Nationals

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) Le'Bryan Nash has 23 points and Marcus Smart added 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and Oklahoma State earned a 76-56 win over No. 6 N.C. State in the title game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff on Sunday.

Phil Forte had 17 points for the Cowboys (4-0), who outrebounded the Wolfpack 45-34.

Rodney Purvis had 16 points and T.J. Warren added 15 points for the Wolfpack (3-1), who shot only 28.6 percent from the field.

Smart was the tournament MVP. He was joined by Nash, Warren, Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes and Akron's Zeke Marshall on the all-tournament team.

No. 2 LOUISVILLE 80, MIAMI (Ohio) 39

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Russ Smith had a game-high 23 points and Wayne Blackshear added 14 points and six rebounds and Louisville defeated Miami.

Smith was 5 of 7 from 3-point range. The junior guard has been the leading scorer in all three Cardinals victories and is averaging 21.3 points per game.

Blackshear started for the second consecutive game at small forward and made a career-high four 3-pointers for the Cardinals (3-0).

Senior center Gorgui Dieng added 11 points and nine rebounds and senior guard Peyton Siva matched a career high with 10 assists for the Cardinals, who shot 48 percent and hit 12 of 26 from 3-point range (46 percent).

Louisville's defense held Miami (1-2) to 30 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers.

Geovonie McKnight and Bill Edwards both scored seven points for the Redhawks.

No. 8 SYRACUSE 88, WAGNER 57

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Brandon Triche had 21 points and seven rebounds, James Southerland added 15 points and three blocks, and Syracuse beat Wagner.

Syracuse has won 23 straight home games and 34 in a row in the Carrier Dome against nonconference foes. The Orange (2-0) opened their season on the road a week ago with a 62-49 win over then-No. 20 San Diego State on the flight deck of the former aircraft carrier USS Midway.

Baye Moussa Keita had a career-high 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, all in the second half. Michael Carter-Williams had a career-high 11 assists, and Trevor Cooney had eight points and five steals for Syracuse.

Jonathon Williams led Wagner with 14 points and nine rebounds and Kenneth Ortiz had 11 points.

No. 9 DUKE 88, FLORIDA GULF COAST 67

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Mason Plumlee scored a career-high 28 points, and No. 9 Duke routed Florida Gulf Coast 88-67 on Sunday night for its school-record 96th straight nonconference win at home.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon added 19 points and Ryan Kelly had 14 points for the Blue Devils (3-0).

They scored 30 straight points - including a 23-0 run to close the first half - to brush off a slow start, and forced 25 turnovers to cruise in this preliminary on-campus matchup in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Bernard Thompson scored a career-high 24 points for Florida Gulf Coast (2-2), which led for most of the first half.

But foul trouble, sloppy ball-handling and cold shooting during the last 5 1/2 minutes of the half ruined the Eagles' chances at their first win over a Top 25 team and second victory in six days against an Atlantic Coast Conference program.

No. 10 FLORIDA 66, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 45

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Kenny Boynton had 20 points and Will Yeguete scored 11 and grabbed 13 rebounds Sunday to help Florida pull away to a victory over Middle Tennessee.

Boynton scored the final 13 of the game for the Gators (3-0), who opened the second half with a 14-2 run and never looked back.

Middle Tennessee (2-1) trimmed a 15-point deficit to nine before Mike Rosario finished a fast-break with a dunk and Boynton hit a 3-pointer to begin his game-ending spurt.

Marcos Knight led Middle Tennessee with 12 points and Shawn Jones added 10 for the Blue Raiders, who trailed 29-26 at halftime.

Florida turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, limiting the Blue Raiders to 27 percent shooting after the break. Middle Tennessee missed seven of eight shots while the Gators were taking control over an eight-minute stretch.

No. 15 CREIGHTON 87, PRESBYTERIAN 58

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Doug McDermott scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half and Creighton defeated overmatched Presbyterian.

Ethan Wragge scored 18 points, all coming on his career high-tying six 3-pointers, and Austin Chatman had a career-high 11 assists to go with his nine points for the Bluejays (3-0).

McDermott, held to five points against UAB on Wednesday, bounced back to make 7 of 9 shots and all eight of his free throws. He also had seven rebounds.

Jordan Downing, who averaged 6.5 points in Presbyterian's first two games, led the Blue Hose (0-3) with a career-high 25 points.

Presbyterian hung with the Bluejays for the first nine minutes. The Blue Hose tried to slow the tempo, and the Bluejays turned over the ball three times.

No. 16 BAYLOR 97, ST. JOHN'S 78

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Brady Heslip had a career-high 29 points on eight 3-pointers, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson had double-doubles and Baylor bounced back from its first loss to beat St. John's and take third place at the Charleston Classic.

The Bears (4-1) lost 60-58 to Colorado on Friday and coach Scott Drew wondered how his team might respond.

He needn't have worried as Heslip took over from outside and Austin and Jefferson controlled the middle.

Heslip's seventh 3-pointer put Baylor up for good at 69-66 with 9:36 to play. The Red Storm (2-2) closed to 73-72 on Phil Greene's basket with 6:40 remaining, but Jefferson hit two foul shots and Baylor star Pierre Jackson scored five straight points.

Phil Greene had 24 points and D'Angelo Harrison 20 for St. John's.

Jefferson finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Austin got 13 points and 13 rebounds.

No. 19 GONZAGA 96, SOUTH DAKOTA 58

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Elias Harris scored 16 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and Gonzaga topped South Dakota.

Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1 freshman from Poland, led the Bulldogs with 20 points off the bench for the Bulldogs (3-0) who head to the Old Spice Classic in Florida to face Clemson on Thanksgiving.

Gary Bell Jr. also had 16 points with Sam Dower getting 12 points and nine rebounds and Kevin Pangos 10 points to go with six assists.

Freshmen Casey Kasperbauer and Tyler Flack scored 17 and 10 points, respectively, for the Coyotes (1-3), who were playing their fourth game in five nights. Senior Juevol Myles had 12 points.

No. 21 MICHIGAN STATE 69, TEXAS SOUTHERN 41

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gary Harris scored 19 points, including 14 in a lopsided first half, to lead Michigan State past Texas Southern.

Branden Dawson had 13 points and six rebounds, while Adreian Payne added nine points and seven rebounds for the Spartans (2-1), who extended their string of wins in home openers to 36.

Coach Tom Izzo's team also got good work from reserves. Harris' fellow freshmen Denzel Valentine and, in his first action after a lower-back injury, Matt Costello combined for 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.

Fred Sturdivant had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Mike Davis' Tigers (1-3), who had three players returning home to Michigan. Raymond Penn had 10 points and Kyrie Sutton 11 rebounds.

No. 22 WISCONSIN 73, CORNELL 40

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Jared Berggren and Ben Brust each scored 18 points to help Wisconsin beat Cornell.

Brust also grabbed 12 rebounds, while Ryan Evans also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Badgers (2-1).

Devin Cherry Cornell (1-3) with 13 points.

In losing to No. 10 Florida 74-56 on Wednesday, the Badgers allowed the Gators to shoot 75 percent in the first half and 62 percent for the game.

But it was clear from the start Sunday there would be no repeat of that performance.

The Big Red started just 1 of 11 and Cornell found itself down 27-8 with just less than 8 minutes to go in the first half.

No. 23 CONNECTICUT 89, QUINNIPIAC 83

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - Shabazz Napier scored 23 of his career-high 29 points in the final 3:24 of regulation and two overtime periods to help Connecticut beat Quinnipiac in the Paradise Jam.

UConn (4-0) trailed by 55-45 after Garvey Young's 3-pointer with 4:56 left in regulation. But Ryan Boatright countered with a three-point play and Napier scored 11 of the Huskies' next 13 points, including a driving layup with 4.2 seconds left.

Quinnipiac's Dave Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left in the first overtime to send it into the second extra period. There, Napier kicked things off with a 3 and the Huskies never again trailed.

UConn has now won 67 straight games against in-state foes, dating back to a Dec. 29, 1986 loss to Hartford in former coach Jim Calhoun's first year at the helm.

No. 24 CINCINNATI 93, NORTH CAROLINA A&T 39

CINCINNATI (AP) - Sean Kilpatrick scored a career-high 29 points, hitting eight shots from behind the arc, and Cincinnati dominated from the outset of a victory over North Carolina A&T.

The Bearcats (3-0) opened with a 14-point run that featured four 3s by Kilpatrick, who got wide-open shots all around the arc. Cincinnati's lead never slipped below double-digits.

Kilpatrick had 21 points in the opening half - six under his previous high - and matched his career best with six 3-pointers before the intermission. He made more shots from beyond the arc than the Aggies (1-3) did overall in the half.

The junior guard also had seven rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.

North Carolina A&T shot only 15 percent from the field (10 of 66) with 20 turnovers. Lamont Middleton led the Aggies with 11 points.

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Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Comfort carries allure for most. That includes Matt Adams.

He knew when traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in August a chance for a return to Washington existed. Adams got along with all levels of staff while operating quietly at his locker and pulverizing right-handed pitching on the field. The hole he filled in 2018 would exist again in 2019, so why couldn’t he return?

It all seems so simple, and it turned out to be. Adams’ one-year deal for $4 million, which includes a mutual option for 2020, was announced Tuesday by the Nationals after first being reported during the weekend. The left-handed bench piece Washington needed is in place for this season. It could well be back in 2020 when the team’s first base personnel could undergo a large change if Ryan Zimmerman’s option is not picked up.

“I don’t follow too much of the media stuff in the offseason,” Adams said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

“But the way that everything was left when I was traded, we were on good communication, up until that point. Everything that was said leading up to that trade, if the opportunity presented itself [to return] I would be on their list. I’m kind of lost for words, because I’m excited for this opportunity. But I think the team is definitely going to be better than it was last year, with the acquisitions that [Mike Rizzo] has made so far this offseason.”

Adams is pleased he’s not hunting a job until late into February. More frequently role players are without homes for most of, if not all of, the pre-spring training portion of the offseason. Adams is settled a week before Christmas.

“For me, the way my brain and myself works, the later I sign, the more freaked out I'm going to be,” Adams said. “Because it's the unknown that's out there. Not knowing where you're going to go, how many people you're going to know on that team you're going to sign with...For me, I was lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to sign back with the Nats where I know everybody and I get along with absolutely everybody from front office to coaches and all the players. For me, it felt like the right opportunity and I was just fortunate to get the deal done when we got it done.”

Adams’ value lays in his potency against right-handed pitching. He hit 20 of his 21 home runs last season against right-handers. This is in line with his career arc that includes 83 of his 96 home runs against right-handed throwers. Adams also slugged .538 against right-handed pitchers while with the Nationals last season. 

He’s again positioned to platoon at first base and be summoned to hit late in games. Adams played much more often than anticipated last season following Zimmerman’s languishing oblique injury. 

“I think it’s just coming up with that mindset of being ready whether your name’s called or not,” Adams said. “Whether it’s on an everyday basis or, like you said, sporadic, here and there, pinch-hitting off the bench, filling in and giving Zim a blow when he needs it. But I think going into spring training in the best shape I can possibly be in, going in ready to get better, ready to work. And wherever the season takes me playing-time wise, I’m just excited to be on a winning club with a good chance to get back to the postseason.”

Bringing Adams back reduces the Nationals’ offseason list. They need a fourth starter. They are considering a full-time second baseman. Another bench option is also part of the hunt, though it’s reliant on what happens at second base (Wilmer Difo/Howie Kendrick could fill that spot if an every day second baseman is signed). Left-handed bench bat is spoken for.

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

Ever wonder what Christmas at the North Pole is like? Just ask someone who’s been there like Capitals goalie Pheonix Copley.

Copley calls the North Pole home. North Pole, Alaska that is.

North Pole is a small town outside of Fairbanks (population of 2,232). Copley wears two candy canes on the bottom of his goalie mask in tribute to his hometown.

As you would expect, Christmas is a big deal back home, not just in December but year round. Santa Claus Lane cuts through the center of town and visitors can see the Santa Claus House located on St. Nicholas Drive.

“They definitely try and make it a theme in the town,” Copley said. “Light poles and stuff are candy canes, Christmas lights year round at places, businesses.”

Christmas itself, however, is more low-key for the people there than you would expect, according to Copley. As fun as the town name may be, there is one big drawback to December in North Pole: the weather.

“It's so cold up there, it's like not much really to do outside [at Christmas],” Copley said. “They do do ice sculptures and stuff so they go a little bit with it, but it's so cold and dark that not a whole lot going on up there.”

According to The Weather Channel, the forecast for Christmas day calls for a high of -8 degrees. That is a veritable heat-wave considering it is not supposed to get above -13 degrees in the five days leading up to Christmas. You can also expect there to be less than four hours of daylight.

That may sound miserable to some, but Copley always enjoyed making the trip home for the holidays.

“Especially growing up when I first started leaving, I was going home at Christmas and it was nice to see the whole family again and get to celebrate the holidays and stuff,” he said. “For myself, Christmas has always been a fun time. Just being from North Pole, I always get a lot of jokes and stuff about it.”

Now on the other side of the country and with only a few days between games, Copley will not make the long trip back home during the team’s Christmas break. Instead, he will remain in D.C. and, as he admitted, will enjoy a warmer Christmas.

But he still wouldn’t mind a little snow.

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