Nationals

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kyle Wiltjer hit seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points, Alex Poythress added a career-high 22 and No. 3 Kentucky routed Lafayette 101-49 in its home opener Friday night.

The Wildcats (2-1) shot 65 percent from the field, including 11-of-19 shooting from 3-point range, and Wiltjer set the tone by hitting his first two to open the game. He finished 7 of 11 from behind the arc, including 5 of 8 in the second half.

Poythress followed up his 20-point effort in Tuesday night's 75-68 loss to No. 9 Duke by hitting nine of 10 shots and grabbing five rebounds. That led a good night for Kentucky's heralded freshmen class as Nerlens Noel added 15 points, Willie Cauley-Stein 14 and Archie Goodwin 13.

Tony Johnson scored 13 points for Lafayette (1-2).

NO. 6 NC STATE 94, UMASS 76

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) - T.J. Warren had 21 points to lead the Wolfpack over the Minutemen at the Puerto Rico Tipoff.

Richard Howell added 19 points and nine rebounds and Lorenzo Brown had 11 points and 10 assists for the Wolfpack (3-0), who had five players score in double figures and shot 8 for 18 from 3-point range.

N.C. State will play Oklahoma State in the championship game of the tournament on Sunday.

Jesse Morgan had 15 points for UMass (2-1). Chaz Williams and Terrell Vinson each added 13 points for the Minutemen.

NO. 11 NORTH CAROLINA 78, LONG BEACH STATE 63

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - James Michael McAdoo scored 18 points and Marcus Paige added 15 to help the Tar Heels beat the 49ers.

McAdoo scored 12 points in the second half and finished with eight rebounds as the Tar Heels ended Long Beach State's 23-game home winning streak in front of a record crowd of 6,912 at the Walter Pyramid.

The Tar Heels (3-0) got hot from 3-point range during an 18-6 run midway through the second half to pull away. P.J. Hairston had 14 points in a reserve role and Brice Johnson came off the bench and had 10 points and seven rebounds.

James Ennis led the 49ers (1-2) with 18 points and Mike Caffey scored 14. Dan Jennings had nine points and 11 rebounds.

NO. 14 MISSOURI 74, NICHOLLS ST. 54

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Alex Oriakhi had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Earnest Ross added 16 points and the Tigers beat Nicholls State.

The Tigers (3-0) put to rest their tendency to start slowly - at least for one game - after senior forward Laurence Bowers promised to fix the team's energy problems after Missouri shot 23 percent in the first half Tuesday night against Alcorn State. Missouri used a 7-0 run within the first four minutes and wouldn't relinquish the lead after that.

Missouri shot 22 of 51, including 39.3 percent in the first half, bettering its 31 percent from its first two games. The Tigers also hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range and outrebounded Nicholls State 41-25.

Fred Hunter scored 22 points and T.J. Carpenter added 14 for Nicholls State (0-2).

COLORADO 60, NO. 16 BAYLOR 58

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Askia Booker scored 19 points and the Buffaloes survived some dreadful foul shooting down the stretch to hold off the Bears at the Charleston Classic.

The Buffaloes (3-0) advance to Sunday night's championship game. They also earned a measure of payback for last March, when the Bears (3-1) knocked them out in the NCAA tournament's third round.

It wasn't easy for Colorado, though, which went 4 of 18 from the foul line. Andre Roberson missed two free throws with 3.1 seconds left that gave Baylor one final chance.

But Isaiah Austin's catch-and-shoot attempt was off the right rim as the buzzer sounded.

SAINT JOSEPH'S 79, NO. 20 NOTRE DAME 70, OT

NEW YORK (AP) - Ronald Roberts had 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Hawks to an overtime victory over the Fighting Irish in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center.

Roberts scored the first seven points of the overtime as the Hawks pulled away, outscoring the Fighting Irish 13-4 in the extra 5 minutes.

Saint Joseph's closed regulation on an 8-0 run to tie it at 66.

The Hawks (2-0) will play Florida State in Saturday night's championship game. The Seminoles (3-0) beat BYU 88-70.

Jack Cooley had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (2-1), who didn't score over the final 4 minutes of regulation and first 4 minutes of overtime.

Chris Wilson had 19 points for the Hawks while Hilil Kanacevic had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Scott Martin had 13 points for Notre Dame while Eric Atkins had 12 points and 10 assists.

NO. 23 CONNECTICUT 77, WAKE FOREST 71

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright each scored 16 points to lead the Huskies over the Demon Deacons in the Paradise Jam.

Napier scored eight of his points during a 10-0 run midway through the second half that gave the Huskies (3-0) a 59-52 advantage with 7:56 left.

Wake Forest (1-1) would get to within four (73-69) on a Travis McKie 3-pointer with 53 seconds left. But Napier knocked down four free throws over the final 28 seconds to clinch the win.

Daniels added 12 points for the Huskies and junior center Enosch Wolf added a career-high 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Codi Miller-McIntyre led the Demon Deacons with 21 points, C.J. Harris added 17 and McKie 16.

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Bryce Harper's 2018 Home Run Derby win by the numbers

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper's 2018 Home Run Derby win by the numbers

Bryce Harper is the 2018 Home Run Derby champion.

In his home ballpark, Harper put on a show Washington won't soon forget.

He ran through a division foe in the first round in Freddie Freeman, took out a strong, hefty lefty in the semifinals in Max Muncy and then hit nine home runs in 47 seconds in the final minute of the final round when it seemed like he had no chance. On the second swing of his 30 seconds of extra time, Harper launched a bomb to deep center field to win.

And while winning the Home Run Derby in his own ballpark is an impressive feat on its own, the numbers behind his victory make it all the more impressive.

3.

He is just the third hometown winner of the Home Run Derby in the history of the event. Todd Frazier did it most recently in 2016 in Cincinnati, and Ryne Sandberg won at Wrigley Field in Chicago in 1990.

13.

Harper won each of the first two rounds with 13 homers. He didn't need his full time in either of the first two rounds.

446 & 441.

Harper's first two home runs of his first-round matchup against Freeman traveled farther than any of the Braves' superstar's dingers.


10.

In the semifinals, Harper only hit three homers in the first minute, but then blasted 10 in his next 11 swings. That's called efficiency.


5.

In the first round, Harper hit five of the 10 longest home runs of anybody in the field.


45.

Harper hit 45 bombs en route to claiming the title. Here's a visual representation of all of them.

That's also how many dollars cheaper Nats tickets will be... oops!


2.

That's John Wall's number and this is him celebrating his fellow D.C. sports superstar's victory.


19,058.

Bryce Harper hit an absurd 19,058 feet of home runs during the 2018 Home Run Derby. That's more than the 5k you ran last year.

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With All-Star Game in Washington, Bryce Harper looks back on baseball life, ahead to uncertain future

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USA Today Sports Images

With All-Star Game in Washington, Bryce Harper looks back on baseball life, ahead to uncertain future

It's quite possible that, despite nearly a decade of being in the spotlight, gracing the cover of magazines and operating as a transcendent star in the sport of baseball, Bryce Harper's attention-drawing powers reached their apex this week in Washington as the 2018 All-Star Game took center stage at Nationals Park.

Harper has played in plenty showcase games before, he's participated in the Home Run Derby, he was the first overall pick in 2010. But this time the Midsummer Classic is in his professional baseball hometown and he is the primary ambassador for both the team and league. 

Oh, and this is also a pretty big year for his future. The 25-year-old is just months away from being one of the most sought after free agents in the history of the sport and perhaps soon the highest paid.

Harper took it all in stride on Monday as he held court in a club level ballroom at Nationals Park on South Capitol St. He knew the questions about his future were coming and he had answers for every single one of them.

Some of those questions included:

Do you ever have guys on other teams try to recruit you?

Has it ever crossed your mind how odd it would be to play somewhere else?

Do you have a relationship with [Yankees star] Aaron Judge?

One reporter didn't even finish his question before Harper sniffed it out.

When you shaved your beard [on June 19]... 

Harper: ..."it was because the Yankees were in town, right. You got it," he said sarcastically. "My beard was getting too long. My wife wanted me to trim it and it was a good idea."

Harper has by most accounts become closed off in recent years. His personality has been withdrawn. He famously began his first spring training press conference earlier this year with a written statement and a warning that any questions about his free agent future would result in him walking out of the room.

At least for a day, Harper was his old and congenial self. Though, he did explain why his personality has changed with the media in recent years.

"I think I've gotten older. I'm not going to say the same things at 16 that I do at 25," he said. "There were things that people did in college that they don't want people to know about. There are things that I've said in the media at 16 or 17 that I guess I was real about. I can't take them back and I don't want to."

Harper has been able to operate throughout the first half of the season while saying very little of substance to the media. The fact his batting average has dipped to just .214 has given him extra reason to put up walls.

As Harper addressed the media, he didn't offer any trademark one-liners, but he did get introspective about his life as a baseball player and his role as the face of the Washington Nationals.

He spoke glowingly about the franchise and the city, about how much he enjoys seeing the same faces every day, from his teammates to those in the front office to stadium employees and security guards. He shared his appreciation for the fans and area kids who look up to him.

The All-Star Game taking place in D.C. offered Harper a chance to reminisce. As Harper looked ahead to the Home Run Derby, he rattled off the most memorable homers he has seen at Nationals Park. 

He mentioned Jayson Werth's walkoff homer in Game 4 of the 2012 NL Division Series. He brought up the time Michael Morse hit one to the top of the Red Porch in left-center and the many times Adam Dunn cleared the third deck in right field.

Harper was asked about his the pressure of playing host and the duress of struggling in a contract year. He told a story from his days at the College of Southern Nevada that put it all into perspective.

"I got absolutely dominated for two weeks prior to our season opening before fall ball. I'm sitting there at 16 years old, I just got back from Team USA," he recalled.

"I got punched out like nine or 10 times in probably a matter of about 12 at-bats against my own team... I sat down and was like 'you know what, I don't want to do this. I want to go back to high school. I want to enjoy those moments and do that.' But I knew that I couldn't do that. I sat down and they said 'you can't come back, you tested out.' I said 'okay, you've gotta cowboy up.' I needed to do what I needed to do. A week later, we started our fall ball season and I went deep in my first at-bat at Cashman Field. The rest is history, I guess you could say."

If Harper had indeed been able to go back to high school, his draft status would have changed. He never would have been drafted first overall by the Nationals in 2010.

Harper feels the pressure of playing in junior college ball with his draft status on the line, playing against guys who were four or five years older than him, was the toughest thing he has done in baseball. It prepared him for all of these moments, just like the media scrutiny did over the years.

"It was only what, [eight] years ago? It's those moments that make you who you are," he said. "I'm 25 years and old and I play this game of baseball every day. What pressure do I have to feel?... It's the game that I love to play. I'm getting chills [right now]. There's nothing greater than running out there wearing No. 34 and being Bryce Harper and loving the game that I play."

Harper remained patient and upbeat for the over 30 minutes that he addressed the media. He was soaking it all in and trying to embrace the attention he was receiving.

But it was one of those questions from above that provided a dose of reality to set in. When asked if it would be strange to play for another team, he reminded the reporters present of what could very well happen this winter.

"It's always a possibility [I leave]. I think that everybody knew that at the beginning of the year, that this could possibly be my last year in D.C. Everybody knows that. There's no elephant in the room. Everybody knows that it's a possibility, but I'm not really focused on that," he said.

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