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0-3 vs. ranked teams, Ohio State seeking answers

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0-3 vs. ranked teams, Ohio State seeking answers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Thad Matta is happy with his team. He is just not happy with how it is playing right now.

``Coming off of Saturday's game, their awareness better be heightened,'' he said of his players.

The Buckeyes are 11-0 against unranked teams but now stand 0-3 against Associated Press Top 25 teams after sustaining a 74-55 beating at No. 12 Illinois on Saturday.

The inability to beat elite teams has dropped the Buckeyes from No. 4 in the preseason to No. 15 in the latest media balloting.

But they say they can fix things and turn it around before Tuesday night's game at Purdue.

``We've just got to take a better approach to it,'' backup point guard Shannon Scott said. ``Before the (Illinois) game, our minds weren't really there. We were all like, laughing around, not focused. If we come to Purdue more focused, we'll be fine.''

The common denominator in all three losses was poor shooting by the Buckeyes. They shot under 34 percent in each defeat.

Compounding their misery in the loss to the Illini, they also were unfocused on defense and played sloppy with the ball. But Matta said that defeat was different.

``I have to be honest, I have to throw Saturday out,'' he said. ``We did things that were so uncharacteristic. As I told them, `Look, I'm not sure who was in your jerseys in this game.'''

Some Ohio State fans - a small segment, mind you - have been exceedingly critical of the team's play so far. Naysayers to the end, they don't think the shooting will come around. They don't believe any of the big men - Amir Williams, Evan Ravenel or Trey McDonald - will be able to hold their own. They look at the lack of offense from point guards Aaron Craft and Scott and worry about the lack of production.

In the rough-and-tumble Big Ten, they're afraid that other teams will prey on the Buckeyes' weakness.

Deshaun Thomas, the leading scorer in the conference, remains confident that things will turn around.

``I just stay positive. We were in this situation last year, when we lost at Illinois,'' he said of the team that went on to a 31-8 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a trip to the Final Four. ``I don't think this team is falling apart. There's some things we need to work on. We're going to get there. We know now what it's going to take and what we have to do to play hard and win ballgames.''

The Buckeyes (11-3, 1-1 Big Ten) had 16 turnovers against Illinois, many of them unforced. Even though they average only around 10 a game, they opened against Illinois with two turnovers and had 11 by halftime.

Matta is toying with the idea of making lineup changes. With his team trailing by 20 or so most of the second half in Champaign, Ill., he tinkered with different combinations. At one point, he didn't play a true center, instead going with Thomas underneath the basket, with thin shooting guard LaQuinton Ross at power forward and Scott at the point.

Don't be surprised if he doesn't continue to mix and match players.

``The motivation is I want to attempt to get off to a good start'' at Purdue, Matta said. ``Finding those five guys who have a flow to them is what I'm still looking at.''

The Boilermakers (7-7, 1-1) shocked Illinois in their Big Ten opener before losing at Michigan State.

Ohio State is in dire need of some good news before it hosts No. 2 Michigan on Sunday.

``We know we can't play like we did last week,'' Scott said. ``We know the way the rest of the Big Ten is going to play. We have to have a better approach. I think we're going to play a lot better.''

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Capitals’ losing streak extends to six in stunning OT loss to Sharks

Capitals’ losing streak extends to six in stunning OT loss to Sharks

The Capitals were one second away from snapping a five-game losing streak, but instead saw that streak extended to six games as Evander Kane scored with one second left to force overtime and Tomas Hertl scored the winner in a 7-6 overtime thriller.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost.

1. Evander Kane’s miracle buzzer-beater

The Caps clung to a 6-5 lead late in the third when Kane found the puck on his stick in front of the net and shot it in with just one second remaining on the clock.

Just one second away from claiming two points and ending a miserable five-game losing streak, Kane’s goal forced overtime and helped extend Washington’s streak to six.

2. Hertl’s hatty

Ovechkin netted a hat trick for the home team, but Hertl matched him with three goals of his own to win the game.

Hertl scored two power play goals, including one in the third to pull the Sharks within one. He also scored the overtime winner to crush the Caps’ hopes of snapping their losing streak.

3. 12 seconds

For a team that has lost five straight and looking for some confidence, you could not have drawn up a worse start to this game. A won faceoff for the Sharks went straight to Brent Burns at the blue line. He threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off John Carlson right to the stick of Joe Pavelski who backhanded it in.

Braden Holtby had committed to the original shot and there was no way for him to recover leaving an empty net for Pavelski to shoot on.

It took just 12 seconds for the Sharks to get on the boards.

4. Too many penalties

You can’t give up six power plays in a game and live to talk about it.

San Jose tied the game at 2 in the second period thanks to a power play goal from Hertl who unleashed a one-timer from the slot to beat Holtby. In the third period Washington took two different minor penalties and the Sharks cashed in on the second. The goal came from Hertl who unleased a one-timer from the slot to beat Holtby.

The two power play goals looked almost identical. The second made the score 6-5, pulled San Jose within one of Washington and sparked the comeback.

5. The first minute of overtime

For nearly the first minute of overtime, the Caps looked as dominant as a team can look. They would not allow the puck to get out of the Sharks’ zone and got a number of opportunities to finish the game including a 3-on-1 with Tom Wilson’s shot just deflecting wide.

If the losing streak has taught Washington anything, it’s that they must take advantage of their opportunities. They didn’t finish the Sharks at the start of overtime and Hertl ended up with the game-winner.

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

Mike Mussina was already recognized as one of the greatest pitchers in Orioles history. Now, he’s been enshrined as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

In his sixth year of eligibility, Mussina received 76.7% of the vote, barely surpassing the necessary 75% mark by just seven votes. He’ll be inducted this summer along with Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, and the late Roy Halladay.

Over the course of his 18-year career, Mussina compiled 270 wins to go against just 153 losses. He had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 2,813 hitters, the 20th most in baseball history. He also was an American League All-Star five times and won seven Gold Gloves.

Mussina’s career in many ways can be described as “close, but no cigar.” He threw multiple one-hit, no-walk shutouts with the Orioles, including against the Indians when he threw 8⅓ perfect innings before allowing a single. He also was one pitch away with the Yankees against the Red Sox before Carl Everett singled with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning.

He reached two World Series, both in New York, but lost both times. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1999, and would have been deserving if Pedro Martinez hadn’t had an all-time historically great season. He finished just 30 wins shy of 300 for his career, and it took him nearly two decades to reach 20 wins in a season, finally hitting the milestone in 2008.

Finally, with only four years remaining on the ballot, he made the Hall of Fame. This time, he didn’t fall short.

Mussina’s Hall of Fame case has been boosted by the rise of sabermetrics, By WAR, he was an obvious selection.

His numbers likely would have looked even better with more favorable circumstances. Mussina spent his entire career in the vaunted American League East, a division full of big bats and hitter-friendly ballparks.

He all spent the bulk of his career pitching in what has since become known as the Steroid Era, an obvious detriment to his overall pitching stats.

Former players have congratulated Mussina and praised both his raw stuff and his off-the-charts baseball IQ. Stuff, plus smarts, plus durability meant he was the total package.

Mussina was always destined to be an Oriole as Baltimore drafted him twice. In 1987, they took him in the eleventh round before the pitcher elected to go to college. In 1990, after his junior season, they took him in the first round.

The starting pitcher affectionately referred to as “Moose” spent a decade in Baltimore before playing the final eight seasons of his career in New York. Because of this, a debate has raged on for years about which cap he would wear should he ever be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Previously, the player himself was able to choose. Nowadays, the Hall makes the call. For some, however, the answer is obvious.

Mussina finally became a 20-game winner with the Yankees, and was obviously much more visible playing for the biggest franchise in the sport. That said, he made a much larger impact in Baltimore, both in statistics, and in stature.

When Orioles fans point to the team’s miserable track record trying to develop homegrown starting pitchers, they often point to Mussina as the last success story. The fact that their most recent win in pitcher development is now in the Hall of Fame is a tough look for a franchise that once started four 20-game winners in the same rotation.

If he does go in as an Oriole, Mussina will become the seventh member to wear the Baltimore cap, joining Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and manager Earl Weaver.

Mussina is in a unique spot in Orioles history, as many of the Hall of Famers from Baltimore are thought of as Orioles through and through. None of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver ever wore another uniform.

“Moose” famously spurned the Orioles to join their bitter rivals when he signed with the Yankees, though it’s hard to blame him for taking the most money offered. When asked on MLB Network after the election announcement, Mussina was very appreciative towards both ballclubs and credits both organizations for getting him to this point.

It’s a slightly complicated history, but one that has largely been forgiven with time. When the announcement was made, the consensus reaction on Twitter in Birdland was that of joy for Mussina.

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