Wizards

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Seth Curry scored 20 points, Mason Plumlee added 18 and No. 1 Duke reeled off 23 straight points in an 88-47 rout of Cornell on Wednesday night.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and Quinn Cook had a career-high 12 assists for the Blue Devils (10-0).

Playing as a top-ranked team for the 210th time under Mike Krzyzewski - but the first since February 2011 - they posted two key season highs, shooting 56.7 percent and forcing 26 turnovers, while holding the Big Red scoreless for an 8-minute stretch when the game got away from them.

Shonn Miller had 14 points to lead Cornell (4-7), which fell to 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

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No. 5 LOUISVILLE 79, FLA. INTERNATIONAL 55

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Peyton Siva had career highs of five 3-pointers and 12 assists for Louisville in the first meeting between Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and Richard Pitino, his son and FIU counterpart.

The younger Pitino, 30, served two stints as a Louisville assistant before taking over for Isiah Thomas at FIU this season.

Siva finished with 15 points in posting his first double-double since the season opener and was selected game MVP.

Wayne Blackshear tied his career best with 18 points for the Cardinals and Chane Behanan added 14 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double this season.

The Cardinals (10-1) shot 49 percent and hit 12 3-pointers, tying a season high. They committed just 11 turnovers in winning the 11th annual Billy Minardi Classic, named for Pitino's brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Tymell Murphy scored 12 points and 12 rebounds for FIU (3-5).

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No. 6 INDIANA 93, MOUNT ST. MARY'S 54

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Cody Zeller finished with 16 points and six rebounds, and Christian Watford added 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Indiana.

The Hoosiers (10-1) looked like a team ready to make amends four days after its first loss of the season.

Five players scored in double figures for Indiana, which had a huge rebounding edge over the Mountaineers (4-5). The Hoosiers shot 70.6 percent - the fourth-best mark in school history.

Mount St. Mary's was led by Rashad Whack with 17 points and Josh Castellanos and Sam Prescott added 10 each.

The Mountaineers trailed 30-26 with 5:38 left in the first half, but Indiana closed the half on a 9-0 run, opened the second half on an 18-2 run to make it 64-31 and never let the Mountaineers get closer than 31 points again.

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No. 8 FLORIDA 82, SE LOUISIANA 43

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Mike Rosario scored a season-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists for Florida.

The Gators (8-1) bounced back from a loss at No. 4 Arizona four days earlier, winning their only home game over a 40-day span.

Rosario made 8 of 13 shots, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and enjoyed his best game since transferring to Florida from Rutgers after the 2009-10 season. It came on the heels of a 16-point night against the Wildcats.

The Lions (1-8) have lost five straight.

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No. 11 CINCINNATI 60, XAVIER 45

CINCINNATI (AP) - Sean Kilpatrick scored 25 points and led a second-half surge that carried Cincinnati over Xavier in the renewal of their crosstown rivalry, an amicable one a year after it was marred by a brawl.

Cincinnati (11-0) won its 18th straight game at a downtown arena that has become the rivalry's stage for the next two years, an attempt to take the nasty edge off the annual game.

The Bearcats got the better of it in the second half behind Kilpatrick, who scored nine points in a 17-4 run that put them ahead to stay. Travis Taylor led Xavier (7-3) with 12 points.

Xavier and Cincinnati fans were seated on opposite sides of the arena. Both schools hoped for a clean, exciting game so they could finally get past last year's ugliness. They did.

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No. 14 GONZAGA 74, CAMPBELL 52

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Przemek Karnowski scored 14 points to lead four Gonzaga players in double figures.

Kelly Olynyk had 12 points and Gary Bell Jr., and Elias Harris added 11 each for the Bulldogs (11-1), who shot 61 percent in taking a 49-24 halftime lead.

The Camels (3-8) were without leading scorer Darren White (21.9), who missed his fourth straight game with a hand injury. Trey Freeman had 17 points and Darian Hooker added 11 for Campbell, playing its first game in the state of Washington.

The Bulldogs led by as many as 31 points in second half before a Campbell run combined with a cold spell as the game got sloppy in the final 13 minutes.

At the half, which was highlighted by a late 13-0 run, the Bulldogs had made all 13 of their free throws, had a 19-9 rebounding advantage and forced nine turnovers by the Camels, who shot 36 percent.

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No. 16 NEW MEXICO 68, NEW MEXICO STATE 63

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Kendall Williams tied a career high with 24 points, including nine during a first-half run that brought New Mexico back from a double-digit deficit, and the Lobos beat their rival for the second time in a week.

Tony Snell added 11 points for New Mexico (12-0), which matched the second-best start in school history.

The Aggies (5-6) went on a 16-4 run that included four 3-pointers to build a 25-14 lead, but then Williams took over, scoring seven straight points to key an 11-0 run that tied it at 25 with 4:35 left in the first half.

Snell scored six straight points for New Mexico in an 8-0 run early in the second half, breaking a 41-all tie and putting the Lobos ahead to stay.

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No. 17 CREIGHTON 71, TULSA 54

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Avery Dingman had 14 of his career-high 21 points in the second half, and Doug McDermott overcame a slow start to score 16 for Creighton.

Gregory Echenique added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bluejays (11-1), who won their fifth straight.

James Woodard had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Tulsa (6-5), which shot 38 percent and committed a season-high 25 turnovers.

Dingman was good on his first seven shots and made a career-high five 3-pointers, getting friendly bounces off the rim and backboard on his third and fourth tries. Dingman also had three steals to go with three rebounds.

McDermott, averaging 23.7 points and coming off games of 30 and 34 points, was just 4 of 9 from the field but made 7 of 8 free throws.

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No. 21 UNLV, NORTHERN IOWA 59

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Anthony Bennett had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead UNLV in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.

Bennett, who had three blocks, was 7 of 12 from the field, including hitting two 3-pointers, and all four free throws.

Khem Birch added 11 points and nine rebounds in his second game of eligibility for the Runnin' Rebels, who have won eight straight. They struggled at times in the second half after leading 43-22 at intermission.

Marc Sonnen had 15 points and Anthony Jones added 13 for Northern Iowa (6-5), which is 0-3 against Top 25 opponents this season. The Panthers were held to 33 percent shooting from the field.

UNLV returned to the Thomas & Mack Center after being away for 18 days due to the National Finals Rodeo. The Rebels went 4-0 in that span.

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No. 22 NOTRE DAME 85, KENNESAW ST. 57

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Jack Cooley scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Notre Dame.

It was Cooley's fifth double-double in the past seven games, and he is tied for second nationally in that statistic.

Notre Dame's Jerian Grant also scored 14 points in a game that got away from the Owls early in the second half.

The Owls (1-9) closed out the final 4 minutes of the first half on a 9-4 run, capped off by Markeith Cummings' 3-pointer as the first-half buzzer sounded, cutting the lead to 34-28.

But Notre Dame (11-1) started the second half on a 17-5 run over the first 8:18, leading 53-33 after that span. The run included six points from Grant, four from Garrick Sherman, four from Cooley and a 3 by freshman Cameron Biedschied.

Aaron Anderson led Kennesaw State scorers with 16 points and Cummings had 15.

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TEXAS 85, No. 23 NORTH CAROLINA 67

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Sheldon McClellan scored 18 points to lead struggling Texas to the upset.

Julien Lewis added 16 points for the Longhorns (7-4), who are off to their worst start since coach Rick Barnes' first season in 1999.

Reggie Bullock led the Tar Heels (8-3) with 18 points and 13 rebounds. It was the first loss for North Carolina since being clobbered by then-No. 1 Indiana on Nov. 27, and this was mostly another humiliation after trailing by as many as 19 points.

North Carolina cut the deficit to four points in the second half before Texas sealed the badly needed victory.

James McAdoo had 14 points and joined Bullock as the only Tar Heels in double figures. North Carolina shot a season-low 31.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 times.

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No. 24 OKLAHOMA ST. 69, TEXAS-ARLINGTON 44

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Markel Brown scored 17 points and Phil Forte added 13 to lead Oklahoma State.

Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart both had 10 points and Philip Jurick pulled down 10 rebounds for the Cowboys (9-1).

Reserve Jamel Outler had 14 points and Kevin Butler added 11 for the Mavericks (5-3), who committed 31 turnovers.

Texas-Arlington committed 20 turnovers in the first half, four in the first 4 minutes, and Oklahoma State built a 13-3 advantage on the way to a 36-17 halftime lead.

The visitors did not hit the 20-point mark until Drew Charles' short jumper with 14:20 remaining in the game.

Forte hit three 3-pointers in the final 6 minutes, the third putting the Cowboys up 26 points with just under 4 minutes left.

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Wizards running out of answers, but players don't seem to want trades

Wizards running out of answers, but players don't seem to want trades

As the Wizards have shown this year, and really since the beginning of last season, there is one particular type of NBA team that gives them trouble. It's the team that plays collectively, with toughness and an edge on defense.

The Wizards allow their opponents to set the tone and the aggressive ones that punch them first usually don't get a punch back.

So far this season, blue-collar teams like the Grizzlies, Clippers and Nets have given the Wizards fits. In those losses, Washington was just trying to keep up, hopelessly reacting on too many plays just a half-or-full-step slower than they needed to.

Though the Blazers are a high-scoring team led by big-name stars, they possess the qualities that expose the Wizards when they are in their most listless form. On Sunday, Portland came out with want-to on defense and a commitment to moving the ball to find open shooters on offense. 

That simple combination was too much for the Wizards, who let the game slip away early, trailing by as many as 20 points in the first quarter alone.

It was hard to watch for everyone on the Washington side; for fans, the coaches and also the players who are losing patience as they grasp for answers to what will fix their persistent woes.

The prevailing message from head coach Scott Brooks' postgame press conference and from the locker room was that they are actively searching for a solution, but that they have no clear sense what that solution is.

"It's embarrassing,” Brooks said, citing effort and energy like he often has this season. “Just trying to figure that out. It's on me."

"I'm not sure. We have to figure something out," forward Markieff Morris said.

"Honestly, I really don't have an answer," forward Jeff Green said, genuinely perplexed.

As the Wizards wilt at 5-11 and in last place, the general consensus from those on the court and the bench seems to be that no major changes need to be made. Brooks suggested he needs to find "five guys on the court that are playing for their team." But he says that all the time and has ever since he took the job before the 2016-17 season.

It doesn't mean wholesale changes are coming.

Guard Bradley Beal pleaded the fifth when asked if trades or firings need to be made.

"I have no idea. All I can do is my job and just like everybody else, and just come in and try to get better every day. At the end of the day, that's Ted [Leonsis'] job, Ernie [Grunfeld's] job to make those decisions," he said.

Morris and guard John Wall each expressed confidence in the players already on the roster.

“I don't think so," Wall said of potentially breaking up the core. "We can still figure it out."

"It's not time for a fire sale," Morris told NBC Sports Washington.

The best insight into what is plaguing the Wizards came from backup guard Austin Rivers. Though he can't put a finger on it, either, he sees some bad signs.

"Our team is like loaded with talent and we're losing game after game. You just start to question it," he said. 

"Guys are like tentative now when they're on the floor. You can see it. You guys can watch it and see it. It doesn't even take a basketball expert to watch... When you lose, guys start getting unsure. We're running and our spacing is terrible. It's just a snowball effect."

Rivers, like Green, went out of his way to say Brooks wasn't the root of it, that it's on the players. He also highlighted his backcourt partner Tomas Satoransky as someone who was exempt from their issues.

"Sato is definitely not the problem. Sato doesn't do anything wrong," Rivers said.

Satoransky was one of the few Wizards players who came out of Sunday's defeat with reasons to hold their chin up walking into the locker room afterwards. He had 10 points, seven assists and was +22 in the box score. 

Like Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. played well. He had 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He was +14. Others like Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr., two youngsters who only played when the game was out of hand, provided a spark of energy off the bench and helped cut the Blazers lead down to single digits late in the game after Portland led by as many as 29.

Brooks has been wary of major lineup adjustments since he arrived in Washington, but it's never been quite this bad. At 5-11, this start is even worse than two years ago, his first season on the job, when they rallied to win 49 games.

If their losing continues, Brooks will have to do something drastic at some point. Maybe that is moving Oubre into the starting lineup and taking Morris out to help guide the second unit. Morris could thrive as a small-ball center, while Oubre could help set a tone defensively with the starters. 

Oubre is their most energetic and active defender. Perhaps that would rub off on Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

It's clear the Wizards need to change something and the rotation is the logical first place to start. Rivers, for one, wonders if things will get better if they simply stick to the current plan.

"You're just like 'stay with it and it will turn around.' But when? You're digging yourself a farther and farther hole," he said.

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Blazers claim culture is king while Wizards search for fixes 

Blazers claim culture is king while Wizards search for fixes 

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- NBA franchises go stale. It happens.

Setbacks occur on and off the court. Some obstacles, like falling short of playoff expectations, might shake a franchise to its core. Others fall back on an established ethos that sets expectations and ideals so that when tough times arrive, restoring balance isn’t arduous.

The Portland Trailblazers believe their culture keeps them flying high.

Portland started a run of five consecutive postseason appearances in 2013 after a combined 61 wins the prior two seasons. Twice it won a round, but never more than one.

Last season seemed like a chance for another series triumph, but the No. 3 seed was stunned by New Orleans during a four-game sweep. Such frustration might send some teams into a tizzy, lead outsiders to call for heads. The Blazers kept their cool. The core remained.

Following Sunday’s 119-109 win over the Wizards, Portland (11-5) moved percentage points ahead of Golden State for first in the Western Conference. 

“I think it just shows the character of our team,” All-Star guard Damian Lillard said of Portland’s resiliency shortly after scoring 40 points against Washington. “That’s from our coaches to the training staff to players on the team. We enjoy the process of what we’re building together. We’re committed to each other. That’s the biggest thing. We all want to have success and we all know that doesn’t happen overnight.”

The turn began in 2012 with the arrival of several leaders, including Lillard, general manager Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts. Another foundational move came in 2013 with the selection of a second consecutive first-round guard, C.J. McCollum.

That backcourt pairing, similar to the Wizards’ duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, became the headliners, the tone-setters. They learned how to win, how to lead.

“We have a lot of good guys on the team. Damian and C.J. are good friends. They’re both very talented players,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “They complement each other well. I don’t know. Maybe I just take it for granted, but I try not to. We’ve got really good culture and it’s led by those two guys.”

Forward Meyers Leonard, Portland’s second lottery pick after Lillard in 2012, also promoted the power of the franchise’s values in keeping the team from imploding when struggles arise.

“What’s expected of you every single day, both as a person and a player. Guys show up to the facility ready to work. It’s a good environment. Everyone enjoys being there. Everyone works hard. … Getting work in before practice, getting work in after practice. Being willing to compete in practice and never take anything personal because we know we want to get better. That all translates to the game.”

While the Blazers talked cohesion, the Wizards spent another evening looking for answers. Washington, which trailed 32-12 and by 21 at halftime, fell to 5-11.

“It was terrible,” Beal said.

“You don't win games by just playing, you win games by competing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “And you win games by competing for your teammates, and you don't win games any other way. There is no team in this league that can win games if you don't compete for your teammates. And I got to find five guys that are willing to do that.”

Washington started the season 1-6 with its only victory coming at Portland Oct. 22, 125-124 in overtime. Markieff Morris led the Wizards with 28 points, and Otto Porter blocked Lillard’s potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. Portland’s starting guards shot a dismal 12-for-46 from the field, though Lillard still scored 29.

He wasn’t particularly efficient in the rematch either (12 for 29 field goals) but some positive aspects continued. Lillard’s tenacity showed especially Sunday with Portland coming off back-to-back losses. In both games, Lillard made 13 of 15 free throws. Whether the shots were falling or not, he decided this was a game where laying back wasn’t an option.

“We wanted to come in and be sharp. I knew that being a leader on this team, I had to come out here and kind of enforce that and impose my will and be aggressive and assertive and live with the result,” Lillard said. “That was my mindset coming in and I was going to keep my foot on that gas until there was no time left to make sure we got it done.”

They did and now sit in the reified air, looking down at Golden State in the standings. From the Blazers’ perspective, this result wasn’t about a good night’s work, but long-running connections.

“The more you connect on a personal level with your teammates, your coaches, with everybody the more success you’re going to have. The more you’re gonna want to work,” Leonard said. “The more you’re going to compete as hard as you possibly can. It all comes back to culture. When we get free agents, it’s what’s expected. It’s fun to be around. It’s fun to come to work. That’s what I would say is the biggest thing.”

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