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No. 9 Arizona beats up on NAU 93-50

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No. 9 Arizona beats up on NAU 93-50

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Mark Lyons scored 18 points, Nick Johnson had 10 points and seven assists, and No. 9 Arizona rolled over Northern Arizona 93-50 on Wednesday night.

Arizona (4-0) overwhelmed the Lumberjacks from the get-go, showing no signs of rust after an eight-day break.

Dropping in 3-pointers and soaring in for dunks, the Wildcats built an 18-point lead in the first half and shut down Northern Arizona in the second for their 29th straight win over the Lumberjacks (2-4).

Arizona shot 58 percent, made 12 of 21 from 3-point range and had 22 assists on 30 field goals to kick off a stretch of four games in 11 days.

Solomon Hill had 17 points, Brandon Ashley grabbed 11 rebounds and Johnson added four steals for the Wildcats.

Dewayne Russell had 13 points and Blake Hamilton 11 for Northern Arizona, winless in 24 all-time games against ranked opponents.

The game marked the return of Northern Arizona coach Jack Murphy to McKale Center.

Murphy spent eight years at Arizona under coach Lute Olson, working his way up from student manager to director of operations. He also spent time as an advance scout for the NBA's Denver Nuggets under George Karl and was an assistant to Josh Pastner at Memphis, so he's worked for some of the best minds in basketball.

Murphy will need that knowledge to turn around Northern Arizona, a program that lost its coach last season and its final 16 games to finish 5-24.

The Lumberjacks did manage to pull off a big upset during their forgetful 2011-12 season, knocking off Arizona State 69-68 in Tempe when Stallon Saldivar hit a 3-pointer with less than a second left.

The Wildcats gave them no shot of a repeat, spoiling Murphy's return shortly after the opening tip.

Arizona scored the game's first nine points and had a 16-point lead midway through the first half.

Johnson was the catalyst early, forcing a turnover to set up a breakaway dunk and sailing in for a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Jordin Mayes to score seven quick points. He also gave NAU trouble by repeatedly getting into the lane, setting up Grant Jerrett for a dunk with an in-traffic bounce pass for one of his four first-half assists.

The Wildcats had 10 assists on their 15 first-half field goals - in 27 shots - and led 39-26 after NAU's Russell hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Lyons led Arizona with eight points in the first half and put the game way out of reach to open the second, hitting two 3-pointers that helped push the lead to 53-28 in the first 4 minutes.

Arizona's starting backcourt gave NAU's guards all kinds of trouble defensively.

Lyons forced Russell into a 5-second violation on the Lumberjacks' opening possession of the game and defensive pressure on the perimeter led to another turnover to start the second half.

Combined, they helped force NAU's top four guards into 10 of the team's 15 turnovers.

The Lumberjacks didn't shoot particularly well, either, missing 16 of their first 20 shots before hitting a few down the stretch, after the game had long been out of reach.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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