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Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Georgia coach Mark Richt wants the lasting memory his team has of this season to be a positive one.

Nothing will give the sixth-ranked Bulldogs a second chance to get back the 5 yards they came up short in their SEC championship game loss to Alabama.

Still, Richt is hoping that Tuesday's Capital One Bowl against equally redemption-minded Nebraska will be a huge initial step.

``There's always a scene in the locker room after the game, and I'm going to be addressing seniors for the very last time,'' Richt said. ``You want that last memory to be a good one. That's a big motivating factor for me and I think it probably is for anyone who's thinking `Hey, this might be my last ball game.'''

On the other side of the field will be a Nebraska team that has been asked ad nauseam this week about how it could possibly get over its humiliating 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Like Georgia, Nebraska also enters the postseason with a two-game bowl losing streak. It's why Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini hasn't sugarcoated at all this week the reality of the disappointment his team carries with it into this game.

``No, matter what happens...you'll never wipe that taste out of your mouth,'' Pelini said. ``That isn't going away, regardless of what happens (Tuesday). To me life is about opportunities. It's about challenges. It's what drives me and it's why I'm in this profession. It's why I do what I do and why the players play.

``When it was presented to me of which opportunity we were going to take, we took the one we thought was the biggest challenge for our team.''

Their previous shortcomings aside, both teams can also achieve program milestones with a win Tuesday.

Only two previous Georgia teams have recorded 12 victories in a season, and Nebraska is trying for its first 11-win season since 2001.

``Definitely looking forward to it. It's been kind of an up and down year, but I am just excited to play against Georgia,'' Nebraska senior running back Rex Burkhead said. ``They have a great defense, great team and I'm just ready to get back out there with my team and have another chance to go out with a bang.''

Burkhead only appeared in seven games this season as he battled a left knee injury that kept him on the sidelines at different points this season.

It put the Cornhuskers primary rushing duties on junior quarterback Taylor Martinez and sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah, who led the team with 1,089 yards. Martinez had a team-high 10 rushing scores. Freshman Imani Cross also chipped in seven touchdowns.

``They have done a tremendous job,'' Burkhead said. ``You know they had a great off season just to prepare for this season. I think you see them playing a lot faster this year just seeing things quicker, and that's probably the biggest strides they made from last year, and it's awesome to watch. I didn't play for a lot of games this year, so it was just kind of cool seeing them develop and mature throughout this year and showcasing their abilities and what they can do.''

Now Burkhead and company will combine to try to exploit a Georgia defense that had the eighth-ranked passing defense in the country (surrendering just 173.5 yards per game), but a rushing defense that gave up 177.8 yards on the ground.

Nebraska's rushing defense was even worse, giving up 194.9 yards per game.

Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith thinks the key, though, will be keeping a throwing and running threat like Martinez off balance.

``It's just going to be hard to contain him,'' he said. ``Everybody is just going to have to give our all and give hundred percent, give our best to get after them, which is hard when you are playing such a great player like him.''

That said, Bulldogs sophomore defensive end Ray Drew said he and his teammates welcome the opportunity to matchup up with the Cornhuskers' multi-pronged attack.

``We respect Nebraska,'' said Drew. ``As usual, we fear no one but respect everyone. I think we know what we need to do down here to leave with a `W'.''

Taking a cue from his coach, Murray said like Richt, he wants Tuesday to be a celebration for the Bulldogs' seniors.

That list includes junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, who could make the jump to the NFL this offseason.

``I know all the underclassmen really want to send them off the right way,'' Murray said. ``Like I said, I know me personally, I have yet to win or be part of a winning bowl game, so I really want to win. And I am going to do what I can to make sure this offense and this team are ready to go.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

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Unsung LaToya Sanders’ two-way play has Mystics one game away from WNBA Finals

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Unsung LaToya Sanders’ two-way play has Mystics one game away from WNBA Finals

On a stacked Mystics team, LaToya Sanders knows her role. 

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound wisp of a center is asked to guard far bigger opponents throughout the season and still complement her teammates on the offensive end. It’s a lot to deal with. She does so without complaint. 

Sanders, the most unheralded of Washington’s five starters, did it all on Thursday night in a 103-91 WNBA semifinal win over the Las Vegas Aces at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

She finished with 17 points on a night when WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne (14 points, 5 of 15 shooting) struggled given her lofty standards. Sanders also played the kind of defense that left coach Mike Thibault insisting she should have been named WNBA first or second-team All-Defense. 

“My job is probably the easiest on the team,” Sanders laughed. “My job is basically to hit wide-open jumpers and lay-ups. Pretty sure I can do those two things.”

Indeed, she was efficient hitting 7 of 10 shots and all three free throws. Sanders also had to guard Vegas’ 6-8 center Liz Cambage, a big ask given their size difference. Cambage did have 23 points and 10 rebounds, but she only took 11 shots. 

Sanders and her teammates tried to make it as hard as possible for the Aces to get the ball inside for easy baskets in their two wins this week. Washington won Game 1 of the series 97-95 on Tuesday, a game that left Cambage visibly frustrated. She also earned a technical foul in Thursday’s game on a rough play underneath the Vegas basket.  

“When you’re LaToya Sanders and you’re 6-3 and you’re relying on your long arms to guard people, she takes a beating every night,” Thibault said. “She guards Camabge and [Phoenix Mercury center Brittney] Griner and [Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia] Fowles and all those people. And every night she wins a lot of those battles.”

But the really unsung part of Sanders’ game is her mid-range jumper. Thursday she was on when some of her higher-profile teammates like Delle Donne didn’t quite have their shot dropping. 

Sanders had six points in the third quarter as the two teams battled back and forth in a tight game and that set the stage for the decisive run that tilted the game toward the Mystics. She also had a hot start to the night with two baskets in the first quarter. 

“[Sanders is] a really good player. She's just on a team with so many other good players that she doesn't get as many shots,” Vegas guard Kelsey Plum said. “But she plays her role as good as anyone in the league. She's a vet. She rebounds the crap out of the ball. I just think that she does a great job for them. Everyone made us pay."

Thibault referenced a rebound Sanders grabbed in traffic to stifle a Vegas possession when they were trying to get the lead under 10 points in the fourth quarter. Instead, Washington was able to work the clock at the offensive end and score a knockout blow. It’s the little things that matter most when a team is pushing for a championship. The Mystics are one step closer. 

“Cambage is a talent, she’s a big girl,” Sanders said. “I just do what I can to try to make it difficult for her, but she’s going to hit some buckets here and there. I try to dish it out, but not take it.”  

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Orioles Roundup: Trey Mancini stays hot in 8-4 home loss to Blue Jays

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Orioles Roundup: Trey Mancini stays hot in 8-4 home loss to Blue Jays

In a fitting tribute to most games this season in Baltimore, Trey Mancini had a terrific day at the plate, but the pitching staff allowed too many home runs and the O's ended up losing.

Here's everything you need to know about the Orioles.

Player Updates:

OF Trey Mancini hasn't slowed down at all for the Orioles, turning in a 4-for-4 night to tie his career high in hits. He's hitting .286 with 34 home runs during his breakout season.

OF Austin Hays enjoyed a banner night, hitting his first home run of the season and making one of the year's highlight catches, robbing a home run well over the centerfield wall.

SP Gabriel Ynoa allowed three runs in 6.1 innings. He didn't walk anyone and allowed just six hits, but he also only struck out one batter despite pitching into the seventh inning, and two of the hits allowed were home runs.

Injuries

RP Hunter Harvey, biceps, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Josh Rogers, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely 

SP Alex Cobb, back, 60-Day IL, 2020

Coming Up:

Friday, 9/20: Mariners at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Saturday, 9/21: Mariners at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Sunday, 9/22: Mariners at Orioles, 1:05 p.m., Camden Yards