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Bears blitz Bruins 49-26 behind Martin, Florence

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Bears blitz Bruins 49-26 behind Martin, Florence

SAN DIEGO (AP) Routing the UCLA Bruins almost seemed like a sidelight for Baylor Bears quarterback Nick Florence.

Nabbing one of Robert Griffin III's school records? Now that was a big deal.

The Bears overwhelmed the No. 17 Bruins 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night as Florence threw for two scores and ran for another. Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns.

Florence completed 10 of 13 passes for 188 yards, giving him 4,309 for the season to break RG3's school record of 4,293 set in his 2011 Heisman Trophy-winning season.

``For me, I just wanted a chance to play. I just happened to follow a Heisman Trophy winner,'' Florence said. ``I'm not Robert. I'm not 6-3. I don't run a 4.3. You saw that tonight. Man, if I could run a 4.3 it would be nice. So I just had to be me. I tried to manage this offense and play within myself. He's a heck of player, he's done a heck of a job for this program, put us on the map. I'm humbled and honored to hold that record. He deserves it. I never thought that would have happened this year. I just wanted to win games.''

Baylor (8-5) won its final four games and five of six.

``That was a question we asked all our players, `What was going to happen now that Robert's gone?''' coach Art Briles said. ``And our guys responded, fought together, believed in each other. They have always sustained and never lost focus.''

Lache Seastrunk rushed 16 times for 138 yards and one score for Baylor, which outgained UCLA 494-362. The Bears came in leading the nation in total offense with 578.8 yards per game.

Baylor's defense came up big, too. The Bears sacked Brett Hundley six times, including two by Chris McAllister, and shut down UCLA's career rushing leader Johnathan Franklin. Franklin, who averaged 130.8 yards this season, gained 12 yards on his first carry of the game but was a non-factor after that, finishing with just 34 yards on 14 carries.

Overall, the Bruins gained only 33 yards on 28 carries. They came in having averaged 202.9 yards rushing.

``They played well upfront,'' UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ``When we are at our best is when we can run the football. We couldn't find any room to the football. They played physical.''

Hundley was 26 of 50 for 329 yards and three touchdowns to set UCLA's season passing record with 3,740 yards. The old record was 3,470 by Cade McNown in 1998.

UCLA (9-5) lost its final three.

The Bruins were never in this one. Baylor raced to a 21-0 lead by early in the second quarter on Martin's 4-yard run and Florence's TD passes of 8 yards to Antwan Goodley and 55 yards to Tevin Reese.

UCLA punted four times and lost the ball on downs before getting a break when Baylor's Jordan Navjar fumbled after a reception when he was hit by Eric Kendricks, with Randal Goforth recovering at the Bears 21. Two plays later, Joseph Fauria caught a 22-yard pass from Hundley to pull the Bruins to 21-7.

Baylor quickly added two more touchdowns to put it out of reach at 35-7. Martin burst up the middle for his second touchdown of the game, a 26-yarder, and, after UCLA punted yet again, Seastrunk broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left before halftime.

UCLA then converted two fourth downs, including a fake punt, to move to the Baylor 12 with 7 seconds left. On fourth-and-10, Mora opted to go for a field goal and Ka'imi Fairbairn converted from 30 yards.

Martin added a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter and Florence had a 1-yard scoring run in the fourth.

Martin had 98 yards on 21 carries.

Baylor rushed for 306 yards.

``We knew coming in that we could run the ball well, and the O-line did a heck of a job and made my job easy,'' Florence said. ``It makes throwing a lot easier.''

Hundley threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Evans early in the fourth quarter and a 34-yarder to Logan Sweet as the game ended.

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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Orioles fans hoping for a Ryan Mountcastle sighting in majors soon as MLB rosters adjust

Orioles fans hoping for a Ryan Mountcastle sighting in majors soon as MLB rosters adjust

Last night, the Orioles sent outfielder DJ Stewart to the team’s alternate training site at Double-A Bowie after an 0-for-14 start to the season. The move got the roster down to 28 players ahead of the deadline.

But even with Stewart now down and the roster full, it’s natural to be curious where the organization's most pro-ready prospect, Ryan Mountcastle, is and why he hasn’t been called up yet. 

The Orioles have four outfielders on the 28-man roster currently: Austin Hays, Dwight Smith Jr., Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander. They’ll have to make another roster move in the coming days, when pitcher John Means comes off the bereavement list, too.

Still, there is a natural curiosity about what the International League’s Most Valuable Player from a year ago could accomplish at the major league level. 

Last year at Triple-A Norfolk, Mountcastle slashed .312/.344/.527 and had 25 home runs in 127 games. While he predominantly played the corner infield spots, he played the outfield for the first time in his professional career.

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Now, the Orioles want to develop him as a corner outfielder. 

What Mountcastle’s time at the development site shows, however, is that they value the camp more so than regular games for him right now. 

With Hays and Santander in center and right field, the two options for left field are Mullins and Smith, who are batting .083 and .167, respectively. Neither is getting on-base at a clip better than .250. In terms of hindrances to Mountcastle’s job in the major leagues, there aren’t many right now. 

The Orioles are carrying three catchers, which is one area the eventual roster move could come from when Means is back on the roster, but until Mountcastle comes up, those questions won’t be quelled. 

The team has already acquired an extra year of club control by keeping Mountcastle down for the first week of the season, meaning the reasons for keeping him down at this point relate strictly to his development. 

That means he’ll be in Baltimore once the Orioles think he’s ready to play major league defense and take major league at-bats. 

As for when that is, however, is solely up to the organization at this point.

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