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Harden leads Rockets over Grizzlies 121-96

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Harden leads Rockets over Grizzlies 121-96

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 31 points with eight assists, and the Houston Rockets earned their third straight win, 121-96 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

The Grizzlies entered the game allowing an NBA-low 89.2 points a game. But they had no answer for Harden. He did all his scoring in the first three quarters and reached at least 20 points for an eighth straight game.

Houston used a big run midway through the second quarter to take the lead, and didn't trail after that to break a four-game winning streak by the Grizzlies.

Mike Conley had 16 points for the Grizzlies on a night when leading scorer Rudy Gay finished with a season-low six points.

Memphis hadn't allowed 100 points since the Clippers scored 101 in the season-opener - an NBA-best streak of 23 games.

The Rockets needed just over three quarters to reach the mark with a free throw by Jeremy Lin with 9 1-2 minutes left that made it 100-80.

It was the Rockets' 13th straight home victory over the Grizzlies. Memphis hasn't won in Houston since April 2006.

Lin added 15 points and 11 assists, and Marcus Morris scored 16 points.

Rockets took advantage of their speed in this one, outscoring Memphis 33-3 on fast breaks in the Grizzlies' most lopsided loss of the season.

The Rockets led by 15 points late in the third quarter when Harden found Greg Smith in the lane for a dunk. Quincy Pondexter made a layup on the other end before Carlos Delfino knocked down a 3-pointer from 2 feet behind the line to extend the lead to 94-76.

Zach Randolph made a layup for Memphis to end the quarter with Houston up 94-78.

The Rockets had a six-point lead before Harden scored seven straight points to push Houston's lead to 77-64 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He started the run with a three-point play before jumping in front of a pass and taking it the distance for a layup.

The Grizzlies led by three points with about nine minutes left in the second quarter before Houston used a 13-3 run powered by six points from Omer Asik to take a 48-41 lead.

Memphis cut the lead to four later in the quarter. This time the Rockets used a 12-6 spurt to extend their lead to 64-54 at halftime.

NOTES: The Rockets recalled G Scott Machado from the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers before Saturday's game. ... Asik had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. ... Houston is 7-1 when Harden scores at least 30 points. ... Randolph finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The 9 craziest things that happened in Week 8 of the college football season

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USA TODAY Sports

The 9 craziest things that happened in Week 8 of the college football season

Illinois ruined next week's undefeated matchup between Wisconsin and Ohio State with the biggest upset of the year, a football game turned into a dance-off, Virginia Tech won a six-overtime thriller and Louisville is still insane.

Here are the six craziest things that happened in Week 8 of the college football season.

31-point underdog Illinois upsets Wisconsin

Were you looking ahead to a game of unbeatens between Ohio State and Wisconsin? Well, I've got some bad news....

Wisconsin entered Saturday's game in Champaign 6-0. Four of those six wins were shutouts. The defense had only allowed 29 combined for the season. Illinois entered the game as a 31-point underdog and yet, the Fightin' Illini pulled off the biggest upset of the season with a field goal as time expired for the 24-23 win.

What the heck happened on that Tennessee goal-line play?

The fact that Tennessee lost to Alabama isn't crazy. The Crimson Tide have now won 13 straight so it would have been crazy had Alabama not won. What was lost in the win and all the injury news on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a goal-line play by Tennessee that went horrifically wrong in what was still a close game.

Trailing 28-13 in the fourth quarter, Tennesse lined up for a 4th and goal from Alabama's 1-yard line. Then this happened.

Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano fumbled the ball and Trevon Diggs returned it all the way down the field to turn what could have been a one-possession game into a three-possession game.

Unfortunate play? No, it goes beyond that.

There's a lot going on with that offensive line. It looks like the guard pulls which would never happen on a quarterback sneak. Guarantano doesn't come close to getting into the end zone and he gets smacked backward. We will never know exactly what happened on that play, whether he called the wrong play or there was a different run called and he decided to try to sneak it in himself. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt, however, was pissed and met his quarterback on the field so he could yell at him and grab his face mask. He said after the game he was mad because Guarantano tried to go over the top instead of trying to push his way through the middle, but again...the guard pulls so...?

Seven players ejected after a dance-off

Things got pretty heated in Saturday's game between Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern. How heated you ask? Well between the third and fourth quarters both teams had to be separated because...a dance-off broke out!

No, this is not the script for a Footloose sequel, this actually happened.

In the most intense dance-off since West Side Story, both teams began dancing on the field when the song "Mo Bamba" played over the loudspeakers. 

Unfortunately, the referees apparently have no love for the art of dance so they gave every single player a penalty which resulted in seven players getting ejected.

Kansas almost beat Texas because a Tom Herman quote was taken out of context

Texas needed a field goal as time expired to beat Kansas on Saturday which would probably be weird enough to warrant landing on this list on its own. What really made things weird was why this game was so close.

After the game, several quotes came out of Kansas players saying they were motivated by disrespectful comments Texas head coach Tom Herman made at his Monday weekly press conference. When asked about Kansas, Herman said, "We actually play a game this week?"

OK, you can see why Kansas players would be upset...until you hear the context of the quote.

Herman was not asked a single question about Kansas during his press conference until it was almost 17 minutes in. His remark seemed aimed at the writers for not bringing up that week's game sooner, but I guess Les Miles and his coaches decided the Kansas players did not need to know that part.

The Sooner Schooner crashed

This is one of those stories that is only funny because everyone was OK.

The Sooner Schooner comes out onto the field at Oklahoma to celebrate Sooner touchdowns. In the second quarter, however, things went awry as the Schooner tipped over when making too sharp a turn.

As mentioned above, the school sent out a Twitter update saying no one was injured.

This is actually not the first time this has happened as the Schooner toppled over 26 years ago in a game against Colorado as well.

Louisville needs to chill, part 2

Last week we were all introduced to Louisville defensive line coach Mark Ivey who got bloodied during some intense warmups.

Evidently, he is not the only insane intense coach on the staff. This is just a thing at Louisville.

Here you can see the Cardinals getting pumped up by several coaches including the quality control coach. Because how could you not get pumped up by a rousing speech from the quality control coach?

Louisville lost by 35.

The worst fake punt ever?

When you're looking at the possibility of losing your 15th straight conference game, you get desperate. Arkansas certainly must have been desperate when it dialed up perhaps the worst fake punt in the history of college football.

A six overtime game

Virginia Tech and North Carolina fought through six overtimes before the Hokies finally emerged victorious and that's fine because six overtimes are still better than a tie. This marathon game gave us our first look at the new overtime rules in which each team gets a two-point conversion try starting in the fifth overtime instead of going series after series after series. The best part about this is that it mercifully took special teams out of the equation which is good because both teams had already missed two field goals in overtime.

Air Force gets a bizarre pick-6

Late in the fourth quarter, Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald dropped back to pass. Air Force safety Grant Theil read the play perfectly and jumped a route to get his hands on the football. He could not come up with the catch and the ball bounced out of his hands when he hit the ground. It bounced off his hip, rolled to his knee and his leg kicked it up in the air and right into the hands of teammate Milton Bugg. The ball never touched the ground and Bugg proceeded to run it 92 yards for the touchdown.

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Caps come out on top after crazy third period in Chicago

Caps come out on top after crazy third period in Chicago

The Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks exchanged five goals in the third period, but it was the Caps who came out on top on Sunday in a 5-3 win. The game is the first of a five-game road swing for Washington who have now won three straight.

Here is how the Caps beat the Blackhawks.

Special teams

Washington held a 2-1 lead at the end of two periods with one power play goal and one shorthanded goal. Chicago was firing pucks at the net from everywhere with 84 total shot attempts for the game at 5-on-5. The Caps did not appear to be getting outplayed, but clearly Chicago was getting more pressure at even strength. The special teams definitely gave the Caps the edge with one power play goal while yielding none to the Blackhawks.

Both units the power play and shorthanded were perfect on the night, the power play converting on its lone opportunity and the penalty kill fending off all four of Chicago’s power plays.

Great work on the power play

This is how you draw it up.

Alex Ovechkin came charging in on Jonathan Toews to force a turnover off the faceoff. Nicklas Backstrom chipped the puck into the corner away from the penalty killers. Evgeny Kuznetsov won a puck battle with Duncan Keith to take possession of the puck. T.J. Oshie then came charging into the slot for the pass from Kuznetsov and fired the shot high glove side for the goal.

That was a beautiful all-around play by the top unit.

Two quick responses

Drake Caggiula tied the game at 1 in the second period and suddenly the momentum was all on Chicago’s side. Just one minute later, Chandler Stephenson was given a double-minor for high-sticking Kirby Dach. This was Chicago’s moment to take control of the game. Instead, it proved to be the turning point for Washington. Patrick Kane turned the puck over on the power play and Carl Hagelin picked it up and was off to the races, sparking a 2-on-1 with Nic Dowd. Hagelin made the pass to Dowd who fired a shot. Crawford was beaten glove-side for the second time for what was Dowd’s second goal in as many games.

Chicago was given the double-minor power play exactly one minute after tying the game. Just 28 seconds after that, the Caps retook momentum with the shorthanded goal. The Blackhawks’ power play, which had looked dangerous to that point, completely fizzled through the rest of the double-minor.

Washington dominated most of the game, but a Patrick Kane goal in the third period tied the game at 3 and once again, momentum seemed to be entirely in Chicago's favor. Once again, the Caps responded.

Lars Eller took the puck in the offensive zone, wheeled around behind the net and fired a puck on the sharp angle at Crawford. He made the save, but it went right to Hagelin. He centered the puck to Wilson who roofed it into the net for the game-winning tally.

Wilson's goal came less than two minutes after Kane had tied it at 3.
 
John Carlson’s brilliant pass

A slap shot from Michal Kempny went wide of the net and curled around the wall back towards the blue line. Carlson collected it and immediately fired it on the first touch cross-ice to Ovechkin for the one-timer. The assist gave Carlson his 18th point of the season which makes him the NHL’s sole leader in points.

Braden Holtby

Chicago was throwing a lot of rubber around in this one. They finished with 84 total shot attempts. Only 44 of those attempts made it on net, but Holtby was brilliant and turned aside 41 of those shots.

Until the shorthanded marker that took the wind out of the power play’s sails, Holtby was Washington’s best penalty killer with nine saves on the man advantage. Again he tracked the puck well in a game in which the Blackhawks were showing off their puck-moving skills with great passing plays and a lot of shots.

Holtby looks much improved after his brief reset and now has strung together two strong starts in a row.

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