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Johnson, Vanderbilt top Auburn 73-61

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Johnson, Vanderbilt top Auburn 73-61

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Kedren Johnson scored 15 points to lead Vanderbilt over Auburn 73-61 on Wednesday night.

Four players scored in double figures to help the Commodores (8-9, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) win consecutive games for the first time in more than a month.

The Tigers (8-10, 2-3) cut the deficit to five points twice in the second half before Vanderbilt used the long ball to sprint away. Kyle Fuller, Sheldon Jeter and Kevin Bright each drained 3-pointers during a 13-3 run. Rod Odom emphatically capped off the spurt with a two-handed dunk after Josh Henderson found him streaking to the basket for a 52-37 lead with 12:28 left.

Fuller scored 14 points, Bright added 12 and Jeter had 10 as the Commodores won their seventh straight against Auburn.

Rob Chubb and Frankie Sullivan each scored 14 points and Brian Greene Jr. added 11 for the Tigers, who have dropped three straight.

Two straight layups by Chubb sparked Auburn, which made its first five shots. A baseline jumper by Jordan Price put the Tigers up 12-4 just 5:01 into the game.

After missing seven of its opening eight shots, Vanderbilt responded with a run of its own thanks to the play of three former starters. Bright popped off the bench with a straightaway 3-pointer, Henderson followed with a layup and Fuller scored five straight points. He bounced in a 3-pointer to cap off a 10-1 run and give the Commodores a brief 14-13 lead with 11:58 left in the half.

The game tilted back and forth until Vanderbilt ended the half with seven straight points. Coach Kevin Stallings delivered high-fives to his team after Auburn called a timeout with 1:22 left in the half following an offensive rebound and layup by Shelby Moats, which gave Vanderbilt a 34-27 halftime lead.

After the break, the Commodores picked up where they left off as Jeter scored five straight points to stake a 39-29 lead. After Auburn sliced the deficit in half, Fuller answered with a 3-pointer to spark the rout.

Johnson sunk a 3-pointer for a 55-39 lead with 10:59 left but the Commodores went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes. Auburn failed to capitalize even a little, committing four turnovers and missing three shots during a 4-minute drought. After shooting 50 percent (11 of 22) in the first half, the Tigers made just 11 of 31 shots (35.5 percent) the final 20 minutes.

Vanderbilt also finally received a boost at the foul line. After entering as the second-worst free-throw shooting team (57.2 percent) in the country, the Commodores made a season-high 24 free throws out of 30 attempts. Johnson paced the team by making eight of 10. Fuller made six of seven and Odom sunk all six.

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Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

A conference call between NBA general managers and commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday revealed a divide as to how the GMs think the league should proceed if able to finish the 2019-20 season, according to a report by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

GMs were given a survey, the results of which were revealed on the call, and according to the report, they were split on several things:

  • Half the general managers voted to skip the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs

  • More than half voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16, regardless of conference

  • About 75 percent voted in favor of a play-in tournament for bubble teams to determine the final playoff seeds; the other 25 percent voted in favor of a World Cup-style group stage

The play-in tournament was reported as a potential option by ESPN on Wednesday. Labeled as a “playoffs plus” format, it would allow teams just outside of the playoff picture like the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings -- all separated by just 1.5 games -- a way to play themselves into the playoffs if the regular season is in fact canceled. 

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The Wizards, currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, weren’t mentioned in the report, but it did say 20-24 teams would be included. This would likely include Washington.

According to O’Connor, teams with top seeds like the East-leading Bucks and West-leading Lakers favor the play-in option over a group stage, likely because they get an easier matchup against lower-seeded teams and a less difficult path to a title. And because teams will always vote in their own best interest, the survey isn’t an indication of what will ultimately happen.

“There was zero commitment to any one plan,” one of the GMs told O’Connor. “But it was a call to gather more information.”

On Friday, Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats to resume the season, a potential timeline for return, and more. But nothing is expected to be determined on that call either.

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NFL, EA Sports agree to six year extension of Madden video game franchise

NFL, EA Sports agree to six year extension of Madden video game franchise

The Madden franchise will continue to be a part of the gaming universe for at least the next six years.

NFL owners on Thursday approved an extension of their deal with Electronic Arts, continuing a relationship that has existed for 30 years. It was also recently approved by the NFL Players Association.

The current contract was set to expire after the 2021 season. The extension means that EA Sports will continue to be the league's exclusive publisher of football simulation games through 2026.

EA Sports Executive Vice President Cam Weber said both sides had been talking for months. Many wondered what the future of the relationship might be after 2K Sports signed an agreement with the NFL in March to produce non-simulation games.

The current edition of Madden has seen a 30% increase in unique players. According to Electronic Arts, more than 330 million hours of the game have been played since it was released last August. The company has also seen large increases in gameplay during the past couple of months as people have been confined to their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic, with many tournaments taking place among friends and on television.

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Rachel Hoagland, the league's vice president and head of gaming and esports, said keeping the Madden franchise at the core of their video gaming strategy was important, especially with the emergence of new platforms and gaming systems. Sony and Microsoft have announced new generations of gaming consoles that are expected to debut by the end of the year.

"EA has done a nice job of ensuring the game matches the experience during a game week. The new technology will allow richer content and add more realism," she said.

Madden NFL 21 will come out in early August with the first looks at the game coming next week. 

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was last year's cover athlete. Baltimore quarterback and reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson said in April that he would be on the cover this year, but EA Sports has not made an announcement.

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