NCAA

Miles: LSU has reinforcements coming for bowl

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Miles: LSU has reinforcements coming for bowl

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU coach Les Miles sounds like he's ready to enjoy a trip to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl and not at all nervous about how his No. 9 Tigers will match up with No. 14 Clemson on Dec. 31.

After joking, perhaps only partially, about how he would enjoy bringing his wife to the game, dancing out on the town and ending the night with a New Year's kiss, Miles on Wednesday talked about what he sees as a promising outlook for his team, which is expecting the return of four players.

Offensive lineman Josh Williford, who has been sidelined since an Oct. 6 concussion at Florida, is slated to return along with fellow offensive lineman Evan Washington, as well as linebackers Tahj Jones and D.J. Welter.

Washington, Jones and Welter have all overcome issues with academic eligibility from earlier in the season. But even with the increased reinforcements, Miles didn't anticipate any changes to the starting lineups.

``Practice and bowl week will kind of determine how all that goes and what we might expect with certain guys coming back with a lot of experience,'' Miles said. ``There's a point where you want to put a rusty guy in a game when everybody else is tuned up. It's a good measuring stick, if you will, for bowl practice. We'll have to see who the best is.''

The bowl game also marks the final outing for 16 seniors and a possibly a number of juniors who could declare for the NFL draft, which Miles says is an increased motivator for a team searching for another 11-win season and a top-five finish in the final rankings.

``I think our football team wants to be seen as one of the best teams in college football,'' Miles said. ``The goal there is not so much the finish number, but how we play and what we can accomplish on the field. A team that has a close bond and some real feelings for one another have that need to play well for your teammates. I think this football team has that.''

It'll also be a homecoming of sorts for six Tigers who hail from Georgia, including All-American linebacker Kevin Minter and quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Minter will be one of five total All-Americans to take the field in the Georgia Dome, including Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Boyd has racked up 3,550 passing yards and 34 touchdown strikes this season to go along with 492 yards rushing and nine more scores on the ground, catching the attention of Miles and the coaching staff.

``He's a very talented quarterback with a real strong arm,'' Miles said of Boyd. ``He has the ability to move his feet and run and extend plays. He was named All-American for a reason and it certainly is evident when you watch his film.''

Miles said the staff has begun breaking down Clemson game film, in particular the two common opponents both Tigers played this year - Auburn and South Carolina. LSU and Clemson both beat Auburn in tight games. LSU beat South Carolina, 23-21, while Clemson lost to the Gamecocks, 27-17 in the regular season finale.

``We're watching game film and really seeing their talent and their abilities and seeing how the matchups might fit against us,'' Miles said. ``I don't know that the common opponents are any more of an indication. The only think that you do recognize is that we played South Carolina and we know their offense and defensive line are capable of.''

The Georgia Dome has become a home away from home for LSU in recent years. The Tigers have posted a 9-1 record there and are hoping to attract a Baton Rouge following big enough to give the Chick-fil-A Bowl its 16th consecutive sellout.

``We love the Dome,'' Miles said. ``Every time we have ever walked into that dome, we have had a tremendously loyal following. The Tiger nation fills that dome, and we're excited to compete in that venue again with those people that wear the purple and gold. In my time here, every time we pull up to a stadium, we see purple and gold - every time.''

VCU loses fourth consecutive game to St. Louis

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VCU loses fourth consecutive game to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Javonte Perkins had 25 points as Saint Louis topped VCU 80-62 on Friday night.

Hasahn French had 18 points for Saint Louis (19-8, 8-6 Atlantic 10 Conference). Terrence Hargrove Jr. added 11 points. Jordan Goodwin had 10 points.

Marcus Santos-Silva had 11 points for the Rams (17-10, 7-7), who have now lost four consecutive games. De'Riante Jenkins added 10 points.

Saint Louis plays Saint Joseph's at home on Wednesday. VCU faces UMass on the road on Wednesday.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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