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Cooper, Yeldon make big impact for top-ranked Tide

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Cooper, Yeldon make big impact for top-ranked Tide

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Alabama's freshman playmakers are coming of age just when the top-ranked Crimson Tide will need them most.

Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon each scored two touchdowns Saturday in Alabama's 44-13 rout of Tennessee. Cooper caught seven passes and set an Alabama freshman single-game record with 162 receiving yards. Yeldon rushed for 129 yards on 15 carries to go over the century mark for the third time this season.

Cooper and Yeldon weren't made available to reporters after the game. Alabama coach Nick Saban has a policy of not allowing freshmen to speak to the media. They still made quite a statement with their performances as Alabama's offense delivered arguably its most complete performance of the season.

``Everyone has to understand that we are going to take what the defense gives us,'' said Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who now leads the nation in passing efficiency. ``One week, we might have to throw it and the next we might have to run it more. Tonight, we got them on their heels a little and we were able to do both.''

Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) has won each of its games by at least 19 points, but the Tide have greater challenges ahead. Alabama's next three games are all against ranked SEC Western Division rivals: No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. The Mississippi State and Texas A&M games are at home, but Alabama will have to travel to LSU.

Cooper certainly seems ready for the challenge.

The 6-foot-1 receiver from Miami opened the scoring Saturday by getting behind the entire Tennessee secondary and catching a 23-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone. He also helped put the game out of reach in the third quarter with a 42-yard touchdown reception that extended Alabama's lead to 30-10.

His big day could have been even bigger. In Alabama's opening possession of the second half, Cooper had an apparent 30-yard touchdown nullified by an illegal formation penalty.

``He can be one of the greatest,'' Alabama tight end Michael Williams said. ``You see it. You can see the talent that he has.''

Cooper already has emerged as McCarron's favorite target. He has 28 receptions, twice as many as any of his teammates. He also has 425 yards receiving, 173 more than anyone else on the team. This marked his second two-touchdown performance in his last three games, as he also reached the end zone twice Sept. 29 in a 33-14 victory over Ole Miss.

``We think he's an outstanding player,'' Saban said. ``He's just a freshman, and he's gotten better and better every week. He has learned to be very consistent in how he plays. He plays fast and hard.''

Yeldon has been equally impressive. The 6-2 running back from Daphne, Ala., has exceeded the 100-yard mark and has scored a pair of touchdowns in each of Alabama's last two games.

When C.J. Mosley's interception gave Alabama the ball at the Tennessee 32 early in the second quarter, the Tide reached the end zone by handing the ball to Yeldon four straight times. Yeldon capped that drive with a 1-yard scoring burst and added a 43-yard breakaway in the fourth quarter for Alabama's final touchdown.

Yeldon, who had verbally committed to Auburn before signing with Alabama, has teamed up with junior Eddie Lacy to give the Tide a remarkably balanced rushing attack. Lacy has rushed for 570 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Yeldon has run for 565 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per attempt.

Cooper and Yeldon arrived at Alabama this year as part of a recruiting class generally regarded as the best in the nation. Their performance Saturday backed up the comments Tennessee coach Derek Dooley had made before the game in reference to Alabama's extraordinary talent base.

``They draft. We recruit,'' Dooley quipped. ``And they get the first 25 picks of the draft.''

In that case, consider Cooper and Yeldon a pair of first-round picks. If they keep up this pace, both eventually could be actual first-round selections.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:

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Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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