Fisher and his championship ring. The Aggies have been stuck in neutral for the past few years under Kevin Sumlin.

A&M is not bereft of talent, but it would be normal for year one to hit some bumps as the program transitions. Thing is $75 million doesn’t buy patience. A good measuring stick? Georgia was 8-5 in its first season and then took off in year two. That’s not to suggest A&M will be in the playoff in 2019, but an underwhelming 2018 is no reason to panic. Still, $75 million.

Other new coaches who will be getting a lot of attention: Chip Kelly at UCLA; Scott Frost at Nebraska; Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee.



Michigan is not firing Jim Harbaugh so let’s just end that right here. But which coach does enter next season very much in need of a change in trajectory?

Not a lot of really obvious choices though this is probably Kliff Kingsbury’s last chance to get past mediocre at Texas Tech and Vanderbilt needs to show some improvement under Derek Mason after four seasons that have produced an 18-31 record. The most fascinating coaching situation will be at Kansas State, where 78-year-old Hall of Famer Bill Snyder is back with no exit plan in sight.



The West Coast’s conference was a dud in 2017, missing out on the playoff for the second time and then crashing in the postseason with a 1-8 bowl record. Bowl records can be deceiving, but it is compounded by the fact that the conference is having a hard time keeping pace with the other Power Five conferences in revenue and exposure.

Washington should still be a national contender and Stanford can be relied upon for consistent top-20 performance. But coaching changes at UCLA, Oregon and the Arizona schools, in addition to USC trying to replace Darnold, means the Pac-12 could again have a hard time putting a team in the playoff.


(###) Number of first place votes
Alabama (57)
Record: 13-1
PV Rank




Record: 13-2
Record: 12-2
Record: 12-2
Record: 12-2
UCF (4)
Record: 13-0
Record: 13-1
Record: 11-2
Record: 11-3
Record: 10-4
Record: 11-3
Record: 10-3
Record: 10-3
Record: 10-3
Record: 10-3
Record: 10-3
Record: 9-4
Record: 9-4
Record: 9-5
Record: 10-2
Record: 11-3
Record: 9-4
Record: 9-4
Record: 10-3

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrrussoAP


More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

CBB Men’s TOP 25 THIS WEEK: No. 8 Texas Tech gets 2 top-10 opponents

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard figures his Red Raiders haven’t accomplished all that much yet, even with the eighth-ranked Red Raiders holding the program’s highest ranking in two decades.

His team will get two chances to accomplish a lot more this week.

A week after upsetting Kansas on the road, Texas Tech has a pair of big matchups to headline the week ahead for AP Top 25 teams. First the Red Raiders visit No. 9 Oklahoma on Tuesday night, then they host No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.

“We’re the same program that’s only been to one NCAA Tournament in the past decade,” Beard said before his team’s weekend win against Kansas State, adding: “We’ve got a lot of guys who understand where we came from and where we’re trying to get.”

Texas Tech (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) vaulted 10 spots in Monday’s poll, earning its highest ranking since being a program-best No. 7 in March 1996.

Texas Tech ranks third nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (87.6 points per 100 possessions) through Sunday’s games while leading the Big 12 by holding opponents to 37 percent shooting.

“To me, this race doesn’t even start until February,” Beard said of the Big 12. “We’re all just kind of jockeying for position right now. We’re pleased we’ve gotten a couple of wins on the board, but we understand it’s a long, long season and we really haven’t done anything yet.”

TOUGH BIG 12: Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young have their own pair of games against ranked Big 12 opponents. The Sooners (12-2, 2-1) follow the Texas Tech game by hosting No. 16 TCU on Saturday.

AT THE TOP: Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. The Wildcats returned to the top after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke .

The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where they spent three weeks in December. Villanova (14-1, 2-1 Big East) hosts No. 10 Xavier on Wednesday night.

MOUNTAINEERS ROLLING: Second-ranked West Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Coming off a win against Oklahoma , the Mountaineers host Baylor on Tuesday before visiting the Red Raiders on Saturday.

VIRGINIA’S CLIMB: Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and earned a first-place vote after an upset-filled week that saw six top-10 teams lose.

Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star was the voter with the Cavaliers topping his ballot after their weekend win against reigning national champion North Carolina . He called it “one of the more difficult ballots I’ve thrown together” with so much upheaval at the top, though he pointed to Virginia’s resume featuring a lone loss to West Virginia.

“I think the way they play basketball produces results,” Osterman said of the Cavaliers. “I’ve been high on them for a while. Some other people losing around them this week meant in my eyes they moved up.”

Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces Syracuse on Tuesday then hosts North Carolina State — which has upset wins against Arizona and Duke when both were ranked No. 2 this season — on Sunday.

OTHER RANKED MATCHUPS: Saturday brings two other matchups of ranked teams: Xavier against No. 25 Creighton in the Big East and No. 18 Miami against No. 19 Clemson in the ACC.

WATCH LIST: Notre Dame is in flux with star Bonzie Colson sidelined with an injury , but the Fighting Irish lead all unranked teams in voting and get a Saturday home game against UNC to help their odds of getting back in the poll this week.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M — which went from No. 11 last week to unranked after two Southeastern Conference losses — will have get two chances to make it a short absence from the poll. The Aggies visit No. 21 Kentucky on Tuesday, then travel to No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday.


Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. West Virginia waited a lot longer — nearly six decades, in fact — to get back to its position at No. 2.

Villanova returned to the top spot in Monday’s new poll after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke. The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where it spent three weeks in December.

The Mountaineers were next to capitalize on a big win, along with the chaos of a week that saw four top-5 teams lose to unranked opponents and six top-10 teams lose overall.

West Virginia — which beat then-No. 7 Oklahoma last week — earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and got the remaining first-place vote, followed by Michigan State after the Spartans’ loss at Ohio State.

Purdue and Wichita State tied for No. 5. Duke, the preseason No. 1-ranked team, fell five spots to No. 7 after losing at North Carolina State. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Xavier rounded out the top 10.

Villanova (14-1) lost at Butler on Dec. 30, then had to wait a week before beating Marquette on Saturday.

“We try to learn from our wins and losses,” coach Jay Wright said afterward. “We don’t really judge ourselves on whether we won or lost, we judge ourselves on how well we played Villanova basketball. Sometimes we win and we still didn’t play great Villanova basketball. When you lose, that’s when it’s really obvious. The team just refocuses themselves and recommits themselves.”


West Virginia (14-1) hasn’t lost since falling to Texas A&M on opening night. That run includes a December home win against Virginia and Saturday’s win against the Sooners and star freshman Trae Young.

“Our entire men’s basketball program is certainly delighted with our highest national ranking since 1959,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said in a statement. “It’s certainly an exciting time for our storied men’s basketball program, the great state of West Virginia and all of Mountaineer Nation. However, our guys know that we play in the toughest basketball conference in the country, and they know what is ahead of them each and every night when we take the court in Big 12 play.”


No. 8 Texas Tech (14-1) was the week’s biggest climber. It moved up 10 spots after earning its first win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse in 18 tries along with a win against Kansas State for the program’s best ranking since being seventh in March 1996.

Fifth-ranked Purdue (15-2) moved up eight spots for its highest ranking since February 2010 and carries an 11-game winning streak into Tuesday’s trip to Michigan. No. 13 Seton Hall (14-2) also moved up eight spots, matching the biggest one-week AP Top 25 jump in its history.


Reigning national champion North Carolina took the biggest fall of any team that remained in the poll, sliding eight spots from No. 12 to No. 20 after road losses to now-No. 23 Florida State and Virginia . Arizona State fell seven spots to No. 11 after its overtime loss to Colorado.


No. 22 Auburn and No. 25 Creighton were new to the poll this week, though the Bluejays have been ranked in four previous polls this season. It’s a different deal for the Tigers (14-1), who are ranked for the first time since January 2003 after wins against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents Arkansas and Tennessee last week.


Arkansas fell out from No. 22 after losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, while Texas A&M went from 11th to unranked after losses to Florida and LSU.


(###) Number of first place votes
Record: 14-1
PV Rank




Record: 14-1
Record: 14-1
Record: 15-2
Record: 15-2
Record: 13-2
Record: 14-1
Record: 12-2
Record: 15-2
Record: 13-2
Record: 12-3
Record: 14-2
Record: 14-3
Record: 13-2
Record: 12-4
Record: 13-2
Record: 14-1
Record: 12-4
Record: 12-3
Record: 14-1
Record: 12-3
Record: 10-4
Record: 13-3

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: Rutgers back in AP women’s hoops poll; UConn still No. 1

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NEW YORK (AP) — After a two-year hiatus, C. Vivian Stringer has Rutgers back in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll.

The Scarlet Knights jumped into the AP Top 25 on Monday at No. 21, riding an 11-game winning streak. Rutgers was last ranked on March 2, 2015.

There was a time not so long ago when Rutgers was a staple in the Top 25, but the team went through some lean years before returning to the rankings. Rutgers is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround after going 6-24 last season.

“To go to the low depths we did and to show that perseverance and fight we have is great,” Stringer said. “We had to build everything from scratch. It showed me a lot about myself. I never gave up. We had more resolve to fight.”

The Scarlet Knights visit Purdue on Wednesday.

UConn remained a unanimous choice from the 32-member national media panel after cruising to two victories last week. The Huskies were followed in the rankings by Notre Dame, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor. Louisville hosts the Irish on Thursday.

South Carolina dropped from fourth to ninth after losing at Missouri on Sunday while the Tigers moved up three spots to 12th. It’s the Gamecocks’ worst ranking since Jan. 20, 2014.

Tennessee, Texas and Oregon are in front of the Gamecocks while Ohio State rounds out the top 10.

Green Bay also re-entered the poll this week at No. 25. Stanford and Villanova dropped out.

Other tidbits from the poll:

BIG TEN REVIVAL: With Rutgers’ return, the Big Ten has five teams in the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 23, 2015. Ohio State is 10th, Maryland 11th, Iowa tied for 18th, Rutgers 21st and Michigan 23rd.

“It’s huge,” Stringer said of having so many ranked teams. “I try to treat this as I would the Big East with Notre Dame, Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers. We had a monster there. If we can continue to play well, the NCAA would consider us to be a strong conference and we’ll get all five schools in.”

MIGHTY DUCKS: After sweeping Southern California and UCLA, Oregon has moved up a spot to eighth, which is the Ducks’ highest ranking ever. The Ducks had been as high as ninth in 1982 and again this season.

“That’s neat,” coach Kelly Graves said. “We don’t talk about it as a team, but it means we had a hell of a weekend.”

Oregon swept the Los Angeles schools for the first time in school history. It is 15-2 on the season, with the losses coming against Louisville and Mississippi State.

“I wouldn’t have guessed we’d be 15-2 against the 13th-toughest schedule in the country at this point with the youngest team in the Top 25. … We’re better right now than I thought we’d be. I got some gritty kids and they’re tough mentally.”


AP Women’s Basketball Poll Week 10



1 UConn 13-0 800 32 32 1
2 Notre Dame 15-1 747 0 32 2
3 Louisville 18-0 741 0 32 3
4 Mississippi State 17-0 702 0 32 5
5 Baylor 14-1 661 0 32 6
6 Tennessee 15-0 641 0 32 7
7 Texas 13-1 617 0 32 8
8 Oregon 15-2 559 0 32 9
9 South Carolina 13-2 557 0 32 4
10 Ohio State 15-2 520 0 32 10
11 Maryland 15-2 476 0 32 13
12 Missouri 14-2 426 0 32 15
13 Florida State 14-2 373 0 32 11
14 UCLA 11-4 367 0 32 14
15 West Virginia 14-2 320 0 31 12
16 Duke 12-4 280 0 31 17
17 Texas A&M 13-4 275 0 31 19
18 Arizona State 13-3 227 0 32 25
18 Iowa 15-2 227 0 30 18
20 Oklahoma State 12-3 224 0 30 20
21 Rutgers 16-2 139 0 27 NR
22 Oregon State 11-4 136 0 27 16
23 Michigan 13-4 115 0 27 22
24 California 11-4 67 0 18 23
25 Green Bay 12-2 51 0 14 NR

Others receiving votes: Villanova 49, Stanford 30, South Florida 24, Syracuse 22, Georgia 10, Marquette 5, LSU 4, Utah 3, Brown 2, Ball State 1, Belmont 1, Mercer 1

Walk-off: Alabama beats Georgia in OT for national title

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ATLANTA (AP) — To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

“He just stepped in and did his thing,” Hurts said. “He’s built for stuff like this. I’m so happy for him.” The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead, but first Alabama will celebrate another title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on a touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

“I could not believe it,” he said. “There’s lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, ‘Don’t waste the feeling.’ They sure didn’t, the way they played tonight.”

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbable victory of his unmatched career. A few hours later, Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final AP college football poll for the 11th time, three more than any other program.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama’s first play, losing 16 yards. On the next he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

“After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play,” Tagovailoa said. “I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open.” Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense in the second half: Najee Harris at running back; Henry Ruggs III at receiver; Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It’s a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

“I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did,” Saban said Tagovailoa. “He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I’m so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable.”

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama’s last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

“I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama,” Tagovailoa said. “Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.”

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia’s freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards and for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star of the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

“I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they’ll tell you because that’s a really good defense he just went against,” Georgia coach Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Smart, Saban’s top lieutenant, to bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama’s Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban — eight as defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa — quickly built ‘Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its division.

With the title game being played 70 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens, Dawgs fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama. Now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a winning field goal to end the game. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as ‘Bama burned the clock. With the ball spotted in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble — second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrrussoAP


More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Alabama vs. Georgia in all-SEC CFP championship game

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ATLANTA (AP) — No. 4 Alabama faces No. 3 Georgia in an all-Southeastern Conference College Football Playoff national championship game Monday night.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban tries to tie former Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s record six major poll national championships. Saban has led the Tide to four national championships since 2009, and the last three national championship games.

Georgia, coached by former Saban assistant Kirby Smart, is looking for its first national championship since 1980.

The Bulldogs feature the most prolific running back combination in college football in senior Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. They combined for six touchdowns in the Bulldogs semifinal victory against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Alabama has to No. 1 rushing defense in the country and smothered Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal to get here.


College Football Playoff: Four keys to an Alabama win

1. Score touchdowns in the red zone

Yes, scoring touchdowns is a key for Alabama, as it is for Georgia. To take that one step further, a major factor for success is to convert red-zone trips into touchdowns, which to date has been an issue for the Tide. Only once this year in games against Football Bowl Subdivision competition has Alabama converted each of his trips to the red zone into touchdowns, in a 66-3 win against Mississippi. In its past two games, Alabama has capped just two of its five red-zone stops with touchdowns. Though the title game is unlikely to resemble the Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl — let alone the Tide’s recent championship games against Clemson — every opportunity to turn an extended drive into six points is crucial.

2. Spread the football

Receiver Calvin Ridley (59 receptions for 935 yards) has done the heavy lifting for the passing game. Entering Monday, the junior accounts for roughly a third of the team’s total receptions and almost 40% of the team’s total passing yards. Georgia is aware. So it’s important that Alabama find a way to branch out on passing downs, locating a secondary target who might not carry a huge load but can find a gap downfield to surprise a defensive backfield keying on Ridley as the Tide’s primary option.

3. Feed Damien Harris

Saban and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll have a full and crowded room of running backs, with six backs gaining more than 100 yards for the season, and Hurts (804 yards rushing) adds another aspect to the Alabama ground game. But the offense works best when leaning on junior Damien Harris as the lead back and using backups such as Bo Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs in secondary roles. Here’s a fact to consider: Alabama is 12-0 when Harris earns at least 10 carries. Relying on Harris and Hurts to do the work on early downs would allow the Tide to roll out a fresh Scarbrough to bruise and bully the Georgia defense.

4. Make Fromm into a freshman

Alabama’s No. 1 goal on defense shouldn’t be to stop Georgia’s running game, since that’s an unreachable goal even for the nation’s top defense. Instead, the Tide need to focus on turning Fromm into what he really is: a true freshman starting on the biggest stage in college sports. Good luck. Fromm has improved on a weekly basis, culminating in superb performances in recent wins against Auburn and Oklahoma, and shouldn’t be cowed by the challenge of lining up across from the Crimson Tide. But the Tide can still make him uncomfortable by putting the Bulldogs into unmanageable third-down conversions and getting pressure on the pocket. It can be done — and Alabama needs to get it done in order to win another national title.

College Football Playoff: Four keys to a Georgia win

1. Keep Fromm clean

It took less than a quarter for Alabama to get Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant out of his comfort zone. The same could happen to Fromm should Georgia’s offensive front not keep him free of pressure in the pocket. Remember that Fromm, while a great athlete, isn’t as mobile as those quarterbacks who often give the Tide trouble — think Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, for example. So while he could easily break loose of containment and gash the Alabama defense, depending on Fromm to extend plays with his legs is not a recipe for success.

2. Continue to win on first down

No team in college football is as good as Georgia when it comes to running the ball on first down. Despite defenses knowing what’s coming, the Bulldogs enter Monday night having gained 2,150 yards on 6.5 yards per carry on the opening down. The blueprint is simple: Georgia wants to get into manageable situations on second and third down to protect Fromm and keep the Tide on their heels. It’s not a stretch to say that the Bulldogs will have little shot at sustaining extended drives without success running the ball against an Alabama defense that won’t be taken by surprise.

3. Force Hurts to throw

Easier said than done. But Alabama does not want to get into a situation where the offense is relying on Hurts to either move the football himself or to make up any sort of significant margin. Though it might not lead to turnovers — Hurts has just one interception this season — the Alabama offense simply isn’t built to make up ground through the air. Hurts ranks fifth in the SEC in yards gained per pass attempt, at 8.4 yards per throw, and that total falls to just 6.4 yards per attempt in games played away from the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

4. Start fast

Alabama has been here before; Georgia has not. It stands to reason that a close game eventually will favor the Tide, who know what it takes to secure a championship when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. But Georgia can put Alabama in a real bind by taking an early lead, which plays into the Bulldogs’ favor on two fronts: one, by making the Tide’s offense rely on Hurts, and two, because it would allow Georgia’s own offense to pound away at Alabama with its deep stable of running backs.

CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: Overachieving Ohio State stuns No. 1 Michigan State 80-64

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Keita Bates-Diop scored a career-high 32 points, and Ohio State stunned No. 1 Michigan State 80-64 on Sunday.

The overachieving Buckeyes put together an electrifying 12-0 run to finish the first half and kept their foot on the gas to give first-year coach Chris Holtmann a signature win.

Ohio State (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten) won for its third straight in taking down the best team it is likely to see this season. The mistake-prone Spartans (15-2, 3-1) lost for the first time in the last 15 games, dating back to a seven-point loss to then-No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14.

The Spartans, who came in leading the nation with a 53.3 field-goal percentage, shot just 39 percent for the game and committed a dozen turnovers. Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges each scored 17 points.

Bates-Diop hit 12 of 21 attempts from the floor, including 2 of 4 from the 3-point line. His previous career high was 27 points against Iowa three days ago.

C.J. Jackson had 14 points for Ohio State, and Jae’Sean Tate added 13.


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Shannon Evans scored 22 points, and Arizona State held on for a choppy win over Utah to end a two-game losing streak.

Mickey Mitchell hit two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining after being fouled on a drive to give Utah a 79-77 lead. Justin Bibbins missed what could have been the game-winning 3-pointer with 6 seconds left.

Kodi Justice scored 20 points and carried the offensive load most of the night for Arizona State (13-2, 1-2 Pac-12), but Evans found a groove late, scoring 10 straight points down the stretch. Tra Holder, the league’s leading scorer, added 11 points.

Bibbins had 22 points and six assists to lead the Utes (10-5, 2-2), who also lost to No. 14 Arizona on this homestand. Sedrick Barefield added 21.


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Shaquille Morris scored 15 points to lead a balanced scoring effort, and Wichita State blew out South Florida.

Zach Brown had 13 points, and Markis McDuffie scored 12 for Wichita State (13-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference). Darral Willis scored 11 points.

Morris, Brown and McDuffie were a combined 16 of 19 from the floor, helping the Shockers shoot 62.7 percent.

Malik Martin led South Florida (7-10, 0-4) with 15 points. David Collins scored 12 points, and Terrence Samuel added 10 for the Bulls.

The Shockers had 48 points off the bench in their largest victory since beating Savannah State 112-66 on Nov. 12.


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami 5-foot-7 freshman Chris Lykes scored a season-high 18 points, and the Hurricanes withstood a late rally by the Seminoles.

Bruce Brown scored a season-high 23 points and Dewan Huell had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Hurricanes, who took the lead for good in the early minutes and made 13 of their first 14 shots.

Miami (13-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won at home for the first time since Dec. 5. The Seminoles (12-3, 1-2) lost for the third time in their past six games.

Florida State cut a 16-point second-half deficit to four with 24 seconds left. Braian Angola then made a backcourt steal but missed a 3-pointer that would have left the Seminoles trailing by one.

Brown made five of six free throws in the final 45 seconds and finished 12-for-14 at the line.

Angola had 16 points for Florida State, which shot a season-low 36 percent.


HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Jacob Evans III scored 18 points, and Gary Clark had a big second half as Cincinnati pulled away to beat SMU and extend the longest active home-court winning streak in the country.

The game matched the American Athletic Conference’s top defensive teams, and it showed in the first half as they went a combined 15-for-52 from the field and the Bearcats led 34-20.

Cincinnati (14-2, 3-0) broke it open with a 12-point run late in the first half featuring Evans’ 3-pointer. Clark scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half as the Bearcats finally got the ball inside and pushed the lead to 20.

SMU (12-5, 2-2) shot only 35.7 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers that set up 26 of Cincinnati’s points. Jarrey Foster led the Mustangs with 16 points.

TOP 25 REWIND: No. 2 Duke’s defense off to slow start in ACC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — There’s no questioning the talent or the offensive potential for No. 2 Duke with its star freshman class. Finding the defensive play to go with all that hasn’t been easy.

The Blue Devils allowed North Carolina State to shoot 55 percent after halftime in Saturday night’s 96-85 road loss in Atlantic Coast Conference play, one of several upset losses for AP Top 25 teams in the past week.

It was a continuation of shaky defensive play for a young team that trailed the Wolfpack throughout the second half in part because it couldn’t get any stops while giving up a series of drive-and-dish baskets. And the Blue Devils have allowed their first three league opponents combined to shoot nearly 49 percent both from the field and behind the arc.

“We know how to play defense,” freshman guard Trevon Duval said. “We go over it in practice every day. We do it in practice all the time. It’s just translating it to the game and talking. If we talk, then that puts us all in the position to make stops and make the right plays on defense.”

Duke (13-2, 1-2 ACC) ranked 104th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency by allowing 100 points per 100 possessions through Saturday’s games. Duval pointed to communication problems, while Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team would just have to “keep working at it” after a “crappy” defensive showing and must learn how to handle the challenge of facing every opponent’s best shot.

Consider the Boston College loss on Dec. 9 as an example; the Eagles made 15 of 26 3-pointers in that one.

“We’re their opportunity,” Krzyzewski said. “They’ve never experienced anything like that, where the team you see on tape isn’t the team that shows up against you. And we have to be able to handle that.”

Of course, Duke’s 2015 team that won the national championship had its regular-season defensive struggles, too, only to figure things out. That group went from allowing 65.6 points and 43 percent shooting through the first 33 games to allowing 56.3 points and 38 percent shooting through six NCAA Tournament games.

“We’ve got to get better,” Krzyzewski said. “To me, it’s that simple. Now the process of getting there, that’s what we have to figure out. For the most part, we’ve been able to do that. And hopefully we’ll be able to do that again.”

CHANGES COMING: Expect a lot of movement in Monday’s new AP Top 25 poll, starting at the top.

Five top-10 teams — Duke, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 Xavier, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 10 Kansas — and 13 ranked teams overall had at least one loss this week as of Saturday. Then, on Sunday, top-ranked Michigan State joined that list by losing at Ohio State — becoming the fourth team in the top five to lose to an unranked opponent.

Of that group, only third-ranked Villanova emerged unscathed by beating Marquette and could earn a return trip to No. 1 come Monday.

TOUGH DOUBLE: The list of ranked losers included No. 12 North Carolina, which is the midst of a difficult opening ACC stretch. The Tar Heels lost 81-80 at No. 24 Florida State on Wednesday, and then lost 61-49 at No. 8 Virginia on Saturday.

THE BIG MATCHUP: Sixth-ranked West Virginia already has a win against a top-10 team in Virginia. The Mountaineers added another one Saturday against the seventh-ranked Sooners and freshman star Trae Young, the national leader in scoring and assists.

Young finished with 29 points, but the Mountaineers won 89-76 .

DIGGING OUT: No. 23 Tennessee had started 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference after a loss to Auburn, but the Volunteers beat No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday — beating the Wildcats in Knoxville for the third straight year.

MILLER’S LAMENT: It’s been a wild year for Arizona. The Wildcats went from No. 2 to unranked in a week after a 0-3 showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in November, then climbed back in the rankings after a nine-game winning streak that included last weekend’s win against then-unbeaten Arizona State.

But on Saturday, the Wildcats lost at Colorado — which upset Arizona State on Thursday — and coach Sean Miller was candid afterward.

“You always want your team to play for you, as the coach,” Miller said. “Our guys, they really struggle playing for me, they really do. We’ll see where we go from here.”

Pressed for more details, Miller put it bluntly: “I can’t get them to play hard, I really can’t.”

“With our team, man, it’s really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can,” Miller said. “And that’s not them, that’s me, that’s me. I have a hard time reaching our guys.”


More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: Cunningham leads No. 15 Missouri to upset of No. 4 Gamecocks

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Sophie Cunningham was too much for South Carolina to handle for the second straight year, scoring 27 points to lead No. 15 Missouri to an 83-74 victory over the fourth-ranked Gamecocks on Sunday.

Cunningham, who suffered a right knee sprain last week and sat out Missouri’s loss to LSU on Thursday, returned with a knee brace but showed no ill effects. She made 9 of 10 shots from the field and had seven assists and six rebounds.

Last year, Cunningham scored 26 points and hit the winning shot in Missouri’s home victory over the eventual national champions.

The Tigers (14-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) shot 56.3 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point range. Amber Smith had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Bianca Jackson and Tyasha Harris led the Gamecocks (13-2, 2-1) with 14 points each.


ATLANTA (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 25 points, Jackie Young added 14 and Notre Dame had no trouble winning its eighth straight game with a victory over Georgia Tech.

Despite injuries reducing their roster to seven scholarship players and three walk-ons, the Fighting Irish (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a dominant inside game to put Georgia Tech away early with a 30-point halftime lead.

Kaylan Pugh had 17 points and Francesca Pan scored 11, but they were the only Yellow Jackets to finish in double figures. Georgia Tech (12-5, 1-3) gave itself no chance, missing 22 of their first 27 shots from the field and looking nothing like the team that played No. 3 Louisville tough in a narrow home loss Dec. 28.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr scored 21 points to lead Louisville to a victory over Virginia Tech.

The Cardinals (18-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) made their first seven shots to jump out to a 16-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Durr made her first five shots and scored 16 in the first period.

Regan Magarity scored 14 points to lead the Hokies (12-4, 1-2).


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Teaira McCowan had 31 points and 20 rebounds to help Mississippi State stay unbeaten with a victory against LSU.

McCowan scored Mississippi State’s first nine points after halftime to extend a nine-point lead to 15 after being held to eight in the first half on 3-for-10 shooting. LSU got no closer than 10 points the rest of the game. It’s the second time this season McCowan has had at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game.

Morgan William scored 13 points and Chloe Bibby had 10 for Mississippi State (17-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), whose bench outscored LSU’s 16-2.

Chloe Jackson led LSU (10-4, 2-1) with 25 points and Raigyne Louis had 20 despite being limited by foul trouble.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mercedes Russell scored a career-high 33 points as Tennessee came from behind in the second half to outlast Vanderbilt and remain unbeaten.

Vanderbilt (4-13, 0-3 SEC) has never beaten the Lady Vols (15-0, 3-0) at Knoxville in 33 attempts. Tennessee capitalized on its superior size to go on an 11-0 run midway through the second half and withstand an unexpected challenge from the Commodores.

Russell already had outscored her previous career high of 26 points by the end of the third quarter and ended up shooting 14 of 20 and pulling down eight rebounds. Cheridene Green shot 7 of 8 and scored 17 points — also a career high — and Jaime Nared added 15 points.


MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Lashann Higgs scored 26 points and Texas used a big run to start the second half to beat Kansas State.

Even with leading scorer Brooke McCarty having a rough shooting day as she scored just nine points, the Longhorns (13-1, 4-0 Big 12) had enough to beat the Wildcats.

Kayla Goth scored 17 points to lead the Wildcats (1-3).

No. 9 OREGON 70, No. 14 UCLA 61

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ruthy Hebard scored 19 points, Sabrina Ionescu had 18 and Maite Cazorla 17 in Oregon’s victory over UCLA.

The Ducks (15-2, 4-0) won for the seventh consecutive game and remained perfect in conference play.

Oregon senior Lexi Bando hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 58 seconds left to give the Ducks a 63-59 lead and iced the game with a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left. Bando has the best active career 3-point shooting percentage in the NCAA at 45.7.

The Bruins (11-4, 2-2) had won a school-record 20 consecutive home Pac-12 games.

Monqiue Billings led UCLA with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordin Canada added 19 points.

No. 10 OHIO STATE 78, No. 22 MICHIGAN 71, OT

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Kelsey Mitchell scored 37 points, carrying Ohio State through the final minutes of regulation and leading the Buckeyes to a victory over Michigan.

Mitchell scored Ohio State’s final nine points of the fourth quarter, then added nine more in the extra session, outdueling Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty in a matchup of two of the nation’s best scorers. Flaherty had 22 points and eight assists, and Hallie Thome added 27 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten).


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Miranda Drummond scored a career-high 38 points, including 11 straight late in the fourth quarter that lifted Syracuse to a win over Florida State.

Drummonod’s 3-point play put the Orange (14-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) on top 58-56, the 13th lead change, with 7½ minutes to go. She followed that with a layup and then hit a pair of 3-pointers for a 66-56 lead at the 2:42 mark.

The Seminoles (14-3, 2-1), who had won four straight, got four quick points but Drummond nailed her seventh 3-pointer and the Orange made 7 of 10 free throws in the last 69 seconds to finish the upset.


MORGANTOWN, Va. (AP) — Naomi Davenport scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and West Virginia beat Iowa State.

Along with Davenport’s fourth double-double this season, Chania Ray added 13 points and eight rebounds and Teana Muldlrow had 14 boards to go with nine points. The Mountaineers (14-2, 2-2 Big-12) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Bridget Carleton scored 14 points for Iowa State (7-8, 1-3), which swept the Mountaineers last season before West Virginia went on to win the Big 12 Tournament.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Kristen Confroy, Kaila Charles and Eleanna Christinaki combined for 22 points in the first half when Maryland took a 19-point lead on its way to a victory over Wisconsin for the Terrapins’ 13th straight victory.

Maryland is only team in the country that came in with seven players averaging double figures and that balance was evident Sunday. Christinaki finished with 14 points, Confroy 12 on four 3-pointers and Charles 10 with Ieshia Small adding 13, 10 in the second half for the Terps (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten). Maryland shot 46 percent and made 9 of 21 3-point attempts while outrebounding Wisconsin 42-25.

Courtney Fredrickson scored 12 points and Marsha Howard had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Badgers (7-10, 0-4).


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kristen Simon scored 21 points as USC rallied to beat Oregon State for its first Pac-12 Conference win of the season.

USC (11-4, 1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak after rallying from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. Simon made an open basket inside to give the Trojans a 62-61 lead with 54 seconds left.

Oregon State (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) was down by two but a Katie McWilliams turnover — her only one of the game — against pressure by USC with eight seconds left ensured there would be no last-second heroics for the Beavers.

No. 17 DUKE 69, N.C. STATE 56

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Lexie Brown hit a season-high seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 34 points to lead Duke to a win over North Carolina State.

Haley Gorecki added 13 points, making 3 of 4 3-pointers, for the Blue Devils (11-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had started 0-2 in the conference for the first time since going 0-9 in 1992-93. Brown made 7 of 13 behind the arc and 10 of 21 overall and was 7 of 9 at the foul line, bouncing back from having her 23-game double-figure scoring streak end.

Kiara Leslie and Chelsea Nelson both had 15 points for NC State (12-5, 1-3), which missed its first 11 shots.

No. 18 IOWA 84, ILLINOIS 71

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Megan Gustafson scored 34 points with 12 rebounds for her 43rd career double-double, Kathleen Doyle had her second double-double and Iowa turned back Illinois.

Alexis Sevillian matched her career-high with 21 points, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers, for the Hawkeyes (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) and Doyle had 15 points and 10 assists.

Doyle had her first double-double of 13 and 11 on Thursday when Iowa lost at No. 13 Maryland 80-64. In that game, the Hawkeyes had 23 turnovers but against the Illini, they had a season-low seven turnovers and 24 assists on 29 baskets.

Alex Wittinger had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Illinois (9-9, 0-4), which has lost five straight.

No. 19 TEXAS A&M 82, AUBURN 73

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Khaalia Hillsman scored a career-high 31 points and Chennedy Carter added 22, combining for 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Texas A&M turned back Auburn.

Danni Williams had 16 points for the Aggies (13-4, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), who handed the Tigers (10-5, 1-2) their first home loss of the 2017-18 athletic year in women’s and men’s basketball and football combined.

McKay was 11 of 11 from the foul line and had 25 points for Auburn, which set a school record by making 16 of 16 free throws. Unique Thompson added 22 points.


STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Loryn Goodwin scored 31 points with eight rebounds and five assists to help lead Oklahoma State to a victory over rival Oklahoma.

It was the eighth straight game that Goodwin topped 20 points and her second 30-point outing of the season. Kaylee Jensen added 27 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State (12-3, 3-1 Big 12), which snapped a three-game losing streak in the intrastate series known as ‘Bedlam.’

Maddie Manning scored 25 points and added eight rebounds, while Vionise Pierre-Louis had 19 points – 15 in the second half – and six rebounds for Oklahoma (7-8, 2-2).


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Mikayla Cowling hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points to help California beat Arizona.

Cowling’s final 3-pointer, with 4:09 left in the game, gave the Golden Bears (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) a 53-45 lead. But it was also their last basket as they missed their only other shot and had four turnovers down the stretch.

The Wildcats (4-11, 0-3), who have lost five straight, only made 2 of 10 shots after Cowling’s basket, but closed within two on two free throws from Sam Thomas with 41 seconds left. Thomas had a steal with 12 seconds left but a final shot wouldn’t fall for Sammy Fatkin.

Thomas and JaLea Bennett both had 13 points for Arizona.


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Charnea Johnson-Chapman scored a career-high 16 points and Arizona State beat Stanford.

Reili Richardson added 11 points for the Sun Devils (13-3, 4-0 Pac-12), who won their sixth straight.

Billed as “Snow Day” with fans invited to play in trucked-in snow before the game, frigid shooting doomed the Cardinals. Brittany McPhee and Kiana Williams scored on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 50. After that, the Cardinal went 3 of 18 until making their last three shots in the final 24 seconds.

Williams had 14 points, DiJonai Carrington had 13 and McPhee 12 for the Cardinal (9-7, 3-1), who were outrebounded 47-24.

CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: No. 2 Duke falls to North Carolina State on the road

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Omer Yurtseven had 16 points while Torin Dorn hit two huge 3-pointers in the final 2 minutes to help North Carolina State upset No. 2 Duke 96-85 on Saturday night.

It was the second win against a No. 2-ranked team this season for N.C. State (11-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which upset Arizona in November.

The Wolfpack shot 55 percent after halftime, though the two biggest shots came from Dorn.

He first hit a 3 from the corner over an oncoming Marvin Bagley III with 2:02 left and N.C. State protecting a four-point lead. Then Dorn hit one to beat the shot clock on an inbounds pass while being fouled by Javin DeLaurier, a four-point play that pushed the Wolfpack to a 91-80 lead with 1:06 left.

Bagley finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (13-2, 1-2).


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Brunson had 27 points and eight assists and Villanova bounced back from its first loss of the season.

Eric Paschall added 19 points and Mikal Bridges had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats (14-1, 2-1 Big East), who never trailed and shot 56 percent from the field to give coach Jay Wright his 400th win at Villanova.

With a week to stew over a 101-93 loss at Butler, the Wildcats were efficient, hitting 27 of 32 free throws and getting assists on 20 of 32 baskets.

Markus Howard had 37 points and eight assists for Marquette (11-5, 2-2), three nights after scoring a Big East record-tying 52 points in an overtime win at Providence.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Kyron Cartwright had 19 points, nine assists and four steals to help Providence snapping Xavier’s 10-game winning streak and ending the best start in school history.

Rodney Bullock scored 17 points, with six rebounds and two blocked shots, as Providence (11-6, 2-2 Big East) beat a ranked team for the first time this season. It was the Friars’ 11th win over a top-5 team, and their first since beating No. 4 Villanova two years ago.

Kerem Kanter had 24 points and 12 rebounds — eight on the offensive boards — in 20 minutes for Xavier (15-2, 3-1).


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Teddy Allen scored 20 points off the bench and Sagaba Konate had 14 of his 16 points in the second half for West Virginia.

Lamont West and Jevon Carter added 17 points apiece for the Mountaineers (14-1, 3-0 Big 12). Konate also had 13 rebounds.

Oklahoma freshman Trae Young, the nation’s scoring and assists leader, finished with 29 points on 8-of-22 shooting. Carter and his teammates spent much of the game double-teaming Young, whose streak of double-doubles ended at five games.

West Virginia held the nation’s top-scoring team to its lowest total of the season while the Mountaineers extended their winning streak to 14 games, their longest since winning 22 straight during the 1988-89 season. Oklahoma (12-2, 2-1) saw its 10-game winning streak snapped.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Devon Hall scored 16 points and Virginia held North Carolina to its second-lowest point total of the season.

Hall had seven assists for Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), and De’Andre Hunter had 10 points and seven rebounds. The Cavaliers won their sixth in a row and sent the Tar Heels to consecutive losses for the first time since February 2016. North Carolina lost 81-80 at Florida State on Wednesday night.

Joel Berry II led North Carolina (12-4, 1-2) with 17 points and Kenny Williams had 11.

No. 10 KANSAS 88, No. 16 TCU

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Devonte Graham scored 28 points with eight straight free throws in the final 2:02 as Kansas held on.

Vladimir Brodziansky had eight straight points for TCU to tie the game at 77-all before Marcus Garrett’s two tiebreaking free throws put the Jayhawks ahead to stay with 3 minutes left. Graham then made all of his free throws down the stretch for the Jayhawks (12-3, 2-1 Big 12).

Svi Mykhailiuk added 20 points for Kansas, which was coming off a home loss to Texas Tech and avoided its first 1-2 conference mark since 1990-91.

Brodziansky led TCU (13-2, 1-2) with 20 points.

LSU 69, No. 11 TEXAS A&M 68

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Tremont Waters scored 21 points, including an off-balance 3-pointer with 1 second remaining, to lift LSU.

The game was tied before the Aggies used an 8-3 run, capped by four points from Tyler Davis, to take a 68-63 lead. But Waters, who finished with five 3s, made a 3-pointer for LSU to get the Tigers (10-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) within three with 12 seconds left.

Davis missed two free throws on the other end before Waters launched his winner under heavy defensive pressure to give the Tigers the win.

Leading scorer D.J. Hogg returned for the Aggies (11-4, 0-3) after a suspension, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from dropping their third straight after lopsided losses to Alabama and Florida.

Davis led the Aggies with 19 points and 12 rebounds.


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 21 points and Isaac Haas added 14 to lead Purdue to its 11th consecutive win.

The Boilermakers (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten) extended their home-court winning streak to 18 and won their 10th straight home game against a conference foe.

James Palmer Jr. finished with 22 points and Isaac Copeland had 16 to lead the Cornhuskers (11-6, 2-2), whose four-game winning streak ended.


BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — McKinley Wright IV scored 16 points to lead five Colorado players in double figures as the Buffaloes ended Arizona’s nine-game winning streak.

It’s the second straight game in which the Buffaloes (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12) have knocked off a ranked team. They defeated No. 4 Arizona State 90-81 in overtime Thursday.

Colorado went up by 20 in the first half only to see the Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) pull within three.

Dallas Walton finished with a career-high 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting as the Buffaloes overcame 13 turnovers in the second half.

Deandre Ayton scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half for Arizona.

No. 23 TENNESSEE 76, No. 17 KENTUCKY 65

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 20 points and nine rebounds and Tennessee rallied in the second half to end a two-game skid.

This marks the third consecutive season that Tennessee (10-4, 1-2 SEC) has beaten Kentucky (12-3, 2-1) in Knoxville. Kentucky entered the night leading the overall series 153-69, but no team has beaten the Wildcats as often as Tennessee.

Grant Williams scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as Tennessee erased an eight-point halftime deficit.

Quade Green scored 14 points to lead Kentucky.


LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 27 points and Texas Tech backed up its big win at Kansas earlier in the week.

The Red Raiders (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) led throughout against K-State, like they have in all of their conference games. That includes that 85-73 win at Allen Fieldhouse four days earlier, the only time they have ever won there.

By shooting 70 percent in the first half, the Red Raiders jumped out to a 20-4 lead and settled for a 40-22 advantage at the break.

Dean Wade had eight points for K-State (11-4, 1-2) in a 16-8 spurt to get within 48-40 with just under 12 minutes left.

Barry Brown led Kansas State with 24 points.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Johnathan Williams scored 30 points and Gonzaga opened the second half with a 17-0 run.

The Bulldogs (14-3, 4-0 WCC) received 12 points from Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins, and another 11 from Rui Hachimura.

Williams connected on 13 of 18 shots, and added 10 rebounds.

Steve Haney led Loyola (5-10, 0-4) with 22 points.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Khadeen Carrington scored 29 points and Angel Delgado had 28 points and 15 rebounds as Seton Hall rallied from an 11-point deficit to win its fifth straight game.

With 1:08 left in the game, Carrington pushed the ball up the floor and drove the lane for the go-ahead basket to make it 84-82. Seton Hall (14-2, 3-0 Big East) sealed the win at the foul line during the final 10 seconds of the game.

Kelan Martin finished with 27 points for Butler (12-5, 2-2).


AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Mustapha Heron scored 17 points and Auburn fended off a late comeback attempt to secure its 12th consecutive win.

Saturday’s decision, coupled with Tuesday’s win at No. 23 Tennessee, marks the first time in 11 years that Auburn has won consecutive games against ranked opponents. The last time it happened was 2007, when the Tigers beat No. 22 Tennessee and No. 12 Alabama in a span of six days.

Auburn (14-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) hit 12 of its first 18 shots as it opened the game on a 29-18 run.

Jaylen Bradford scored 21 to lead the Razorbacks (11-4, 1-2).


CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Marcquise Reed scored 24 points and Elijah Thomas had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks to lead Clemson.

The Tigers (14-1, 3-0 ACC) found their 3-point shot when it mattered, making five of their final seven shots behind the arc after starting the game 2 of 17 on 3s.

Clemson stayed in the game by forcing a season-worst 21 turnovers by the Cardinals — 15 on steals — and won it by hitting nine of 12 free throws at the end of overtime.

Ray Spaulding led Louisville (11-4, 1-1) with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: Collier has 25 points, No. 1 UConn women beat USF 100-49

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Napheesa Collier had 25 points and 11 rebounds and No. 1 Connecticut remained unbeaten with a 100-49 rout of South Florida on Saturday night.

The Huskies (13-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) never trailed, shooting 54 percent from the field and hitting the century mark for the fourth time this season while playing stifling defense in holding USF sta, Kitija Laksa scoreless.

Collier made 12 of 15 shots en route to her fourth double of the season and 21st overall. Katie Lou Samuelson sat out much of the first half with three fouls, but finished with 15 points in 22 minutes. Azura Stevens added 15 points off the bench.

Laksa entered the game ranked second in the AAC in scoring at 21.5 points per game. She missed all 11 shots she attempted, including eight 3-pointers.

Laura Ferreira also had a tough night shooting for USF (12-4, 2-1), missing all nine of her 3-points attempts and finishing 1 for 16 for two points. Overall, the Bulls shot 27.8 percent (20 of 72) from the field, including 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) from 3-point range.

No. 6 BAYLOR 83, KANSAS 48

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kalani Brown scored 22 points and Dekeiya Cohen had 15 to help Baylor rout Kansas for its 11th straight victory.

The Lady Bears’ Big 12-best defense smothered the Jayhawks, limiting them to 28.6 percent shooting.

Lauren Cox added 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Cohen had eight rebounds for Baylor (14-1, 4-0).

Christalah Lyons led Kansas (11-4, 2-2) with 14 points, and Brianna Osorio had 12. Scoring leader Kylee Kopatich was held to seven.

CFB Championship Game: Georgia and Alabama arrive in Atlanta, home away from home

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ATLANTA (AP) — The bus ride for No. 3 Georgia was about 75 minutes from its campus in Athens to the capital city. No. 4 Alabama spent less time than that in the air, flying from Tuscaloosa to what has become something of a home away from home for the Crimson Tide.

The Bulldogs and Tide made triumphant returns to Atlanta on Friday, both looking for their second victories of the season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Southeastern Conference rivals play for the College Football Playoff national championship on Monday night.

Between the proximity of the schools and Georgia’s long national championship drought, the title game is looking like a tough ticket. The cheapest ones on the resale website StubHub as of Friday night were going for $1,400 each. The Bulldogs have not won a championship since 1980.

The last visit to Atlanta was a little more than a month ago for the Bulldogs. Georgia won the SEC championship game, avenging a loss to Auburn and wrapping up a playoff spot. The last time Alabama played here was the start of the 2017 season. The Tide beat Florida State in a much-anticipated opener of preseason No. 1 (Alabama) vs. No. 3 (Florida State). Only the Tide lived up to its hype — as usual.

Alabama is making its third straight appearance in the four-year old College Football Playoff national championship game. The Crimson Tide has won four national titles since 2009 under coach Nick Saban. Georgia has not been this close to a national title since the great Herschel Walker played his last game for the Bulldogs in the 1983 Sugar Bowl against Penn State. Georgia, which beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to win the ’80 title, lost to the Nittany Lions in ’83.

Atlanta has been hosting the SEC championship game since 1994. Alabama has played in it nine times since then, Georgia six. But the city has never hosted a game that decided the national championship.

Both teams got the red carpet treatment upon arrival Friday. The Bulldogs were greeted at the team hotel by a few dozen fans.

Alabama flew into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, welcomed on a 30-degree night by a drumline and a few fans waving pompoms. Five buses with Alabama logos and National Championship decals whisked Saban and the players to their downtown hotel.


ATLANTA (AP) — When Kirby Smart returned to his alma mater, he already had a pretty good template for success.

He might as well have been wearing a wrist band with the letters “WWND.”

What Would Nick Do?

In just two short years, Smart has taken Georgia to the cusp of its first national championship since 1980 , largely by following the process laid out by his former boss, Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that to win the title, Smart will have to beat the man who taught him so well.

Bring it on, says Saban, in the twilight of his career but still on top of his game.

“I have a lot of respect for all the guys that worked for me,” the Crimson Tide coach said. “I’m happy to see them doing well wherever they go, and when we have to play against them, I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to beat us for their team and their players. We’re going to do the same with our players. It’s not personal.”

While some would have you believe this is one of those potential changing-of-the-guard games, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Saban hasn’t stared down a true coaching peer in the Southeastern Conference since Urban Meyer left Florida, and it would be foolish to anoint Smart to fill that role even if Georgia defeats the Crimson Tide in Monday night’s national championship game.

Saban’s greatness is in the longevity.

It will take more than one title to take down perhaps the greatest coach in college football history.

Like the man at the helm, Saban’s program is a self-perpetuating behemoth that never sits still . His dynasty has endured for a full decade in an era of increased parity because it never takes time to revel in its accomplishments. Any celebrations are fleeting. When there’s a rare stumble along the way, he always gets right back up.

Win or lose, Saban will go to work Tuesday with the same mindset, singularly focused on what it will take to build his next championship team. At 66, he shows no signs of slowing down, no signs of being the least bit satisfied with what he’s accomplished, no signs of loosening his grip over every little aspect of football program he calls “the organization.”

Those are lessons that Smart surely learned well during 11 seasons spent on Saban’s staff, first at LSU, then with the Miami Dolphins, but mostly at Alabama, where he earned enough trust to be anointed coordinator of Saban’s fearsome defenses.

“It’s a demanding approach of never, literally never, taking your foot off the accelerator,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who will be part of the broadcast team for the title game. “They do a good job of loving on the guys when it’s the training table or you’re in the locker room or whatever. But as far as when it’s time to work, man, it’s unlike any other place you go as far as how demanding Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are, and how involved they are. I mean, I don’t know how many calories they burn during practice, but they’re involved.”

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Smart certainly came across as a Saban clone as soon as he was handed the keys to the Bulldogs, a sleeping giant of a program that never quite lived up to its full potential under predecessor Mark Richt.

For as long as anyone could remember, going back to the days of Vince Dooley, Georgia coaches had always held their weekly news conferences on Tuesday. But Saban performs this function on Monday, so that’s the way it is now with Smart. Also following the lead of his mentor, Smart banned freshmen and assistant coaches from talking to the media, which meant Jake Fromm — who took over as the starting quarterback in the second game of the season — was off-limits to reporters until after the SEC championship game, when league rules require everyone to be available.

But Smart’s battened-down dealings were the media were mere window dressing.

He knew the real key to Saban’s success.

“Recruiting really good players that are really big and really fast,” Smart said. “Then you have to block them, OK, or you have to be able to run the ball against them or you have to be able to defend the wideouts and the corner. It comes down to a lot more than his tendencies because his tendencies are very similar to a lot of good coaches: smart, good decisions, protect the ball, play great defense, kick your butt on special teams.”

When Smart got to Georgia, he saw a roster that was talented at the skill positions but lacking in the trenches. He made it a priority to sign big, strong, quick lineman on both sides of the ball, knowing that’s the foundation of any great program and certainly the reason that Saban has stayed No. 1 for so long.

For good measure, Smart’s also had stunning success recruiting the most important position on the field. After taking over for Richt, the new coach persuaded top quarterback recruit Jacob Eason to stay in the fold. Even though he started as a true freshman, Smart landed another five-star prospect in Fromm, who wound up claiming the job when Eason was hurt in the season opener. Now, even though Fromm is seemingly set for at least next two years (Eason will almost surely transfer), Georgia picked off the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect, Justin Fields, in an early signing class that was a consensus choice as the best in the country .

There’s no longer any doubt that Georgia made the right call with its much-debated decision to dump Richt, trading in a really good coach for a potentially great one. Smart shows no signs of becoming another Jim McElwain, a former Saban coordinator who got off to a strong start at Florida but flamed out in less than three seasons.

Can Smart become the new king of the SEC?

Get back to us in a few years on that one.


Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry@ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry


For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: Cazorla hits big 3, leads No. 9 Oregon women past USC 70-66

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maite Cazorla hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:32 left and had 18 points to lead No. 9 Oregon over Southern California 70-66 on Friday night.

The Ducks (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) also got 16 points from Sabrina Ionescu, who was 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Cazorla added six assists.

The Trojans (10-4, 0-3) were led by Aliyah Mazyck’s 21 points. USC leading scorer Kristen Simon was scoreless in the first half but finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for the Ducks. They started the night averaging 89.2 points per game, fourth-most in the country.

No. 14 UCLA 84, No. 16 OREGON STATE 49

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Monique Billings scored 19 points and UCLA ended Oregon State’s eight-game winning streak.

Billings was 8 of 12 from the field and had six rebounds and three steals for the Bruins (11-3, 2-1 Pac-12). They have won four of their last five.

Marie Gulich had 16 points for Oregon State (11-3, 2-1).


VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Kelly Jekot scored 10 of her 21 points in the decisive third quarter and Villanova beat Xavier.

Jekot hit three 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and had six assists. Megan Quinn had 10 points, and Alex Louin added eight points and a career-high eight assists for Villanova (12-2, 2-2 Big East).

Jada Byrd scored 12 points for Xavier (8-5, 1-2).


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Kianna Ibis scored 26 points and Arizona State beat California.

Jamie Ruden added 14 points, and Robbi Ryan had for 13 for the Sun Devils (12-3, 3-0) in their fifth straight victory.

Asha Thomas had 25 points, and Kristine Anigwe, a junior from Phoenix, added 24 points and seven rebounds for the Golden Bears (10-14, 1-2).


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Alanna Smith and Kiana Williams had 12 points each for Stanford.

DiJonai Carrington added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal (9-6, 3-0 Pac-12).

Lucia Alonso scored 15 points Arizona (4-10, 0-3).

CFB Championship matchups: Hurts v. Smith; Fromm v. Fitzpatrick

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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama and Georgia should know a lot about each other when they meet in the College Football Playoff national championship game Monday night, even though the teams have not played in a few years.

With Nick Saban on one side and his former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, leading the Bulldogs, the teams competing in the national championship game have a lot in common, especially the way they play defense, using a 3-4 scheme that often looks like a 4-3 with outside linebackers providing pass rush like defensive ends. Tight coverage on outside receivers and a mix of well-disguised blitzes can be hard to decipher for a quarterback.

Some of the matchups that could decide the national title.


Alabama QB Jalen Hurts vs. Georgia LB Roquan Smith

A case can be made that Smith has been the best defensive player in the country this season. He is an instinctive linebacker and Georgia will move him around in the tackle box to free him to run to the ball. Even in a wild Rose Bowl with more than 1,000 yards of offense, the All-American Smith was a force against Oklahoma, making several pivotal third-down stops.

“He doesn’t miss many tackles,” said Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield, whose team lost to the Bulldogs to open the 20017 season.

Satterfield said Georgia’s length on the edges with outside linebackers Davin Bellamy (6-foot-5) and Lorenzo Carter (6-6) makes it difficult to attack the edges against the Bulldogs.

Hurts gives Alabama a dual-threat and especially powerful runner. He was second on the team with 945 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns. If Georgia needs someone to spy Hurts, it could be Smith.

“Don’t be in a hurry to get a sack, more than making sure you’re maintaining rush lanes and force him to be a pocket guy with the pocket collapsing around him,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said.

Mullen coached Mississippi State last season before joining the Gators and his Bulldogs were one of three to face both Alabama and Georgia this season. Mississippi State lost to both teams.


Georgia QB Jake Fromm vs. Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick

This is a different kind of matchup than Hurts-Smith, because Fromm is not a running threat. The challenge for the freshman quarterback will be identifying where Fitzpatrick is lined up from play to play because Alabama uses the All-American everywhere: safety, cornerback and linebacker. He is even used as an edge rusher. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt does not call a lot of blitzes, but when he does Fitzpatrick is often the guy Alabama brings. Or he can show blitz with Fitzpatrick and have him back out and seamlessly drop into coverage.

Fromm has shown the poise of a veteran all season, but Saban’s defenses have been known to fluster even experienced quarterbacks and Fitzpatrick is an extension of Saban on the field.


Georgia C Lamont Gaillard vs. Alabama NG Da’Ron Payne

When Payne is not catching touchdown passes he is one of the best interior linemen in college football. At 308-pounds, he is hard to move and can overpower blockers. He is a big part of the No. 1 run defense in the country. Alabama allows only 2.7 yards per carry. Georgia averages 5.99 yards per rush, sixth best in the country, behind tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

“That’s their offense. It is stopping those guys and then you just got to be sound,” Mullen said. “If you make mistakes and let other people score on you, let other people make big plays against you, that’s where it gets really hard to beat them.”

Gaillard is a 301-pound fourth-year junior who gives Georgia a chance to move Payne one-on-one, but he will probably need some help from guards Kendall Baker and Ben Cleveland. Auburn and Mississippi State had some success running against the Tide, but that was with the threat of a running quarterback and offenses that use motions and run-pass option plays to get linebackers and safeties out of position. Georgia uses lots of formations and some motion, but with no quarterback running threat, the Bulldogs are going to need to move big bodies like Payne and Raekwon Davis (307 7pounds) out of the way to get Chubb and Michel going.

“If Georgia can be able to stick with the run, get patient with the 2- and 3-yard gains and find a way to convert on third down, Michel and Chubb will hit some big ones,” Mullen said.


Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley vs. Georgia CB Deandre Baker

Alabama leans heavily on Ridley in the passing game. The junior has 59 catches for 935 yards to lead the Tide. No other receiver has more than 16 receptions of 244 yards. There is talent elsewhere in the Crimson Tide passing game. The second- and third-leading receivers by yardage are freshmen Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Robert Foster is a senior whose career has been stunted by injuries. But Ridley is the man.

“We rolled the coverage to Ridley a couple of times and he was still able to win,” Mullen said.

Baker is Georgia’s best coverage player.

“If they do have a weakness, relatively, it’s in the secondary,” Appalachian State’s Satterfield said of Georgia’s defense.

Expect Baker to spend a lot of time shadowing Ridley and for safeties Dominick Sanders and J.R. Reed to provide support.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


More AP college football: https://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: Mabrey, Ogunbowale help No. 2 Notre Dame beat Miami

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Marina Mabrey scored 21 points, Arike Ogunbowale had 20 despite struggling from the field and No. 2 Notre Dame beat Miami 83-76 victory on Thursday night.

Jessica Shepard had 12 points, Jackie Young added 11 and Kathryn Westbeld scored 10 for the Irish (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Ogunbowale hit her first shot and then missed her next 12, going 28 minutes without a basket, before scoring on a rebound and hitting a free throw for a 62-57 Irish lead with 7:28 to play.

Erykah Davenport scored 24 points for Miami (11-4, 1-1).

No. 3 LOUISVILLE 66, No. 17 DUKE 60

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr had 22 points and came back from a first-half leg injury to grab a key rebound late that helped Louisville survive Duke’s fourth-quarter rally.

Louisville (17-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) appeared in control with a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter. But the Cardinals made just 7 of 26 shots in the second half, allowing Duke (11-4, 0-2) to and get to 63-60 on Haley Gorecki’s 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining.

Gorecki led Duke with a career-high 25 points.


OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A’ja Wilson had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Alexis Jennings and Doniyah Cliney had 14 points apiece and defending national champion South Carolina beat Mississippi.

The Gamecocks (13-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had an answer for every Rebel rally and eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter. South Carolina shot 38 percent, including 8 for 27 from 3-point range.

Madinah Muhammad scored 29 points for Rebels (10-5, 0-2).


STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Victoria Vivians scored 29 points, Morgan William added a season-high 18 and Mississippi State beat Arkansas,

Mississippi State (16-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) broke a fairly tight game open in the third quarter by outscoring Arkansas 30-18. Vivians made all seven of her shots during the run.

Jailyn Mason scored 15 points for Arkansas (10-5, 1-1).


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jaime Nared scored 19 points, Evina Westbrook made a tiebreaking basket with 1:43 left and Tennessee outlasted Auburn to remain unbeaten.

Tennessee (14-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) withstood a season-high 28 turnovers and continued its best start since winning its first 18 games in 2005-06

Daisa Alexander scored 16 points for Auburn (10-4, 1-1). The Tigers have won seven in a row.


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Stephanie Mavunga scored 25 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 21 for Ohio State.

Mavunga was sensational in hitting 11 of her 15 shots from the floor and grabbing five rebounds before leaving the game with 7:49 left.

Ohio State (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) won its seventh in a row, including all six games in the month of December. Destiny Pitts led Minnesota (12-4, 1-2) with 28 points.


CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Nausia Woolfolk scored a career-high 18 points and Florida State beat Clemson for the 17th straight time.

The Seminoles (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won four straight since their 87-72 loss at No. 8 Texas on Dec. 17. Alexis Carter had 16 points for Clemson (10-5, 0-2).

No. 13 MARYLAND 80, No. 18 IOWA 64

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Kaila Charles scored 12 of her 24 points in the first quarter, and Blair Watson had nine of her 13 in the fourth quarter for Maryland.

Maryland (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten) won its 12th straight and ended Iowa’s winning streak at seven.

Megan Gustafson had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Iowa (14-2, 2-1).

LSU 69, No. 15 MISSOURI 65.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Chloe Jackson scored 22 points, including four free throws in the last 10.4 seconds, and LSU ended Missouri’s 13-game winning streak.

With Amber Smith scoring 16 of her career-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, Missouri (13-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) erased most of an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but LSU (10-3, 2-0) made 8 of 10 free throws to hold on.

Jordan Frericks had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Missouri.

No. 19 TEXAS A&M 74, KENTUCKY 70

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Khaalia Hillsman scored 20 points and Danni Williams added 19 in Texas A&M’s victory over Kentucky.

The Aggies (12-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a 61-59 loss to No. 4 South Carolina in on Sunday. Maci Morris scored 22 points for Kentucky (8-8, 0-2).


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Katelynn Flaherty scored 20 of her 25 points in the second half, Hallie Thome added 20 points and Michigan gave coach Kim Barnes Arico the most wins in school history.

The Wolverines (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten) never trailed en route to giving Barnes Arico her 124th win in six seasons. Barnes Arico had been tied with Sue Guevara.

Courtney Frederickson had 16 points for Wisconsin (7-9, 0-3).

CFB Championship: Alabama, Georgia players headline All-Bowl team

(PhatzRadio Sports / AP)   —   College Football Playoff finalists Alabama and Georgia have multiple representatives on the 2017 All-Bowl Team.

The only problem is that one of the guys selected to the team won’t be able to play in Monday’s championship game .

Although the championship game hasn’t been played yet, all the postseason games with “bowl” in the title have been played. That’s why we’re releasing our all-bowl team now. We’ve expanded the rosters to include an extra guy on offense and defense as well as a couple of all-purpose players.



Elijah Sindelar, Purdue (Foster Farms): Sindelar threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns with only one interception in a 38-35 victory over Arizona. He did it all while playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, according to Purdue coach Jeff Brohm.

Running back

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Georgia (Rose): We’re including the Georgia teammates as a package after they combined for six touchdowns in the third-ranked Bulldogs’ 54-48 double-overtime semifinal triumph over No. 2 Oklahoma. Michel ran 11 times for 181 yards and three touchdowns – including the game-winning 27-yard score – and caught four passes for 41 yards and a fourth touchdown. Chubb ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (Armed Forces): Penny rushed for 221 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries in the Aztecs’ 42-34 loss to Army . He joined USC’s Marcus Allen (1981), Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (1988) and North Texas’ Jamario Thomas (2004) as the only Football Bowl Subdivision players ever to run for at least 200 yards in five straight games.

Wide receivers

DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State (Fiesta): Hamilton scored two touchdowns and caught five passes for 110 yards in No. 9 Penn State’s 35-28 victory over No. 12 Washington.

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M (Belk): Kirk caught 13 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the Aggies’ 55-52 loss to Wake Forest.

Cedrick Wilson, Boise State (Las Vegas): Wilson caught 10 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown as the 25th-ranked Broncos beat Oregon 38-28 .

Tight end

Cam Serigne, Wake Forest (Belk): Serigne caught nine passes for 112 yards and was on the receiving end of one of John Wolford’s four touchdown passes.

Offensive line

Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (Orange): Benzschawel helped No. 6 Wisconsin allow just one sack against a Miami defense that leads the nation in sacks per game . He also paved the way for Jonathan Taylor’s 130-yard rushing performance in a 34-24 victory over the 11th-ranked Hurricanes.

David Forney, Navy (Military): Forney had a team-high 13 knockdowns while helping Navy rush for 452 yards in a 49-7 blowout of Virginia.

Patrick Morris, TCU (Alamo): Morris helped TCU gain 488 yards and erase a 21-3 deficit in a 39-37 victory over Stanford. Morris was credited with helping TCU contain Stanford’s Harrison Phillips, who made over 100 tackles this season but had just three stops in the Alamo Bowl.

Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (Citrus): This consensus All-American capped a brilliant season by making a number of highlight-worthy blocks against a stingy defense in the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish’s 21-17 victory over No. 16 LSU.

Brett Toth, Army (Armed Forces): Toth led an offensive line that helped Army run for 440 yards and control possession for 46 minutes.



Carl Granderson, Wyoming (Famous Idaho Potato): Granderson scored on a 58-yard fumble return and recorded five tackles and a sack in Wyoming’s 37-14 rout of Central Michigan.

Channing Hames, Marshall (New Mexico): Hames made eight tackles – 2 ½ for loss – and recorded 1 ½ sacks in a 31-28 victory over Colorado State.

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State (Cotton): Hubbard was credited with 2 ½ sacks of Ohio State’s eight sacks in the fifth-ranked Buckeyes’ 24-7 triumph over No. 8 Southern California. Hubbard also had 3 ½ tackles for loss.

Deadrin Senat, South Florida (Birmingham): Senat recorded three sacks in South Florida’s 38-34 victory over Texas Tech.


T.J. Brunson, South Carolina (Outback): Brunson made 13 tackles – including nine solos – and recorded two sacks to help the Gamecocks erase a 16-point deficit in a 26-19 victory over Michigan.

Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida (Peach): Griffin had 12 tackles – 3 ½ for loss – with 1 ½ sacks to help the 10th-ranked Knights cap their perfect season by beating No. 7 Auburn 34-27 .

Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (Sugar): Jennings had three tackles for loss and a sack in No. 4 Alabama’s 24-6 semifinal victory over No. 1 Clemson. He also applied the pressure that resulted in an interception. This was Jennings’ final game of the season, as he injured his knee and won’t play against Georgia . This honor just as easily could have gone to Alabama teammates Rashaan Evans and Mack Wilson. Evans made a team-high nine tackles and Wilson scored on an 18-yard interception return.

Roquan Smith, Georgia (Rose): The Butkus Award winner made 11 tackles , including a key third-down stop in overtime that forced Oklahoma to kick a field when a touchdown would have won it for the Bulldogs.


Julian Blackmon, Utah (Heart of Dallas): Blackmon had two interceptions in a 30-14 victory over West Virginia.

Amani Hooker, Iowa (Pinstripe): Hooker had a game-high 12 tackles in a 27-20 triumph over Boston College. He made two touchdown-saving stops after long gains on drives that ended with field goals.

Mark McLaurin, Mississippi State (TaxSlayer): McLaurin picked off 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson three times and also delivered 11 tackles in the 24th-ranked Bulldogs’ 31-27 victory over Louisville.

Damon Webb, Ohio State (Cotton): Webb scored on a 23-yard interception return and also had a 20-yard fumble return as well as five solo tackles.



Justin Yoon, Notre Dame (Citrus): Yoon was 2 of 2 on field-goal attempts with kicks of 46 and 49 yards while playing in a steady rain.


Michael Dickson, Texas (Texas): The Ray Guy Award winner averaged 41.1 yards per punt and landed 10 of his 11 attempts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line without having a single touchback. Dickson was selected as the most valuable player in Texas’ 33-16 victory over Missouri.


Jason Huntley, New Mexico State, and Savon Scarver, Utah State (Arizona): Huntley and Scarver returned kickoffs for touchdowns on back-to-back plays in a game New Mexico State won 26-20 in overtime . Scarver’s 96-yard return gave Utah State a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. Huntley returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to put New Mexico State back ahead.


Joel Lanning, Iowa State (Liberty): Lanning recorded four tackles and a sack as a starting linebacker while also lining up at quarterback in short-yardage situations. He had a 2-yard touchdown keeper in the second quarter and ran for a game-clinching first down in the Cyclones’ 21-20 victory over No. 19 Memphis.

Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (Sugar): This 308-pound defensive lineman had a 21-yard interception return in the third quarter to put Alabama in Clemson territory and capped the Crimson Tide’s next series with a 1-yard touchdown catch, where he showed off a ballerina’s footwork.

CBB Men’s Top 25 Roundup: Florida State upsets No. 11 North Carolina

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young fell one rebound short of a triple-double to help No. 7 Oklahoma defeat Oklahoma State 109-89 on Wednesday night.

Young, the nation’s leader in scoring and assists, finished with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. In just his 13th career game, the freshman became the first Oklahoma player to score at least 20 points in 12 straight games.

Freshman forward Brady Manek scored a season-high 28 points and Kameron McGusty added 15 for Oklahoma (12-1, 2-0 Big 12), which won its 10th straight.

It was the first time Oklahoma scored at least 100 points against Oklahoma State since 1990. The Sooners, who entered the night leading the nation in scoring, shot 54 percent from the field to improve on their 94.7-point average.

Thomas Dziagwa scored a career-high 19 points and Jeffrey Carroll added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State (10-4, 0-2).


BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — De’Andre Hunter scored 14 points and Virginia put the defensive clamps on Virginia Tech.

Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy added 13 points each and Devon Hall had 12 for the Cavaliers (13-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who ended a two-game losing streak in Cassell Coliseum.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 14 points to lead the Hokies (11-4, 0-2). Virginia Tech came into the game leading the nation in field goal percentage at .532 and among the leaders in 3-point percentage at .427, but they made only 17 of 47 shots and were just 2 of 12 from 3-point territory.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Braian Angola scored 20 points and C.J. Walker added 18 for Florida State.

The Seminoles (12-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) led most of the game but almost squandered it as they didn’t make a field goal in the last 2:57 and missed their last four free throws.

They were up 81-77 on Angola’s free throw before Joel Berry II made a 3-pointer off a turnover to bring the Tar Heels within 81-80 with 30 seconds remaining. After Phil Cofer missed both free throws, North Carolina (12-3, 1-1) had a chance to win. Berry drove the lane and missed a jumper which was rebounded by Terance Mann. Mann missed his free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining but North Carolina’s last second desperation 3 was no good, allowing Florida State to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Tar Heels.

Mann added 17 points and nine rebounds as Florida State extended its home winning streak to 28, which is currently the third-longest in Division I.

Berry led the Tar Heels with 28 points and Williams added 18.

No. 13 PURDUE 82, RUTGERS 51

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Isaac Haas scored 14 points and Dakota Mathias finished with 13 for Purdue.

The Boilermakers (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten) have won 10 straight overall and 17 consecutive home games.

Geo Baker had 11 points to lead the Scarlet Knights (10-6, 0-3), who have lost three straight. Mike Williams added 10.


ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Okogie scored a season-high 30 points and Jose Alvarado added 12 points for Georgia Tech.

Dewan Huell, with 13 points, was the only player to score in double figures for Miami (12-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Anthony Lawrence and Bruce Brown each had nine points as the Hurricanes snapped a two-game winning streak.

No. 17 KENTUCKY 74, LSU 71

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — P.J. Washington scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half for Kentucky.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capped his 18-point night with two free throws with 16 seconds left, and Kevin Knox had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats (12-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), who survived their first true road test this season.

Duop Reath had 24 points and 11 rebounds for LSU (9-4, 0-1), which missed two 3-point attempts that could have tied it in the final seconds.


BOSTON (AP) — Donte Grantham scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Marcquise Reed hit two key free throws for Clemson in its first game in the national rankings in nearly eight years.

Reed finished with 17 points for the Tigers (13-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Clemson’s last time in the AP poll came on Jan. 23, 2010.

Jerome Robinson led Boston College (10-5, 1-2) with 28 points, scoring 26 in the second half. Ky Bowman had 19 with nine rebounds and six assists.



SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame coach Mike Brey figured it would be tough to beat North Carolina State without All-American Bonzie Colson. Then when his team lost point guard Matt Farrell with an ankle sprain before halftime Wednesday he got a little more anxious.

But Brey’s Irish had other ideas on the night they made their coach Notre Dame’s all-time leader in men’s basketball victories with 394 thanks to an 88-58 Atlantic Coast Conference triumph over the Wolfpack.

“Coach told us before the game to stay in character and do what we do,” said sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs, who scored a game-high 22 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. Three other players finished in double figures as the Irish rallied around the losses of Colson, who will have surgery Thursday for a broken left foot, and Farrell, who was orchestrating the Irish (12-3, 2-0 ACC) before falling hard and spraining his left ankle so badly that he is doubtful for Saturday’s league game at Syracuse.

“What a way to get to 394 and 2-0 (in the ACC),” Brey said after accepting a postgame passing-of-the-torch basketball from former Irish coach Digger Phelps, who held the record previously.

“When I think back about the record-breaking game I will think about losing Bonzie Colson the day before and losing Matt Farrell hallway through the game,” Brey said. “Our group just really responded. I couldn’t have been prouder.”

Freshman D.J. Harvey, who had been struggling off the bench in recent weeks, started in Colson’s place and had a career-high 17 points. Junior guard Rex Pflueger had 16 points and Martinas Geben 10 with a game-high 13 rebounds as Brey used a nine-man rotation to wear down the Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2).

“I thought they came out with incredible passion,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said outside the locker room. “A lot of times when you lose a good player like Colson, somebody has to step up, and I didn’t think we did a great job matching their energy, especially at their home place.”

Harvey scored 13 points as Notre Dame took a 48-36 halftime lead thanks to 61.3 percent (19 of 31) shooting, including 9 of 18 from beyond the arc.

“I was coming off a rough couple of games but the guys just picked me up the whole time,” Harvey said.

“Coach just told us to play hard and have fun,” Pflueger said.

Gibbs had 11 points in the first 20 minutes as Notre Dame overcame the loss of Farrell, who had nine points with three 3-pointers, four assists and two of the team’s eight first-half steals before a hard fall with 5:09 left.

“At halftime, we talked about coming out with great energy, but they did a tremendous job,” Keatts added. “They won early hustle plays, they got on the floor, they got to the free-throw line, they made shots.”

The Wolfpack went 5:42 without a point at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, and the Irish eventually used a 17-2 run to start the second half and pulled away to a 65-38 lead.

Allerik Freeman led N.C. State with 13 points and Lennard Freeman had 10.


N.C. State: The Pack returns home after an 0-2 road trip that started with a 78-62 loss at Clemson last Saturday. Keatts’ team was its own worst enemy with nine turnovers in the first half and being outscored 17-2 by the Irish to start the second half. Things will have to clean up in a hurry as No. 2 Duke comes in Saturday night and is followed by Clemson Jan. 11.

“It wasn’t one of our better performances,” Keatts said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well from behind the arc. In order for us to be successful, we’ve got to have everybody on the same page every night, and surely tonight, we didn’t (even) have one or two guys playing well.”

Notre Dame: The Irish played their first game without senior All-American Bonzie Colson and his double-double averages of 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds that will be missing for eight weeks. But Brey got inspired performances using a nine-man rotation.

“Everyone has to step up,” Martinas Geben said. “We had the idea that tonight it was for Bonz and coach Brey.”

Brey was particularly happy with the performance of 6-foot-7 graduate forward Austin Torres, who played 16 minutes and had five points, four rebounds and two steals.

“You’re going to see more of him,” Brey said.


Notre Dame shot 61.3 percent in the first half (19 of 31) but cooled off to 51.8 percent (29 of 56) for the game. The Irish defense, meanwhile, held the Wolfpack to 26.7 percent (8 of 30) in the second half and 36.7 percent (22 of 60) for the game.

From beyond the 3-point arc, Notre Dame finished 44 percent after hitting 9 of 18 in the first half. N.C. State hit just 33.3 percent of its 3-point shots, including just 2 of 11 (18.2 percent) in the second half. Notre Dame outrebounded N.C. State 41-30, forced 15 turnovers, had nine steals and 20 assists.


N.C. State: Hosts No. 2 Duke Saturday.

Notre Dame: Visits Syracuse Saturday.

CBB Women’s Top 25 Roundup: No. 1 UConn women stay perfect, rout ECU 96-35

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 points and No. 1 Connecticut routed East Carolina 96-35 on Wednesday.

Gabby Williams added 18 points, Napheesa Collier had 14 points and Azura Stevens matched a season high with 16 rebounds for the Huskies (12-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference).

They shot 53 percent and scored 31 points off the Pirates’ 20 turnovers while extending their Division I record road winning streak to 42 and winning their 142nd in a row against unranked opponents.

Alex Frazier and Destiny Campbell had eight points apiece for East Carolina (8-7, 0-2).


WACO, Texas (AP) — Natalie Chou had 17 points and hit five of Baylor’s 12 3-pointers and the Lady Bears overwhelmed Iowa State.

Dekeiya Cohen and Lauren Cox each scored 14 points, and Kalani Brown had 13 points and 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double this season. Baylor (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) started the game with a 10-0 run and won its 10th straight. The Lady Bears led by 18 points after the first quarter and had their largest halftime lead ever in a Big 12 game at 52-16.

Bridget Carleton led Iowa State (7-7, 1-2) with 15 points and five rebounds.

No. 8 TEXAS 84, No. 20 OKLAHOMA STATE 79

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — LaShann Higgs scored a career-high 30 points and Brooke McCarty added 21 to help Texas rally late to beat Oklahoma State.

Texas (12-1, 3-0) shot 56 percent and went 12 of 13 from the free throw after not getting to the line until there were less than three minutes left in the third quarter.

Braxtin Miller scored 23 points for Oklahoma State (11-3, 2-1 Big 12), and Loryn Goodwin and Kaylee Jensen each had 20 points.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Peyton Williams had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Kaylee Page scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter and Kansas State handed West Virginia its second straight loss.

The Wildcats (9-5, 1-2 Big 12) had lost three straight. Teama Muldrow had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Mountaineers (13-2, 1-2). They had won 10 straight at home.

College Football Playoff TV ratings rise on return to Jan. 1

With the semifinals back New Year’s Day, viewership for the College Football Playoff on ESPN was the highest it has been since the first season of the postseason system in 2015.

The double overtime Rose Bowl thriller between Georgia and Oklahoma drew a 14.8 overnight Nielsen rating and average viewership of 27 million, up 39 percent over last season’s early semifinal. Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48 and ESPN said the television rating reached a high of 17.3 in overtime.

The Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson got a 12.5 rating and average viewership of 21.1 million, up 10 percent from last season’s second semifinal.

The last two seasons the semifinals were played on Dec. 31. The CFP drew record viewership for ESPN in its first season when games were played on Jan. 1, 2015.

Overall, ESPN had its best average viewership for the New Year’s Six in the four-year history of the College Football Playoff format. The results were aided by the calendar, the changes made to the format in 2016 that moved games away from New Year’s Eve and some big-brand teams in the non-semifinal matchups.

ESPN executive vice president for programming and scheduling Burke Magnus said simply having the semifinals back on Jan. 1 had network officials optimistic about the size of the audience.

“We knew that going into this year, the tweaks that had been made over the last couple years and then getting back to the first year of the cycle again, with the semis on Jan. 1, was going to be a very favorable circumstance,” Magnus said.

Continuing that ratings success could be difficult for ESPN with an all-Southeastern Conference championship game Jan. 8 matching Alabama and Georgia in Atlanta. The all-SEC championship after the 2011 season between Alabama and LSU was the lowest-rated title game in the Bowl Championship Series’ 16-year history.

Magnus said the regional matchup is not necessarily cause for concern, not after having Clemson and Alabama in the championship game the past two years, teams from different conferences but both from the South.

“It would always be to our advantage just from a pure fan interest perspective to have teams representing multiple regions of the country,” Magnus said. “That being said, Alabama is the No. 1 draw in the sport now from a television perspective, or maybe you can argue they flip-flop with Ohio State. They’re a gigantic brand and huge draw. I like the buzz Georgia is getting come off that great Rose Bowl game.”

Having two SEC teams play for the championship in the heart of the South and just 70 miles from Georgia’s campus will be a boon for ticket sellers.

StubHub said demand for tickets to the national championship game was up 106 percent over this time last year, when Clemson and Alabama were set to play for the second straight year and the game was in Tampa, Florida. The company said Tuesday that the average ticket price on StubHub for Alabama-Georgia was $2,689, with the lowest available at $1,930 for upper end zone seats in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

This season’s New Year’s Six got off to a good start for ESPN with Ohio State-Southern California in the Cotton Bowl, played Friday night, Dec. 29. The game drew the best rating (5.9 and 9.468 million viewers) of any non-semifinal game during the four years of the current format. The Fiesta Bowl with Penn State and Washington and the Orange Bowl with Miami and Wisconsin were played Saturday, Dec. 30. No bowl games were played on Dec. 31; college football traditionally has avoided competing against the NFL on Sunday.

“That’s about as good, for fans and for us, as you can get,” Magnus said. “It’s still compressed around the New Year’s holiday, but you get everything as clean as you can for giving fans an opportunity to watch.”

The FBS conference commissioners who manage the College Football Playoff backed off the original plan to schedule the semifinals on New Year’s Eve during most of the 12 years of the media rights deal with ESPN and tinkered with the schedule in 2016. Next season’s CFP semifinal doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 29. The season after that, the games are slated to be played on Saturday, Dec. 28, and there will be a 17-day gap between the semifinals and the championship game on Monday, Jan. 13, in New Orleans.

The semifinals return to Jan. 1 for the 2020 season. The semifinals can only be played on New Year’s Day when they are held in the Rose and Sugar bowls because those games and the conferences affiliated with them have contracts with ESPN locking in those time slots.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

CFB – Alabama vs. Georgia for national championship

(PhatzRadio Sports / AP)    —   S-E-C! S-E-C!

Alabama and Georgia won their College Football Playoff semifinals on Monday and will meet in the national championship next week in Atlanta, the home of the Southeastern Conference title game.

“Couldn’t have scripted it better in some ways,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “It will be one of the sweetest drives from Birmingham (Alabama, where the SEC offices are located) to Atlanta that we’ve ever experienced.”

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide smothered No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in their Sugar Bowl rubber match after the third-ranked Bulldogs won the first overtime in Rose Bowl history, a wild 54-48 victory that eliminated No. 2 Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.

It will be the second time in seven seasons that the national title will come down to two SEC teams. Alabama beat LSU in New Orleans to win the 2011 championship.

At least this all-SEC affair next Monday night won’t be a rematch: Georgia and Alabama did not play in 2017.

Both will be making a return trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Alabama started its season in the shiny new home of the Atlanta Falcons by beating Florida State. The Tide hoped it would be the first of three trips to Atlanta, but it let the second one slip away. Alabama’s regular-season finale loss at Auburn cost the Tide the SEC West and spot in the conference title game against Georgia.

It did not, however, cost the Crimson Tide a playoff spot. The College Football Playoff selection committee gave Alabama the final spot even though the Tide failed to win its conference. Did Alabama deserve the benefit of the doubt after a season in which it was low on marquee victories? Ohio State fans didn’t think so, and the Buckeyes finished fifth in the final CFP rankings.

Fueled by the doubters, Alabama smashed the defending national champions from Clemson. The Crimson Tide will be playing in the title game for the third straight season and looking for its fifth national championship under Nick Saban since 2009.

The Bulldogs made the playoff by avenging a late-season loss to Auburn, beating the Tigers in the SEC title game on Dec. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, about 70 miles from its campus in Athens.

“Going back home to Atlanta,” Georgia star tailback Nick Chubb said. “We’ve been there before and hopefully we can get the same outcome, but we’ve got a lot of preparation to do before that.”

The SEC title was Georgia’s first since 2005. The Bulldogs have not won a national championship since 1980 and they have also not beaten Alabama since 2007, Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa. They have only played three times since then with the Crimson Tide winning each, including a classic SEC championship game at the old Georgia Dome in 2012.

The Bulldogs’ failure to win championships, conference and national, was the main reason Georgia pushed out longtime coach Mark Richt and replaced him with former Alabama assistant and Georgia alum Kirby Smart in 2016.

The Bulldogs were hoping replicate Saban’s process and now they’ll get to see how they measure up against the master.

“I’m proud of the job he’s done,” Saban said of Smart. “I’m sure it will be a great football game.”

Smart’s first season in Athens was a so-so 8-5 campaign, but the Bulldogs have taken off in year two, led by stellar group of seniors that includes 1,000-yard rushers Sony Michel and Chubb.

“It’s crazy. This is what we all came back for,” said Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who blocked a field goal in the second overtime of the Bulldogs’ victory against Oklahoma. “We all have been working hard and this is what we were working toward.”

The Alabama-LSU BCS championship game in New Orleans in 2012 turned out to be one of the final blows for the failing postseason system. Plenty of fans outside SEC country won’t be thrilled to see one-conference affair for the title again — and it might not be great for television ratings outside of the Deep South — but it won’t kill the four-year-old playoff. Sankey said he did not want to speak for the other conference commissioners, but “there’s recognition we have put in place a good process and a good system.”

The irony of the SEC monopolizing this national championship game is that the league is not regarded as the clear-cut best in college football this season. Unlike in 2011, when the conference was in the middle of a run of seven straight national titles, the SEC seemed top heavy with Alabama and the rest.

“The messaging in the preseason was down year, one-team league,” Sankey said after attending the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The two playoff victories give the SEC a 4-5 record in this year’s bowl games. As Sankey pointed out, that included a one-point loss by Kentucky after its best tailback was ejected, a three-point loss by Texas A&M with an interim coach and competitive losses by Auburn and LSU.

But the SEC won the games the counted the most.

“Just a magnificent Rose Bowl and to finish it off with the Sugar Bowl victory, there is an incredible amount of satisfaction,” Sankey said.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


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CFB New Year’s Bowl Roundup: Georgia beats Oklahoma 54-48 in Rose Bowl

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Notre Dame receiver Miles Boykin lived up to Brian Kelly’s expectations.

The Fighting Irish’s head coach told the junior during a practice leading up to Monday’s Citrus Bowl game against LSU that Boykin was going to win the MVP trophy.

Boykin made not only one of the top plays of this bowl season but one of the more memorable catches in Notre Dame bowl history. He made a dynamic one-handed grab and raced down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown with 1:28 remaining to give the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish a 21-17 victory over No. 16 LSU.

The win by Notre Dame (10-3) is its first in a New Year’s Day bowl since the 1994 Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M and snaps a nine-game skid in January postseason games.

“He looked at me like I had two heads. But I felt like he had a chance,” said Kelly about his prediction. “He’s got the ability, if we could get him the football. And Ian got him the football and Miles made a great individual play and, lo and behold, I’ve got the MVP sitting next to me.”

Boykin had only nine catches for 151 yards and a TD coming into the game, but he got his first start after starters Chase Claypool (shoulder injury) and Kevin Stephenson (suspension) were ruled out.

Boykin showed off his wide-catch radius on what proved to be the game-winning play. On first-and-10 from the Irish 45, Ian Book lofted a pass up the right sideline that Boykin was able to snag with his right hand at the LSU 33, eluding corner Donte Jackson. Boykin then broke a tackle attempt by Donte Jackson at the LSU 26 before finding a clear path to the end zone.

“Ian put it in place where only I could reach it,” said Boykin, who finished with three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. “It was a great pass and I was just lucky enough to pull it down on one hand. I’ve got pretty big hands.”

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said that Boykin made a great grab but lamented his defense’s other struggles on the play.

“We had our best cover guy on him (Jackson) but he’s a big receiver,” he said after the Tigers finished the season 9-4. “We had two guys on him and missed the tackle. That’s what I’m mostly disappointed with.”

Book entered the game in the second quarter after Brandon Wimbush struggled moving the offense. The sophomore was 14 of 19 for 164 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Book’s first touchdown came early in the fourth quarter. With Notre Dame trailing 14-6, he found Michael Young in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score. Josh Adams then scored on a two-point conversion to tie it.

“It was an awesome opportunity, such a surreal moment that last play with Miles,” Book said. “We knew it was going to be a close game. We just had to stay composed and do what we have been doing since January.”

The game lacked drama the first three quarters. It was scoreless until four seconds remained in the first half when a Justin Yoon 46-yard field goal gave Notre Dame a 3-0 halftime lead.

LSU’s Danny Etling was 19 of 33 for 229 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns to Derrius Guice. Guice, who was the MVP of last year’s game, had 98 yards on 21 carries.

Milton powers No. 10 UCF to 34-27 Peach Bowl win over Auburn

ATLANTA — McKenzie Milton wanted to throw a blanket of 13 wins and no losses over the College Football Playoff.

After Milton and Central Florida capped a perfect season, he suggested it was time to respect the Knights, even if they weren’t invited to the playoff.

Milton threw two touchdown passes and ran for 116 yards with another touchdown, leading No. 10 UCF to a 34-27 Peach Bowl win over No. 7 Auburn on Monday.

Then it was time to boast.

“I said on the podium you can go ahead and cancel the playoffs,” Milton said. “I’m not changing my mind.”

UCF (13-0) led 34-20 before having to stop a late Auburn comeback. Antwan Collier’s interception in the end zone with 24 seconds remaining clinched the win.

The UCF players launched a joyous postgame celebration, rolling around in confetti on the field while wearing T-shirts that read “Champions.”

The Knights won in their final game with coach Scott Frost, who stayed with the team through the bowl game after accepting an offer to become the new coach at Nebraska , his alma mater. Frost will bring most of his UCF assistants to Nebraska.

“It was the right thing to do to come coach these guys,” Frost said, holding the game ball. “I’m not happy for me. I’m so happy for these guys.”

The Knights thought they deserved a higher ranking after winning the American Athletic Conference and leading the nation in scoring. They made a strong statement by beating Auburn (10-4).

Bentley leads South Carolina past Michigan 26-19 in Outback

TAMPA, Fla. — Will Muschamp envisions championships in South Carolina’s future.

Lots of them.

“We don’t have all the trophies and the tradition and history but we have some grit,” the coach said after the Gamecocks rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit. to beat Michigan 26-19 in Monday’s Outback Bowl.

“We’ve got some toughness and resolve. You saw us down 19-3 and not a lot of good things happening for us,” Muschamp added. “All the arrows are pointing up for us. We’re going to have those trophies.”

Jake Bentley threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns Monday to pace the win, which gave the Gamecocks (9-4) at least nine wins in a season for just the seventh time.

Bentley shrugged off a slow start to toss scoring passes of 21 yards to Bryan Edwards and 53 yards to Shi Smith, the latter giving his team a 23-19 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The sophomore said once the Gamecocks began to have some success, the offense’s confidence grew.

“It’s just we started to execute well. The excitement, I think, is contagious to the whole team,” Bentley, voted the game’s most valuable player, said. “You see where we went from there.”

Michigan (8-5) finished with its first three-game losing streak under coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines turned the ball over five times after halftime, including an end zone interception that denied them an opportunity to regain the lead with just under eight minutes to go.

The loss also cost the Big Ten a clean sweep of bowl games involving conference members. The league entered 7-0, looking to go unbeaten in postseason play for the first time since 1998 when it went 5-0.

No. 4 Alabama dominates No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in Sugar Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nick Saban is back in his comfort zone.

Let others run up the points. He’ll take a defensive slugfest every time.

Especially when it gives Alabama another shot at a national title.

In a game where every yard was a struggle, the Crimson Tide defenders took matters into their own hands. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night.

“This game was about our identity as a team,” Saban said. “I don’t think anybody would doubt our relentless attitude out there. We had a warrior-like mentality.”

He was clearly pleased.

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

Sure, it was quite a contrast to the first two meetings in the Alabama-Clemson trilogy, both high-scoring classics with the national title on the line , not to mention the Rose Bowl semifinal that preceded it. Georgia knocked off Oklahoma 54-48 in a double-overtime thriller that wasn’t decided until the Alabama was on its second possession in the Big Easy.

There would be no drama in the nightcap. With Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, top-ranked Clemson (12-2) simply had no answer for the Tide’s latest group of defensive standouts, setting up an all-Southeastern Conference showdown for the national title — with Saban matched against his former defensive coordinator, Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

“I’m proud of the job he’s done,” Saban said. “I’m sure it will be a great football game.”

Leading only 10-6 after a turnover to start the second half handed Clemson a field goal, the fourth-ranked Tide (12-1) quickly snuffed out any thoughts of a repeat title for the Tigers.

It began with 308-pound defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne picking off a wobbly pass after besieged Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was hit as he threw. Payne rumbled 21 yards on the return, shedding one would-be tackler with a deft open-field move and drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty when he was finally dragged down with a horse collar tackle.

After Alabama drove to a first down at the Clemson 1, Payne re-entered the game — presumably to add another big body for blocking purposes. Instead, he slipped open near the right pylon on a play fake and hauled in a touchdown pass, even managing to get both feet down before the celebration commenced beyond the sideline.

“I’ve got gold hands,” quipped Payne, who was picked as the game’s defensive MVP.

A bit shell-shocked by that turn of events, Clemson was thoroughly demoralized after its next offensive play. Bryant’s pass deflected off the hands of Deon Cain and was intercepted by linebacker Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for another TD.

They could’ve called it right then.

“Just incredibly disappointed in our performance,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “But congratulations to Alabama. They were the better team today. No doubt about it.”

The Tide, which began the season in Atlanta beating Florida State , will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Monday night to face No. 3 Georgia and give Saban a shot at his sixth title, which would match Bear Bryant.

Saban has four championships in the last eight years at Alabama, along with a BCS title at LSU during the 2003 season.

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

This is eerily reminiscent of Alabama’s run to the 2011 championship, another season when the Tide didn’t even win its own division or play for the SEC title. That year, Saban’s team lost at home to LSU during the regular season but got a second chance against the top-ranked Tigers with the biggest prize on the line — in the Sugar Bowl, no less.

On that night in the Big Easy, Alabama defense didn’t allow LSU to cross midfield until the closing minutes of a suffocating 21-0 victory. This defensive performance was nearly as impressive.

Clemson was held to 188 yards — 260 yards below its season average — and never reached the end zone. Bryant was sacked five times and the Tigers were held to 64 yards on the ground.

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Alabama played it tough right to the end, denying Clemson on a fourth-down pass into the end zone with just over a minute remaining.

Clearly, the Tide was still ticked off about the way last season ended, giving up a TD pass with 1 second remaining to hand Clemson the national title.

“This,” Saban said, “was a little bit personal for us.”


Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow was known as the Tide Killer.

Not this time.

After hauling in four TD passes in the last two national championship games — including, of course, the title winner a year ago — Renfrow was held to just 31 yards on five receptions. All of his catches came in fourth quarter with Alabama comfortably ahead.

“From the opening kickoff, they hit us in the mouth,” Renfrow said.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


Alabama: The Tide’s defense against Georgia’s offense will be an especially intriguing matchup given the way the semifinal games played out. One thing to keep an eye on: Anfernee Jennings was helped off with a sprained knee late in the game after recording a sack and three tackles for losses, another potential blow to the Tide’s already beleaguered linebacker corps.

Clemson: The Tigers looked at this game as a chance to show they had surpassed Alabama as college football’s most dominant program. Sorry, the Tide is still king.

“We’ll be back,” Swinney vowed.


Alabama: A national championship game to end the season for the third year in a row and sixth time in the last nine seasons.

Clemson: Opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 by hosting FCS school Furman.

‘Dawgs run wild: Georgia beats Oklahoma 54-48 in Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — After ending the first overtime Rose Bowl, one of the greatest Granddaddies of Them All, Sony Michel was swarmed by Georgia teammates as he broke down in tears.

The senior tailback had gone from possible goat to all-time hero for Georgia, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game with one last burst in a game full of them.

Michel raced 27 yards for a touchdown in the second overtime to give No. 3 Georgia a 54-48 victory against No. 2 Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal Monday night.

Michel, who had a fumble in the fourth quarter returned for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown, ran for 181 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs (13-1), but none bigger than the last one.

“I made plays. I gave up plays. My team just had faith in me,” said Michel, who did all that damage on just 11 carries and got a hug from former Bulldogs great tailback Garrison Hearst after scoring the winning TD. “That’s what this team is all about. They showed true character today.”

In the final game of his great career, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a touchdown pass that gave the Sooners a 17-point lead with 6 seconds left in the first half.

But the Heisman Trophy winner could not get the Sooners (12-2) into the end zone in the first overtime when a touchdown would have ended the game.

“It’s tough to describe right now,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said of the loss. “It’s a hell of a college football game. You know, an epic Rose Bowl game.”

The Bulldogs will play Alabama on Jan. 8 fin an all-Southeastern Conference national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, about 70 miles from their campus. After Georgia made its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1943 a heart-stopping success, the Bulldogs will play for their first national title since 1980.

“We got to get back to work. It’s not done,” Michel said. “Now we got to finish. Let’s just finish this season off right.”

The 104th Rose Bowl was also the highest-scoring, surpassing last year’s 52-49 USC victory against Penn State. There was a lot more on the line in this one, the first CFP game to go to overtime as well.

After an offside penalty on Georgia gave Oklahoma a first down on third-and-five in the second OT possession, the Sooners stalled again and Austin Seibert came out for a 27-yard field goal. Leaping through the line, Lorenzo Carter got his outstretched hand on the kick and the ball fluttered down short of the uprights.

Any score would have ended it for the Bulldogs, and on the second play Michel slipped one tackle and was home free. The Bulldogs sprinted off the sideline and toward the corner of the end zone to mob Michel. Confetti rained down. Meanwhile, Mayfield stood motionless on the sideline for several seconds, bent over with his hands on his knees and head down. Mayfield battled flu-like symptoms the week leading into the game, but he played just fine.

“I can’t believe it’s over. It’s been a wild ride,” said Mayfield with a hoarse voice before he started to cry.

Michel and his roommate and running mate Nick Chubb were awesome for Georgia. Chubb ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder on a direct snap with 55 seconds left in regulation to tie it. The Sooners had taken a 45-38 lead when Steven Parker returned Michel’s fumble for a TD with 6:52 left in the fourth.

“I told him that he had to keep running and trying to hit the corner,” Chubb said. “We had a long game and after the fumble, we went down and he made up for it with that run to win the game.”

Both teams settled for field goals in the first overtime. First, Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship hit from 38 to make it 48-45.

Then it was Mayfield’s turn. A touchdown would have sent the Sooners to Atlanta, but on a third-and-2 from the 17 Georgia All-America linebacker Roquan Smith nailed Jordan Smallwood a yard short of the first down.

Seibert kicked a 33-yarder and the Bulldogs and Sooners played on, but not for much longer.


Georgia: The Bulldogs came in with the sixth-best defense in the country, but Mayfield and the Sooners sliced it up in the first half, including a nifty reverse pass to the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback that made it 31-14 with 6 seconds left in the second quarter. Oklahoma had 360 yards in the first half, the second-most the Bulldogs had allowed in a game this season.

Coach Kirby Smart said the defense “stunk it up” in the first half, but there were no dramatic changes in the second. Smith and company just played better. Oklahoma managed only 171 yards and one touchdown in the second half and OT.

Oklahoma: The Sooners’ defense has been an issue all season, but it did look for a while like it might make the decisive play. Linebacker Caleb Kelly lowered a shoulder into Michel trying to turn the corner on a sweep and the ball popped loose. Parker picked it up on the bounce, tight-roped the sideline and sprinted 46 yards for the score.

But with a chance to close out the game with 3:22 left in the fourth, Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm led a game-tying drive. Fromm finished 20-for-29 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.


Georgia: It’s back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Bulldogs, where they beat Auburn to win the SEC championship and get in the playoff a month ago.

Oklahoma: The Sooners start the post-Mayfield era next fall at home against coach Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic team.


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