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No. 5 Indiana holds off Iowa 69-65

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No. 5 Indiana holds off Iowa 69-65

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Cody Zeller had 15 of his 19 points in the second half and fifth-ranked Indiana opened Big Ten play by holding off Iowa 69-65 on Monday night.

Victor Oladipo scored 14 points for the Hoosiers (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who snapped a four-game losing streak in Iowa City and have now won four straight since losing to Butler two weeks ago.

Oladipo beat the shot clock with a putback with 1:04 left to put the Hoosiers ahead 65-60. He also made two key free throws with 26 seconds to go to make it a two-possession game.

Aaron White had 15 points to lead Iowa (11-3, 0-1), which might have pulled off the upset had it shot better than 3 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Hawkeyes had all kinds of trouble knocking down shots from everywhere in the first half. But they buried nine of their first 10 after the break to inch within 48-46 of Indiana, keeping the high-powered Hoosiers offense from building an insurmountable cushion.

But even though Indiana later went without a field goal for nearly five minutes, the Hawkeyes couldn't muster enough offense to retake the lead.

Devyn Marble, Iowa's leading scorer, had an awful afternoon from the field. He was just 1 of 14 shooting and bricked a 3 after Oladipo's key putback.

Iowa's Zach McCabe missed a 3 that would have tied it at 65-all with under a minute left, and Oladipo sealed the win at the line.

Will Sheehey scored 13 points, Christian Watford had 11 and Zeller and Oladipo each grabbed 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers.

Indiana's recent four-game losing streak at Iowa was indicative of its recent struggles, especially since the Hawkeyes hadn't been all that great during that stretch either.

It's been quite a while since Indiana brought a team this deep and this talented to Iowa City.

Still, it took nearly 12 minutes for Zeller, the leading scorer for the nation's best offense, to find the basket. He did so on a dunk - then went through 7-foot-1 Iowa freshman Adam Woodbury to put Indiana up 19-16 on the next possession. That came during a 10-0 Hoosiers run that sent fiery Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery through the roof.

A pair of tough baskets off drives by freshman Yogi Ferrell - who had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists - helped the Hoosiers to a 33-25 halftime lead.

Indiana freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell returned Monday after athletic director Fred Glass issued a statement Sunday saying the NCAA has cleared Hollowell of any potential infractions.

Hollowell, who averaged 5.7 points and three rebounds in his first 10 games, played five minutes and was held scoreless.

Iowa had three freshman starters make their Big Ten debuts; guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons and Woodbury. All three appear to have bright futures in the league, but their first afternoon in the Big Ten resulted in a loss.

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Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

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Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Rui Hachimura has attracted the best athletes Japan has to offer in his rookie season in the NBA. 

From Shohei Ohtani to Naomi Osaka, Hachimura has impressed both on and off the floor, including Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish. He stopped by to see Hachimura's Wizards beat the Pistons Monday. 

"That's right," Darvish said to the Wizards' Japanese website. "We are going to dinner after the game so I stopped by."

Darvish and Hachimura are represented by the same agency and are two of the biggest Japanese stars in American sports. Darvish has had two down years with the Cubs in 2018 and 2019, but he's still considered one of the best pitchers to ever come out of Japan. 

Hachimura, while sidelined with a groin injury, flashed plenty of potential as a rookie for the Wizards. Before going down, he was averaging 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 48.2 percent. 

Darvish admitted he didn't know much about basketball, not even what stats are good to use. But he only cares that Hachimura is having fun. 

Selected with the ninth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura became the first Japanese born player to be drafted in the top-10. Japan has produced a number of great baseball players but hasn't been able to produce as many hoopers. 

"You don't have to be tall or big to play baseball," Darvish said. "But when it comes to basketball, you have to be tall and athletic and contribute to the team on a nightly basis. I think what he's accomplishing is more exceptional."

Scott Brooks isn't sure if Hachimura will return before the beginning of February and the team has yet to provide a timetable beyond that. Hopefully, we'll see him back on the floor soon because an entire country outside of the US is watching and can't get enough. 

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