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Golden, Vols rally past No. 23 Wichita State 69-60

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Golden, Vols rally past No. 23 Wichita State 69-60

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Trae Golden scored 25 points and Tennessee beat No. 23 Wichita State 69-60 on Thursday night to snap a two-game losing streak and hand the Shockers their first loss of the season.

Tennessee shot 47.5 percent to end a brutal offensive slump. In its two games leading up to this one, Tennessee had lost 37-36 to Georgetown in the SEC/Big East Challenge on Nov. 30 and 46-38 at Virginia on Dec. 5. The only other time Tennessee failed to score 40 points since the shot clock was introduced in 1986-87 was a 43-35 loss to Auburn on Jan. 15, 1997.

The Volunteers (5-3) are shooting 50.8 percent in their wins and 29.1 percent in their losses this season.

Jordan McRae added 17 points for Tennessee.

Carl Hall matched a career high with 21 points and had nine rebounds - seven offensive - for Wichita State (9-1), which was seeking the first 10-0 start in school history. The Shockers started 9-0 in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

Tennessee won despite playing most of the second half without Jarnell Stokes, the Vols' leading scorer and rebounder. Stokes had six points and seven rebounds while playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble.

Hall's three-point play gave Wichita State a 59-58 lead and was the play Stokes fouled out on with 3:55 remaining. But the Vols outscored the Shockers 11-2 the rest of the way.

Golden went 6 of 8 from the free throw line during that game-ending run. He made one of two free throws to tie the game with 3:29 left, then Kenny Hall put Tennessee ahead for good by making two free throws with 3:10 remaining.

Tennessee's return to Thompson-Boling Arena revived the Vols' dormant offense. The Vols' 69 points matched the highest total Wichita State had allowed all season. The Shockers beat Air Force 72-69 on Dec. 2.

The rejuvenation didn't happen immediately. Tennessee committed five turnovers and scored just two points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game. But the Vols eventually settled down and started making the shots they had missed all too often against Georgetown and Virginia.

Tennessee led 30-28 at halftime before Wichita State pulled back ahead as Carl Hall scored eight points in the first 5 minutes of the second half.

Tennessee honored the memory of former coach Ray Mears, who went 278-112 from 1962-77 and remains the winningest coach in the history of the program. Mears' surviving relatives were given a painting of him at a halftime ceremony that featured about a dozen of his former players.

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The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

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NBC Sports

The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

Alex Ovechkin's assist to Brett Connolly in Game 5 started when Carolina Hurricanes defender Dougie Hamilton shied away from Ovechkin's imminent check.

To start Game 6, Ovechkin tried to ram Hamilton along the boards again, but Hamilton sidestepped him to get the puck to safety.

After Ovechkin tumbled to the ice when he missed the hit, he made his way back to the bench, when he appeared to, well, you decide.

Ovechkin's mocking did not go unnoticed by the broadcast crew on NBC Sports Network or by fans on Twitter. "And there it is, that's what Eddie was talking about," chuckled Pierre McGuire as Ovechkin appeared to raise his arms like a clucking chicken.

The Hurricanes would respond with a goal to even the game 1-1, but Ovechkin answered back at 15:12 of the first period on an assist from Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen to make it 2-1 Capitals.

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The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

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USA TODAY Sports

The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

The finalists for the Norris Trophy – awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability in the position – were unveiled on Sunday. Somehow, John Carlson was not among them.

This is the second consecutive year Carlson was a deserving candidate and the second year he will not even be among the top three.

The Norris Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association -- of which I am a member so I guess you can blame us -- but make no mistake, this is a snub in every sense of the word and a major oversight that Carlson cannot get the recognition he deserves.

Ballots will be made public after the awards are given out. Until then, we are not supposed to divulge exactly how we voted, but I will tell you that Carlson was in my top three, and he absolutely should have been a finalist this year.

If you had asked me prior to the 2017-18 season who the most important defenseman on the Caps was, I would have told you it was Matt Niskanen. I saw Carlson as an offensive-heavy player whose skills in his own zone were lacking. I had to eat those words later as Niskanen was injured in mid-October and missed the next month of the season. During that month, Carlson averaged 27:47 of ice-time per game, which led the entire league. He showed he could contribute offensively, defensively, on the power play and penalty kill. There was nothing he could not do.

Suddenly, the Caps’ top pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen was replaced by Carlson and whoever he was paired with. That continued into this season.

But while Carlson has reshaped his image in Washington, his reputation as an offensive first player instead of an all-around defenseman persists, and it cost him.

There is no set standard every voter sticks to when it comes to evaluating players for the Norris. You can look at whatever stats you want whether it is Corsi, Fenwick, points, PDO, defensive zone starts, high-danger chances for -- the list goes on. Here’s why Carlson was in the top three of my ballot: Not only did he play exceptionally well, but the Capitals relied on him more in more situations than any other team relied on a single defenseman.

Carlson finished the season ranked eighth in the NHL in time on ice per game at 25:04. Burns finished just ahead of him with 25:06. Both Giordano (24:14) and Hedman (22:46) played less.

Carlson was among the top 40 defensemen in shorthanded time on ice per game with 2:35, something only Giordano (2:40) could boast among the other finalists. Carlson was also first among all defensemen in power play time on ice per game with 4:05, significantly more than Hedman (3:19), Giordano (3:19) or Burns (3:17).

There is no situation in which the Caps are not comfortable putting Carlson out on the ice and no situation in which he is not expected to play heavy minutes. He has taken a bigger role defensively as the team’s top shutdown pair of Orlov-Niskanen has had a down year. Despite the heavier defensive workload, Carlson still managed to finish in the top four in points among defensemen with 70, a career-high.

I am not here saying that Burns, Giordano or Hedman are not deserving of being finalists. In fact, Carlson did not finish first on my ballot. It seems crazy to me, however, that he did not finish in the top three this season or last. All three finalists had strong seasons, but Carlson’s season was just as good and he was more heavily relied upon. He is one of the top offensive blueliners, but that’s not all he is.

Until he manages to overcome that reputation, which persists through no fault of his own, he will continue to be on the outside of the Norris race looking in. And that’s a shame considering how good he has been.

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