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No. 1 Indiana cruises past Sam Houston St., 99-45

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No. 1 Indiana cruises past Sam Houston St., 99-45

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Christian Watford scored 24 points to help No. 1 Indiana defeat Sam Houston State 99-45 on Thursday night in the Progressive Legends Classic.

Will Sheehey scored 18 points, Victor Oladipo had 14 and Jordan Hulls 10 for the Hoosiers (3-0), who shot 57 percent from the field and made 9 of 21 3-pointers.

Paul Baxter scored nine points and Marquel McKinney had eight for Sam Houston State (1-2). The Bearkats pushed Arkansas before losing their opener 73-68 on the road.

Indiana beat the Bearkats in every possible way. About the only thing Indiana coach Tom Crean could complain about was that the Hoosiers made just 30 of 44 free throws.

The only drama remaining at the end was whether Indiana would score 100 points. The home crowd booed as the Bearkats basically ran out the clock in the final seconds.

Two early 3-pointers by Hulls helped the Hoosiers shake off a bit of a slow start and take a 9-2 lead. Sam Houston State made one field goal in the first 6:30 of the game and fell behind 16-2.

Indiana hit 4 of 6 3-pointers early to take a 23-6 lead and force a Sam Houston State timeout.

Indiana pushed the lead to 30-10 before the Bearkats' Michael Holyfield, a 6-foot-11 center who was guarding Zeller, committed his third foul. Indiana took advantage inside, and Oladipo's powerful two-handed dunk down the middle of the lane pushed the lead to 36-13.

The Hoosiers reached 50 points on a 3-point play by Zeller in the final minute of the first half and led 52-25 at the break. Watford, who didn't start, led Indiana with 11 points in 11 minutes in the first half. The Hoosiers outscored the Bearkats 17-4 from the free-throw line before the break.

No Sam Houston State player scored more than five points in the first half. The Bearkats shot 32 percent before the break and committed 10 turnovers.

Indiana continued to roll in the second half. A beautiful no-look pass from Hulls from near halfcourt found Watford under the basket, and Watford converted the layup to give the Hoosiers a 64-29 lead. A putback one-handed jam by Zeller made it 66-30.

Hulls scored his 1,000th career point on a 3-pointer that gave the Hoosiers an 82-38 lead, and the home crowd gave him a standing ovation. An alley-oop pass from Maurice Creek and two-handed jam by Austin Etherington bumped Indiana's lead to 98-44.

Indiana also routed its previous two opponents, defeating Bryant 97-54 and North Dakota State 87-61. The Hoosiers likely will get tougher tests when the Classic moves to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Indiana will play Georgia on Monday, then UCLA or Georgetown on Tuesday.

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The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

There are always surprises in the NFL draft, but the 2018 edition may be the most unpredictable in years. There are a few factors at play here and they will affect who is available to the Redskins in the first round and who they end up drafting there. 

One factor is analytics. Not all teams have a big analytics department but all 32 are aware of the trends in the game. One is that teams no longer emphasize establishing the run early in games. Teams pass in the first quarter on about 57 percent of the snaps. That run-pass ratio is about the same as it is during the other three quarters. It’s still a passing league from the opening kickoff until the clock hits 0:00. 

So why, then, is Vita Vea, a pure nose tackle who likely will be of limited help against the pass, a possible top-10 pick who the Redskins reportedly would like to take at 13? 

The way it looks now, Vea is going to be one of the best available players with a significant drop off to any players associated with the passing game except quarterbacks—wide receiver, left tackle, edge rusher, and outside cornerback. 

The Redskins might rate Vea as more valuable than other teams because of how weak their rushing defense is. Teams ran at them on 47 percent of first-quarter plays, taking advantage of the weakness. This kept up through all four quarters; teams ran against the Redskins on 46 percent of the plays compared to 42 percent of all plays league-wide. Washington’s vulnerability against the rush may push Vea and probably Da’Ron Payne up on their draft boards even if they are of limited utility in the nickel defense. 

Here is one more example of the numbers and talent affecting this draft. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick played a variety of positions in Alabama’s secondary. The consensus opinion is that his best NFL fit is slot corner. Traditionally, that is not a first-round position because it’s has been a role, a part-time position. 

But the view is shifting. Offenses take 62.6 percent of their snaps with three or more wide receivers on the field. That number only counts true wide receivers, so you can add a percentage point or two in for when a running back or tight end lines up out wide. As you would expect, a comparable number of defensive snaps (65.3%) are with five or more defensive backs on the field. The Redskins were in line with this. Slot corner Kendall Fuller played nearly 66 percent of the snaps last year. 

Since you will utilize your slot corner on nearly two-thirds of your plays, if you can get a good one with the 13th pick you shouldn’t hesitate just because of the old view of the position. When you add in the fact that Fitzpatrick can play safety and outside corner as well the Redskins could well pull the trigger if he’s still there. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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