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No. 1 Indiana gets stronger with 2 freshmen back

No. 1 Indiana gets stronger with 2 freshmen back

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 1 Indiana, which has been playing short-handed all season, is getting reinforcements.

On Saturday, 6-foot-8 forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and 7-foot center Peter Jurkin are expected to make their college debuts after completing an NCAA-imposed nine-game suspension. All the Hoosiers have to do now is figure out how to work the two freshmen into the lineup against in-state rival Butler.

``I think it's going to be sort of a game feel,'' Indiana associate head coach Steve McClain said. ``I think coach (Tom Crean) has an idea in his mind of how he wants to do this.''

He's just not saying what it is.

It's not as if the Hoosiers (9-0) need more help. They lead the nation in scoring (89.1 points) and victory margin (plus-31.7). They are fourth nationally in rebound differential (plus-13.8) and field-goal percentage (51.5). They even lead the Big Ten in defensive field-goal percentage (35.3) and defensive 3-point percentage (26.4) and have won every game by double digits.

Still, things were starting to get thin on the front line.

Derek Elston, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, had surgery Oct. 26 for a torn meniscus in his left knee and though his recovery is going well, he isn't expected back until after Christmas. Last week, sophomore forward Austin Etherington went down with a season-ending fractured left kneecap.

So getting the two freshmen back now will help at this weekend's Crossroads Classic, a double-header featuring Indiana's four best-known basketball programs - the Hoosiers, two-time national runner-up Butler and two more NCAA tourney regulars, No. 22 Notre Dame and Purdue.

Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin were ordered to sit last month by the NCAA, which determined the two had accepted improper benefits from their AAU coach, Mark Adams. He provided them with $9,702 and $6,003 in plane tickets, meals, housing, a laptop computer, a cellphone and clothing. Mosquera-Perea was told to pay back approximately $1,590 and Jurkin $250.

The NCAA said both players were qualified to receive the benefits from AHOPE, the nonprofit organization Adams uses to help international players obtain travel documents and cover travel costs to the U.S. The problem was that Adams also was considered an Indiana booster because he donated $185 to the Varsity Club from 1986-92, and boosters cannot provide benefits to players.

Now that they are with the team, it won't be as simple as just plugging Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin into a lineup that revolves around national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller. McClain said it may take a little time to figure it all out.

``Peter is a shot-blocker with length whereas Hanner is a shot-blocker who can step out on the perimeter and guard a perimeter player,'' McClain said. ``They both can rebound on a high level, so they bring a lot to the table.''

For the Bulldogs, it's another opportunity to slay a basketball behemoth in front of a national television audience.

Butler (7-2) captivated the nation by becoming the first school in Indiana's storied history to reach back-to-back championship games in 2010 and 2011, and the Bulldogs are up to their old tricks again. The Bulldogs have won four straight, five straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and have already beaten Marquette, North Carolina and Northwestern as rumors have spread that they may be looking to leave the Atlantic 10 and join a new conference with Marquette and other former Big East schools.

Athletic director Barry Collier declined to comment on those rumors Friday.

One thing Butler hasn't done yet: Beat a No. 1 team. In its only other meetings with the nation's top-ranked team, Butler lost at DePaul in February 1980 and at Michigan during the 1964-65 season.

This time, they'll play Indiana five miles from the Butler campus with a team that has steadily improved.

Butler's game plan revolves around two new hotshot shooters - Rotnei Clarke, the big-shooting guard who was an All-SEC player at Arkansas, and Kellen Dunham. Plus, 7-foot senior Andrew Smith and power forward Khyle Marshall have been playing better. Smith is coming off a 24-point, 10-rebound game at Northwestern, maybe the best game of his career, and Marshall has become an imposing inside threat.

Coach Brad Stevens nearly had Zeller to go along with that group, but he choose Indiana over Butler and North Carolina.

``They're No. 1 for a reason, they're very deep. I think they've got great skill, great athleticism and a selfless superstar,'' Stevens said of the Hoosiers. ``I think they'll be the team to beat all the way through April.''

While the Indiana-Butler game is Saturday's main feature, it's not the only popular attraction in town.

Notre Dame forwards Jack Cooley and Scott Martin will lead No. 22 Notre Dame (8-1) against the young Boilermakers (4-5). These schools, just 108 miles apart, haven't met on the basketball court since the 2004 NIT and the series is tied 20-20.

Martin, once part of a Purdue recruiting class dubbed the Baby Boilers, has downplayed the significance of facing his old school.

``I had some good times and some big wins, so I definitely enjoyed myself there (at Purdue),'' Martin said. ``Obviously, it didn't work out, and I don't think anyone was too thrilled about the way things happened, but I don't think anyone's bitter about it.''

The Boilermakers have struggled this season with three losses already to non-power conference schools - Bucknell, Xavier and last Saturday at Eastern Michigan 47-44. Their only win against a BCS-conference school came at Clemson.

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Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Coming off of the adrenaline-pumping 5-1 win over the Sharks on Thursday, the Capitals (32-19-7) will face off against the Anaheim Ducks (22-27-9) Sunday evening. The Capitals hope to maintain their energy with a win over the Ducks, the second-worst team in the Pacific Division.
 
The Ducks broke a seven-game losing streak (which began towards the end of January) to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, but lost again to the Boston Bruins on Friday. The Ducks are seventh in the Pacific Division, only slightly above the Los Angeles Kings.


Here is everything you need to know about the Sunday night, which takes place at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at DUCKS HOW TO WATCH


What: Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks, Game 59 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
When: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Ducks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at DUCKS TV SCHEDULE


8 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
8:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
9 PM: Capitals at Ducks
11:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
12 AM: Caps Overtime Live


CAPITALS at DUCKS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
No injuries to report.

Ducks: 
Ryan Miller -- knee injury as of Feb. 15. 
Nick Ritchie -- illness as of Feb. 15.
Chad Johnson -- head injury as of Feb. 13. 
John Gibson -- back, neck and head injuries as of Feb. 8. 
Patrick Eaves -- flu-like symptoms as of Feb. 7. 
Ondrej Kase -- torn labrum in his right shoulder as of Jan. 18. 

CAPITALS at DUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the NHL. In the Caps’ last game against the Sharks, the team captain contributed one goal and one assist in the team’s blowout 5-1 win.

T.J. Oshie, F, Capitals (18 goals, 18 assists, 36 points): Oshie scored his 500th career point in his second goal against the Sharks on Thursday. He’s been a key player on the ice this February, scoring three goals and contributing with five assists. 

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS SERIES HISTORY


Number of all-time Meetings: 36
All-Time Series Record: Ducks lead 18-17-1
Last Meeting: Ducks win 6-5 (12/2/18)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Another day, another favorite in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

It’s not a completely new team this time around, but former baseball executive and current analyst Jim Bowden feels pretty confident in the Philadelphia Phillies landing the services of the star outfielder.

“I keep hearing there’s a lot of momentum and traction here on him going and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies,” Bowden shared on CBS Sports HQ. “And he could be rounding third and heading home shortly.”

Bowden appeared on the program to help react to the most recent betting odds on Harper, specifically those that have the San Francisco Giants as the clear favorites. Bowden disagrees with that projection, especially considering the length of the offers involved. 

It’s clear the Giants are hoping to sign Harper to a short term deal, but the former Nationals general manager is convinced the outfielder will end up getting a significantly longer deal.

10 years, $300 million is of course the terms of the deal the Nationals reportedly offered Harper months ago as the offseason was getting underway, so if he’s been holding out for a better contract then the Phillies may be forced to top it.

One point Bowden made during the interview was how badly Harper wants to win “right now.” The Giants, Padres, and White Sox don’t appear ready to truly compete for another few seasons, which is why he so emphatically endorses Philadelphia or Washington as the ultimate destination. 

The Phillies and Nats look like the only two competitors who can feasibly win the World Series as early as 2019, and if that’s truly important to Harper, it helps weed out the competition.

Of course, as with the litany of Bryce Harper rumors we’ve heard all winter long, this comes with a baseball-sized grain of salt. 

Various teams have taken turns atop the leaderboard when it comes to guessing where Harper will end up, and while the Phillies are probably the most consistent favorite of the offseason, there’s obviously a reason why they and/or Harper have yet to pull the trigger on a deal. 

The fit seems clear, and the money is there, but for now, Harper is still unemployed, which means every team still has an opportunity to wow him with an offer. It wouldn’t too be surprising if he ultimately ends up in Philadelphia, and if Jim Bowden is to be believed, that news could be coming sooner rather than later.

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