No. 7 Arizona outlasts Arizona State 71-54


No. 7 Arizona outlasts Arizona State 71-54

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Mark Lyons scored 24 points, Nick Johnson added 19 and No. 7 Arizona pulled away in the second half to beat rival Arizona State 71-54 on Saturday.

Arizona (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12) was solid at both ends and went on the decisive run after Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half. Solomon Hill added 13 points for the Wildcats, who scored 18 points off turnovers and outscored the Sun Devils by 14 inside.

Arizona State (14-4, 3-2) never recovered after Arizona's run, thanks to 17 turnovers and a quiet game by second-leading scorer Carrick Felix, who had 5 points on 1-of-8 shooting.

Carson had 22 points and four assists, and Evan Gordon added 14 points for the Sun Devils.

The basketball version of the Territorial Cup featured one of the most anticipated matchups in the rivalry's recent history.

Arizona opened the season loaded with hype and has lived up to it, climbing to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 after winning its first 14 games. The Wildcats have one of the Pac-12's best backcourts in Lyons and Johnson, and a good mix of veterans and talented newcomers in the front court.

Arizona State has had a bit of a resurgence under coach Herb Sendek behind a faster tempo and aggressive man-to-man defense. Carson, the flash-bulb-quick point guard, has been a big part of it, but Felix has emerged as one of the conference's best two-way players and the Big Bachynski, 7-foot center Jordan, has anchored the center of a defense that blocks one out of every eight shots taken by opponents.

The Sun Devils have gotten their better of their rivals recently, too, winning seven of the previous 11 in the series, including an 87-80 win in last season's finale that all but knocked the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament.

With the highest-ranked opponent to play at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena in five years, not to mention that it was the hated Wildcats, the quaint arena got a jolt of energy, with the Sun Devils' students trading chants with fans of the team from down south.

The guards dominated early.

The brash Carson recently called himself the best point guard in the Pac-12 on Twitter and didn't shrink under the spotlight in the biggest game of his young career, calmly running Arizona State's offense and driving hard to the basket. He had 12 points by halftime before picking up a third foul in the closing seconds.

Gordon, who broke out of a shooting slump with 17 points against Oregon on Sunday, scored seven quick points and had 10 by halftime.

Lyons, who could make a case for himself as the conference's top point guard, played his usual confident game, driving hard to the rim and stroking in jumpers. He and Johnson combined for 18 of Arizona's 29 first-half points.

But after all the early offensive fireworks, the game stalled quickly.

Arizona State struggled against Arizona's pressure, hitting two field goals after the 11:12 mark before Gordon picked Lyons' pocket in the backcourt for a steal and a layup just before the buzzer to cut Arizona's lead to three.

The Sun Devils were fortunate to be that close after hitting 9 of 23 shots - 1 for 7 from beyond the arc - and getting nothing from Felix, who missed both of his shots and was scoreless at halftime.

The Wildcats used a little spurt to go up nine points early in the second half, but the Sun Devils fought back, pulling within 46-44 on a layup by Carson after a nice bounce pass from Gordon on a backdoor cut.

But on Arizona State's next possession, Felix dropped a pass from Carson that would have been a layup. Carson then picked up his fourth foul at the other end and headed to the bench with 9:50 left.

Arizona followed with a 9-0 run, going up 55-44 on a layup by Johnson that forced Sendek to call a timeout.

Sendek gambled by bringing Carson back in a few minutes later, but the damage had been done and the Sun Devils never climbed back out of the hole.

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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