Nationals

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Quinn Cook scored a career-high 27 points and No. 1 Duke held Clemson to its lowest-scoring half in 12 years in a 68-40 victory Tuesday night.

Ryan Kelly added 12 points in the first half but sat out the second with what team officials said was a right leg injury.

The Blue Devils (15-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 48 percent, built a 42-31 rebounding advantage and pulled away down the stretch to improve to 58-4 at home against the Tigers.

Devin Booker had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Clemson (8-6, 0-2), which had season lows for points and shooting percentage (28 percent) and shot 12 percent in its brutal first half.

The Tigers had just 10 points at halftime, their fewest since scoring nine against Wake Forest in 2001.

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No. 10 MISSOURI 84, ALABAMA 68

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Jabari Brown had career-bests of 22 points and five 3-pointers and Phil Pressey responded from a shaky first half with 11 points and 13 assists to lead Missouri in its Southeastern Conference debut.

Trevor Releford had a career-best 26 points for Alabama (8-6, 0-1), which has lost six of eight. Coach Anthony Grant lost for the first time in seven career conference openers, three at VCU and four at Alabama.

Brown was 7 for 11 overall, three days after making only one of nine attempts in a two-point victory over Bucknell. The Oregon transfer has scored in double figures four of five games since becoming eligible at the semester break.

Earnest Ross added a season-best 19 points for Missouri (12-2, 1-0) and Alex Oriakhi helped the Tigers pull away with 10 of his 16 points over the final 11 minutes. He grabbed 11 rebounds.

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No. 13 CREIGHTON 91, DRAKE 61

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Ethan Wragge matched career highs with 22 points and six 3-pointers for Creighton, which got off to a blistering start.

Doug McDermott added 16 points, Jahenns Manigat had 13 and Grant Gibbs 10 for the Bluejays (15-1, 4-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who won their ninth straight game.

Creighton has won 71 straight against opponents .500 or worse, and it was apparent early that the streak was in no jeopardy. The Bluejays, who made a season-high 16 3-pointers, led by 30 points in the first half and by 35 late in the second.

Joey King scored 17 points for Drake (6-9, 0-4).

Wragge, who had been averaging 9.0 points a game, went over 20 for the second time in three games.

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No. 15 OHIO STATE 74, PURDUE 64

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points to lead Ohio State.

The Buckeyes (12-3, 2-1) rebounded from their first Big Ten loss by shooting 56.4 percent from the field. They took a 10-point halftime lead despite losing point guard Aaron Craft for all but 4:19 of the first half because of early foul trouble, and Buckeyes coach Thad Matta got his 100th Big Ten victory.

Ohio State has won four of the last five in this series and eight of their last 10 overall.

Purdue (7-8, 1-2) has lost two straight to Top 20 teams since upsetting No. 11 Illinois last week. The Boilermakers were led by the Johnson brothers, Terone, who had 18 points, and Ronnie, who had 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists. A.J. Hammons finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

The Buckeyes took control with 13-2 and 9-0 runs in the first half.

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PITTSBURGH 73, No. 19 GEORGETOWN 45

WASHINGTON (AP) - Talib Zanna scored 15 points and Pittsburgh shot 55 percent from the field.

Zanna went 7 for 9 from the field, Tray Woodall added 11 points and seven assists for the Panthers (13-3, 1-2), who dominated the Hoyas from the opening tip to bounce back from two Big East losses that knocked them out of the Top 25.

No player scored in double figures for the punchless Hoyas (10-3, 0-2), who shot 35 percent to lose by more than 20 points at home for the first time in 13 years. They have lost their first two Big East games for the first time since 2001-02.

Georgetown has failed to score at least 50 points four times this season, including a 49-48 loss at Marquette on Saturday.

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Nats' offense needs to get going to maintain control in NL Wild Card race

Nats' offense needs to get going to maintain control in NL Wild Card race

Playoff prediction formulas have the Nationals at above 90 percent to qualify, but at the moment it doesn't exactly feel that way. 

With their 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night and the Brewers' win over the Padres, the Nats are now only 1 1/2 games up in the NL Wild Card race. Milwaukee erased two games in four days.

The Nats are just a half-game ahead of the Cubs for the first spot. They want that for home field advantage.

The schedule has been unforgiving with this series against St. Louis the Nats' fourth straight against a division-leading foe. The Cardinals are in the drivers seat in the NL Central with an 84-66 record overall and a 26-11 mark since Aug. 7.

Offense has been the Nats' most glaring issue of late. Their two runs on Monday gave them only 10 total in their last four games. The lone win came Sunday when the offense broke out for seven runs to avoid a sweep against the Braves.

The Nationals are going to need to get their bats going to close the deal on a postseason berth. They have only 13 games remaining and all but three are against clubs with winning records. They have two games to go against the Cardinals, who boast the NL's second-best ERA.

Several Nats players have stood out recently for their shortcomings at the plate. Trea Turner, who went 0-for-4 on Monday, is now 5-for-31 (.161) in his last eight games. He's sporting a .284 on-base percentage in his last 17 outings.

Adam Eaton also went 0-for-4 against the Cardinals and is currently 2-for-15 going back to the start of the Braves series on Friday night. He's batting .163 in his last 16 games with a .229 OBP.

That's just the top of the order. Ryan Zimmerman is now hitless in three straight games. Gerardo Parra, who for most of this season has been a plus off the bench, is 3-for-46 (.065) going back to Aug. 13.

Then there's Yan Gomes, who despite getting a hit on Monday is now 3-for-20 (.150) in his last six games. Gomes has done an admirable job by catching nine of the last 10 games, but Kurt Suzuki's bat has been missed. Suzuki, who has 16 homers and 58 RBI in only 81 games, has been sidelined due to right elbow inflammation. 

The lack of offense has put undue pressure on the pitching staff. Stephen Strasburg wasn't sharp on Monday, but managed to get through five innings with only two runs allowed. The Nats' bullpen then gave up a pair of runs split between Sean Doolittle and Hunter Strickland in the seventh.

It wasn't pretty, but allowing four runs is manageable. Scoring only two runs is a major problem. The Nats are now 5-24 this season when they score two or fewer runs.

Scoring is what got the Nationals to this point, currently holding a playoff spot. Since May 24, when they began their turnaround at 19-31, the Nats have scored more runs than any other NL team. 

They have to get back to that and soon. A lot can happen in the next 13 games.

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Steelers bolster secondary by trading for disgruntled Minkah Fitzpatrick

Steelers bolster secondary by trading for disgruntled Minkah Fitzpatrick

According to a report from Ian Rapoport, the Ravens will have to deal with Minkah Fitzpatrick two more times this season.

The Steelers boosted their secondary by adding Fitzpatrick in a trade with the Dolphins on Monday night. The Steelers sent their 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins in exchange for the cornerback.

The Dolphins, after their opening week loss to the Ravens, gave permission for Fitzpatrick to seek a trade. Then the Steelers came calling. 

Fitzpatrick is a second-year defensive back who was a 2018 first-round pick out of Alabama. He expressed frustration in recent weeks about playing out of position and the team's lack of direction. 

Against the Ravens, Fitzpatrick was torched in the secondary that allowed Lamar Jackson to throw for five touchdowns in a 59-10 win. 

The Steelers will most likely have Fitzpatrick fully integrated to the lineup by the time they host the Ravens on Oct. 6. They'll head to Baltimore on Dec. 29 in Week 17.

At 0-2, the Steelers are making a big gamble on Fitzpatrick and his future in the league considering what their 2020 draft pick could be.

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