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Arizona pulls out 65-64 win over No. 5 Florida

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Arizona pulls out 65-64 win over No. 5 Florida

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Mark Lyons hit a contested layup with 7 seconds left and No. 8 Arizona rallied from a six-point deficit in the final minute to pull out an improbable 65-64 win over No. 5 Florida on Saturday night.

Arizona (8-0) struggled with Florida's mix of zone and man defenses, falling behind by 11 in the second half before rallying late. The Wildcats used their press to force consecutive turnovers on inbounds plays, pulling within 64-63 after Brandon Ashley hit one of two free throws.

Arizona fouled Kenny Boynton, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1, then raced to the other end for Lyons' driving shot.

Florida (7-1) botched its final possession, fumbling the ball away before taking a wild 3-pointer.

Solomon Hill had 18 points, Nick Johnson added 15 and Lyons 14 to give Arizona its best start since opening the 1998-99 season with eight straight wins.

Mike Rosario led Florida with 16 points and Erik Murphy added 15.

The Gators and Wildcats cruised through their early schedules to set up the McKale Center's first matchup between top 10 teams since 2004.

Florida came to the desert with a stifling defense - second nationally at 48.3 points per game - and the nation's third-widest margin of victory, winning by an average of 25.3 points. The Gators have a talented frontline, experienced guards and good balance.

Florida turned its first true road game of the season into a walkover, holding Florida State to its lowest point total ever at the Tucker Center in a 72-47 win on Dec. 5.

Arizona also has a talented frontcourt and steady guards, though is a bit more offensively oriented, averaging nearly 80 points while winning by 20 a game. The Wildcats rely on three heralded freshmen - Kaleb Tarczewski, Ashley and Grant Jerrett - but also have a core of veteran players coach Sean Miller can turn to when things get tight.

The older guys came through down the stretch in a win over Southern Miss on Dec. 4 and again last Saturday, when Lyons, a graduate transfer from Xavier, scored 20 points in a 66-54 road win over Clemson.

Putting the Gators and Wildcats together on the same court set up one of college basketball's best nonconference games of the season, one that had the McKale Center rocking despite the late start and school out for the semester.

The teams put on an offensive show in the early going, trading 3-pointers and baskets inside.

Arizona couldn't keep it up.

Struggling against Florida's ever-changing defense, the Wildcats couldn't seem to make anything, open or contested, and had some careless turnovers while going 7 1/2 minutes between field goals. Arizona hit a few shots to get the crowd back into it, then went cold again, falling behind 30-19.

The Gators slowed down on offense, too, just a little later.

Florida went through a shooting funk midway through the first half, hit a few shots and labored down the stretch, going scoreless over the final 3:06 to shoot 12 of 33.

Arizona closed within 32-29 at halftime after Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers and Hill scored on a breakaway dunk off a steal just before the buzzer. The Wildcats shot 9 of 22 in the half.

Arizona kept missing to start the second half. Florida didn't.

The Gators made seven of their first eight shots, going up 49-39 on Scottie Wilbekin's 3-pointer from the wing.

But the Wildcats weren't done, finally getting a few shots to fall and pulling to 61-58 on long 3-pointers by Johnson and Lyons from the same spot with about 5 minutes left to set up the wild finish.

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Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

If fans are permitted to attend Pittsburgh Steelers home games this fall, there's one item they can't forget: a mask.

Steelers' director of communication, Burt Lauten, explained the decision to require fans to wear a mask in a statement on Tuesday.

"Our goal is to still have fans at Heinz Field this year with the understanding that social distancing, as well as all fans being required to wear masks, will play a role in the capacity to ensure a safe atmosphere," Lauten said, via ESPN. "We will continue to work with the NFL and public health officials to finalize plans for fans to attend our home games."

Pittsburgh was one of the first franchises to alter its ticketing plans this season, as they decided in May to trim half of their individual game ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The news comes just hours after their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, announced that M&T Bank Stadium will be capped at less than 14,000 fans this fall, should fans be allowed to attend games.

RELATED: NFL PROPOSED PAY CUT FOR PLAYERS

In June, The Athletic reported that the NFL will not place a limit on capacity at games, allowing each individual team to make the decision themselves.

"Attendance will be a state-by-state, county-by-county thing," an anonymous NFL source told The Athletic. "It will not be a one size fits all."

Additionally, the NFL has said that the first 6-8 rows of lower bowl sections, including field-level suites, will be blocked off this fall to help slow the spread of the virus. Those sections will be covered with tarps, which teams can use to sell advertising, similarly to what the Premier League in England has done.

With training camp still a few weeks away, there are a lot of virus-related questions the NFL must answer beforehand.

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Howard is a finalist for 2021 five-star defensive end Korey Foreman

Howard is a finalist for 2021 five-star defensive end Korey Foreman

The Howard University football program has moved a step closer to landing perhaps its highest-ranked recruit in years, if not ever.

Five-star defensive end Korey Foreman trimmed his college choice to seven on Wednesday evening, and the Howard Bison were on the list. The other six schools were Southern California (USC), LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, and Georgia.

In Foreman's tweet, he explained why Howard, a historically Black college (HBCU), was included in his list.

"I am a young black man that is happy and proud of my race," he wrote. "The Black Lives Matter movement is and forever will be powerful and definitely never forgotten. These are the schools I will now be focusing on the most. Set the standard and .. be different."

The news comes just a week after the Howard basketball program landed five-star Makur Maker, who chose the Bison over Division I schools UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis. Maker was the highest-ranked recruit Howard basketball has landed in its history. Mikey Williams, a top-five basketball recruit in the 2023 class, has already hinted about potentially playing at an HBCU as well.

Foreman, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end, is projected to commit to USC, according to 247Sports. Foreman is ranked the No. 2 overall prospect on 247Sports recruiting rankings for the 2021 class.

However, if the last few weeks are any indication, Howard can't be ruled out.

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