Ravens

Syracuse proves it can win the close ones, too

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Syracuse proves it can win the close ones, too

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has to be impressed with his third-ranked Orange, no matter what he says in the heat of the moment.

After two, gritty two-point wins in a three-day span - at then-No. 1 Louisville on Saturday and at home on Monday against No. 21 Cincinnati - Syracuse sits alone atop the Big East standings.

The Orange have only lost once in 29 conference regular-season games in the past calendar year and have beaten their opponents this season by an average of 19.2 points. Winning two close games in a row is a good sign for a team that hasn't been tested too much.

Aside from a four-point loss to Temple at Madison Square Garden just before Christmas, Detroit gave Syracuse its biggest scare the night Boeheim won his 900th game. The Titans rallied from 20 points down in the final minutes before the Orange escaped with a 72-68 win, thanks in large part to 22 points from sharpshooting senior forward James Southerland.

``These guys have made plays in the games we've had, and even the game we lost,'' Boeheim said after Syracuse's 57-55 comeback win over the Bearcats on Monday. ``They fight it, and when we're not playing well they keep fighting it. If they weren't battlers, we easily could've had two, maybe three losses in the conference.''

Instead, at 6-0, the Orange are the only team in the Big East with an unblemished record in league play, and they've won the past three games without their steadiest outside shooter.

Southerland, second on the team in scoring at 13.6 points and the team leader with 33 makes from behind the arc, was declared out indefinitely because of an eligibility matter involving academics that has yet to be resolved.

Southerland is still practicing with the team and has been on the bench in street clothes at the last two home games, flashing an occasional smile amid all the frustration he's most certainly feeling.

In his absence, freshman Jerami Grant has stepped in and played well, averaging 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while blocking four shots in the three games. He was instrumental in a 72-61 home win over Villanova 11 days ago in his first extended action of the season, scoring a season-high 13.

Still, Boeheim was quick to point out that both Grant and redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney had defensive lapses against Cincinnati. Sean Kilpatrick was left open too many times and hit six 3-pointers as the Bearcats nearly had the upset.

``We can't afford that,'' Boeheim said. ``You can't leave a guy like that open.''

Syracuse beat Louisville by snagging three turnovers in the final seconds, the last two forced by point guard Michael Carter-Williams. He intercepted a pass at the top of the key with the game tied at 68-all and scored the winning basket on a breakaway slam dunk with 23 seconds left, then stole the ball again under the Orange basket as the Cardinals were vying for the tie. C.J. Fair was credited with the winning tip-in against Cincinnati with 19.4 seconds left in regulation after Grant failed to convert a drive through the lane.

Small wonder that both Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Cincinnati's Mick Cronin were dumbstruck, as was Boeheim.

``Without those two things happening, we're 0-2 and everybody is going, `Syracuse is in trouble,' because we should've lost both those games,'' Boeheim said. ``That's why Rick (Pitino) was so upset. There was no way on earth that Louisville should've lost that game ... and there was less of a chance for Cincinnati to lose. The game was completely over.''

Not until the final horn. Not with Carter-Williams and fellow guard Brandon Triche, the Orange's leading scorer, running the floor.

``Our guards have got to play great,'' Boeheim said. ``That's the bottom line with this team.''

That's a given, and they've responded. Triche had 23 points and six rebounds against Louisville, while Carter-Williams had 16 points and seven assists in each of the past two games, more than making up for 11 turnovers. Both hit key shots late in each game.

``You don't want to have confidence that you're going to be down and come back. That's not good confidence,'' said Triche, who had to sit much of the second half against Villanova because of foul trouble. ``The confidence is that we're going to stick it out, we're not going to get down on each other. We're just going to play for each other.

``These last three wins were great team wins and shows what type of team we are.''

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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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Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives: Guice returns, Richardson out

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives: Guice returns, Richardson out

When rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins makes his first start at FedExField vs. the Jets, he'll be without one of his top wide receivers. Veteran Paul Richardson was ruled out Friday with a hamstring injury. Second-year wide receiver Cam Sims has been called up to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. 

Haskins will have running back Derrius Guice to lean on, however. The second-year running back was activated off injured reserve last week and is set to return against the Jets. For the first time, Redskins fans will get to see Haskins, Guice, and standout rookie wideout Terry McLaurin in action together.

Neither tight end Vernon Davis or running back Chris Thompson, two of the team's best offensive weapons, will play vs. New York. Davis will miss his sixth consecutive game, still recovering from a concussion he suffered in Week 4 vs. the Giants. Thompson has still yet to practice since suffering a toe injury against Miami in Week 6 and will miss his fourth consecutive game.

Safety Montae Nicholson, who has not played since Week 6, is active. Earlier this week, he was cooperating with police following a 21-year-old woman's death.

Special teams captain and safety DeShazor Everett is inactive. He has not played since the Redskins Week 5 loss to New England.

Here are the Week 11 inactives.

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives

Redskins Inactives:

TE Vernon Davis
RB Chris Thompson
QB Colt McCoy
DL Tim Settle
WR Paul Richardson
OL Ross Pierschbacher
S Deshazor Everett

Jets Inactives:

S Matthias Farley
LB C.J. Mosely
LB Paul Worrilow
CB Darryl Roberts
OL Leo Koloamatangi
CB Nate Hairston
DL Jordan Willis

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