Nationals

No. 23 Mississippi tops Tennessee 62-56

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No. 23 Mississippi tops Tennessee 62-56

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Marshall Henderson scored 28 points, hitting six 3-pointers in the second half, and No. 23 Mississippi rallied for a 62-56 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night.

Henderson is the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer with 18.9 points per game and he put on a show after the break, nearly single-handedly carrying the Rebels (16-2, 5-0 SEC) to their eighth consecutive victory. He scored 32 against the Volunteers just two weeks ago in a win in Knoxville.

It's only the second time Ole Miss has started 5-0 in SEC play.

Reginald Buckner added 10 points in a foul-filled game that made both teams go deep into the bench.

Tennessee (9-8, 1-4) led for much of the game, but couldn't withstand Henderson's hot shooting. Jordan McRae led the Volunteers with 26 points while Trae Golden added 11.

The shots weren't falling for either team early, and a constant stream of fouls didn't help the rhythm.

By midway through the first half, the starting big men for both teams were relegated to the bench because of foul trouble.

Tennessee made a few more shots than the Rebels to take a 25-18 lead into halftime. It was the fewest points by an Ole Miss team in the first half since 2009.

Golden led all scorers with seven points.

One reason Ole Miss couldn't find the basket was the Volunteers' lockdown defense on Henderson in the first half. He was matched step for step by a host of Tennessee defenders early and scored just four points in the first half - all on free throws.

The 6-foot-2 junior got going early in the second half, hitting two 3-pointers to finally spark the Rebels' offense. Nick Williams made another 3-pointer to give Ole Miss a 33-32 lead with 14:15 remaining.

But the Rebels couldn't stop fouling McRae and the 6-5 junior just kept sinking free throws. He hit eight free throws in a row midway through the second half to help the Vols pull ahead 46-40 with 8:51 left.

That's when Henderson picked up the Rebels and carried them by himself, hitting shot after shot. He finished 7 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 15 from 3-point range (40 percent).

After shooting just 4 of 23 in the first half (17.4 percent), the Rebels bounced back with a 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) performance in the second half.

Tennessee had 21 turnovers and missed four crucial free throws in the final few minutes. The Volunteers outrebounded the Rebels 41-30.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals lose, but so does Milwaukee and Chicago

Wild-card tracker: Nationals lose, but so does Milwaukee and Chicago

The Nationals led off the day with a loss Wednesday afternoon which positioned both Chicago and Milwaukee to gain a game in the evening.

Instead, San Diego held Milwaukee to a run in a 2-1 win and Cincinnati beat Chicago in extra innings, 3-2.

Washington remains 1 ½ games ahead of both Milwaukee and Chicago, which are tied with each other in the second wild-card spot. Both have 10 games to play. The Nationals have 11 games to play.

Philadelphia and New York are each 4 ½ games behind Washington. Both are three games behind Milwaukee and Chicago.

Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Nationals a 92 percent chance of making the postseason.

Coming up Tuesday:

Nationals are off

Mets off

Philadelphia at Atlanta, 12:10 p.m. Nola (12-5, 3.62 ERA) vs. Soroka (12-4, 2.57)

San Diego at Milwaukee, 4:10 p.m.. Luchessi (10-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Lyles (11-8, 4.25)

St. Louis at Chicago, 7:15 p.m.. Flaherty (10-8, 3.05) vs. Hendricks (11-9, 3.26)

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3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

Nicklas Backstrom scored with less than seven seconds remaining to give the Capitals the 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in a preseason preview of the regular-season opener. Radko Gudas and Richard Panik also scored.

Here are three players who impressed for the Caps.

1. Richard Panik

Panik got plenty of practice on the penalty kill with 4:16 of shorthanded ice time shorthanded. In that time he gave a glimpse of why he was so coveted by the Caps as a free agent.

In the first period, Panik pounced on a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle in the defensive zone. Seeing he had room to work with, he did not just clear it down the ice and instead elected to skate up with it. He fought off the backcheck from Tyler Bozak through the neutral zone, drew an additional two Blues players to him, then drew a holding call from Bozak because he would not give up the puck.

Panik's 4:16 of penalty kill time was more than top penalty killer Carl Hagelin's 2:26, though the fact that Hagelin took two minors on the night probably had something to do with it.

Late in the game, Panik was also added to the power play as a sixth attacker with the goalie pulled. He would score the game-tying goal with just 1:09 left in regulation.

2. The goalies

Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov both played about a half of the game. It is really hard to evaluate a goalie on just 30 minutes of work, so I will give a shoutout to both as both played very well.

Vanecek got the start. He looked a little awkward at first, but settled in as the game went along for a solid performance. He stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced with the only goal he allowed a weird deflection off of Brett Leason’s skate.

Samsonov took over about halfway through the second period and within minutes found himself defending the net on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The penalty killers helped out their young netminder allowing only one shot on goal, but it was a good one. Colton Parayko one-timed a slap shot, but Samsonov was there to stop with no rebound. Soon after the penalty was over, Vladimir Tarasenko was all alone in front of the net, but was denied by Samsonov’s who stretched the blocker to deny the high shot.

Sanford scores on the PP. Samsonov wasn't tight against the post. Showed him too much daylight and Sanford made him pay.

Samsonov finished with 11 saves on 12 shots.

3. Connor McMichael

Boy, somebody got a confidence boost from Monday’s game. 

McMichael was given a second preseason game as a reward for his solid performance on Monday and he definitely showed off the confidence that comes along with being a first-round draft pick.

In the first period, McMichael found himself all alone with the puck on a mini-breakaway on Jordan Binnington. Just a reminder, this is the Binnington who was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions.

So what did McMichael do? He skated to the front and tried the stick between the legs shot. It may not have worked, but you have to respect the confidence this kid had just to try, though no doubt the coaches probably had a few words for him in the locker room about it.

There was one area in which McMichael struggled, however, and that was on the faceoff where he lost all five draws he took on the night.

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