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Brown giving more attention to Longhorns defense

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Brown giving more attention to Longhorns defense

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Mack Brown is doing double duty these days.

On top of his head coaching responsibilities, he also is attending meetings of his underachieving Texas defense and watching the unit more closely at practice.

The defense needs the help, and it's a safe bet Brown will be alongside defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in preparing for a stiff test Saturday when Texas plays at No. 20 Texas Tech, which is averaging 507 yards of offense a game.

``We have to play better on defense,'' said Brown, who acknowledged he's been frustrated by the unit's poor play and is working to help simplify its schemes. ``We know that. The staff's not stupid.''

For the first time since at least 1950, the Texas defense has allowed more than 600 yards in back-to-back games (Oklahoma and Baylor). It could end up setting unenviable school records for average yards given up and total points allowed.

Texas is No. 108 in the nation in stopping the rush and 56th in stopping the pass. The Longhorns are 96th in total defense, a far cry from finishing last season 11th .

If last week is an indication, the defense might finally be coming around. Texas gave up only 273 total yards, its second-best performance this season, in a 21-17 win at Kansas.

``Defensively, I thought there was a shot of confidence on Saturday, maybe for the first time in a long time,'' said Brown, who has never been a defensive coordinator. ``They haven't had a lot to be proud of. They haven't had a lot to build on. This gives them something to build on.''

The improvement in the comeback win at Kansas came against a team that isn't a passing threat behind redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings, making the 234 rushing yards Texas allowed look a bit less impressive.

Three weeks ago, Texas senior safety Kenny Vaccaro called out his teammates, suggesting some on defense weren't playing very hard. After Texas got drubbed 63-21 by Oklahoma, he cited a ``blooper reel'' of missed tackles and muffed assignments.

But Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege isn't paying attention to numbers from the Texas defense.

``I think there are times where Texas looks like world beaters on defense,'' said Doege, who's thrown for 30 touchdowns and 2,580 yards. ``And there are times that they're not so good on defense. But I expect them to come in here, get geared up and ready to roll since it's a rival game.''

Injuries have played a part. Jordan Hicks, the defense's best and most experienced linebacker, went out in the third game with a hip flexor injury. He won't play against the Red Raiders (6-2, 3-2). Next went defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who had a season-ending chest muscle tear.

Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs said things ``clicked'' at Kansas and the defense found a groove. He's hoping that carries over when they travel to Lubbock.

``Go out, play tough, physical. That's the main thing,'' he said.

When asked to rate his job performance, Diaz settled on ``incomplete'' because there are still four games remaining - a third of the regular season.

``For whatever we've come through, we've managed to win six games and only lose two,'' he said. ``The players still believe in what we're doing and believe in each other. I think we're poised to finish the season on a very high note and if we do, then we can evaluate where it stands.''

Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville has watched Texas (6-2, 3-2) struggle against the run. In four of its five Big 12 games, the Longhorns defense has allowed 234 rushing yards or more.

Texas Tech's third-year coach said he's sure Texas will continue to work on stopping the rush.

But, he said, ``there is no secret to what we do. We throw it. We won't change anything for who we play.''

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

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