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Olynyk, Harris lead No. 10 Gonzaga past BYU, 83-63

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Olynyk, Harris lead No. 10 Gonzaga past BYU, 83-63

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Kelly Olynyk was nearly perfect for No. 10 Gonzaga against BYU on Thursday night.

Olynyk scored 26 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field and 8-for-8 on free throws, and had nine rebounds and five assists as Gonzaga routed BYU 83-63 in a showdown for first place in the West Coast Conference.

``If I can get the ball in the center of the zone, it's hard for a defense,'' Olynyk said. ``The guards were feeding me and we made great plays.''

But there was another player Olynyk wanted to talk about: guard Gary Bell Jr., who held BYU guard Tyler Haws - the WCC scoring leader at 21 points per game coming in - to just one point. Haws had 42 points against Virginia Tech, the most by a Division I player this season. His previous low this season was nine points against Iowa State, and he had scored at least 20 in seven consecutive games coming in.

``Gary Bell Jr. guarded Haws to a `T,''' Olynyk said.

Haws was 0 for 9 from the field, and BYU shot just 35 percent (21 for 59).

``I was ecstatic with how we flew around,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ``We did a great job on Haws. We did a great job on (Brandon) Davies. We did a great job on the glass.''

Elias Harris added 25 points and 10 rebounds for Gonzaga (18-2, 5-0), which was coming off a last-second loss at No. 9 Butler last weekend.

Josh Sharp and Davies led BYU (15-6, 5-2) with 14 points each.

Gonzaga won the rebound battle 37-29, and outscored BYU 42-28 in the paint. The Zags shot 56.9 percent.

``Between Harris and Olynyk, they just had a fantastic game,'' BYU coach Dave Rose said. ``Offensively we struggled with their size and how physical the game was.''

This one was basically over in the first half.

BYU made only three of its first 16 shots to fall behind 15-8 midway through the first half. Three baskets and a free throw by Harris pushed Gonzaga's lead to 24-12.

The BYU drought continued, and Gonzaga scored 12 straight points for a 36-14 lead.

The Zags led 40-21 at halftime, as Harris and Olynyk had 14 points each in the half.

The 21 points were BYU's lowest in the first half this season. Haws did not score in the first half, missing all six of his shots.

``They sped (Haws) up and were really physical with him,'' Rose said. ``It was tough to get the ball in spots where he was comfortable. Every catch he made, it seemed to be in a spot where it was a little out of the rhythm that he likes to be in.''

The Cougars were shooting just 25 percent (8 for 31) at the break, including just 1 for 10 on 3-pointers. The Zags dominated inside, outscoring BYU 24-8 in the paint in the first half and grabbing eight more rebounds.

The Cougars came out sharper in the second half and their shooting improved, but they couldn't make up much ground.

Davies scored 10 points as BYU cut Gonzaga's lead to 59-46 with 9 minutes left. But every time the Cougars scored, it seemed that Olynyk or Harris would reply for the Zags.

``We knew the game wasn't won at halftime,'' Olynyk said. ``You have to play 40 minutes.''

Gonzaga, which has won three straight against BYU, improved to 114-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

Thursday also marked the 125th anniversary of the founding of Gonzaga, and there was a video celebration at halftime that featured basketball alums Ronny Turiaf and Courtney Vandersloot, among others.

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Ravens fans celebrate new energy injected by Lamar Jackson-run offense

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USA Today Sports

Ravens fans celebrate new energy injected by Lamar Jackson-run offense

Lamar Jackson is the most popular man in Baltimore. 

In his second season with the Ravens, it’s impossible to *not* see his name everywhere you look. His number eight jersey is quickly becoming as synonymous with the Ravens as Cal Ripken Jr.’s was with the Orioles.

Jackson has taken the NFL by storm in 2019, forcing himself into the MVP debate.

Longtime fan Rick Gibson said the Jackson era has a different feel than the previous Joe Flacco-led team.

“It’s fun coming to games,” he said before Sunday's matchup against the Texans. "A lot better than it has been in the past, so it’s more exciting.”

With the flip of a switch -- or rather, the draft pick of a quarterback -- fan enthusiasm is all of a sudden at an all-time high.

And it starts (and ends) with number eight.

“It’s incredible,” said Ravens fan Jonathan Greene. “Most excited for a Ravens team, and I’ve been a fan for years. It’s awesome. He has elevated this team.”

The words fans use to describe Jackson’s game are all similar. Phenomenal. Awesome. Incredible. Spectacular. Magic.

Jackson’s stats this season speak for themselves: 2,036 passing yards and 15 touchdowns against just five interceptions. A 65.9 completion percentage. 702 rushing yards -- 11th-most in the NFL -- and six touchdowns. And of course, a 7-2 record.

Even those who would discount Jackson’s performance as beating up on weak competition are forced to recognize his brilliance. Against the winless Bengals, for example, Next Gen Stats estimated an average quarterback should have a completion percentage of 57.7%, based on how covered his receivers were, how much pressure he was under, and more. 

His actual percentage? 88.2%, or 30.5% higher than what was expected. It was the best difference for *any* quarterback in *any* game in 2019.

Fans are excited for the future as well. Not just for the Ravens but for young football fans across the city.

“He’s only 22 years old,” another fan, John Ford, said. “I think he appeals to the younger generation coming up through the high school and college ranks, because they can relate to him...I think he’s a role model for a lot of young kids coming up. And you watch him on the sidelines, he does some great things, but he takes it in stride. So he’s not celebrating too much, he knows what he’s got to do. That’s a unique thing for a young man, only 22 years old, at this level.”

The near future looks more daunting than in the long term. The Ravens enter Week 11 on a five-game winning streak, hoping to win six straight for the first time since 2000. 

They are beginning a tough slate of four straight against playoff contenders, but with Jackson leading an unstoppable offense, three or four wins doesn’t seem far-fetched. Regardless of what happens, Jackson has emphatically won over the city of Baltimore and the NFL writ large.

One longtime Ravens fan, Stan Nasiatka, put it best when asked about Jackson.

“That’s all we’re talking about," he said. "It’s everywhere.”

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Mr. Consistency Justin Tucker misses first field goal of the season

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Mr. Consistency Justin Tucker misses first field goal of the season

Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL. That much hasn’t changed.

Now that we’re on the same page, it’s time to admit something. He hasn’t looked totally himself as of late. While most of his kicks have still found their way between the uprights, many have looked closer than they should.

That trend culminated with his first miss Sunday against the Texans. Tucker’s attempt on the Ravens’ first drive of the game -- from 43 yards out -- bounced off the right upright.

The miss snapped a streak of 22 consecutive made field goals for Tucker, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in field goal percentage. He is the only kicker in NFL history to convert more than 90% of his field goal attempts.

It’s too soon to be concerned about Tucker going forward. For now, just pick your jaws up off the floor and go back to feeling confident in the Ravens’ most consistent player the next time he jogs out onto the field.

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