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No. 4 LSU, No. 10 Florida have something to prove

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No. 4 LSU, No. 10 Florida have something to prove

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) No one needs to remind Florida what happened the last two years. No one needs to remind LSU what happened the last two weeks.

Those vivid and somewhat painful memories give the 10th-ranked Gators and fourth-ranked Tigers something to prove when they meet in The Swamp on Saturday.

Florida would like nothing more than to avenge consecutive losses to LSU, including a humbling, 41-11 beatdown in Baton Rouge last season. The Tigers, meanwhile, have been far from perfect in their last two games - closer-than-expected wins against Auburn and lower division Towson.

How the Gators (4-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) and Tigers (5-0, 1-0) respond probably will determine who remains undefeated and who is left scrambling in its division race.

``A lot of people still doubt us and don't really believe in this Florida team,'' Gators fullback Hunter Joyer said. ``So I think we need to make a statement this weekend.''

Although Florida already has three conference wins, including two on the road, there are still plenty of questions surrounding coach Will Muschamp's team.

Will sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel continue to improve? Can Florida's offensive line hold up against an elite defensive front? Can the Gators consistently stop the run?

LSU manhandled Florida on both lines of scrimmage the last two years, gaining 161 yards on the ground in a 33-29 win in 2010 and then gouging the Gators for 238 yards rushing last season.

``We got beat really bad. Really bad,'' Florida defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. ``It was a sick feeling.''

And one Muschamp doesn't want the Gators to forget.

He used that lopsided loss and a 0-for-October as motivation during the offseason, and following impressive, second-half efforts at Texas A&M and Tennessee, players and coaches are confident things will be different against the Tigers.

``I think we're much better than we were a year ago,'' Muschamp said. ``We're much deeper, more mature, more experienced. I think we're stronger. I think we handle adversity a lot better. ... I think anybody that was a part of watching us and being a part of our organization last year and this year will notice a night and day difference between our football team.

``I think we've made tremendous improvement in a short period of time.''

The Tigers have noticed the changes, starting with Driskel's play. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 698 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. He also has 148 yards rushing and a score, able to keep plays alive when protection breaks down around him.

``They certainly look like a better team than last year,'' LSU cornerback Tharold Simon said. ``I think they're going to really be ready because, like I said, we put a whooping on them last year.''

The Tigers expect to be ready, too.

They don't believe they can play any worse than they did against Auburn and Towson. They fumbled seven times in those games and lost five. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger lost all three of his fumbles, including one near the goal line against Auburn that cost his team a touchdown.

His other two led to opponent touchdowns.

Nonetheless, LSU pulled out both games, edging Auburn 12-10 and rallying past Towson 38-22. But the turnovers, sacks, dropped passes, penalties and Mettenberger's indecision in the pocket have become cause for concern.

``We're not satisfied with the way we performed the last couple weeks,'' LSU offensive tackle Josh Dworaczyk said. ``There needs to be more positive energy. There needs to be more guys that are excited about this. It's a wonderful opportunity that we get to do. There's only so many of us that ever get to put this uniform on, and we have to take pride in that.''

LSU has won 29 of its last 32 games, with two of the losses coming against eventual national champion Auburn in 2010 and against Alabama in last year's Bowl Championship Series title game. It's an impressive run for sure, but it may have come with a price.

The team's performance the last two weeks created panic among some of the fan base.

``With the season we had last year, you know, the fans, the people pulling for us, we kind of spoiled them in a sense because we didn't beat people. We beat people bad,'' LSU receiver Russell Shepard said. ``We beat highly ranked teams bad. It had been a year and a half since they'd seen us play a tough game besides Bama and it's going to happen. That's regular football. You can't beat everybody by 40.''

A victory against Florida certainly would go a long way toward ending some concerns.

The Gators, meanwhile, know it's an opportunity for them to move closer to rejoining the SEC elite.

``This is obviously a signature game for us,'' Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. ``It's a good measuring stick for us to see what we're up against or how we handle being against a ranked team, a team that's got talent across the board.''

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NBA Draft 2019: Rumors, predictions, and a preview of draft night

NBA Draft 2019: Rumors, predictions, and a preview of draft night

The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived. 60 prospects will be selected and their careers will begin. This year’s draft has a lot more anticipation than many others in recent memory, and that can be attributed to one man who needs no introduction. Zion Williamson took the NCAA by storm for. Duke last season, and New Orleans is prepared to add him to their core as soon as the draft commences. There will surely be surprises, trades, storylines, and a lot of emotion when the 2019 NBA Draft begins, and NBC Sports Washington has everything you need to know to get you ready for the big night.

2019 NBA Draft Preview

The 2019 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 20. The Wizards hold the ninth overall pick. Here's everything you need to know...

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

TV: NBC Sports Washington will have Wizards-centric draft coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. on TV and the MyTeams app, the official broadcast is on ESPN

Final Mock Draft: READ

Final Big Board: READ

I Am the Prospect:

Bruno FernandoFrom Angola to the NBA Draft, Bruno Fernando is about to make NBA history. FEATURE.

Ty JeromeTy Jerome's relationship with his hard-driving father shaped him into a bona fide NBA prospect. FEATURE.

Isaiah Roby: Isaiah Roby's journey from small-town unknown to potential NBA Draft steal. FEATURE.

Nickeil Alexander-WalkerVirginia Tech's Nickeil Alexander-Walker is ready to elevate Canada's profile in the NBA. FEATURE.

DeAndre HunterNBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level. FEATURE.

Wizards Draft Prospects by Position:

Guards: The Wizards have worked out multiple prospects that will be able to assist them in the backcourt from the get-go. With John Wall sidelined for the foreseeable future, Bradley Beal can't do it all. Hopefully, some reinforcements will lighten his workload.  READ

Wings: In this era of NBA basketball, there is no such thing as too much wing depth. After adding Troy Brown Jr. in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Wizards could look to add to their arsenal. READ

Big Men: Bobby Portis and Thomas Bryant are free agents. Jabari Parker may not be back in D.C. next season. The Wizards could opt for some help down low. READ

2019 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles:

Zion Williamson, F, Duke: The freshman sensation may be the most talked about prospect heading into the draft since LeBron James. Profile.

Ja Morant, G, Murray State:
The mid-major star broke onto the scene in his sophomore campaign, and the Memphis Grizzlies look to be sold.  Profile.

R.J. Barrett, G, Duke:
The Canadian swingman was the presumed No. 1 pick for a long stretch prior to Williamson’s arrival, and is slotted to go in the top four. Profile.

DeAndre Hunter, F, Virginia: After a strong showing in the NCAA Title Game, Hunter has a lot of buzz going in his favor. Profile.

Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt:
The biggest wild card of the 2019 Draft, Garland has been gaining a lot of traction ahead of the big night. Profile.

Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech:
An impressive 2019 season and Final Four run has propelled Culver into a lottery prospect. Profile.

Coby White, G, North Carolina:
Breaking Michael Jordan's freshman records at UNC, White is near the top of most big boards. Profile.

P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky:
Don't call him a one-and-done from Kentucky. Washington raised his stock with a second year in college. Profile.

Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga:
Hachimura was one of the best players in the NCAA last season, but evaluators see flaws in his game. Profile.

Cam Reddish, F, Duke:
Reddish took a backseat behind Williamson and Barrett at Duke, how much will it cost him? Profile.

Jaxon Hayes, F, Texas: 
He's considered the best center of this draft class. Profile.

Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland:
You're not going to find a better rebounder in the draft than Fernando. Profile.

Bol Bol, C, Oregon:
The Oregon star dazzled when he was on the court, but that wasn’t often. Profile.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech:
The Hokies’ star is ready to contribute from the get-go. Profile.

Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky:
One of the many Wildcats projected to go in the first round, Johnson has a very high upside. Profile.

Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga:
The tip transfer last season in Spokane, Clarke provides a lot to like as a prospect.  Profile.

KZ Okpala, F, Stanford:
The Cardinal looks to be one of the more NBA-ready prospects in this class. Profile.

Romeo Langford, G, Indiana:
The Hoosiers missed the tournament in March, and Langford’s draft stock may have taken a hit as a result. Profile.

Sekou Doumbouya, F, France: 
The French forward has a lot of suitors and will surely be one of the first international players off the board. Profile.

Kevin Porter Jr., G, Southern California:
A major wild card, Porter showed flashes at USC of a bona fide star, but couldn’t stay on the floorProfile.

Grant Williams, F, Tennessee:
After a solid career in Knoxville, Williams will look to elevate his game at the biggest level. Profile.

Wizards Pre-Draft Workouts:

There were not many players expected to go around the ninth pick that worked out for the Wizards. However, there are several prospects expected to go in the later rounds, or perhaps would not be drafted at all.

-Coby White, G, North Carolina
-Nassir Little, F, North Carolina
-Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
-Brandon Better, G, Southern Utah
-Joe Cremo, G, Villanova
-Jon Davis, G, Charlotte
-Malik Dunbar, F, Auburn
-Paul Eboua, F, Africa
-Kaleb Johnson, F, Georgetown
-Aubrey Dawkins, G/F, UCF
-Jordan Caroline, F, Nevada
-Justin Robinson, G, Virginia Tech
-Kavell Bigby-Williams, F, LSU
-Elijah Thomas, F, Clemson
-William McDowell-White, G, Australia
-Bryce Brown, G, Auburn
-Jessie Govan, C, Georgetown
-Frank Howard, G, Syracuse
-Anthony Lee, G, Kutztown 
Myles Stephens, G, Princeton
-Harry Froling, C, Australia
-Shizz Alston, G, Temple
-Shannon Bogues, G, Stephen F. Austin
-Jamall Gregory, G, Jacksonville State
-Trey Mourning, F, Georgetown
-Ed Polite Jr., F, Radford
-Trey Porter, Forward, Nevada
-Corey Davis, G, Houston
-Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA
-Lyle Hexom, F, Peru State
-Jonathan Kasibabu, C, Fairfield
-V.J. King, F, Louisville

MORE NBA NEWS:

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Devante Smith-Pelly's new hockey pup is already a champion by name

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Devante Smith-Pelly's new hockey pup is already a champion by name

Stanley Cup champion and 2018 Washington Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly has gotten a dog.

Smith-Pelly named the husky-mix puppy Stanley, of course. Because what’s more valuable in life than championships and puppies?

Stanley is pictured above, courtesy of DSP’s mom.

Smith-Pelly posted the same picture on his Instagram story earlier in the week.

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