Wizards

McCoy's late TD pass leads Texas past Kansas 21-17

201210271307472472866-p2.jpeg

McCoy's late TD pass leads Texas past Kansas 21-17

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Case McCoy hit D.J. Grant with a 1-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to play, capping a 70-yard drive in the final 2 minutes and lifting Texas past Kansas 21-17 on Saturday.

With 2:28 left and the Jayhawks (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) straining to end a 16-game Big 12 losing streak, Nick Prolago kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 17-14 lead over a Longhorns squad that came in as three-touchdown favorites.

But McCoy, who replaced an ineffective David Ash in the fourth quarter, quickly had the Longhorns (6-2, 3-2) soaring down the field.

He hit Jaxon Shipley for 18 yards on fourth down, then connected with Mike Davis streaking down the sideline for 39 yards to the Kansas 3.

On third-and-goal from the 1 and with Kansas crowding the line of scrimmage, Grant sneaked into the end zone and cradled McCoy's softly tossed pass for the winning TD.

James Sims rushed for 178 yards and became the first Kansas player with four straight 100-yard games since Tony Sands in 1991. The Jayhawks, who fell to 0-10 against Texas since the Big 12 was formed, rushed for 234 yards altogether against a Texas defense that was ranked 107th in the country against the run. Freshman quarterback Michael Cummings did not attempt a pass in the second and third quarters and was only 3 of 9 for 39 yards.

Tony Pierson scored on an 11-yard run for Kansas, and Christian Matthews added a 15-yarder in the second quarter.

The Longhorns tied it at 14 on an 11-yard run by Marquise Goodwin following his 41-yard run on an end-around in the fourth quarter.

Sims, who came into the game second in the Big 12 with an average of 111.5 yards rushing per game, had 139 yards in the first two quarters. In the second quarter, facing a first down on their own 2, the Jayhawks stunned the visitors by breaking Sims through the middle for a 64-yard gallop, Kansas' longest run in six years. Adding 15 yards for a personal-foul penalty against the Longhorns gave Kansas a first down on the Texas 15. On third down, Matthews went through a big hole on the left side to make it 7-7.

In Kansas' second TD drive of the second quarter, Sims ripped off a 20-yard gain through the middle and Pierson went wide left for 18. On first down from the Texas 11, Pierson went right, then cut back through a big hole and practically walked into the end zone to put the Jayhawks on top 14-7.

Texas took a 7-0 lead in just four plays on its first possession when Joe Bergeron dragged would-be tacklers 3 yards into the end zone.

Johnathan Gray, who totaled 111 yards rushing, ran for 31 to the Kansas 12 on Texas' first play from scrimmage. But the Longhorns' next four possessions ended in punts, and their fifth came to a halt when Greg Brown intercepted Ash's underthrown pass at the Kansas 11.

The Longhorns punted again on their first possession of the second half, but Bradley McDougald muffed the punt and Josh Turner recovered for Texas on the Kansas 19. But on fourth-and-goal from the 2, Bergeron was stopped by Ben Heeney and Huldon Tharp.

After forcing another punt, the Longhorns again started in Kansas territory. But on third-and-7 from the 17, Lubbock Smith intercepted a poorly thrown pass that was deflected right into his arms.

Quick Links

Expect Wizards trade rumor reboot with upcoming arrival of LeBron James, Lakers

lebronlakers.jpg
USA Today Sports

Expect Wizards trade rumor reboot with upcoming arrival of LeBron James, Lakers

LeBron James is coming to town. Normally the focus remains with the four-time MVP whenever he makes an appearance. Those looking beyond Sunday’s Lakers-Wizards meeting in Washington might split their concentration. Think trade.

The Wizards (11-17) are still trying for a foothold after early-season wobbles. Now 9-8 since a 2-9 start, they enter Friday’s game at Brooklyn having lost three in a row. The notion of adding help or breaking up the band exists. There are also salary cap concerns going forward.

Possible trade partners vary, but the Lakers may target All-Star level help to pair with James. The rumor mill is aware of those factors and constantly churning out ideas typically involving John Wall or Bradley Beal. All will take the court together this weekend.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered his own Washington-centric take to NBC Sports Washington following Wednesday’s Celtics-Wizards overtime thriller.

 “You have to trade Bradley Beal,” Smith said.

“The reason why you have to trade Bradley Beal is he’s three years younger (than Wall), he’s got two years less left on his contract, and if you scour the league every executive will tell you he’s the higher commodity because John Wall’s game is predicated on athleticism and speed and conditioning. Usually, father time says that dissipates, which means you’re going to lower in value.”

Wall’s four-year, $170 million contract extension begins next season. Beal, 25, signed a five-year, $128 million contract in 2016. Otto Porter is the highest paid player on the roster this season ($26.011 million). His deal includes a player option for the 2020-21 season.

Those salary numbers combined with production shines a light on Beal.

“He’s a shooter in a game where shooting is incredibly important in this day and age,” Smith said of Beal. “His value will only elevate. The fact is with Wall the perception is there’s a bad contract. In Porter, the perception is there’s a bad contract. In Beal, no one has called it a bad contract.

“So when you look at it from that perspective, he’s the guy that you may need to move in order to acquire the attributes that you need in order to make this team better down the line or at least get enough cap space so you can somewhat start over because you’re not going to get anybody to take John Wall’s contract right now.”

The Lakers may seek immediate help with the West wide open beyond the dominate Warriors. They also may not want to add long-term money or trade potential player assets including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball or Josh Hart. Los Angeles is expected to make plays for headliners Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard this summer.

As for the Wizards, reports of potential deals does not mean the team is actively shopping Wall and Beal or even considering such moves. Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia are the only Eastern Conference teams with at least two All-Stars from last season. If the Wizards are going to rally, those are the types of players needed. Does such thinking change if 11-17 turns into 22-28 as the Feb. 7 trade approaches? We’ll see.

All we know for sure is that James and crew will be in Chinatown Sunday night. We should probably just focus on that. Good luck with that.

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

In a contract year, Andre Burakovsky is still trying to find offensive consistency

burky-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports Images

In a contract year, Andre Burakovsky is still trying to find offensive consistency

Injuries and a suspension to Tom Wilson have kept things interesting for Todd Reirden in his first season as head coach of the Capitals.

At first, that meant figuring out an optimal lineup out of the players who were still available. But now there will be another challenge Reirden faces as the team continues to get healthy and that’s figuring out who to take out of the lineup.

On Tuesday, that player was Burakovsky.

“I just felt like going into [Tuesday’s] game that the other players had taken more advantage of the opportunity than he had recently,” Reirden said before Tuesday’s game. “For me, it's a rewards/earned ice time situation where there's a lot of competition. What happens is when players get opportunities and they play well, then it creates competition. Some have to win, some have to lose in that competition. Right now, that's what we've chosen to go with.”

Burakovsky’s career has been plagued by up-and-down play and scoring slumps. For the season, he has managed only eight points in 29 games. He did manage to score the game-winner against Arizona on Dec. 6, but that goal came after two very lackluster period of play by him.

“It's part of sports, I guess,” Burakovsky said Wednesday. “It is a tough sport. You're competing against the best players in the world. That's just how it is right now and I've just got to battle through it.”

Burakovsky has been cycled throughout the lineup this season, but has not gained any traction with any line or with any particular linemates so far. Thus, a player with top-six skill finds himself on the outside looking in at the lineup.

“I think guys on the team has been playing really well and deserve to play and have done a little bit more than maybe I have in the past now,” Burakovsky said. “We've been winning so that's most important thing and when I get the chance, I'm just going to go in and do my thing, play my game.”

Reirden said he was impressed by how Burakovsky has responded in practice. Given Reirden’s “rewards” system of coaching that should mean Burakovsky gets back into the lineup sooner rather than later. But if he continues to struggle to keep his production up, he will have a hard time staying in.

With both Oshie and Wilson now back from injury, the Caps have 14 forwards on the roster meaning two forwards will have to be scratched each game. There’s no one currently in the top six you would take out for Burakovsky and considering how well players like Brett Connolly are playing plus the chemistry the fourth line has found, there is not much room to plug in a struggling winger who still cannot find any consistent production.

This also calls into question what Burakovsky’s future on the team may be. Burakovsky is on the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It will take a qualifying offer of $3.25 million from the Caps just to retain his rights as an RFA meaning general manager Brian MacLellan is going to have to determine if he is worth that much.

As dire as his contract situation may appear from the outside looking in – especially for a player who has had confidence issues in the past – he says his next contract is not something he is thinking too much about.

“I'm not worried about my future,” Burakovsky said. “I know what I can do out there. I think I've proved what I can do and sometimes you just have to battle a little bit harder than you wanted to and it's going to happen. Right now, I think it's kind of what I'm doing.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: