College Football

Celtics-Raptors: Keep your eye on...

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Celtics-Raptors: Keep your eye on...

TORONTO The Boston Celtics are riding a four-game winning streak, playing the kind of basketball you want with the playoffs just two weeks away. The Toronto Raptors are gearing up for another trip to the NBA lottery in which they will once again fail to make the playoffs. It's the kind of game that, on paper, the Celtics should have no problem winning.

Although we haven't seen much of it lately, the C's have shown a knack for playing both up -- and down -- to their level of competition.

And that in itself makes tonight's game a dangerous one for Boston.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley doesn't expect the C's to take the Raptors -- or any non-playoff team at this point in the season -- too lightly.

"No matter what team, we're still going to play hard," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "We're still playing against good teams even if they don't go to the playoffs. We just have to come in, no letdown, and just continue to play the same way we've been lately. Not only that, but we need to improve, improve for the playoffs."

Because of the condensed schedule -- tonight will be the first of three games in three nights for the C's against teams out of the playoff race -- the Celtics understand the importance of taking out teams as quickly as possible to rest the starters and give the backups a chance to get up and down the floor.

The Celtics have won nine of their last 11 games. In those nine wins, six have come by double digits which has allowed the C's to play their bench more than usual.

"We need to improve for the playoffs," Bradley said. "As a team, there's a lot of things we need to work on seeing as though we don't practice much. We need games, so we need to keep taking steps forward and not taking steps back."

Not looking past the Raptors will certainly be a contributing factor to tonight's game. Here we take a look at some other keys to tonight's game as the Celtics look to win their fifth in a row and move one step closer toward locking up the Atlantic Division and securing home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR For all that has gone wrong for the Raptors this year, they have been a decent team defensively. Teams are averaging 94.9 points per game against them, which ranks 14th in the NBA. More impressive is that they are not allowing teams to get off a ton of shots against them. Opponents average 77.8 field goal attempts against them this season, which ranks No. 3 in fewest field goals allowed. But the problem is that often teams don't need to make a lot of shots, because the few shots they are taking do in fact go in. Boston takes the fewest number of shots (77) per game in the NBA, but they rank fifth in field goal percentage (46 percent).

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Amir Johnson: One of the most under-rated parts of the Celtics' run of late has been the defense and rebounding of Brandon Bass. The mid-range jumper is going to be there all the time, but it has been his ability to hold his own on the boards and not allow guys to score at will on him, that's helping the Celtics finish out the regular season strong. Johnson will start in place of Andrea Bargnani (calf), but has been with the first group for 37 games this year. He's more of an energy guy who feeds off of put-back baskets and tip-ins. Because so much of his game is about effort and not execution per se, Bass has to limit Johnson's ability to make multiple effort plays.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Mickael Pietrus looked good on Wednesday with eight points and six rebounds in just under 29 minutes - a lot more productive than most would have thought considering he hadn't played since March 23 due to a concussion. After showing no post-concussion symptoms, the C's and Pietrus are hoping to just continue building off of that game and develop a nice rhythm heading into the playoffs later this month.
STAT TO TRACK: Prepare to see the Boston Celtics spend a lot of time at the free throw line tonight. Attacking the basket off the dribble is always a goal of the Celtics, well aware that it generates more free throw attempts which for a good free throw shooting team like the C's, creates easy opportunities to score. But they'll likely get an assist or two in their effort tonight against Toronto, which averages an NBA-high 23.4 personal fouls committed per game. Not surprisingly, that has led to a plethora of free throw attempts by opponents. According to NBA.comstats, the Raptors are allowing opponents to shoot an NBA-high 27 free throw attempts per game.

Boston College beats UConn 39-16 in wind and rain at Fenway Park

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Boston College beats UConn 39-16 in wind and rain at Fenway Park

BOSTON - AJ Dillon rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns, breaking free on a 48-yard run and a 53-yard score on Saturday night to lead Boston College to a 39-16 victory over UConn on the wet and worn-out turf at Fenway Park.

Playing most of the game in a heavy rain, with groundskeepers patching the field most every timeout, the Eagles (6-5) qualified for a bowl game for the fourth time in five seasons. UConn (3-8) showed little offense until two late touchdowns cut into a 36-point deficit.

One week after BC quarterback Anthony Brown sustained a season-ending knee injury, Darius Wade completed 7 of 15 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. He was helped by Dillon's running, another 107 yards rushing from Jon Hilliman and two long interception returns, including a 65-yard pick-six by Taj-Amir Torres.

Hilliman scored on 38- and 3-yard runs for BC, and Lukas Denis picked off David Pindell at the goal line and ran it back 56 yards to set up Dillon's second score.

BC led 39-3 in the fourth before Kevin Mensah ran 70 yards for a touchdown. Pindell followed by hitting Hergy Mayala for 43 yards with 4:15 left to make it 39-16.

Pindell finished with a career-high 241 yards on 14-for-33 passing, with three interceptions.

Although the century-old ballpark is less than four miles from BC's Chestnut Hill campus, UConn was officially the home team. But the opportunity to use the Red Sox clubhouse didn't help the Huskies avoid falling to 0-12-2 all-time against BC.

A 21-point favorite, BC trailed 3-0 after one quarter before Wade rolled to his left toward the Red Sox dugout and evaded tacklers long enough to find Chris Garrison in the end zone, right in front of where home plate would usually be.

Dillon dragged four defenders into the end zone - with another standing by and watching - on his 53-yard score in the second quarter, then added a 20-yard TD run in the third to make it 33-3. It was his second career 200-yard game and the first 200-yard rusher against UConn since Ray Rice did it for Rutgers in 2005.

THE TAKEAWAY

Boston College: The Eagles are bowl-eligible for the fourth time in coach Steve Addazio's five seasons in Chestnut Hill. He's the first BC coach to go to five bowl games in his first five seasons.

UConn: The Huskies picked up a nice check - $1.25 million - and some players got the thrill of playing in Fenway Park.

OUT FOR THE SEASON

Boston College announced before the game that defensive back Kamrin Moore will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury he sustained last week against North Carolina State. Moore, a captain, had started 23 consecutive games before missing Saturday night's game against UConn.

Moore finished with 140 tackles, six for a loss, and two interceptions.

KICKING WOES

Boston College missed three extra points and had a field goal blocked.

UP NEXT

Boston College: Wraps up the regular season against Syracuse on Saturday.

UConn: Finishes its season against Cincinnati next Saturday.

UMass wins a game on the road, hands BYU its 9th loss, 16-10

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UMass wins a game on the road, hands BYU its 9th loss, 16-10

PROVO, Utah - Andrew Ford fired a 40-yard touchdown pass to Andy Isabella and Logan Laurent kicked three field goals to stake UMass to a 16-0 lead at BYU and the Minutemen held on to post a 16-10 victory Saturday - earning a fourth win for the first time as an FBS school.

UMass (4-7) started playing FBS football in 2012 and never won more than three games nor won a road game against a team outside of the Mid-American Conference.

The victory ended both streaks.

The loss gives BYU nine losses for the third time in school history, matching 1949 and 1955. The Cougars have one game remaining next week in Honolulu against Hawaii with the prospect of their first 10-loss season looming.

Rhett Almond got BYU on the board with a 40-yard field goal with 1:35 left in the third quarter and Joe Critchlow hit Matt Bushman with a 6-yard TD pass in the final minute.

Critchlow was 21 of 45 passing for 257 yards, but the Cougars managed just 42 net rushing yards.