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Rodgers leads Vanderbilt over Wake Forest 55-21

Rodgers leads Vanderbilt over Wake Forest 55-21

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Jordan Rodgers threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and Zac Stacy ran for a season-high 180 yards and two scores as Vanderbilt defeated Wake Forest 55-21 on Saturday.

It was Vanderbilt's sixth straight victory, the school's longest winning streak since 1955.

Vanderbilt (8-4) scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions to take a 28-7 lead at halftime and never looked back. Wesley Tate added two scores, and Jordan Matthews had 10 catches for 144 yards in the first half, including a 64-yard touchdown reception from Rodgers.

Wake Forest (5-7) needed a win to become bowl eligible for the second straight season but struggled slowing down the stretch, losing to North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.

Tanner Price threw for 182 yards in the loss.

Wake Forest's Michael Campanaro caught eight passes for 98 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury.

Vanderbilt looked dominant from the start.

Picking up where it left off in last week's 41-18 win over Tennessee, Vanderbilt took the opening kickoff and marched 85 yards on 11 plays and take a 7-0 lead. Using a handful of direct snaps to Stacy, Vanderbilt easily converted a pair of fourth downs along the way before Rodgers hit a wide-open Tate along the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.

Wake Forest bounced back, driving 71 yards on 16 plays to tie the game at 7 on fullback Tommy Bohanon's fourth-down touchdown run from the 1.

But the rest of the half belonged to Vanderbilt.

After Tate made it 14-7 on a 14-yard run, Rodgers hooked up with Matthews on a 64-yard scoring play that seemed to take the life out of the Demon Deacons. Rodgers' throw appeared intended for a receiver Chris Boyd, who was double covered on a fly route down the middle. Matthews, sensing the ball was underthrown, broke off his route and came across the field to make a leaping grab and race final the 25 yards to the end zone untouched.

Then Vanderbilt's defense got into the act as linebacker Colt Nichter forced a Sherman Ragland fumble at the Wake Forest 37.

It took only five plays for the Commodores to capitalize as Stacy, the school's all-time leading rusher, scored on a 4-yard run.

Matthews was nearly unstoppable in the first half.

He came into the game red hot with a combined 16 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns in wins against the Tennessee and Ole Miss. Wake Forest simply had no answer for him. Fearful he might beat them deep, defensive backs gave him extra space, and Matthews cut off his routes with precision and hauled in easy first-down catches from Rodgers.

Things only got worse in the second half for Wake Forest.

After their first drive ended in a three-and-out, Andrew Williamson blocked Alexander Kinal's punt, and Casey Hughes recovered in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 35-7.

Casey Spear added field goals of 52 and 50 yards for Vanderbilt in the second half, and Jonathan Krause returned a punt 83 yards for another score. Stacy went over 1,000 yards season for the season with a 90-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to put Vanderbilt up 55-14.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.