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Villanova rallies late to beat No. 5 Louisville

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Villanova rallies late to beat No. 5 Louisville

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Achraf Yacoubou was lost in a swarm of Villanova fans who had rushed the court, mobbing the Wildcats in celebration of one of their biggest wins in recent history.

Yacoubou ignited the wild scene with a 3-pointer. It only made sense he was in the middle of the party.

Yacoubou hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:57 left to help Villanova upset No. 5 Louisville 73-64 on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Villanova students packed behind each basket stormed the court after a victory coach Jay Wright's struggling program badly needed.

``Great win for us,'' Wright said.

The win came exactly eight years (Jan. 22, 2005) after unranked Villanova beat No. 2 Kansas at the Wells Fargo Center. At the time, the win was a sign Wright had the Wildcats headed back into national prominence. For now, Wright can only hope to build momentum off the gutty performance.

The Wildcats (12-7, 3-3 Big East) led by as many as 10 points in the first half and rallied late in the second to send the Cardinals to their second straight loss. Louisville (16-3, 4-2) had an 11-game winning streak end in a 70-68 loss to Syracuse on Saturday.

Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points, and JayVaughn Pinkston and Mouphtaou Yarou each scored 11 for Villanova.

``We know how good they are,'' Wright said of Louisville. ``We still think that team can win a national championship.''

Peyton Siva had 15 points and 13 assists for the Cardinals and Wayne Blackshear scored 17 points. The Cardinals didn't play like a team that was just the No. 1 team in the country. The Cardinals, a 71 percent free throw shooting team, was 12 of 24 from the line and shot 40 percent from the field.

``We did a lot of things wrong tonight, and they did a lot of things right,'' Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. ``It was really a simple answer as to why we lost. Our free throws were a turnover. Our foul shooting was despicable. Very simple tonight.''

Up ahead, another road game, Saturday at Georgetown.

Wright's program has fallen from the Big East's elite following a run to the 2009 Final Four. The Wildcats were eliminated on the first weekend each of the next two tournaments and failed to qualify last season for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats needed this one.

``I just felt we broke through tonight,'' Arcidiacono said. ``We just kept grinding, kept grinding.''

Darrun Hilliard of the Wildcats picked off a pass at halfcourt and was fouled on the driving, crashing layup. He made the free throw to cut it to three. Yarou stepped back for the jumper to make it a one-point game. Pinkston tipped in the go-ahead basket for a 53-52 lead.

The Cardinals missed five straight from the free throw line (including two front ends of 1-and-1s) to keep Villanova's simmering upset hopes alive. Chane Behanan hit one to end the streak and tie the game at 53-all.

Yacoubou snapped the tie with a baseline 3 in front of Villanova's bench that sent his teammates into a frenzy. James Bell followed with another 3-pointer for a six-point lead and the upset win only 2:50 away.

Behanan fumbled the ball along the baseline and the Wildcats pounced. Arcidiacono was fouled and made two free throws for a 62-55 lead.

All that was left was for most of the crowd of 11,887 to count down the final seconds.

``This place is magical,'' Wright said.

The Wildcats used to routinely pack the Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA's 76ers, for their biggest Big East games. Not even the No. 5 team in the AP poll was much of an attraction on Tuesday. Most of the upper deck was empty and the lower bowl had plenty of good seats available. When No. 3 Syracuse visits Saturday, the arena could be full of orange.

The Wildcats didn't need much of a crowd to make a run at an upset in the first 20 minutes. They hit their first four 3-pointers, beat the Cardinals on the boards, and hustled for every loose ball with the desire Wright would expect in a big game.

``I had no doubts,'' Arcidiacono said. ``I didn't have any doubts we were going to win this game.''

They built a 10-point lead that was erased by Louisville's 12-0 run. The Cardinals made the bulk of that run without Siva, who left after a hard fall around the basket. Pinkston ended a 4 1/2-minute scoring drought with a three-point play and he scored the final basket of the half for a 30-28 lead.

The Cardinals led 52-46 with 8:25 left in the game but only scored 12 points the rest of the way.

``This one was tough for us, because we really needed this win, we needed to get our confidence level back up,'' Blackshear said. ``Now we have to go back, and try to pull together as a team.''

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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