White tramples Minnesota in 38-13 win by Wisconsin


White tramples Minnesota in 38-13 win by Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) James White raced 15 times through Minnesota's defense for 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns, carrying Wisconsin to a 38-13 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the ninth straight time the Badgers have beaten the Gophers to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Montee Ball let his partner steal the show for most of the afternoon but still muscled his way for 166 yards on 24 attempts and two fourth-quarter scores to put the game out of reach and push the Badgers (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to their 21st win in a row at Camp Randall Stadium. That matches LSU for the longest current streak in major college football.

Freshman Philip Nelson was the surprise starting quarterback for the Gophers (4-3, 0-3). He threw two touchdown passes, but the Badgers turned one interception into a third-quarter field goal. Three plays after the second pick, Ball scored his second touchdown after another spirit-breaking burst through the middle.

Nelson was thrust into action for Minnesota because MarQueis Gray's sprained left ankle wasn't quite right and Max Shortell hurt his neck the week before.

Wisconsin has spoiled Minnesota's upset hopes every year since 2003 and hasn't lost at home since 1994 in this border-state series that began in 1890. The Gophers played well enough on defense early to have a chance heading into the second half.

But as the Badgers so often have done, they just kept pounding the ball into the line and watching White and Ball go to work. Sometimes they had to wiggle back and forth to find holes, but they routinely bounced off the first tackler or two. Other carries were much easier, with only the green of the turf and the red of the end zone ahead of them.

The Gophers' harassment of Joel Stave, who finished 7 for 15 for 106 yards, barely made a difference.

The Gophers took the opening kickoff, so Nelson didn't have any time on the sideline to get any more nervous than he surely already was. Zac Epping's third-down shotgun snap sailed to Nelson's left, and he had to hustle to cover the ball so the Gophers could punt from their 16.

Nelson overcame that ominous start with a six-play, 65-yard cruise to the end zone later in the first quarter. He found wide-open Drew Goodger for 18 yards for his first college completion and Brandon Green from 16 yards out for the score. Jordan Wettstein's extra point banged off the right goal post, though, keeping the Gophers from tying the game.

That was Wettstein's first miss in 18 extra-point attempts this year, but he's only 6 for 12 on field-goal tries with misses from 32 and 26 yards. Wettstein's 51-yard try at the end of the first half had plenty of distance and even appeared to sail directly over the left upright, but it was ruled wide to preserve Wisconsin's 14-6 lead.

After dominating Purdue with 645 total yards in last week's 38-14 win, the Badgers didn't move the ball with the same proficiency, particularly early. This is an improved Gophers defense but still a group that let Iowa's Mark Weisman rush for 177 yards and a touchdown and Northwestern's Venric Mark gain 182 yards and two scores on the ground.

Stave was especially erratic. He also hung on too long and took two sacks, by D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman for a total loss of 20 yards, to push the Badgers out of field-goal range and forced their third of four first-half punts.

But the Gophers, relying frequently on draws and zone read runs up the middle by Nelson, didn't do much to help their defense out. It was only a matter of time that the Badgers were able to wear down the Gophers with what they've done so well for so many years - ramming the ball straight ahead and reaping the rewards.

After the Gophers were stopped on third-and-1 at the Wisconsin 49 for no gain, Christian Eldred's punt went just 19 yards. And five plays later, White was in the end zone again after a 34-yard burst with 1:49 left stretched the lead to eight.

Coach Jerry Kill decided to burn Nelson's redshirt, giving the kid who grew up near Madison with parents who met in school at Wisconsin a chance to make his debut in a difficult environment. Nelson, who moved to Minnesota before high school and was a highly sought recruit out of Mankato, finished 13 for 24 for 149 yards. He ran 16 times for 68 yards.

But he didn't have much to work with. Starting left tackle Ed Olson didn't make the trip because of an injury. Gray played wide receiver because several of Minnesota's top passing targets were hurt.

Over these nine straight wins against the Gophers, the Badgers are averaging about 39 points per game and winning by a margin of more than 16 points.


Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall returning from his months-long absence, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy, or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed.

Both the Pacers and Cavaliers, two teams just ahead of them in the playoff race, won on Friday.

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.

Turnovers were one issue with the Wizards' defense. So was defending the perimeter, as the Nuggets shot 17-for-34 (50%) from long range. It is worth noting the Nuggets were without their leading scorer Gary Harris, a guy who is dangerous from long range.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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