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Ole Miss crushes Pitt 38-17 in BBVA Compass Bowl

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Ole Miss crushes Pitt 38-17 in BBVA Compass Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Bo Wallace threw three touchdown passes and Mississippi beat Pittsburgh 38-17 in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday to complete an impressive turnaround under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.

Ole Miss (7-6) took a five-win improvement over its 2-10 finish in 2011.

Pitt (6-7) struggled on offense as leading rusher Ray Graham was held out with a hamstring injury he suffered in bowl practice. The Panthers fell behind in the opening minutes after quarterback Tino Sunseri threw his first interception since Sept. 15 and trailed the remainder of the game.

Wallace's 13-yard touchdown pass to Ja-Mess Logan gave the Rebels the 7-0 lead. Wallace added first-half touchdown passes to Randall Mackey, for 27 yards, and Vince Sanders, for 18 yards.

Pitt, under first-year coach Paul Chryst, was making its third straight appearance in the bowl. The Panthers lost to SMU in last year's game.

The Panthers played their last game as a Big East team. They are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Wallace, chosen the game's MVP, completed 22 of 32 passes for 151 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Ole Miss backup quarterback Barry Brunetti had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and freshman running back I'Tavius Mathers added a 62-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter to cap the rout.

Pitt stayed close early with Devin Street's 10-yard pass from Sunseri in the second quarter. That was Pitt's only touchdown until Sunseri threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Mike Shanahan with only 2:23 remaining.

Sunseri completed 16 of 32 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Pitt had only one turnover in its last seven games of the regular season. It shared the nation's lead with only eight turnovers for the season.

Sunseri's streak of 271 passes without an interception, the nation's longest, ended on his second throw of the Panthers' opening drive. Senquez Golson's interception, returned 17 yards to the Pitt 23, set up Wallace's touchdown pass to Logan. It was only Sunseri's third interception of the season and his first since the team's third game against Virginia Tech.

Sunseri lost a fumble early in the second quarter for the Panthers' second turnover.

Wallace completed his first eight passes, including two for touchdowns but his hot streak ended with two second-quarter interceptions.

Kevin Harper kicked a 47-yard field goal, his longest of the season, for Pitt in the second quarter. Bryson Rose kicked a 31-yard field goal for Ole Miss and missed from 44 and 48 yards.

Pitt said Graham, the team leader with 1,042 yards rushing, suffered the hamstring injury in bowl practice.

Rushel Shell and freshman Malcolm Crockett, who had only 32 yards rushing in the regular season, shared the carries. Shell led the Panthers with 25 carries for 79 yards. Crockett added five carries for 18 yards.

Mathers led the Rebels with 96 yards rushing on only six carries. Jaylen Walton had 10 carries for 56 yards.

A strong turnout by Ole Miss fans within driving range of Birmingham pushed attendance to 59,135, easily a bowl record. The previous high was 42,610 for the 2010 game between South Carolina and Connecticut.

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks says AAU workload is too high, effects are seen in NBA

Wizards coach Scott Brooks says AAU workload is too high, effects are seen in NBA

It is common on draft night for NBA general managers to address the media and reel off selling points for each of their picks. On June 20 of last year, after taking Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga with the ninth overall pick, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard took a unique angle.

Sheppard remarked how Hachimura had less mileage than other draft prospects not only because he picked up the game of basketball at 14, but because he did not come up through the AAU ranks. AAU basketball has become notorious for grueling schedules and Sheppard is among those who feel it plays a factor at the NBA level.

NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh and I set out to take a deep dive into Sheppard's theory. We interviewed a host of subjects in the NBA, ones with AAU experience and ones without, plus people from Hachimura's past.

With the story out today, I wanted to highlight a section which includes some honest thoughts from Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.

"A lot of these programs play 60 games in a summer and four games in a day,” Brooks said. “Two things; the wear-and-tear on the body and the win-losses don’t really mean as much. If you lose a game at 10 a.m. it’s ‘Hey, don’t worry we’re going to come back at 12:30 [p.m.].’ If you lose that game [it’s the same thing], so there’s no value in playing for the win because you’ve got a game in two hours. When you grow up in that, then it becomes [meaningless].

"Good players and good teams, the losses hurt. You can’t live in it and dwell in it, but you’ve gotta learn from it. It has to hurt and then you move on.”

While some might look at Brooks’ comments as the complaints of a long-time NBA coach, it’s much more than that for the basketball lifer and father of two. 

"I think it’s too much,” Brooks said of the AAU workload. “I know I wouldn’t put my kids in that situation to play that many games at that young an age where their body is still growing.”

Brooks has been in the NBA since 1987 when he joined the league as a player. He has been a coach for nearly two decades. He has seen how AAU has changed the NBA and he clearly has some concerns.

Read the full story here.

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Nationals give World Series parade another go-around in West Palm Beach

Nationals give World Series parade another go-around in West Palm Beach

There's no such thing as too much celebrating when you're the World Series champions, so it's hard to blame the Nationals for hosting a second championship parade on Thursday.

However, this one wasn't on Pennsylvania Avenue. In fact, it wasn't even in Washington, D.C. The Nationals rode down the streets of West Palm Beach, the home of their spring training facility.

There was a smaller crowd than the one that flocked to the District last November, but the Nationals had plenty of fun throughout the evening.

Here are some of the highlights from the Nationals' latest parade.

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