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Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Mason Plumlee had 21 points and a career-high-tying 17 rebounds, and No. 2 Duke rallied late and held on to beat No. 4 Ohio State 73-68 on Wednesday night.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored all 17 points in the second half and Ryan Kelly added 15 including 3-pointers on consecutive possessions during the 20-7 run that put the Blue Devils (7-0) ahead to stay and sent them to their third win over a top-five team this month.

Deshaun Thomas scored 16 points for Ohio State (4-1), while Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 11 apiece.

Shannon Scott pulled the Buckeyes within 66-64 with a free throw with 28.9 seconds left before Quinn Cook sealed it by hitting six free throws in the final 27.3 seconds.

Cook finished with 12 points for Duke, which shot 58 percent in the second half to remain unbeaten at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and preserve its school-record winning streak at home against nonconference opponents.

The Blue Devils - who beat then-No. 3 Kentucky in Atlanta and then-No. 2 Louisville in the Bahamas - won their 97th straight against non-ACC visitors to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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No. 9 ARIZONA 93, NORTHERN ARIZONA 50

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Mark Lyons scored 18 points and Nick Johnson had 10 points and seven assists for Arizona.

The Wildcats (4-0) overwhelmed the Lumberjacks from the get-go, showing no signs of rust after an eight-day break.

The Wildcats built an 18-point lead in the first half and shut down Northern Arizona in the second for their 29th straight win over the Lumberjacks (2-4).

Arizona shot 58 percent, made 12 of 21 from 3-point range and had 22 assists on 30 field goals to kick off a stretch of four games in 11 days.

Solomon Hill had 17 points, Brandon Ashley grabbed 11 rebounds and Johnson added four steals for the Wildcats.

Dewayne Russell had 13 points and Blake Hamilton 11 for Northern Arizona, winless in 24 all-time games against ranked opponents.

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BOISE ST. 83, No. 11 Creighton 70

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Derrick Marks scored a career-high 35 points, including 18 straight in the second half, to lead Boise State to the upset.

The Broncos (5-1) beat a ranked opponent for the first time in four seasons and beat one on the road for the first time since March 2005.

Creighton (6-1) hadn't lost a regular-season November home game since 1989.

Anthony Drmic had 17 points and Jeff Elorriaga added 12 for the Broncos.

Doug McDermott led Creighton with 21 points.

Creighton got within five points in the last 3 minutes of the game, but Drmic scored twice and Marks made four free throws to seal the Broncos' first win over a ranked opponent since they beat Utah State in February 2009.

The Broncos had come into the game having lost 18 of 19 on the road against ranked teams, with the lone win against Nevada in March 2005.

Marks scored 28 points in the second half.

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MIAMI 67, No. 13 Michigan St. 59

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Senior Trey McKinney Jones scored a career-high 18 points and Miami held Michigan State without a field goal for a 5 1/2-minute stretch in the second half.

McKinney Jones went 5 for 7 from 3-point range, including a basket that capped a 14-2 run to start the second half that put them ahead 41-33. The lead grew to 57-45, and Miami (4-1) went 8 for 8 from the free throw line over the final 2:11 to seal the victory.

Keith Appling had 15 points for the Spartans (5-2), who lost for the first time since the season opener against Connecticut.

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No. 22 ILLINOIS 75, GEORGIA TECH 62

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Joseph Bertrand made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and scored every point in a 10-0 run for Illinois in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Illinois (8-0) took charge behind Bertrand, who also scored on a drives in the decisive surge to lift the Illini from a 58-54 deficit late in the second half.

The Illini finished the game on a 21-4 run.

Bertrand, a redshirt junior, scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. Brandon Paul also scored 15 points for the Illini while forward Tyler Griffey and guard D.J. Richardson had 14 points apiece.

Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 points apiece.

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No. 24 UNLV 85, UC IRVINE 57

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Freshman Anthony Bennett and junior Mike Moser scored 19 points apiece to lead UNLV.

Using tenacious defense, the Rebels held UC Irvine scoreless during a crucial 5 minutes of the second half, long enough to widen their lead to 20 points and take the Anteaters out of the game. UNLV outscored UC Irvine 51-31 in the second half to pull away for the easy win.

Katin Reinhardt added 13 points for the Rebels (4-1).

UC Irvine (3-4) scored just 21 points over the final 14:59 of the game - nine of which came from the free throw line.

Daman Starring had 18 points and Adam Folker added 12 for the Anteaters.

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No. 25 NEW MEXICO 76, MERCER 58

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - Alex Kirk had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Cameron Bairstow added a career-high 16 points for New Mexico.

It was Kirk's second straight double-double for the Lobos (7-0).

Travis Smith scored 16 points to lead the Bears (3-4).

Bairstow and Tony Snell combined for 14 points in a 17-2 New Mexico run that put the Lobos up 19-5.

Mercer was never able to get closer than eight points the rest of the way.

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Almost a quarter into the season, Todd Reirden still does not have his full roster 

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USA TODAY Sports

Almost a quarter into the season, Todd Reirden still does not have his full roster 

In his first year as an NHL head coach, Todd Reirden is well aware that all eyes are on him. Stepping in to coach the defending Stanley Cup champions is a favorable position in many ways, but it does mean Reirden will be under more scrutiny than most coaches in their first year.

For a first-year coach already facing pressure to succeed, it does not help that the season has already thrown a number of curve balls in terms of the roster.

“Coaching the defending champions is a unique challenge in itself,” Reirden told NBC Sports Washington in a recent interview, “But I think for the most part that I haven't had much time to spend on that because I've been busy working on different lineups every night.”

With very few departures in the offseason, Washington was able to bring back the vast majority of its Stanley Cup winning team for the 2018-19 season, something that was considered a major strength of the team heading into the new season.

So far, however, we have seen much more roster attrition from the Caps than consistency.

Now 18 games into the season, Reirden has not had his full roster available to him at any point.

Tom Wilson missed the first 16 games of the season due to suspension, Brooks Orpik is currently on long-term injured reserve, Michal Kempny missed the start of the season because of a concussion and missed Wednesday’s game due to an illness, Travis Boyd has played in only five games due to a lower-body injury he suffered in training camp and Braden Holtby was a surprise scratch on Wednesday with an upper-body injury that required the team dress an emergency backup goalie in Winnipeg. Even John Carlson sat out a game with a lower-body injury.

Things may get worse before they get better given Evgeny Kuznetsov left Wedensday’s game early with an upper-body injury, T.J. Oshie appeared dazed after getting slammed to the ice by Josh Morrissey and Holtby is still considered day-to-day.

The rest of the league, however, does not care about the Caps’ suspensions and injuries. Washington does not get extra points in the standings because they have missed so many players and there are no asterisks next to Reirden’s head coaching record.

In the early part of the season, Reirden’s focus has had to shift from bringing the defending champs back to their championship form to simply surviving the team’s current roster attrition while facing questions as to why the team has been so inconsistent all the while.

Reirden has enjoyed the challenge.

“I think it's allowed us to really focus on what gives us the best chance to win, putting guys in different situations, manipulating lineups against other teams and what they have as the strengths in their lineup and how we can combat that,” he said. “So it's been a challenge from that standpoint in terms of moving our lines around and different components. That's made it a little bit more challenging, but that's the part I really enjoy is making those adjustments in house and figuring out how to set up things for success.”

Reirden has certainly not been shy about changing his line combinations or the defensive pairings early in the season as he searched to find the right fit for each spot, each situation. The return of Wilson certainly seems to have made things more clear on the offensive lines, at least in terms of the top-nine.

But while the early suspension and the team’s early injury woes have led to some early struggles and while this certainly is not the start that Reirden would have hoped for in his first season, he is taking a big picture view of it all and stressing the positives.

There’s not much more that this season could throw at the Caps that Reirden and the team has not already had to adjust to.

“It's probably been part of the reason we've had some inconsistency is because of the different changes we've had with different lines and different D-pairs,” Reirden said. “But in the long run, it'll actually help prepare us for adversity that comes to us down the road.”

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Week 11 Redskins vs Texans: An opportunity for a statement game at FedEx Field

Week 11 Redskins vs Texans: An opportunity for a statement game at FedEx Field

If the Redskins want to make a statement, Sunday marks a real opportunity. 

Washington, sitting at 6-3 and in first place of the NFC East, hosts Houston, a team that sits at 6-3 and in first place of the AFC South. Despite their records, neither team gets much consideration among the real Super Bowl contenders in the NFL. 

Like any NFL team, both the 'Skins and Texans have weaknesses. And unlike the top NFL teams, both the Texans and the 'Skins have a few warts, too. 

The team that best plays to their strengths will leave FedEx Field on Sunday at 7-3, almost assured of a playoff spot and no longer looking for a signature win. 

Going streaking

The Texans started the season bad, losing their first three games. Since then, Houston hasn't lost. Bill O'Brien's team didn't play last week, enjoying their bye in the actual middle of the season unlike the Redskins, but it's possible the layoff slowed the momentum.

When Houston last played, the Texans escaped Denver with a narrow, last-second victory. A six-game win streak is incredibly hard to come by in the NFL, and a seven-game heater is even harder to put together.

So. Much. Talent.

Not many teams can boast the type of elite talent like the Texans. The team has two possible future Hall-of-Famers in J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins both playing in their prime. Watt has nine sacks in nine games, and the Houston defense aggressively moves him around on the defensive line.

That means Watt will face up against Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses, but also probably inside against right guard Tony Bergstrom. Charley Casserly described Watt against Bergstrom as a significant mismatch, and Washington will need to be creative to slow down the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

As for Hopkins, expect Redskins cornerback Josh Norman to travel with the athletic Texans wideout for much of the game. Hopkins is averaging nearly 100 yards receiving per game, and has seven touchdowns in nine games. He will be a major part of the Houston attack. Oh yeah, we didn't even mention Deshaun Watson or Jadeveon Clowney.

Ground game

The Redskins and the Texans run the ball well. Washington ranks 10th in the NFL on the ground, averaging 121.2 yards-per-game. Houston ranks 11th, averaging 120.2 yards-per-game.

For the Redskins, however, the run game is their only means of offense. Their pass game ranks in the bottom third of the NFL, and in four of his last five games, Alex Smith has thrown for fewer than 180 yards. Weirdly, all four of those sub-200 passing yard games from Smith have resulted in wins for Washington.

The Texans throw the ball better, ranked 18th in the NFL, but aren't the type of dominant offense that the Redskins have struggled against (cough Atlanta, cough New Orleans).

Turn around bright eyes

Few things change NFL games like turnovers, and the Redskins' win last week in Tampa might be the best example. Washington got dominated in just about every offensive category, but the Bucs turned the ball over four times, and the 'Skins skated with a 16-3 victory.

At +4 in turnover margin, the Texans take care of the ball, but not like the +11 Redskins. Watson has thrown seven INTs this season. Not a lot, but four more than Smith. A huge part of the Redskins winning formula is protecting the ball and generating turnovers, and certainly Jay Gruden wants to replicate that on Sunday. 

They said it

  • Jay Gruden on the Redskins mindset in first place: "We're obviously not satisfied or sitting in the lounge chair with our feet up right now relaxing. We've got to get back to work and continue to work. We know there is a lot of football ahead of us, a lot of great teams come in here to play and we have to go there to play and we have to do better. We have to do better on offense and there's a lot more for us to get offensively and defensively for that matter. I'm glad that we're winning without a doubt."
  • Alex Smith on facing J.J. Watt and the Texans defensive line: "They are one of the most disruptive fronts in football. I think when you just talk about just creating problems, penetration. They're all over the place. They obviously are really, really talented. They get up the field."
  • Texans coach Bill O'Brien on Redskins RB Adrian Peterson: "He is obviously one of the best to ever play the game. I mean, he's big, strong, fast, has got good vision, great cutting ability, very, very difficult to stop."

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The 1991 matchup between the Redskins and Oilers is the only game D.C. fans should think of when they hear Washington vs. Houston.