Get through game vs. Arizona, and Packers can rest

Get through game vs. Arizona, and Packers can rest

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers can read a schedule as well as anyone else.

Get through Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, and the Packers have a bye. A week to park themselves on the couch and prop up their bum ankles, aching feet and sore hamstrings - of which there are plenty. Seven days to recuperate and recharge for the final stretch of the regular season.

Just don't let coach Mike McCarthy catch them peeking at the calendar.

``I'll tell you, the players have a clear understanding (about) the importance of this game. I think we've made the mistake of maybe looking forward to the bye week in the past. We're not going to make that mistake this week,'' McCarthy said Wednesday. ``Our focus is on the Arizona Cardinals. We made a big point as a staff and as a football team to make sure the urgency is heightened.

``We have a game to play,'' he added. ``Who wants to talk about things that have nothing to do with Sunday? I want to talk about Sunday.''

Three straight victories have put the Packers (5-3) back in contention in the NFC North, but they're in sorry shape these days. There were 13 players on the injury report Wednesday including Aaron Rodgers, his top two receivers, Charles Woodson and B.J. Raji.

And don't forget about workhorse running back Cedric Benson, who is on the injured reserve, eligible to return list.

Injuries are part of the game, and the Packers have managed to make do. But it's going to be tough to get to the playoffs, to say nothing of making a deep run, if they have to continue holding their lineups together with Band-Aids and surgical tape. All but two of the Packers' games in the second half are against division rivals, and another is against the NFC East-leading New York Giants.

The Packers need a break, and they need it badly.

``It'll help,'' Raji acknowledged. ``Just being able to rest, not necessarily always banging or running on it and doing things that I have to do in practice or lifting and everything like that. Anytime you can get rest on an ankle - or any type of injury to your body - it can only help.''

The Packers have a history of being able to maintain their focus under McCarthy. They are 4-2 in the week before the bye, and they rebounded from the loss-that-wasn't in Seattle with a victory. But after last week's lackluster effort against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, McCarthy isn't taking any chances. He has let his players know that any extra time off next week has to be earned with a victory over the Cardinals.

``He definitely has us focused on the Cardinals because he threw us a little bone if we win,'' James Jones said. ``We know a lot of guys are hungry and ready to get the win so we can get a couple more days off.''

Arizona's record (4-4) might not look all that impressive, and their offense is ranked near the bottom of the NFL. But the Cardinals are not the West Coast version of the Jaguars. It wasn't all that long ago that they were on a four-game winning streak, which included a victory at New England. With the exception of Monday night's 24-3 rout by San Francisco, their losses have been by 14 points or less.

``I'm not saying this is a championship game for us,'' said Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge, who is in his second year in Arizona after spending his first five seasons in Green Bay. ``But with this being the last game before our bye week, these guys are going to be all in for this week.

``If we can go on a nice little run here at the end like we did last year, we got a chance to get ourselves to the playoffs,'' Colledge said. ``But we need to make that decision right now, or we can be the team that just lets it slip away and make excuses for ourselves and call it a season.''

The circumstances might not be nearly as dire for the Packers. But they are well aware of what is ahead of them, whether McCarthy wants them thinking about it or not.

``This is a big game,'' Bryan Bulaga said. ``Just to finish halfway through the season at 6-3 is going to be huge. And after the bye week, we have a lot of division games. So it's going to be big for us to finish strong here and get in the bye week, get healthy and then get ready for these big division games we've got coming up.''

Notes: WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) didn't practice Wednesday, and McCarthy said he hopes to know more about his status Friday. ... WR Greg Jennings' surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle was delayed because of Superstorm Sandy. The procedure was supposed to be done Tuesday in Philadelphia. ... DE Jerel Worthy, who suffered a concussion in Sunday's game, was better Wednesday, McCarthy said. ``He's still going through the process, the protocol for concussions,'' McCarthy said. ... The Packers have to make decisions by Nov. 7 on TE Andrew Quarless and LB Frank Zombo, who have returned to practice from the physically unable to perform list. ``We're going to start working them into some of the game-plan stuff and see where they are,'' McCarthy said.


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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Season series on the line

The Wizards and Pacers square off for the third and final time this season on Saturday night and the game will represent the tiebreaker for the season series. The Wizards beat the Pacers in their first meeting on Feb. 5 and Indiana then got even on March 4. The first game did not feature Victor Oladipo. John Wall didn't play in either of them.

Whichever team wins on Saturday night will own the playoff tiebreaker, meaning that team will get the better seed in the even they finish with the same regular season record. Right now only one game separates the teams, so that could definitely come into play. With a win over the Pacers, the Wizards could also move into third place in the East. They would tie the Pacers by record and own the head-to-head series. The one variable there is the Cavs play the Bulls on Saturday. If they win and the Pacers lose, the Cavs will be in third.


Wizards have been struggling

The Wizards won their last game on the road against the Celtics, but have lost five of their last eight overall. They remain in good shape in the big picture, but could use some positive momentum. A win over the Pacers would certainly give them that with three off days awaiting on the other end before they head out to San Antonio to face the Spurs.

Defense has been the problem. During this eight-game stretch, they have allowed the second-most points in the paint per game (53.8), the ninth-most points per game (111.0) overall and the fourth-highest opponents shooting percentage (49.3). 


Pacers are tough

The Pacers may be missing two of their best big men on Saturday as Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out and Myles Turner is questionable. Both are nursing sprained left ankles. That bodes well for the Wizards' defense in the paint, but Indiana still has plenty of firepower.

Oladipo is having a terrific season with averages of 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. There's also Bojan Bogdanovic, a former Wizards player who is averaging 14.0 points and shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three this year. Bogdanovic has scored 20 points or more in each of his games against the Wizards this season. The Pacers as a team have won six of their last eight.


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No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

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No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 75-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.

Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.

But the Cavaliers couldn't get anything generated on offense and the nation's top-ranked defense couldn't contain American East Conference champions.

The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.

Lyles was the catalyst.

He diced up Virginia's defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.

Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.

The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.

Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.

A Tony Bennett timeout couldn't stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3's and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC's lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.

A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of "UMBC" rang through the arena.

It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.


UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.

Virginia: This isn't the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.


UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.