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Vandy's Matthews returning for senior season

Vandy's Matthews returning for senior season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) By the time Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews graduates, he'll have a chance to rewrite the record books at his school and in the Southeastern Conference.

But what he really wants is a SEC championship for the Commodores.

By returning for his senior season instead of leaving early for the NFL draft, Matthews believes Vanderbilt can win its first league title.

``I know for a fact I have the guys around me that can take this school to an SEC championship next year,'' Matthews said Sunday. ``That is the main reason why I'm staying, and I'm going to devote all my time to making sure Vanderbilt is on the podium in Georgia by season's end next year.''

Joined by his parents Roderick and Brenda as well as Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Matthews announced his decision to stay just six days after the Commodores (9-4) wrapped up their first nine-win season since 1915 with a 38-24 victory over North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl.

``I felt like I could have (been) drafted really high and really helped out an NFL team, but we'll just wait another year to do that,'' Matthews said.

He led the SEC this season with a school-record 1,323 receiving yards, the fifth-highest total in league history. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder had 94 catches, the second-most in school and SEC history.

Matthews, a distant cousin of Jerry Rice, also has 10 career games with 100 receiving yards or more, including a school-record seven this season.

In three years, the all-SEC selection has 150 receptions for 2,282 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Matthews needs 812 yards to capture the SEC's all-time receiving record. With another monster season, he could surpass former Vanderbilt standout and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett for most career receptions (236) in league history.

``This is the biggest recruit that we're signing this year, getting this guy to come back,'' Franklin said. ``I don't think there is any question that Jordan was ready to make this move (to the NFL) physically and mentally. He made a really mature decision. ... He wants to continue his opportunity, refine his craft, have an opportunity to earn his degree and then take his talents to the next level.''

Matthews plans to graduate next December, so he can begin training immediately for the 2014 NFL draft. According to Franklin, Matthews will take out an insurance policy in case of injury. Matthews said the chance of a season-ending or career-threatening injury, like the one that occurred to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, didn't weigh heavily on his mind.

``You can get hit by a bus walking outside,'' Matthews said. ``You don't worry about that stuff, man.''

Nor is he concerned with his production decreasing because of a new quarterback.

Jordan Rodgers will be gone, leaving either rising senior Austyn Carta-Samuels or redshirt freshman Patton Robinette to take over.

``Relationships are built. They don't just happen,'' Matthews said. ``We are going to be throwing every single day to the point we get the relationship together the same way me and Jordan had it. So I don't think we're going to miss a beat at all.''

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Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and guard Bradley Beal have a general policy when it comes to answering questions about officiating. Usually, they avoid details because they don't want to be fined by the league. Often, they say plenty with what they leave unsaid.

Sunday night was not one of those times. After the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the Clippers, both the coach and player broke character, rolled their sleeves up and gave the refs a good old fashioned takedown.

Brooks went first and initially said (sarcastically) the officials got all the calls right in the game. After that, he said what he was really thinking.

"When they grab you and hold you and the rules are saying you've got to call a foul, that's a foul. We don't get that. [Bradley Beal] doesn't get that and it's frustrating," Brooks said.

"The rule is you can't grab a guy with two hands. It's not my rule, it's not their rule; it's the NBA rule. If they're not going to call those more, what are we going to do? We're gonna get frustrated, we're gonna get [technicals] and that's not fair. That's not fun for the coaches, that's not fun for the players, that's not fun for everybody."

Beal, who 20 points and five assists but shot 5-for-18 from the field, didn't hold back, either. And he even explained why he felt he had to speak up this time as opposed to other games when he has been more tight-lipped.

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof. It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable," he said.

"They fine us for saying something. When we do say something on the floor it's 'oh, I didn't see it' or 'it wasn't my call.' I'm just so tired of hearing that. There's three guys out here. I know nobody's perfect, but the blatant ones have to be called and they're not being called. That s--- ain't fair."

Brooks got a technical for arguing a first-half play he thought should have been a charge taken by Moe Wagner. Davis Bertans and Ish Smith, two of the Wizards' more mild-mannered players, also got T'd up.

Brooks thought Smith getting a technical embodied the evening perfectly.

"When Ish [Smith] gets a [technical foul], I know something's going on. That guys is the nicest guy on the planet. He gets a technical by just telling a referee to call it the same on the other end," Brooks said.

Beal was not assessed a technical, though he said he was appreciative of Smith and Bertans sticking up for him. He also said he feels like the lack of respect from referees has been worse this year and suggested the Wizards aren't getting the respect other teams like the Clippers do because of their 7-15 record.

To be fair, the numbers didn't exactly back up those claims on Sunday. The Wizards had 30 free throw attempts, three more than L.A. did. And Beal led all players with nine. He made all nine of them. Beal is also ninth in the NBA in free throw attempts at 7.2 per game, up from his average last season of 5.5.

This was, though, clearly something that had built over a series of games. And the Wizards are averaging the fifth-fewest free throw attempts per game this season at just 20.4 per contest. The Clippers, for comparison, are fourth in the NBA at 26.2.

But when the Wizards are in a close game with a team like the Clippers, who have way more talent than they do, it is hard for them to accept when they feel the referees aren't giving them a fair chance.

And for Brooks, it was particularly bad for Beal, whom he says "gets held all the time." And it's bad for rookie Rui Hachimura, who made all seven of his free throw attempts but should have had more if you ask his head coach.

"He attacks and he gets zero free throws. I understand nobody knows him, but we know him. That doesn't mean anything. You should be able to get to the free throw line with the way he attacks," Brooks said.

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Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

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Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

The regular season is over, the conference championships decided and the playoff bracket is set. Yes, it's bowl season. Bowl bids were handed out on Sunday and Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Navy all found out their postseason fates.

Here's where each team is headed this bowl season:

Penn State vs. Memphis, Cotton Bowl Classic on Saturday, Dec. 28

Ohio State is headed to the College Football Playoff and the Big Ten's Rose Bowl bid is going to Wisconsin. Penn State, however, managed to squeak into the New Year's Six as the No. 10 team in the nation. They will take on Group of 5 representative Memphis who won the AAC.

Virginia vs. Florida, Orange Bowl on Monday, Dec. 30

The Cavaliers are headed to the Orange Bowl for the first time in school history. More on this game here.

Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, Belk Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

The Belk Bowl always seemed like the likely destination for Virginia Tech, but their opponent was a bit of a mystery. If you were following along on Twitter before things were made official, the Hokies were supposed to play Mississippi State, then it was Tennessee, then Kentucky, then Tennesse again and then back to Kentucky.

Now it's official and we know for sure it will be Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky.

The issue was reportedly Tennessee changing its bowl preference at the last minute.


Navy vs. Kansas State, Liberty Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

Kansas State is the only team in the nation with a win over a College Football Playoff team. They defeated Oklahoma 48-41 in October.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo had the quote of the day about his team's matchup.

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