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Andre Hollins helps No. 14 Minn. beat SDSU 88-64

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Andre Hollins helps No. 14 Minn. beat SDSU 88-64

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Andre Hollins scored 20 of his 22 points before halftime, and No. 14 Minnesota breezed to an 88-64 victory on Tuesday over a South Dakota State team missing point guard Nate Wolters.

Hollins swished his first six 3-point attempts and finished 8 for 9 from the field for the Gophers (9-1), who reached their highest ranking in the Associated Press poll this week in six years under coach Tubby Smith.

Austin Hollins had 17 points, five assists and four steals, Joe Coleman added 15 points and seven rebounds and the Gophers did most of their damage on the perimeter and the fast break to notch their largest winning margin this season.

Jordan Dykstra scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits (6-3), who missed Wolters their standout from nearby St. Cloud whose ankle injury prevented him from playing in his home state for the final time.

Minnesota is 16-0 against South Dakota State since the two schools first met in 1930. The Gophers play at USC on Saturday before wrapping up their nonconference schedule at home against North Dakota State and Lafayette.

They'll be challenged often in a Big Ten that's as top heavy as it's been since Smith arrived from Kentucky, far more than in these December games against mid-major foes.

But the Gophers will bring a deep, athletic team that's clearly growing in confidence.

Their defense, with Austin Hollins getting steals with his long, quick arms on the wing and Rodney Williams swatting shots around the basket, has never been in question.

Outside shooting and careful ball-handling have been perhaps the biggest concerns, and at least for this night the Gophers put all that to rest.

They turned the ball over only 13 times, compared to 21 assists, and shot nearly 57 percent from the floor.

Not to let the guards get all the attention, Trevor Mbakwe had eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Gophers started the game by making 11 of their first 17 field goals and began to make this look like a dunk contest in the first half, grabbing nearly every loose ball and turning them into easy fast breaks.

Freshman Jake Bittle, who replaced Wolters in the starting lineup, had five points, seven assists and seven turnovers.

Bittle lost his dribble near midcourt when Austin Hollins and Elliott Eliason converged on him near the 5-minute mark, and Hollins took the ball the other way for an uncontested double-pump dunk to stretch Minnesota's lead to 30-18.

South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy lowered his head and buried it in his hands as soon as Bittle lost the ball. Andre Hollins followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession, off another steal by Austin Hollins.

Less than 30 seconds after the intermission, Williams zipped a kick-out pass to the wing for Austin Hollins, who swished another 3-pointer to put the Gophers ahead 51-24. They took their biggest advantage of the game, 59-28, a few minutes later.

The Jackrabbits have a 21-game winning streak on their home court, but this four-hour drive from their campus in Brookings was a long way from that comfort.

After their first NCAA tournament appearance last season, they've lost by three points each at Alabama and at Hofstra, both in the closing seconds.

Without Wolters, though, they sure missed a lot. The 6-foot-3 senior, who in 2011-12 became just the fifth player in NCAA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game over a season, could only watch in his warm-ups.

Another key perimeter player, sophomore Taevaunn Prince sat out with an injury.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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