NCAA

High-scoring Seattle turns focus to San Francisco

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High-scoring Seattle turns focus to San Francisco

RENTON, Wash. (AP) As the Seahawks flew back from Toronto late Sunday night, nearly every person on Seattle's charter was glued to what was happening in New England - watching to see if the Seahawks could be playing for the NFC West division lead this weekend.

San Francisco didn't play along, beating the Patriots and keeping a 1 1/2-game lead in the division.

So while the division lead won't be at stake when the 49ers visit, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday his team will have no problem getting focused especially knowing that a victory will put the Seahawks into the postseason for the second time in three years.

The Seahawks (9-5) need one win in their final two games to at least wrap up a wild-card berth.

A win over San Francisco would keep alive Seattle's slim hopes of the division title.

``It's a big division finish for us and we'll see how it goes,'' Carroll said, noting the Seahawks close at home with NFC West foes San Francisco and St. Louis.

``All we can do is focus on this game right here. We'll have no trouble focusing. They're a great team and coming home and all that it will be exciting to get ready.''

The Seahawks are coming off their 50-17 rout of Buffalo on Sunday that followed a 58-0 win over Arizona, making Seattle the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in consecutive weeks.

It's a rarified spot in the record books for a franchise that scored at least 50 just twice in their first 36-plus seasons and now have matched that total the past two weeks.

In Carroll's first two seasons, the Seahawks biggest scoring outburst came in the 2010 playoffs when they beat New Orleans 41-36.

``We're surprised at the scores the last couple of weeks, but we're really thrilled about it and we're going to see if we can keep going and keep growing and keep pushing it and see how far we can take it,'' Carroll said.

While the scores the past two weeks have appeared to be somewhat an anomaly, the Seahawks were trending upward in scoring even before the two blowouts.

Over the past eight weeks, the Seahawks are the second-highest scoring team in the NFL at 33.4 points per game, trailing only New England.

The past two weeks have substantially altered the curve, but even before the blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks had scored at least 20 points in each game going back to Week 8 against Detroit. That stretch of seven straight games with at least 20 points is the longest since 2007, which is the last time the Seahawks had a 10-win season.

It was back in Week 8 - after losing 13-6 in a lackluster offensive effort at San Francisco - that Seattle started to tweak its offensive plans and give rookie quarterback Russell Wilson more freedom.

The zone-read was added to the run game, allowing Wilson the ability to keep and use his athleticism or handoff to Marshawn Lynch. That little wrinkle has paid off especially the past three weeks.

Wilson ran for 71 yards in Seattle's overtime win at Chicago three weeks ago - then a Seattle team record - then rushed for 92 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's win over Buffalo.

At the same time, the holes have become larger for Lynch because the defense must now respect Wilson as a runner. In his past two games, Lynch has just 21 carries, but rushed for 241 yards, four touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per carry.

Through the first 11 games, Lynch had 19 runs of 10 or more yards. In the past three games, he has 14. Wilson has vaulted up to third in the league in yards rushing among quarterbacks with a franchise single-season record 402 yards.

``It all fits together. The problems that are presented with the quarterback runs make for some opportunities,'' Carroll said. ``... What's really exciting is what we're doing up front too with the blocking and figuring out the schemes and reading well and taking advantage of the looks.''

While the offense is rolling along, there remain some injury concerns defensively. Seattle played Sunday without cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant and Carroll said he's unsure of their status for this week.

Both have hamstring injuries and Thurmond was stepping in to replace suspended starter Brandon Browner.

Sidney Rice played against the Bills, but continues to be slowed by foot and toe injuries that Carroll said could be something he has to deal with the rest of the season. Carroll did get encouraging news that defensive tackle Alan Branch's ankle injury wasn't as severe as first believed. Branch will likely be held out of practice until Friday.

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Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

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USA Today Sports Images

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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