Capitals

RB Miles starting again for No. 12 South Carolina

RB Miles starting again for No. 12 South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Kenny Miles wasn't sure he wanted to spend another season just getting spot duty when South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore needed a breather. Now, all the eyes are again on Miles when the 12th-ranked Gamecocks face Arkansas.

Miles was South Carolina's leading rusher in 2009, but that was the year before Lattimore came to campus and became one of the Southeastern Conference's top rushers.

Miles went through Senior Day festivities last fall as he considered leaving the program after four seasons. Miles stayed, though, and will start Saturday against the Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3 SEC).

``I'm prepared and ready to go,'' said Miles, a fifth-year senior.

It's the first game for South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) since the gruesome knee injury to Lattimore two weeks ago against Tennessee. Lattimore has had surgery and could need more than a year of recovery. He was supposed to be at Williams-Brice Stadium this weekend as the school unveils his name in the building as the team's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (38).

But on Thursday, the school said team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy, trainer Clint Haggard and Lattimore decided the junior shouldn't attend.

While the fans won't get to cheer for Lattimore, there could be plenty of praise for Miles, who stuck it out after Lattimore surpassed him.

Miles started seven games and rushed for 626 yards as a freshman three years ago. But he'd gained only 356 yards the next two seasons as Lattimore ate up yardage and helped South Carolina to a 20-7 record - the school's best ever two-year mark.

It wasn't easy for Miles to watch, but he liked Lattimore and loved the team's success.

``Of course, you want to be the starting back, but you've got to think what's best for the team at the time that was what was best for the team,'' he said. ``I was happy we were winning and I wasn't really worried about me personally.''

But with his pending graduation last December, Miles thought hard about what was next. He was not the team's first choice when Lattimore injured his left knee last October, freshman Brandon Wilds starting.

Miles ran out onto the field for senior ceremonies against Clemson, not really expecting he'd play a key role with 71 yards rushing in South Carolina's 34-13 victory later that night.

Miles got the start in the Capital One Bowl and had 67 yards in the 30-13 win, then started wondering if he wanted to play one last year - even as Lattimore's backup.

Spurrier remembered Miles asking if he could come back. ``And I said, `Sure, you can come back if you want to,''' he said.

Miles will have to pick his way through an Arkansas defense that's allowed just 125 yards rushing a game, fifth in the SEC. Although the team will be without suspended linebacker Terrell Williams, arrested last weekend for driving while intoxicated.

Arkansas struggled at the start of the season after an offseason of upheaval centered on disgraced ex-coach, Bobby Petrino. The Razorbacks have improved the past month, winning three of four. They've won five of the past six games against South Carolina, including the last three.

``We went to South Carolina last time and got a big win. We were here last year and got a big win. So, they know that we're going to come in and battle,'' Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said. ``We're not laying down against these guys.''

Wilson leads the SEC in passing yards, something the Gamecocks looked particularly vulnerable to in their last outing when Tennessee's Tyler Brad threw for 388 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-35 win.

It took defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's strip sack of Bray to stop the driving Vols from moving in front with less than two minutes left.

The Gamecocks, coming off a bye, have had more than a week to fix what went wrong against Tennessee. Clowney chalked up the poor showing to the loss of Lattimore, a stunningly gruesome injury to a team captain.

``I think a lot of people were down, not even thinking about the game'' after Lattimore's injury, Clowney said. ``I think we're going to be more focused this game.''

Miles plans to take the same approach he always has. Spurrier says Miles' maturity has helped the younger players. Miles stays inside watching horror films and comedies instead of attending parties. He prefers jazz and R&B to rap and he'll often go for a five-mile run after games to clear his head.

``He's a super Gamecock,'' Spurrier said. ``I think our fans and all the Gamecocks appreciate that he decided to stay for five years.''

Quick Links

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

MORE CAPITALS STORIES:

Quick Links

2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

porter-bamba-bridges-draft-split-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

Something that used to be a rare occurrence has now happened four years in a row.

The Phoenix Suns had the best odds of winning the NBA lottery, and they did, landing the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Over the last four years, the team with the NBA's worst record has landed that top spot each year. Before this stretch though, dating back to 1985, only four teams that had the worst record still won the lottery.

Nine teams have also jumped at least five spots to get to No. 1 during that period as well.

Now the order is set (until any trades of course) and teams have had a chance to check out many of the top players at the combine.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

There's also the very intriguing Luka Doncic, who most still believe won't go back to Real Madrid, even with him leaving the door open. 

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, and sitting at pick No. 15, they may just get one, although he brings a lot of mystery. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT