Nationals

No. 1 Louisville beats UConn 73-60

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No. 1 Louisville beats UConn 73-60

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Russ Smith scored 23 points and Gorgui Dieng had six points and 16 rebounds and Louisville, playing just hours after it moved to No. 1 , used a strong second half to beat Connecticut 73-60 on Monday night.

The Cardinals (16-1, 4-0 Big East) won their 11th straight game and like the others they relied on their star backcourt and pressure defense.

The only other time Louisville was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 was the final poll of 2008-09. The Cardinals won the national championship in 1980 and 1986 but the AP does not conduct a post-NCAA tournament poll.

The Cardinals are the third team to hold the No. 1 spot this season along with Indiana and Duke and they celebrated the move with the convincing road win.

Louisville shot 60.7 percent in the second half (17 of 28) and hit an even 50 percent for the game.

Omar Calhoun led the Huskies (12-4, 2-2) with 20 points while Shabazz Napier added 12, all but two in the first half. Ryan Boatright had 11 points and he and Napier both had six assists for the Huskies, who were coming off a win over then-No. 17 Notre Dame that was their sixth in seven games.

Louisville's backcourt of Smith and Peyton Siva didn't get to spend much time together on the court. For Siva, it was foul trouble, for Smith it was what appeared to be leg cramps after he played all 20 minutes of the first half.

Siva, the conference preseason Player of the Year, picked up his second foul just 3:47 into the game. Not only did the Cardinals lose a veteran leader when the senior went out but Smith, the leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, had to assume more of a role in running the offense. It didn't hurt his scoring much, though, as he had 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting as Connecticut took a 34-28 halftime lead.

Dieng had two points and 10 rebounds in the first half. He missed all five shots he took but he had four offensive rebounds.

Connecticut scored the first basket of the second half for a 36-28 lead but that's when Louisville started looking like the No. 1 team in the country.

They went on an 8-0 run in which Smith had four points and Siva two. That was part of a 19-5 burst that gave Louisville a 47-41 lead with 12:18 to play.

Connecticut, which shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first half, had just three field goals in the opening 13 minutes of the second half as Louisville went ahead 60-44. The Huskies, who went 9 minutes without a field goal at one stretch, had trouble moving the ball against the fullcourt pressure and 2-3 zone of the Cardinals. The Huskies had seven turnovers in the first 11 minutes of the second half, matching their total in the first half.

Siva picked up his third foul with 14:21 to play in the game and he returned to the bench. When he came back in the game with 10 minutes left, Smith went to the bench for treatment. Siva hit a 3-pointer 50 seconds later as part of the big run. Siva finished with 11 points and four assists.

The Huskies shot 25.9 percent in the second half (7 of 27) and were at 39.6 percent for the game.

Connecticut drops to 2-7 all-time against No. 1 teams with the last win over Texas on Jan. 23, 2010.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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