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No. 1 Duke bounces back by routing Terps 84-64

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No. 1 Duke bounces back by routing Terps 84-64

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored a season-high 25 points and No. 1 Duke bounced back from one of its worst losses under Mike Krzyzewski by routing Maryland 84-64 on Saturday.

Mason Plumlee added 19 points and Seth Curry had 13 for the Blue Devils (17-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).

They had just four turnovers while shooting 52 percent against a Maryland defense that hadn't allowed any team to shoot better than 44 percent.

Plumlee finished 9 of 12 while Sulaimon was 9 of 13 with six 3-pointers - twice as many as his previous high, and four in a 3-minute span of the first half.

Dez Wells and Charles Mitchell both had 13 points for the Terrapins (15-5, 3-4). They have lost four of six and were denied their first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2007 and first win over a No. 1 team since '08.

Leading scorer Alex Len, who averages 13.5 points, finished with eight points and 10 rebounds for Maryland. But aside from an early reverse dunk over Plumlee that looked effortless, he was essentially a nonfactor against a Duke front line that was without injured 6-foot-11 forward Ryan Kelly for the fourth straight game.

The tough job of replacing him fell to high-energy freshman Amile Jefferson, who responded in his second straight start with 11 points and nine rebounds while blocking four shots and affecting several others.

His layup with 9:23 left gave the Blue Devils their largest lead to that point at 66-53. That came during the late 19-8 run that put Duke in complete control.

Logan Aronhalt pulled Maryland within single digits for the final time when his 3-pointer with 13 minutes left made it 58-49. Sulaimon countered with his sixth 3 to start the run, and Quinn Cook capped it with a jumper that put the Blue Devils up 20 for the first time, 77-57 with 4:39 left.

Cook finished with 11 points for Duke, which was coming off its most lopsided regular-season loss since 1984, a 90-63 beatdown at No. 25 Miami that will assuredly send the Blue Devils tumbling from No. 1.

The only thing resembling a bright spot in that complete clunker might have been Sulaimon, who led them in scoring for the first time with 16 points while taking another step out of a midseason slump in which he was 7 of 32 during a rough four-game stretch.

The Terrapins hadn't allowed a conference opponent to shoot better than 38 percent this season. They would have kept that going had Sulaimon not turned this one into his personal shootaround.

He hit four straight 3-pointers and scored 13 points during a 15-5 run that gave Duke its first bit of breathing room. That burst included a four-point play and a deep 3 in transition that had coach Mark Turgeon calling time out to cool him off and drew ``Holy `Sheed'' chants from the Cameron Crazies.

His fifth 3 gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead, 32-22, with 6 1/2 minutes before halftime.

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Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

Baltimore Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is dedicated to altering the direction of the organization and that was reciprocated Friday with the firing of 11 members of the scouting and front office departments.  

"We're in a period of change right now with the industry and we're in a period of change right now with the Orioles," Elias said. "Sometimes to make changes you've got to make changes."

Among those relieved were baseball operations director Tripp Norton, scouts Dean Albany, Jim Howard, John Gillette, Nathan Showalter, and Buck Showalter. 

Elias acknowledged the uphill battle ahead of filling numerous voids but insists it's just a part of the job 

"We're going to be very busy bringing people into this organization," he said. "This is just the organization moving along and adapting to the sport today."

Just one day removed from a judge confirming that the Orioles owe the Nationals nearly $300 million, Elias insisted this move isn't to save money.

"There are changes going on in the scouting business in terms of greater availability of information in general, video and data," Elias said. "There are instances where we will replace people's roles kind of man for man, head for head, spot for spot, but there's other instances where we're reconfiguring the way the scouts go about their business."

The O's will look completely different from this point out and players won't be the only changes.

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Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

The clubhouse wears have never been packed so quickly. Washington was sprinting as a group to get out of Pittsburgh on Thursday night following another three-hour-plus game with a 1:20 p.m. local start looming in Wrigley Field on Friday.

Max Scherzer finished his postgame comments in less than four minutes, then quickly moved to get cleaned up and join the others. Most lockers were vacant by the time media members reached the clubhouse, which wasn’t long after the game ended. 

Despite the scramble for minutes saved, Friday was supposed to be a loss. Las Vegas knew. The players and management knew. It was a bad spot. Night game, onto a plane, then a day game against a team which played at home the previous afternoon, and was 44-19 there -- the second-best home record in the National League. 

And yet, Nationals 9, Cubs 3, and it wasn’t that close.

Some bloops fell, some situations turned out lucky. Though, Aníbal Sánchez dominated. No voodoo or charms were involved.

He went through 8 ⅓ innings before being removed after 112 pitches. He was provided a shot to finish the game -- just 15 National League pitchers have a complete game this season -- but couldn’t. A rare Anthony Rendon throwing error cost him an out, then his opportunity for a solo close to the afternoon in Chicago.

Sánchez threw 31 four-seam fastballs, 31 cutters and 28 “splitters” among his 112 pitches. He worked as a marionettist, pulling strings to change positions and outcomes throughout the day. Matt Grace finished the game. No high-end reliever was used, resetting a bullpen which had to cover five innings in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The offense beat up Jon Lester. He didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Everyone in the lineup -- including Sánchez -- picked up a hit. Trea Turner’s single extended his on-base streak to 30 games.

Sánchez’s work piggybacked on what the other starters did against woeful Pittsburgh. Nationals starters have allowed two earned runs in the first five games of this seven-game road trip. The offense has averaged 8.2 runs in that span. It’s hard to fathom they lost once with both sides operating in such fashion.

All of this is just a continuation of a massive turnaround. Washington is 52-26 since its nadir May 24. Only the Dodgers -- who host the Yankees on Friday night -- have a better record in that span, and by just a half-game. They have won 10 of 12 and 13 of 17. Fivethirtyeight.com now gives the Nationals a 90 percent chance to make the postseason (this includes the wild-card game).

Wins like Friday emphatically move that needle. The Cubs are trying to wind their way into the postseason. They were also set up for a clear advantage thanks to the schedule. Instead, Sánchez, throwing as slow as 68 mph and as fast as 91, controlled the day, the offense rolled through the afternoon and everyone was ready for bed after a surprise win.

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