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Andre Hollins helps No. 14 Minn. beat SDSU 88-64

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Andre Hollins helps No. 14 Minn. beat SDSU 88-64

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Andre Hollins scored 20 of his 22 points before halftime, and No. 14 Minnesota breezed to an 88-64 victory on Tuesday over a South Dakota State team missing point guard Nate Wolters.

Hollins swished his first six 3-point attempts and finished 8 for 9 from the field for the Gophers (9-1), who reached their highest ranking in the Associated Press poll this week in six years under coach Tubby Smith.

Austin Hollins had 17 points, five assists and four steals, Joe Coleman added 15 points and seven rebounds and the Gophers did most of their damage on the perimeter and the fast break to notch their largest winning margin this season.

Jordan Dykstra scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits (6-3), who missed Wolters their standout from nearby St. Cloud whose ankle injury prevented him from playing in his home state for the final time.

Minnesota is 16-0 against South Dakota State since the two schools first met in 1930. The Gophers play at USC on Saturday before wrapping up their nonconference schedule at home against North Dakota State and Lafayette.

They'll be challenged often in a Big Ten that's as top heavy as it's been since Smith arrived from Kentucky, far more than in these December games against mid-major foes.

But the Gophers will bring a deep, athletic team that's clearly growing in confidence.

Their defense, with Austin Hollins getting steals with his long, quick arms on the wing and Rodney Williams swatting shots around the basket, has never been in question.

Outside shooting and careful ball-handling have been perhaps the biggest concerns, and at least for this night the Gophers put all that to rest.

They turned the ball over only 13 times, compared to 21 assists, and shot nearly 57 percent from the floor.

Not to let the guards get all the attention, Trevor Mbakwe had eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Gophers started the game by making 11 of their first 17 field goals and began to make this look like a dunk contest in the first half, grabbing nearly every loose ball and turning them into easy fast breaks.

Freshman Jake Bittle, who replaced Wolters in the starting lineup, had five points, seven assists and seven turnovers.

Bittle lost his dribble near midcourt when Austin Hollins and Elliott Eliason converged on him near the 5-minute mark, and Hollins took the ball the other way for an uncontested double-pump dunk to stretch Minnesota's lead to 30-18.

South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy lowered his head and buried it in his hands as soon as Bittle lost the ball. Andre Hollins followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession, off another steal by Austin Hollins.

Less than 30 seconds after the intermission, Williams zipped a kick-out pass to the wing for Austin Hollins, who swished another 3-pointer to put the Gophers ahead 51-24. They took their biggest advantage of the game, 59-28, a few minutes later.

The Jackrabbits have a 21-game winning streak on their home court, but this four-hour drive from their campus in Brookings was a long way from that comfort.

After their first NCAA tournament appearance last season, they've lost by three points each at Alabama and at Hofstra, both in the closing seconds.

Without Wolters, though, they sure missed a lot. The 6-foot-3 senior, who in 2011-12 became just the fifth player in NCAA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game over a season, could only watch in his warm-ups.

Another key perimeter player, sophomore Taevaunn Prince sat out with an injury.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

RELATED: TRADE DEADLINE STORY TIME WITH ALAN MAY

Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MORE CAPITALS: IS IT TIME FOR GRUBAUER TO START IN PLACE OF HOLTBY?

For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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