Nationals

Arizona St. storms back for 41-34 win over Arizona

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Arizona St. storms back for 41-34 win over Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Marion Grice ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and Arizona State added another chapter to what's become a wild rivalry by scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter to beat Arizona 41-34 on Friday night.

Trailing 27-17 after Arizona scored 18 points in the third quarter, the Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) fought back, turning two turnovers and a blocked punt into three touchdowns.

Kevin Ayers had a blocked punt to set up Cameron Marshall for an 8-yard touchdown that gave Arizona State the lead, and Robert Nelson returned an interception 66 yards before Michael Eubank's 1-yard touchdown made it 41-27.

Matt Scott found David Richards for a 17-yard touchdown in the final 2 minutes to cut Arizona State's lead to 41-34, but the Wildcats couldn't come up with the onside kick.

Ka'Deem Carey ran for 172 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats (7-5, 4-5). Scott threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns but had four turnovers, including an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Arizona State's comeback helped coach Todd Graham land the first blow on Arizona's Rich Rodriguez in the 85-game series' first game between new coaches since Arizona's John Mackovic beat ASU's Dirk Koetter in 2001.

A heated rivalry to begin with, the Territorial Cup took on added meaning this season with new coaches trying to get a head start on each other.

After an unsuccessful stint at Michigan, Rodriguez brought gas-it-all-the-time offense to the desert, hoping to turn around a program that had fallen off hard the previous couple of seasons.

Even without much depth on his roster, Rodriguez's debut has been a success: Seven wins, two over Top 25 teams, and bowl eligibility in his first season.

Just 90 minutes up Interstate 10 in Tempe, Graham put his mark on the Sun Devils with his no-nonsense approach and high-octane offense. Arizona State got off to a great start, winning five of its first six games, then rallied from a four-game losing streak to become bowl eligible by beating Washington State last weekend.

For all they accomplished, Friday night's game was the biggest of the season. Bragging rights, an advantage in recruiting, a boost for fans and alumni - plenty was riding on this game.

It took a while to get going.

The only player on either team to get much going early, Carey passed Trung Canidate's single-season school record of 1,602 yards rushing, set in 1999, on Arizona's second drive, then launched himself over Arizona State safety Alden Darby for a 1-yard touchdown run to cap it.

Bogged down early, Arizona State got going by picking off two of Scott's passes. Grice followed the first with a nifty 52-yard touchdown run, then scored from 3 yards out to help the Sun Devils to a 14-9 halftime lead.

Outplayed most of the first half, the Wildcats dominated the third quarter.

Scott used a pump fake to free up Austin Hill for a 29-yard touchdown pass on Arizona's opening drive of the third quarter. Then, Garic Wharton made a tough catch with Keelan Johnson flying in front of him for a 40-yard touchdown. Kicker John Bonano took a direct snap on a fake PAT and raced around the right end for a two-point conversion.

A fumble by Arizona State - the snap hit the motion man - set up a 23-yard field goal by Bonano that put Arizona up 10.

The Sun Devils still wouldn't go away. Jon Mora kicked a 39-yard field goal after Rashad Ross had two potential touchdown passes go through his hands. Then Johnson came up big again, stripping Scott for a fumble. Grice followed with his third touchdown, from 4 yards out, to tie the game at 27.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite clear anymore. 

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

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More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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