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La. Tech brings perfect record into game with A&M

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La. Tech brings perfect record into game with A&M

Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech were supposed to meet to open the season, when neither team was ranked in the Top 25.

On Saturday in Shreveport, La., when the Aggies and Bulldogs play their game that was postponed on Aug. 30 because of Hurricane Isaac, both teams are ranked and ready to move up.

For No. 22 A&M (4-1), freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has become a breakout star who leads one of the nation's top offenses. No. 23 Louisiana Tech (5-0), meanwhile, has earned a national ranking for the first time since 1999 thanks to its best start since 1975.

The Bulldogs are looking for their first win over the Aggies after losing all 10 games in the series.

``I see a better team,'' Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said when asked to compare Louisiana Tech from the first time they were scheduled to play until now. ``They are not going to be intimidated by us one bit and they shouldn't be ... they've played in big football games and this is a chance for them to make a statement on national TV so we are going to get their best shot.''

Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes has worked to keep his team, which has a nation-best 12-game regular-season winning streak, from looking ahead to the Aggies. Now that it's here, he thinks the Bulldogs are ready for the challenge.

``Our guys have some confidence and we know what is ahead of us Saturday and I do not think any of us are afraid of Texas A&M,'' Dykes said. ``We understand we are going to have to play well, but that is in our hands.''

It's likely to be a shootout with these teams combining to average more than 1,000 yards of offense a game.

Louisiana Tech knows the experience Manziel has gained in A&M's five games, including three against Southeastern Conference opponents, will make him - and the rest of the team - much more difficult to deal with.

``The negative is we are not catching them early,'' Dykes said. ``They are playing well and executing well. They are settled in their quarterback position. They are just a football team that has a lot of confidence right now.''

Louisiana Tech's top task will be trying to contain Manziel. The dual-threat quarterback is averaging 356 yards of total offense.

``It is difficult to let a quarterback just stand back there all day,'' Dykes said. ``They have good receivers and we have to pick our poison and mix it up a little bit and show them different looks and try to get him confused and maybe a little bit uncomfortable.''

He's coming off a rough outing against Mississippi where he had three of A&M's season-high six turnovers. But the Aggies like the way he shook off his struggles.

``We had six, so it was an overall problem,'' Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said. ``We have to be more careful with the football and take care of it.''

Manziel will face a defense which is allowing 531 yards a game - second most in the country. But the Bulldogs have remained undefeated thanks to a prolific offense that takes care of the ball and a defense that forces turnovers. Louisiana Tech has lost the ball just four times this season and has 15 takeaways for the second-best turnover margin in the country behind top-ranked Alabama.

Louisiana Tech is third in scoring at more than 53 points per game, and the Aggies know better than to underestimate a team with designs on being this year's BCS-buster.

``They're very explosive,'' Texas A&M linebacker Jonathan Stewart said. ``We're going to have to come out ready to play. You can't just look at this team and say: `Oh, it's Louisiana Tech,' and expect it to be a cakewalk. We're going to have to fight all four quarters and have to be very prepared to win this game.''

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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