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Clanton, UCF beat Bethune-Cookman 72-62

Clanton, UCF beat Bethune-Cookman 72-62

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Keith Clanton had 30 points, 13 boards and four assists as Central Florida defeated Bethune-Cookman 72-62 Wednesday night, snapping a two-game winning streak for the Wildcats.

Isaiah Sykes added 18 and Tristan Spurlock chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds. Clanton made 14 of 15 shots from the field for UCF (5-2), which won its eighth straight game over Bethune-Cookman.

UCF got 18 points from Clanton and shot 60.7 percent (17 of 28) from the field in the first half en route to a 38-28 lead at intermission. The Knights made 10 of their first 13 shots to open the second half to extend their lead to 60-41.

Bethune-Cookman (4-7) never got any closer than nine the rest of the way.

UCF was 32-of-52 shooting and outscored Bethune-Cookman 58-36 in the paint

Adrien Coleman, who posted a triple-double in Bethune-Cookman's Dec. 8 win over Webber International, had 19 points.

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Dwight Howard's first press conference with Wizards included funny jokes about Magic, Hornets

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NBCS Washington

Dwight Howard's first press conference with Wizards included funny jokes about Magic, Hornets

Dwight Howard showed up to his first press conference as a Washington Wizard on Monday with some great jokes — slightly self-deprecating with some funny zingers aimed at his former teams.

The 32-year-old big man — who said he plans to play in the NBA for eight more years and wants to finish his career with the Wizards — was asked about now playing for four teams in four years and why he felt comfortable making such bold statements about his future.

Enter comedian Dwight Howard.

“I learned Magic for eight years. Traveled to La-La Land. Learned how to work with Rockets. I went and learned to fly with some Hawks. Got stung by the Hornets — just a joke. But through all of that, it’s taught me how to be a Wizard.”

A 14-year veteran in the NBA, Howard has a career average of 17.4 points, 12.7 boards, 2.0 blocks and a .583 field goal percentage.

Before coming to Washington, Howard spent the last three individual seasons playing for the Charlotte Hornets, the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets — who he was with from the 2013-14 season until the 2015-16 season. As he said in the setup to his line, he started his NBA career in 2004-05 with the Orlando Magic. In the 2017-18 season with the Hornets, Howard finished the year averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

"I got the cape," Howard continued to joke about playing for sorcery-inspired teams. 

"I'll wipe it off. It was a little dusty, it had a couple holes in it, so I had my seamstress put it back together, and I got it cleaned. So yeah, I'm looking forward to putting the cape back on."

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Key Caps questions: Which Braden Holtby will we see this season?

Key Caps questions: Which Braden Holtby will we see this season?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Which Braden Holtby are we most likely to see this season: February Holtby or playoff Holtby?

Tarik: The season ended in the best way imaginable for the Capitals as a team. It also ended in the best way imaginable for Braden Holtby as an individual.

There’s no disputing the fact that Holtby endured the toughest regular season since he broke into the NHL.

The 28-year-old posted career-worst marks in both save percentage (.907) and goals against average (2.99). He also ended up with 34 wins, his lowest total in a full season.

Holtby also lost his starting job to Philipp Grubauer entering the playoffs.

But instead of wallowing in self-pity, he quietly went about rebuilding his game so that if he were needed again, he’d be ready. And, of course, his number was called just a couple of games into the first round.

After replacing Grubauer in Game 2, Holtby was the best goalie in the playoffs—and it wasn’t all that close. Among goalies who appeared in at least 12 postseason games, Holtby’s .922 save percentage was tied for second best (with Connor Hellebuyck and ranked behind only Marc Andre Fleury’s .927). Holtby’s 2.16 goals against average, meanwhile, was tops.

And then there was ‘The Save’ in the waning moments of Game 2 of the Final. I’m not sure there’s a Stanley Cup in Washington if Holtby didn’t get his stick on that Alex Tuch layup, preserving the Caps’ 3-2 win.

Whether it was mental fatigue or physical fatigue or something else that led to Holtby’s midseason slump, we can be sure of this much: it was the first protracted rough patch of his career. More important than the struggles, though, he figured out how to ‘reset’ himself on the fly. Many top goalies who have enjoyed staying power over the years, guys like Henrik Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo, to name a couple, have all had to do that from time-to-time, and now Holtby knows he’s got that ability, too.

In the span of seven weeks, Holtby rewrote his franchise’s history and how everyone—including himself—will view his 2017-18 season.

Struggles? What struggles?

That’s a long-winded way of saying I’d be shocked if Holts doesn’t pick up right where he left off in Las Vegas.

JJ:  A shocking proportion of the Caps' fan base has completely taken Holtby for granted for much of his Capitals career, labeled him a poor playoff performer and pointed to Grubauer as a better long-term option in net. Hopefully, all of those doubters have now seen the light.

Holtby has been consistently great in both the regular season and the playoffs throughout his entire career with only a few hiccups, and last season's slump was by far his worst. Grubauer rightly got the nod heading into the playoffs as the hotter of the two netminders, but any continued doubts anyone has regarding whether or not Holtby is a great goalie were officially put to rest during last season's playoff run.

Heading into the Stanley Cup Final, Marc-Andre Fleury's name was penciled in as the Conn Smythe winner. Holtby outplayed him and outplayed him badly:

Holtby: 5 GP, 4-1 record, .916 save percentage, 2.62 GAA
Fleury: 5 GP, 1-4 record, .853 save percentage, 4.09 GAA

But JJ, what about the 2017 playoffs?

Holtby's 2017 postseason was his worst postseason and that was a major factor in the team's second-round loss to Pittsburgh. For his career, however, Holtby has a .929 save percentage in the playoffs which ranks third all-time. He also boasts a 2.04 postseason GAA, the best among all active goalies and 12th all-time.

Why am I throwing these numbers at you? Because Holtby is a great goalie who, like all goalies, is subject to slumps from time to time. For some unknown reason, there has been a tendency to define Holtby by his slumps instead of his overall body of work which is beyond reproach.

The way Holtby rebounded from last season's slump showed how strong a netminder he is mentally. I have zero doubt that he will enter the season in top form.

Fatigue is the only factor I find concerning. There's no Grubauer behind Holtby who can step in for 35 games this season. Instead, it will be Pheonix Copley as backup, a goalie with a grand total of two NHL games worth of experience. 

Limiting Holtby to about 60 games would be ideal, but I am doubtful that is going to happen this season. Otherwise, I have no doubt we will see the normally dominant Holtby once again.

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