Nationals

Big 12 could see 4-way tie for BCS berth

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Big 12 could see 4-way tie for BCS berth

If college football fans think the BCS picture got all shook up with those losses by Kansas State and Oregon, they might want to look at the potential chaos in the Big 12.

Kansas State could still win the league, but the Wildcats' 52-24 loss at Baylor on Saturday set up the possibility for a four-way tie. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas could all sit at 7-2 at the end of the regular season Dec. 1.

If that happens, all would get a trophy declaring their Big 12 championship. But there would have to be some tiebreaker work done to determine who would get the league's BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl, if not in the championship game.

For the quartet to finish 7-2, the 16th-ranked Longhorns would have to beat TCU and then win at Kansas State, while No. 21 Oklahoma State would have to win the Bedlam game in Norman, Okla., and prevail at Baylor. Also, the No. 13 Sooners would have to win at TCU.

Head-to-head records would then decide which school gets a BCS berth.

Just last week, Kansas State had a clear path to the national title game, ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings. The Wildcats dropped five spots to sixth in the rankings after losing to a Baylor team still trying to become bowl eligible.

There's also a possibility for a three-way tie similar to 2008 when Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas each finished 7-1 in Big 12 and 11-1 in regular season. This year it could be the Wildcats, Longhorns or Sooners in a three-way tie, or the Wildcats, Longhorns and Cowboys.

All the math becomes moot if Kansas State beats Texas to close the regular season.

With that, the only team that could match K-State's 8-1 conference record would be Oklahoma, which lost to the Wildcats in the Big 12 opener Sept. 22. In that case, the Wildcats would get the Big 12's BCS berth.

The Longhorns play on Thanksgiving against a Horned Frogs team that's 3-1 on the road in conference play.

``All of our focus will be on TCU,'' Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Monday. ``This is a very important game for us and key game for us to finish strong.''

Should the Sooners come out on top in their last two games, their fans would then be in the awkward position of pulling for the Longhorns to win at Kansas State.

``We're not there yet,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said of the odd scenario.

Kansas State has two weeks to prepare to host the Longhorns, who Wildcats coach Bill Snyder called a ``tremendously talented'' team. The break will be welcome to his players and their bodies.

But, ``feeling sorry'' for themselves isn't an option for his players, he said, and there is a downside, he said.

``That's two weeks having to live with the loss in Waco,'' Snyder said.

Dana Holgorsen, whose West Virginia team has lost five straight, said the tight finish comes in a league that's as strong as he's seen it. He knows the Big 12 well, having spent eight years at Texas Tech with former coach Mike Leach and a season as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

``It's been an eye-opener for a lot of people'' who are Mountaineers fans, he said. ``It's just an incredibly strong conference.''

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Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

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Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

The Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees to finish a once-suspended game, tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Though it seemed like just a makeup, it was anything but for rookie Juan Soto.

It’s true that Soto struck out as a pinch hitter in his first-ever game on May 20. Since then, the 19-year-old has caught fire, batting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 23 games this season.

But the makeup of the suspended game took place on May 15, five days before Soto was called up to give the Nats an extra bat. Soto would make his major league debut once again.

Though it’s uncommon for a player to compete in a game prior to his major-league debut, it’s been done before. Barry Bonds hit a go-ahead single in a suspended game that dated a month before his debut. Closer Jeff Reardon threw a scoreless inning and picked up a win in a suspended game nearly two months before his debut, as well.              

After Anthony Rendon hit an opposite-field single in the bottom of the sixth, Soto pinch hit for Matt Adams who has missed the previous two games with a hand injury.                                                  

And Soto, with a chance to change his first career at-bat from a pinch-hit strikeout to anything but, did just that. He turned on a fastball and sent a rocket to right field. Aaron Judge took a few steps before looking up toward the bleachers. The ball landed in the second deck.

Talk about a first career at-bat. A no-doubt, two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead in a game that took place before his first major-league debut.

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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