Wizards

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Trey Burke had 20 points and seven assists, and No. 3 Michigan eased past Western Michigan for a 73-41 victory Tuesday night.

The Wolverines (8-0) had actually lost their previous two games against the Broncos, but that was more than a decade ago. Western Michigan (6-2) had won six straight coming into this game, including a victory over South Florida, but the Broncos wasted a chance to stay with the Wolverines, turning the ball over 13 times in the first half.

Nik Stauskas scored 11 points for Michigan, and fellow freshman Mitch McGary added 10 on 5-of-5 shooting.

Freshman Darius Paul had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Western Michigan.

It is Michigan's first 8-0 start since 1996-97.

No. 5 LOUISVILLE 80, CHARLESTON 38

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Wayne Blackshear had 18 points and Louisville used its stifling defense to take control against College of Charleston.

The Cardinals (7-1) used a 22-7 run midway through the opening half to build a 36-14 lead and easily win their second straight since a loss to Duke.

Russ Smith had 13 points and Peyton Siva 12 for Louisville, which turned up its defense at the sold-out TD Arena. The Cardinals finished with a season-high 18 steals and forced Charleston (5-3) into a season-high 27 turnovers, 11 more than it had averaged coming in.

Adjehi Baru had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Cougars. Charleston leading scorer Andrew Lawrence finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting.

No. 8 ARIZONA 63, SOUTHERN MISS 55

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Nick Johnson scored 23 points, Kevin Parrom had 13 of his 14 in the second half and Arizona overcame a season-high 27 turnovers to hold off Southern Mississippi.

Arizona (6-0) struggled against Southern Miss' zone defense, throwing passes into traffic and to open spaces, even one that sailed over the coaches on the bench into the crowd.

The Wildcats hung on behind their defense, forcing Southern Miss into 17 second-half turnovers to pull away to their best start since opening the 1999-2000 season with six straight wins.

Southern Miss (6-2) used its swarming zone while building an eight-point halftime lead and kept forcing Arizona into mistakes.

The Golden Eagles struggled against Arizona's pressure in the second half, though, missing all eight of their 3-point attempts while nearly quadrupling their turnovers from the first half.

Neil Watson led Southern Miss with 17 points.

No. 12 MISSOURI 81, SE MISSOURI STATE 65

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Laurence Bowers scored a career-high 26 points to help Missouri rally from 10 points down at halftime and beat Southeast Missouri State.

The Tigers trailed for 17 minutes before Bowers made a turnaround jumper to give Missouri a 57-56 lead with 10:56 remaining. The Tigers stretched the lead to 73-62 with 4:16 left on an alley-oop dunk by Keion Bell.

Phil Pressey added 17 points for the Tigers (7-1) after going only 3 of 14 from the field in the first half, including 1 for 6 from 3-point range.

Corey Wilford scored all 14 of his points in the first half to lead the Redhawks (6-5). Nino Johnson and Missouri transfer Tyler Stone both added 13.

No. 13 ILLINOIS 72, WESTERN CAROLINA 64

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Brandon Paul scored 14 points and Illinois held off Western Carolina after the game was tied at 54 with 5:53 left.

Illinois guard D.J. Richardson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for a 62-56 lead. Richardson finished with 13 points.

After a Western Carolina turnover, Illini guard Tracy Abrams made two free throws and a basket on the following possession for a 66-56 lead. Abrams added 10 points for the Illini, who shot 40 percent.

Preston Ross paced the Catamounts (3-6) with 17 points. James Sinclair added 13 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Boggs had 16 points off the bench.

The Illini (9-0) play at No. 10 Gonzaga on Saturday.

No. 14 MINNESOTA 88, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 64

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Andre Hollins scored 20 of his 22 points before halftime and Minnesota breezed past a South Dakota State team missing point guard Nate Wolters.

Hollins hit his first six 3-point attempts and finished 8 for 9 from the field for the Gophers (9-1), who reached their highest ranking in The Associated Press poll this week in six years under coach Tubby Smith.

Austin Hollins had 17 points, five assists and four steals, Joe Coleman added 15 points and seven rebounds, and the Gophers notched their largest winning margin this season.

Jordan Dykstra scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits (6-3), who missed Wolters. The standout from nearby St. Cloud has an ankle injury that prevented him from playing in his home state for the final time.

No. 15 GEORGETOWN 64, TEXAS 41

NEW YORK (AP) - Otto Porter had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Georgetown over Texas in the opener of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Nate Lubick added 13 points and Markel Starks had 11 for the Hoyas, who led by 13 at halftime. The lead grew to 23 and was never less than eight in the second half.

The Hoyas (6-1), whose only loss this season was to No. 1 Indiana in overtime, scored the first nine points of the game, the last four from Lubick on layups.

Sheldon McClellan had 12 points to lead the Longhorns (5-3), who had their lowest point total under coach Rick Barnes, who took over for the 1998-99 season. Texas had won three straight after losing two in a row.

No. 21 UNLV 68, PORTLAND 60

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Justin Hawkins had 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in a second-half rally that sent UNLV past tenacious Portland.

Playing their first game on the road this season, the Runnin' Rebels (6-1) were without top rebounder Mike Moser, who sat out with a hip injury in his home city. Anthony Bennett had 18 points and Anthony Marshall added 16 for UNLV.

Ryan Nicholas had 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Pilots (3-5), who led 28-22 at halftime and extended the lead to nine early in the second half.

Hawkins' 3-pointer tied it at 42 and Quintrell Thomas' dunk gave the Runnin' Rebels the lead with 13:45 left. David Carr answered with a 3-pointer for Portland, but UNLV took charge with a 12-0 run that included a jumper, a free throw and consecutive 3-pointers from Hawkins for a 56-47 lead.

No. 25 NORTH CAROLINA ST. 69, CONNECTICUT 65

NEW YORK (AP) - Richard Howell had 13 points and grabbed all 10 of his rebounds in the second half, and C.J. Leslie had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead North Carolina State over Connecticut in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic.

The Wolfpack (5-2), who had lost two of three, have dropped 19 spots in the AP poll over the last four weeks after being ranked No. 6 in the preseason Top 25.

Howell, a 6-foot-8, 257-pound senior, led North Carolina State's second-half rush to the boards. The Wolfpack had 20 rebounds in the second half, 11 on the offensive end - and Howell grabbed seven of those. The Huskies had 13 rebounds in the second half, six offensive.

Shabazz Napier led the Huskies (6-2) with 19 points and Ryan Boatright added 18. Napier scored Connecticut's first 10 points of the game and led the Huskies to an 11-point lead.

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Ways to jump-start the Wizards sooner than later

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Ways to jump-start the Wizards sooner than later

We’ve reached Tuesday, a game day. The Los Angeles Clippers and Marcin Gortat are in town. What timing. Their arrival and the contest itself aren’t the main focus, not after Monday's drama. What changes if any the Wizards make is.

In the short-term, think lineup and rotation. For the big picture, don’t start crossing names off the roster just yet.

Monday’s headlines included an ESPN report  that the Wizards “started to deliver teams an impression that every player on their roster -- including All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal -- is available for discussion in trade scenarios.” It would be the surprise of all surprises for a trade to go down before Tuesday’s tipoff.

Despite the 5-11 start and contrary to the report, Wall and Beal have not been made openly available on the trade market, multiple league sources tell NBC Sports Washington. Despite the frustrating and taxing start, 66 games remain in the regular season. For a needed turnaround, Wall and Beal are the types of talented players required.

Yet something must change immediately. The Wizards have lost two in a row, both by at least 10 points. They trailed by 20 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 in the second half during Sunday’s 119-109 setback against Portland. Head coach Scott Brooks called the effort and enthusiasm “embarrassing.” 

“There is no team in this league that can win games if you don't compete for your teammates,” Brooks said Sunday. "And I got to find five guys that are willing to do that.”

That comment alone doesn’t signal an impending change. Brooks has used such language often over the last two seasons yet the starting lineup remained the same outside of injuries. It’s possible Tuesday is different. Lineup changes are being explored ahead of the Clippers game, according to multiple sources familiar with the Wizards thinking.

There’s a possible cheat here. Center Dwight Howard exited Sunday’s loss in the first quarter with a reoccurrence of aggravated gluteal soreness. He did not practice with the team Monday. 

The simple solution means starting Ian Mahinmi if Howard sits, which is actually something he literally cannot do during games because of the soreness. Using Jeff Green for a smaller look is a tick more outside the box.

Let’s ponder a Wizards roster with all intact.

For all the talk surrounding Wall, Beal, Otto Porter and, based on injury, Howard, Markieff Morris is the starter struggling the most. Never a strong rebounder, the 6-foot-10, 245-pound power forward is averaging 3.6 boards in nine games this month.

Whether he’s slowed by an undisclosed injury or another factor, Morris isn’t providing needed energy and big man production. Those aspects are required when Brooks wants to deploy small-ball lineups, and use Morris as the 5-man. Morris, one of the eight players on the roster entering some form of free agency this summer, played only 19 and 20 minutes respectively in the last two games.

Green, Morris' primary backup, had 13 rebounds in 25 minutes against Portland. That level of board work is abnormal, but the 32-year-old’s athleticism has stood out all season. While the streaky shooter’s numbers are starting to trend the wrong way after a hot start earlier this month, Green is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor.

With Green starting, Morris could serve as the anchor for the second unit, or Brooks could manipulate his rotation so that the pair play together. Neither is a needed rim protector, but both provide more offense than Mahinmi.

Sliding Kelly Oubre Jr. into the starting lineup – for Morris, not Otto Porter – is another consideration. The Oubre-Porter pairing along with Wall, Beal, and Gortat was among the top net-rating lineups in the entire NBA over the last two seasons. Brooks hasn’t used a similar look as much this season.

Where Oubre offers clear help is energy. The 6-foot-7 forward flies around the court continuously even during games where teammates don’t. Defending opponent’s straight-on, even small guards, is another strength. Starting Oubre opens the door for using him against guards when Wall and Beal struggle to keep foes from penetrating.

This shouldn’t be considered a promotion if it occurs. Oubre remains prone to gaffes in team defense concepts. He is shooting 28 percent on 3-pointers. We’re talking about changing the Wizards’ trajectory. All options should be explored.

In either case, another way for more urgency in the lineup could come from using first-round pick Troy Brown Jr. or center Thomas Bryant. Both were on the court as the Wizards rallied against the Blazers. Brown is an obvious Oubre replacement on the second unit if Oubre joins the starters with Mahinmi the likely odd-man out in the spot.

Here’s the hope for the Wizards: Whatever anger was unleashed recently leads to the needed fix now that the expressions of frustration reached the public. Teams squabble. Feelings are hurt. There is no denying Washington isn’t right. Surely, other teams are checking in per usual, but with a bit extra interest since doors may be open. For now, that’s not the case.

It’s easy to say Washington would be wise to get its collective head straight, put forth a good effort against the Clippers and move forward from Monday’s show. We’ll see what happens. Based on the opening 16 games and Monday’s tabloid-esque headlines, we’ll see. Something must change. If it's not the roster, that leaves the lineup.

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Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw ball more

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw ball more

BALTIMORE -- In a league that relies heavily on the forward pass, the Baltimore Ravens have gone old-school in their bid to reach the NFL playoffs.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way , the Ravens rushed for 265 yards Sunday in a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson ran 27 times for 117 yards, Gus Edwards garnered 115 yards on the ground and both rookies rushed for seven first downs.

There's a good chance Jackson will start for the injured Joe Flacco again Sunday when the Ravens (5-5) host the Oakland Raiders (2-8). If Jackson is the starter, it's unlikely he will again slither, slide and scramble with the ball 27 times.

"Yeah, you don't want your quarterback getting hit that much," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It's not going to last that way. So, that's pretty self-evident."

That said, Harbaugh mocked those people concerned about Jackson's workload.

"Oh, he had 27 carries," Harbaugh said. "You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail off. Celebrate that, and move on."

Whatever it takes to win.

"It's not what we're going to be shooting for by any stretch, but if it takes that many, Lamar will do it," Harbaugh said. "But, no, he took some hits. I think they knew the quarterback was going to run the ball. They were going after him a little bit, as you would expect. That's something that we have to look at going forward."

Selected 32nd overall in the 2018 draft, Jackson was thrust into the starting lineup because Flacco has a right hip injury that has been slow to heal and could keep him sidelined against the Raiders.

"He has a chance," Harbaugh said, without much conviction.

Jackson ran 655 times at Louisville and won the 2016 Heisman Trophy for his ability to carry the ball, not throw it. On Sunday, his carries accounted for more than a third of Baltimore's 73 offensive plays, and the Ravens finished with 54 rushing attempts compared to 19 passes.

Harbaugh bristled when someone asked him about Jackson's ability to throw the football, and where that fits into the game plan moving forward.

"Yeah, we're going to throw the ball more down the road," Harbaugh insisted. "All this veiled stuff, `Is he really a thrower?' I got news for you: He's a thrower. He's a quarterback. I don't appreciate the insinuation of the question. Lamar Jackson is a quarterback."

He's a quarterback with 256 yards rushing -- second on the team behind Alex Collins -- and 237 yards passing. Collins scored a touchdown against the Bengals, but his playing time was sheared by Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent who got 17 carries and played most of the second half.

Edwards, who scored his first NFL touchdown , got the call because of the way he's excelled in the days leading up to game day.

"He's been practicing great," Harbaugh said. "It has been a goal to get him more carries before this."

Baltimore's 265 yards rushing against Cincinnati was tied for the fifth most in franchise history, and it marked the first time in NFL history that a team had a rookie quarterback and rookie running back each top 100 yards rushing.

After he was done, Jackson made one final run -- after the referee to snag the game ball.

"However you move the ball is good. You do it based on your personnel," Harbaugh said. "You want it to be a mix, but in the end, the players deserve the credit for running the ball so well."

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